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Mr. Clarke: I will not give way, even to my very good hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews). I have discussed with him outside the House how we will conduct our relationship in the future as we have done in the past.
This legislation is a critically important development for the security of this country. I hope that every Member of the House will examine carefully their motivations and approaches to this issue. I repeat what I said earlier: as the Bill goes through its parliamentary stages, we will consider every constructive suggestion, such as those from the Select Committee, in the most positive way, to see how we can improve the quality of this legislation. What I will not do is accept that the principle is wrong. The principle is right. I urge the House to give the Bill a Second Reading.
The Home Secretary inherits a difficult job: one that always requires a keen sense of the balance between the interests of the citizen and the role of the state. It is the first duty of the state to protect the lives of citizens, but the duty to protect life must be balanced by the duty to protect our way of life. Nowhere is that more evident than in the debate about identity cards that we have just heard.
As I said in the debate on the Queen's Speech, I would not have countenanced ID cards before 11 September. After that, however, I accept that we must consider them. After 11 September, it is incumbent on all of us to examine carefully any measures that might enhance the nation's security. Identity cards introduced properly and effectively may help to do that.
None the less, it is worth remembering that the Bill will not see ID cards introduced to Britain tomorrow. Indeed, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has acknowledged that the process is going to take "many, many years". This legislation merely establishes
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the framework necessary for their introduction. It is vital for us to consider that framework carefully and to get that consideration right.
Mr. Salmond: A wise choice. What the right hon. Gentleman has said so far about considering ID cards sounds more like an argument for an abstention than an argument for backing them. Can he tell us about the shadow Cabinet battle, and the suggestion in scurrilous elements of the press such as The Daily Telegraph that it was decided by not wanting to be outflanked by the Prime Minister on the security agenda, as opposed to being decided on a matter of principle or concerns about the prohibitive cost? Can he deny that report?
David Davis: Very easily. If I were the hon. Gentleman, I would not listen to the scurrilous press. As usual, he is getting ahead of himself, which is not unusual for a Scot Nateven if he is still here, whereas the rest of his party has gone elsewhere.
David Davis: I shall give way again in a moment. I was just about to reach the point that the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) asked about. This is why the official Opposition will vote for Second Readingto allow full scrutiny to take place; it is also why we have tabled an amendment to refer the Bill to a Joint Committee of both Houses. That would enable proper non-partisan examination to take place, and give the Bill the breadth and quality of scrutiny that it deserves.
Simon Hughes: If, at the end of whatever Committee process we have, the Government use their majority on Report to ensure that the Bill remains unchanged, how will the Tory party vote on Third Reading?
We shall make a judgment, and if the Bill has not changed at all, that judgment will be pretty
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sceptical. We shall make a judgment on the five tests that I shall explain in a minute[Interruption.] All of them, not just one of them. That is critical to the judgment of the whole position.
Mr. Gummer: Does my right hon. Friend agree that the problem for those of us who do not oppose identity cards is that the Government are no longer trusted with anything so serious, so we need some system to ensure that so large a change is not in the hands of a Government who have not shown themselves to be worthy? Is not the Joint Committee a crucial step in making this a wholly parliamentary decision, not a Government one?
David Davis: My right hon. Friend makes an excellent point, to which I shall return when I talk about privacy and civil liberties. I do not agree with the Home Secretary that this is not a matter of civil liberties. There is an important balance here that we have to strike.
Sir Patrick Cormack: My right hon. Friend will know that I am grateful that there is a motion on the Order Paper to send the Bill to a Joint Committee, but what shall we do if the Government refuse to heed that good advice, and then move the ridiculous programme motion that obliges us deal with the Bill under a guillotine before the end of January, although we do not come back from the recess until 10 January? That places many of us who are not doctrinally opposed to the Bill in a difficult position. I am speaking not only to my right hon. Friend but, through him, to the Home Secretary, whom I am asking to think again about the appalling answer that he so dismissively gave me when he said that he would not consider a Joint Committee.
David Davis: I take my hon. Friend's point, and I shall also make my own observation to the Home Secretary, who saidproperly, in my viewthat he was willing to take on board all the advice available from all parts of the House. I therefore hope that he will allow enough time for that to happen. One way of doing soindeed, a very good mechanism for doing sowould be the Joint Committee.
Given the real danger of function creepa danger underlined by the fact that no fewer
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than 25 of the 45 clauses in the Bill provide the Government with order-making powers to extend its provisionsdoes my right hon. Friend not share my deep disappointment that clause 25, relating to the appointment of the national identity scheme commissioner, makes it clear that the report that the commissioner submits can, and probably will, be doctored by the Secretary of State before being presented to Parliament? Does that not underline our anxiety that the commissioner will prove to be but a craven lickspittle of the Government?
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