Clause 20

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 15th March 2007.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Minister of State (Home Office) (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality) 2:15 pm, 15th March 2007

I shall give way in a moment.

How can it be right for the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis) to pull the plug on the database that provides the power for biometric visas, biometric identity cards for foreign nationals and the gold-standard biometric passports that we are now issuing? He is frankly setting himself up as the luddite of law enforcement.

The hon. Member for Reigate said that the objections were not on principle but on practicality. He was contradicted by the hon. Member for Ashford, who said that it was about principle and practicality, as recorded in column 225 of the Official Report. We know where the shadow Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden, sits.

My concern is that the new clause would be not a step forward but a step backward. We remain open to ideas once we see good proposals, and maybe Lord Stevens will be able to provide them. My great fear is  that this is a soundbite for the news, not a shield for the nation. Frankly, it has been deep-fried in Steve Hilton’s focus groups. In its presentation it is saloon bar politics on a subject that warrants much better thought than it has been provided with this afternoon.