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Martin Linton: It is nice to be able to return to the subject of the cost and benefit of ID cards. I was fortunate enough to have question 1 this afternoon, as you might remember, Mr. Speaker. It was on the cost of ID cards per person. The answer from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was that the cost of a stand-alone ID card would be £30 for 10 years£3 per person per year. It is important that we subject the issue to a simple analysis of cost and benefit. We know that the cost is £3 per person per year
Martin Linton: I do. The £30 has been announced. It is to be over 10 years. Even my arithmetical capability is up to doing that division sum: it is £3 per person per year. The Home Office has estimated the benefits. Estimates are bound to be rough, but no one has seriously challenged its figures. In fact, they have hardly been mentioned. I get the impression that no one has read the document put out at least a year ago on the Home Office benefits overview.
Mr. Todd: As someone who certainly read the setting out of the Government's positionsuch as it wasthere is no evidence from any private sector source on the supposed savings and benefits that may be achieved. A figure is named, but no one sets out any evidence on how it was calculated, based on real experience.
Martin Linton: I am happy to provide my hon. Friend with the answer. Although the figures are published by the Home Office, they are taken from APACS, CIFAS, banks and all the financial institutions that have provided estimates to the Home Office, and it has reprinted them. Hon. Members may cast doubt on those, but the figures have been arrived at by the people who will make use of the ID system.
The combined effect of all the estimates, including those from Departments, is a benefit of up to £1.1 billion. I am sure that hon. Members can work out that the figure of £1.1 billion divided among about 38 million ID card holders is a benefit of £29 a person. So there is a cost of £3 and a benefit of £29. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh because so many figures of
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billions of pounds have been poured over the House. The simple truth is, however, that the best estimates show that that is the value of the ID card.
Ms Dawn Butler (Brent, South) (Lab): The Bill does not give the police any extra powers. However, does my hon. Friend agree that although the police will not be allowed to stop someone and request an ID card on spec, the Bill does not stipulate that they cannot stop someone and ask for biometrics on spec? I hope that he can he confirm that they cannot do so under the Bill, as it would result in an electronic form of the sus laws which, we all know, disproportionately affect black and minority ethnic people?
Martin Linton: That is my understanding of the Bill, and I would not support it if I thought that it was a device to give the police powers to stop people in the street and ask them for their ID cards. From the very beginning of this debate four or five years ago, it was made clear in the Government White Paper and the consultation document that the Government did not want to consult onindeed, they did not even countenancethe introduction of an ID card that people must carry at all times. Some European countries require the carrying of ID cards, but that option was excluded from the start. I do not believe that the police should be able to stop people and ask them for details of biometrics or anything else for which they cannot already ask.
Mr. Sadiq Khan (Tooting) (Lab): My hon. Friend said that some people were concerned about civil liberties. There are anxieties that the amount of information on the register that is limited under schedule 1 to name, date of birth, place of birth, gender and address will creep up and increase. Can he confirm that before additional information is included in the register primary legislation must be introduced?
Martin Linton: That is my understanding. Only six items of personal information will be included on the registername, address, date of birth, place of birth, sex, nationality and, for people from overseas, information about their work permit. The legislation does not allow any further information to be added to the register. I believe one or two items should be added to ID cards, including organ donor information and medical information which, in an emergency, could make the difference between life and death. However, even that information, which could save someone's life in hospital, cannot legally be added to the register.
May I clarify something in response to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South (Ms Butler)? I can confirm that the Bill does not extend police powers, as my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Martin Linton) rightly said. It would only provide power of identification in the case of arrest, but obviously the police already have such a power. The Bill does not create the situation feared by
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my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South, but it would ease police bureaucracy in the case of ascertaining identity.
The total quantified financial benefits are estimated by the Home Officeanyone is welcome to challenge the figures, but it is significant that in six hours of debate few Members have chosen to do soto be £1.1 billion. That figure, as I said, was agreed with the banks and the organisations that will use the scheme. More than half the expected savings are expected to come from savings on ID fraud alone, and they will amount to £570 million. The more efficient running of public services will account for £385 million£85 million from the reduction in crime and only £39 million from the reduction in immigration offences.
Lynne Jones: The database will be an active database containing the audit trail and a record of every time the verification service is used. Does that not cause my hon. Friend concern? With reference to the question from our hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South (Ms Butler), the police will not need to access the card if they have readers, because the person will be present and they will be able to check the biometrics against the register.
Martin Linton: As I understand it, the organisations that seek verification from the register will be able to do so only with the consent of the individual, and they will get verification only of the details that they give. Only the police and the security services, when investigating a crime, will be able to get the audit trail. I am happy to be corrected by my hon. Friend the Minister if that is wrong. The audit trail is available for the investigation of crime.
Mr. Carmichael: The hon. Gentleman was asked by the hon. Member for Tooting (Mr. Khan) whether he could confirm that schedule 1 could be altered only by way of primary legislation. He confirmed that that was the case. Has he considered the effect of clause 3(5), which states:
Martin Linton: I am sure that my hon. Friend the Minister will intervene if I am wrong. At the very least, the subsection that the hon. Gentleman quotes is an indication that the schedule could not be changed without the approval of the House.
All hon. Members must know someone who has had their card stolen and their identity stolen, perhaps by someone going through rubbish and picking out their credit card numbers. That is one of the fastest growing crimes. Quite apart from the effect on the individual whose identity is stolen, the average time taken to sort
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out the financial problems caused by identity theft is 60 hours, and in some cases goes up to 240 hours. Individuals who are victims of identity crime may be compensated by the banks, which are held responsible, but the banks must recover their costs from us in bank charges. The average person in the UK pays at least £25 or £30 a year through bank charges to cover the cost of ID fraud.
Wednesday sees the introduction of chip and pin to make savings on fraud, but the savings to be made from reducing ID fraud through the ID card are far greater. If those who make the cost argument were to succeed, they would have to argue that the cost of the card is nearly 10 times higher than the Home Office says. All the indications are that the costs of ID fraud are rising. The benefits of curbing it are likely to be higher. The Minister announced from the Home Office this week that the cost to the country of ID fraud has increased from £1.3 billion to £1.7 billion.
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