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Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire) (Con): I will be brief because the House has a busy day. I pay tribute to the sincerity with which the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh) spoke to her Bill. I should say, for the record, that I have never to my knowledge fallen asleep in the bath. The shower that I had this morning did not have a thermostatic valve, and nor do any of the showers in either my flat in London, or my house in Worcestershire. While I respect the hon. Lady's sincerity, I simply ask her to reflect on whether the Bill might be a step too far. Ten-minute Bills are useful to raise awareness of important issues. I introduced such a Bill for that purpose some 10 years ago with great success. However, I hope that the hon. Lady might be persuaded to leave it there.
Let us get the matter in some perspective before deciding which of us is right. I am told that of some 100,000 burns injuries, scalding accounts in total for some 2,500, and about 2,000 of those cases are minor. I accept that it is a problem if there are 500 serious scalding injuries. We often talk in the House about the nanny state. Such phrases in the political lexicon are perhaps used too often and their overuse can lead to their devaluation. However, when the House considers such matters, it must reflect carefully on the point at which individuals must take personal responsibility for their actions and when politicians should tell people how to behave.
I accept that the hon. Lady has made a powerful case for vulnerable people using thermostatic valves for their baths. I would prefer a scheme to assist vulnerable people to access such valves so that risks were minimised. There are many wrongs and problems in the world, but they cannot all be answered by political intervention, and my suspicion remains that we are considering such a problem. An intervention made by the House must be proportionate to the problem that it
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is trying to address and must genuinely protect the freedom of others. The Bill, well meaning though it is, fails both tests.
I listened, as many hon. Members would have done, to this morning's "Today" programme and heard the gloriously flippant responses received from many listeners. I heard the voice of John Humphreys rising with incredulity as he presented the piece. However, there are serious issues to consider. After a long day out in the countryside in the winter, it is my preference to relax in a long bath. I let a bit of cold water out and put a lot more hot water in so that I can have a half-hour bath, rather than a five-minute bath. Baths are not just for cleansing, they are also for therapy, and I suspect that the Bill would get in the way of the liberty that I enjoy.
The issue is important, and I pay tribute to the way in which the hon. Lady has raised it. It is often said that the state should keep out of the bedroom, but it is my view that the state should keep out of the bathroom, too. Frankly, the idea deserves a cold bath, although I give a warm welcome to the spirit in which the hon. Lady raised it.
Bill ordered to be brought in by Mary Creagh, Sandra Gidley, Mr. David Blunkett, Mrs. Siân C. James, Dr. Alasdair McDonnell, Dr. Ian Gibson, Alan Simpson, Mr. Stewart Jackson, Mr. Sadiq Khan, Mr. Robert Walter and John Bercow.
Mary Creagh accordingly presented a Bill to make provision about the installation in homes of thermostatic mixing valves to set bath tap water temperature to a maximum of 46 degrees centigrade; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 16 June, and to be printed [Bill 160].
Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I have written a note to Mr. Deputy Speaker about the Bill as it stands and how it might be amended. It might be strange to raise this matter at such a late time, but it is in the nature of the exchanges between the Houses that it is possible that the amendments being applied could make the Bill a hybrid Bill. I say that with reference to the definition of the Speaker that a hybrid Bill is
Mr. Cash: I merely say, Madam Deputy Speaker, that however improbable it might seem at this late stage, differences could be created in the "same category or class" by virtue of the amendments that are being proposed and those that have been considered. On the general principle, it seems to me that hybridity could apply in this instance, but I would be grateful for a ruling.
Madam Deputy Speaker: As the hon. Gentleman says, the matter has been brought to the attention of the Chair at a late stage. I am thus seeking advice and guidance and we will return to that point of order later.
This is the fourth time that amendments to remove the automatic linkage between designated documents and identity cards have come back to us from the other place and I very much hope that it will be the last time. The amendments were tabled by Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, who sits on the Cross Benches. I have high regard for Lord Armstrong, his commitment to the constitution of this country and his knowledge of history relating to it. I know that he was trying to help to reach a constructive conclusion by tabling the amendments. However, as I have said before, the moment has passed for discussing the principle of linking designated documents and ID cards, and it simply would not be possible for the Government to accept a complete opt-out for people who apply for documents designated under the Bill from the requirement to be entered on the national identity register and issued with an identity card.
I understand the reasoning behind Lord Armstrong's amendments. As I have said before, I am grateful to him for trying to help to resolve the impasse that exists. However, while in theory an opt-out might well make
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more sense than an opt-in, the reality would be the same. We would still be introducing an unacceptably large degree of uncertainty into the plans for rolling out identity cards linked to passports.
When the Bill returned to the House on 21 March, the debate was essentially about the timing for implementing the requirement for people applying for a designated document, such as a passport, to register and obtain an identity card, rather than the principle of so doing. That was certainly the line taken by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Clegg), although I have to say that he was more coherent than Lord Phillips of Sudbury in yesterday's debate in the other place when he made a mistake about a name. I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis) for reminding me of a particular factor behind that, so I will not read the relevant part of Hansard, although I refer hon. Members to column 655.
The position of the Liberal Democrats throughout has been to use any device, however constitutionally doubtful, to destroy the scheme decided by this elected Chamber. I have no intention of accepting any changes that would have the effect of blowing a hole in the Bill, or damaging the delivery of the identity cards scheme as a whole.
Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Will the Home Secretary confirm that people are right in thinking that this is all part of an EU requirement to prepare for a common system across Europe, and that that is why he is in such a hurry to get rid of our liberties in this respect?
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