|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Bercow: Does my hon. Friend agree that it is important in highlighting to the public the scope and dangers of the Bill that we should underline what secondary legislation means? As my hon. Friend well knows, it means that, subsequently, the Government will set up delegated legislation Committees to sit upstairs and consider proposed extensions of power for an hour and a half at most. The Government are contemplating that, and they hope that the public will either not notice or understand and cannot therefore complain.
As usual, my hon. Friend makes a clear and unambiguous point, which we are trying to achieve in new clause 3. We made that point consistently in Committee. I hope that the Government have listened, but I take my hon. Friend's point. If we try to tighten the clause and explain it in unambiguous language, we will get some way towards tackling my hon. Friend's point.
10 Feb 2005 : Column 1722
I shall speak briefly to amendments Nos. 30, 31 and 32, which deal with the rules for using information without an individual's consent. Amendment No. 30 would substitute the word "possible" for "reasonably practicable" in clause 23(1). Amendment No. 32 would delete clause 23(3)(c), and amendment No. 31 would add to the clause the sentence:
Mr. Allan: I rise to speak to new clause 6 and amendments Nos. 46 and 47. I shall deal with the amendments briefly, because Government amendments Nos. 54 and 55 seem to deal with the issues involved, which came out of our considerations in Committee. Amendment No. 46 identifies a particular kind of data that Committee veterans will know as "schedule 1, paragraph 9 data". These are the audit data, the trial of information on every time the national identity database has been checked. Significant invasions of privacy could occur as a result of its use, because it could be shown that someone had accessed a public service in a particular place, or been abroad at a certain time, for example. The gathering of this kind of data is most intrusive, and I am pleased that amendment No. 54 seems to accept that it should not be available to be given out under the powers in clause 22.
Amendment No. 47 was important. I asked the Minister in Committee whether he could introduce an order under clause 22 to allow the FBI, Europol or any other external, foreign agency access to the entirety of our national identity database without our consent. He replied in his usual forthright manner that, yes, the existing wording would allow that. I hope that he will now confirm that amendment No. 55which changes the word "person" to "public authority"will achieve what we were trying to achieve, namely, that the authority in question would have to be a UK public authority. People are interested to know who will be using the national identity register database, and their legitimate concerns are motivated not by xenophobia but by an interest in whether the bodies that will have access to the data will be accountable under the British constitution and jurisdiction, or whether the provision will extend to external bodies. I hope that the Minister will be able to clarify what is meant by "public authority".
New clause 6 merits a much longer debate, but I shall spend just a few minutes on it now. It springs from a question that arose in my mind as I was reading Jane's Police Reviewmy normal bedtime readingwhich is a police product review that describes the products that
10 Feb 2005 : Column 1723
are available to the police. It talks about the use of biometric technology in combination with technology such as closed-circuit TV cameras. This country has more CCTV cameras per head of population than anywhere else. There are 4 million of them out there, and they have their uses. However, one use to which they had not been able to be put, because the technology was not there, was the real-time monitoring of people as they go round the streets. They are used for evidence gathering and deterrence, but if we were to move to such monitoring, it would be a significant change.
"For most of us, liberty is a feeling rather than the difference between jail and freedombut it is a feeling I value tremendously. The idea of being able to go about my private business without being stopped by a policeman, or observed by a secret camera, strikes me as something many of us so take for granted that we can't imagine what it would be like to lose it."
That is at the heart of this issue: the idea that we could be monitored everywhere we went changes the feeling that we have as we go about our business. We are trying to test that in our proposals, and to understand whether the protections that Parliament has rightly put in placeincluding the legal safeguards under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which establish who authorises any surveillance, what suspicion has to be shown and what thresholds applywill apply under the new regime if the Government have their way. Questioning that is justified. Jane's Police Review provides some lovely quotesfor example:
I accept that it may be a holy grail for law enforcement purposes, but it is not necessarily a holy grail for privacy. Throughout this debate, we have tried to argue that law enforcement measures are necessary, but they must always be necessary and proportionate in respect of the invasion of privacy that takes place. It is a delicate balance to strike, and we are trying to establish whether it has gone too far.
Mr. Bill Tynan (Hamilton, South) (Lab): If one of the hon. Gentleman's or my constituents were attacked by a group of youths, and were they to find themselves recorded on CCTV cameras, is he saying that we should not use that for identification, along with national identity cards?
The hon. Gentleman has described the kind of circumstances in which, under normal policing procedures, it would be acceptable. I am not seeking to rule out the use of the technology where appropriate; I am trying to establish the bounds of that technology. What would be inappropriate, for example, would be people outside the police service who monitor CCTV cameras having access to the database to monitor everybody going past. There would be temptations for people to seek to abuse that. What I am trying to do, and what the amendment specifically tries to do, is to ask: will the strict legal safeguards that would be in place were the police doing it be applied universally? If the hon. Gentleman is in favour of the cards, as I believe that he is, he needs to assure his constituents that they will be used for the purposes that he intends, and not abused.
10 Feb 2005 : Column 1724
Mr. Frank Roy (Motherwell and Wishaw) (Lab): On the question of priority, would the hon. Gentleman's priority be the privacy of someone walking the streets or the fact that CCTV cameras would enable them to walk the streets safely?
Mr. Allan: The hon. Gentleman has highlighted the balance that we must always strike. We want both, and the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. A clear principle is established in the Human Rights Act 1998, which he and his Government support, whereby breaches of privacy can take place if they are necessary and proportionate to that which we are seeking achieve. Throughout discussion of the Bill, we have tried to establish where that boundary is. It is possible to have a complete surveillance state. It is possible for CCTV cameras to scan everybody, with a record of where everybody in the country is at any particular moment. The technology will enable that. The decision for us is whether the benefit of being able to catch additional criminals outweighs the potential loss of privacy and freedom. We are approaching that debate with an open mind, and we are seeking to establish those boundaries in the new clause.
Mr. Browne: With an eye to the clock, I want to assure the hon. Gentleman that my view is that the proper interpretation of the Bill, should it become an Act, in relation to its specific purposes and the issue of proportionality, would rule out the very use of CCTV cameras and such images that he fears. They could not be used under the Act in the way that he fears, whereas they could be used in the way that my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton, South (Mr. Tynan) suggests, as he agrees that they should be.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|