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Viscount Bridgeman: My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister for that comprehensive explanation of the two orders. The physical data order extends the entry requirement for both visa and non-visa nationals, which they must obtain for clearance before travelling to the UK. Apart from the saving in time by processing such applications before arrival in the distant country, it also saves the complications that could arise in certain circumstances in which entry would otherwise be refused at the port of entry. That is a policy that we certainly support, and it is clearly a matter of some satisfaction that the pilot scheme in Sri Lanka has worked well. We accordingly support the move to extend the policy to the other countries in east Africa.
We also welcome the tightening of the requirements in respect of the documents relating to documents issued pursuant to the UN convention on refugees by requiring the production of fingerprints to the Immigration Service. We welcome the effect that that will have on applications under another identity or where national security is involved. I am grateful to the Minister for outlining the safeguards that are in place to ensure that that is not abused.
The other, related order tightens up the loophole in the previous order and provides that an entry clearance shall no longer have effect as to leave to entry when that entry clearance is endorsed on a refugee travel document. We are pleased to note that that is not retrospective and applies only to those refugee documents endorsed after 27 February 2004. We on these Benches support the two orders.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, we are also much obliged to the Minister for her comprehensive explanation of the orders. We are in favour in general terms of the better use of physical data in preventing illegal immigration and are aware of the useful work that is already being done on that subject. In Sub-Committee F we had the opportunity to visit Oakington, where we were told that some people who had been refused asylum came round the second time and were being detected by the fingerprint system. To that extent, we are already making good use of biometric data and there is no reason in principle why that should not be extended. However, we need to be assured that the present proposals are both proportionate and compatible with data protection considerations. I am grateful to the Minister for her remarks on those matters.
We do not have the letter referring to proportionality that the Minister said was sent by her colleague in another place to the committee. I asked in the Printed Paper Office and in the Library, and I can tell the Minister that it was not on POLIS. Therefore, I have come into the Chamber without full knowledge of the report made by the Minister in another place, although I have had the opportunity of studying what she said before the Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation.
The Minister in another place explained that the purpose was to extend the use of biometric controls to the countries mentioned today. She also gave some information about the results from the letter; she said that 14,000 fingerprints had been taken in Colombo and that the result was that seven people were positively identified and two of them received prison sentences. In reply to a question from Mr Boswell, she said that if one considered the decline in applications from Colombo and compared it with the equivalents from India and Pakistan, there was a more than proportionate reduction. Therefore, fingerprinting had been effective, not only in catching people who committed offences but in deterring unjustified applications from Colombo. I would very much like to have seen the coloured graphs that the right honourable Lady mentioned in her speech to the Standing Committee; I hope that copies of them can be placed in your Lordships' Library.
The Minister in another place also made the point that sharing the data had to be consistent in all respects with the Data Protection Act 1998, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the common law of confidence. I should like to ask the noble Baroness, when she comes to reply, what consultation she has had with the Information Commissioner on the matter. It is not only what the Government say about the use that is to be made of the data that matters, but what the statutory body set up for the protection of individuals under the Data Protection Act has to say. Personally, I should like there to be a certificate in the legislation, when major extensions are being contemplated in the use of biometric data, saying that the Government have consulted the Information Commissioner and that he has raised no objections to the proposals.
The noble Baroness referred indirectly to the European Union draft directive on the use of biometrics on all passengers arriving at ports of entry into the EU. The report from Sub-Committee F on the proposal, which was published on 12 February, found that an adequate case had not been made out for that proposal, which was of course much more far-reaching than what is in front of us now, because of the considerable burden it would place on carriers and the disproportionate cost in comparison with the results hoped to be achieved. It is unfortunate that we have had no opportunity of debating that report, as we are faced with a creeping extensionalthough it may be perfectly justifiedof the use of physical data without the opportunity to consider the order in the context of the more far-reaching proposals that will be coming down the track. However, that may simply be an accident of our timetable, which could not have been avoided.
Both the UK and the European Union have taken their cue on these matters from the US, where all visitors from non-visa waiver countries must already provide biometric data on arrival. I understand that that is to be extended to everybody who enters the United States, even those who possess standing visas, from October this year. Perhaps we do not have any discretion in this matter, when airlines will be compelled to accept US regulations. There will be very
I should like to say a word on the imposition of the new requirements on the holders of convention travel documents. I understand what the noble Baroness said about not requiring everyone to obtain fingerprints before they set off, as that would entail an enormous extension of the fingerprinting system to every country from which a CTD holder might arrive. Presumably, however, when CTD holders from the main countries in east Africaand from Kenya if it is added to the list, as was discussed in the Standing Committee in another placeapply at those posts for an entry certificate, they will automatically be fingerprinted before they set off and will not have to be fingerprinted again on arrival. I also assume that when CTD holders apply for an entry certificate in other countries that are not in east Africa or in Sri Lanka they will be told specifically that they will be asked to give a fingerprint on arrival in the United Kingdom. I hope that the noble Baroness can give those assurances. I welcome this order and these regulations.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I thank both noble Lords for the warmth of their welcome for the order and regulations, for the utility which they will provide in determining the bona fides of the identity of those seeking to rely on them, and for their generosity and understanding of why they have become necessary. Having said thank you very warmly, I hope, to the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, for his unreserved support, I turn to the questions asked by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury.
The Information Commissioner has not specifically been consulted. However, as the noble Lord will know, the Data Protection Act provides very clear safeguards. We have taken those safeguards very seriously indeed. We are not aware of any issues raised by the commissioner in relation to Sri Lanka but we shall certainly make inquiries about them. As for the issues raised about the CTD holders, the noble Lord's description was correct. The fingerprints should be taken once. We are proposing the amendment so that those who have not had their fingerprints taken can have them taken when they arrive.
The noble Lord also asked whether east African CTD holders will be required to provide fingerprints on arrival. The answer is: no; they will have their fingerprints captured when they apply for a visa overseas prior to arrival. So people will have their fingerprints taken either prior to arrival or on arrival. I thank the noble Lord for his appreciation of the utility of the scheme we have put together. We think
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this draft order has been seen by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. It will bring into effect the procedures for authorising and using directed and intrusive surveillance and for the conduct and use of covert human intelligence sources.
Where there is an allegation of criminal conduct by a person serving with the police, there is a real need for an independent alternative to an investigation by the police. Part 2 of the Police Reform Act 2002 envisages that the IPCC will itself conduct investigations only in the most serious cases. The IPCC investigators will need to operate in the same way as the police and will need the same capabilities and the same powers in order, for example, to interfere with property, to engage in surveillance or to use human intelligence sources. The order will give the IPCC the necessary powers to conduct investigations independently from the police into allegations of serious criminal conduct by any person serving with the police.
The modifications made by this order are about setting appropriate levels within the IPCC in regard to authorisation to use specific powers for specific purposes; ensuring that the IPCC is subject to equivalent controls as apply to the police; and handling of complaints against the IPCC in exercising its powers under the order.
The provisions in the Police Act 1997 and RIPA were drafted to ensure sufficient certainty in the mechanisms for safeguarding against the misuse of the powers contained in them. Such safeguards are required to comply with the duty under Section 6 of the Human Rights Act. Existing mechanisms provided by the Police Act 1997 and RIPA are compatible with the convention
Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 5 February be approved [8th Report from the Joint Committee].(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)
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