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Mr. Marshall-Andrews: I should like to spend a short time discussing the important amendment No. 5, which deals with the central vice and evil of the Billcompulsion. There is no point debating the Bill without debating the issue of compulsion. It is in the Bill: it can be made law by secondary legislation and it can be introduced into law by various crafty devices that are already set out in the provisions. The British people have no idea what they will be required to do under the Bill if it becomes law. If they did, there would be no question of any opinion poll saying anything other than that they were totally, or nearly totally, against it. In the short time available, I want to put into historical context the issues raised by both Front-Bench spokesmen.
Not since the Domesday book in 1068 have we seen anything like it. That was a system of registration put into effect by the Normansor the new Normans, as I suspect they were known at the time. Not since then have the British people been required to attend, with their families, at a certain place at a certain time in order to have their heads measured and the colours of their eyes taken. To be fair, under the present Bill, people will not have to declare the number of livestock that they possess or the items of clothing that they wear. However, we should not get too excited, because under the terms of the secondary legislation, people could be forced to give any other information that the Secretary of State prescribes.
I have to say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that there are many people in my constituency who simply will not do this. They will not do itfull stop. Some may do it and there are doubtless some that conform to the model citizen that new Labour imagines in the south-east of England. However, a very large numberI can see them in my mind's eye as I speakfind it difficult enough to go 100 yd down the street to exercise their right to vote and they simply will not comply with the Bill under any circumstances. Social stress will be the result.
I can picture one of my constituents talking to me in my surgery, saying, "I have to go to Maidstone to have my head measured". I will reply, "Yes, you have" and he will say, "And she has to have her head measured as well". I will say, "Yes, indeed". Pointing to his adolescent offspring, he will say, "They have to have their heads measured as well" and I will confirm that
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that is absolutely right. He will then say, "Why did you vote for this Bill?" I will then experience the glory of being able to say that I did not vote for it and that I voted against it at every conceivable opportunity. My constituent will want to know what will happen if they all refuse to have their heads measured. I will tell him that he will not be able to go to the public library, which will not upset him very much, but there will be other things that he will be unable to do.
Mr. Love: I am following my hon. and learned Friend's argument closely. Does he agree that the most insidious aspect of what he is discussing is that someone will have to decide whether to fine or even imprison that person? That will be the acid test, but does he agree that that is a test too far for a Labour Government?
Mr. Marshall-Andrews: Yes, indeed. I am most grateful to my hon. Friend, as I was going to become a little more serious and make precisely that point. I would have to tell my constituent that he could be fined or sent to prison, at which point I would be looked at with complete disbeliefthat in the 21st century we have passed a law that requires our citizens to comply on pain of fine or imprisonment. I would also point out that this is not even the worst part of the Bill, but an exemplification of what lies behind it. I would have to point out that when they have had their heads measured and their eyes photographed, they will then form part of a massive registration process, to which they have no access or control. I will explain that that was why I voted against the Bill.
Martin Salter (Reading, West) (Lab): I always enjoy hearing my hon. and learned Friend's oratory, but to develop his theme of explaining his glorious vote against the Bill to his constituents, did he make it clear to them at the electionI have seen some of his election publicity and it was very goodthat, although he was standing on the Labour party manifesto, which included a pledge to introduce this Bill, he was personally opposed to it and would vote against it?
Mr. Marshall-Andrews: I am pleased to answer that question. The answer is yes, I did. Neither was it the only part of the Labour manifesto that I told my constituents I was not standing on[Interruption.] I had pared it down quite thin by the end of the campaign. What I will be able to say to my constituentsit may mean that I will get re-elected, despite the fact that I will be standing on a Labour ticketis that I voted against what I considered to be the most illiberal piece of legislation that the House has been asked to pass for half a century and quite possiblypace the Bill on terrorisminto the foreseeable future. I strongly urge hon. Members to join me in the Lobby tonight in order to bring to an end this attempt to visit such illiberalism on our people.
The House owes a debt of gratitude to the mover of amendment No. 5. The whole issue is about liberty. It is about our liberty and the liberty of those we represent. The Bill makes it quite clear that, at the designation of the Secretary of State, an application for
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something that we have taken for granted all our livesthe right to apply for a passport, to access our national health service or whatever comes to the Secretary of State's mindwill be dependent on showing our subservience to the state. In providing the state with one coherent datum on our whole identity, we are giving it the power to follow us wherever we go. That is what the Bill is about and why it constitutes a deep and savage attack on what this country has stood and fought for across the centuries.
We did not acquire our liberty lightly. Our liberty is not just a thousand years old. It was through the work and struggle of people across this nation that the long march of everyman secured for us our relationship to the state. It is our state, but the Bill and its clauses say otherwise. The Bill says no. The Bill says otherwise: that the state will measure, identify and control all our citizens for purposes that are lost in the Bill, but which can be designated by the Secretary of State by orders in what is essentially a dreadful enabling Bill.
This is about liberty. A.C. Grayling wrote a pamphlet for Liberty and reminded us of four lines from Kipling, which come via a powerful essay once read by E.M. Forster against the Sedition Act. It says
That is what the Government have sought throughout their history. We have had more benighted legislation to measure, to circumscribe and to deny freedom without justification, other than "it may" or "it possibly could." The Bill is a monument to the incapacity of the Government to make our existing laws and services work and, to that extent, it is flummery, but it is flummery that strikes deep into the English, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irishall the people who make up this nation's sense of liberty.
Martin Linton (Battersea) (Lab): We have heard a lot of rhetoric tonight and we can congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard). His amendment would change only one word, but it is the crucial word of the Bill. I happen to take the opposite view to his, but I recognise that this is the central part of the Bill.
Let me take my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow back to the beginning of the process. We have had several White Papers, the first of which, issued by the Home Office, distinguished between different possible schemes: a voluntary scheme; a scheme called at that stage a universal scheme, under which the card would have to be held by everybody; and a compulsory scheme, under which everyone would have to carry the card. From the start, the last option was excluded and the Government looked at either a voluntary scheme or a universal scheme, which we would now call compulsory: compulsory to have and not to carry.
One of the crucial arguments came from the opponents of ID cards, who said that any such scheme would have to become compulsory, or it would be useless. There was no point in discussing the subject on
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the basis of a voluntary scheme, which would not work and would not fulfil the most fundamental objectives. In the response to the White Paper, it was recognised by both sides that there was no point in proceeding with an ID scheme if it were to be purely voluntary.
That emphasises something that my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow must know, as he and his colleagues advanced the argument at that stage. If the amendment were passed, it would be a wrecking amendment and would cut out the heart of the Bill. Anyone with an open mind who is listening to what my hon. Friend says about the amendment must bear in mind the fact that the purpose of the amendment is to disable the entire Bill and to make it of no value.
At the end of the day, we must look at the fundamental point of the Billthat we should have a list of names of all the people in this country. We already have many lists of names: a national insurance list of about 40 million names; the Inland Revenue list containing a similar number; the Passport Agency list of 38 million people; and the council tax registers, which contain a similar number. The electoral register contains 40 million people's names. The only difference between the national identity register and all these lists is that the national identity list will be correct.
For example, the national insurance register has 75 million names on it, so clearly it cannot be correct. We cannot be sure that all the other lists are correct. The advantage of the national identity register is that we would use modern technology to ensure that the list that we have of people in this country is correct. Biometric technology will enable us to do that for the first time in our history.
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