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The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, what happens if no method of choosing the composition is agreed by either House, as happened in the House of Commons last time round? The House of Commons said, "We don't want elected, we don't want elected in proportion, we don't want this and we don't want that". To everything, it said, "We don't want it". I do not see how we get round that problem and have a properly reformed House—as your Lordships know, that is what I advocate—if the House of Commons says that it does not know what it wants to do and it will not do anything at all.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, that is the whole purpose of having the Joint Committee. These issues must be predicated on the basis that Members of both Houses will behave in a proportionate and moderate manner. I know that some would say that that was a bold wish, but I still hope that good sense will prevail.

I do not underestimate the enormity of the task that the committee has been set, but there is agreement that this is the only way that we will move forward. We all agree that we must move forward, because a stalemate is not an acceptable way of continuing to do business. This House has said repeatedly that we are in the business of delivering good, effective and robust scrutiny.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, does that mean that the deal that was made—the Irvine/Cranborne deal, which was enacted and implemented under Standing Orders of this House—goes out of the window? The deal, which was recorded, was that the hereditary Peers would remain until stage two—
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substantive reform. I understand that that was the deal—because I was involved in it and divided the House against the Bill and lost with only 42 votes—and I would be grateful to know whether the Government will renege on their undertaking.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the Government do not intend to renege. That is the whole point of our manifesto commitment—of proposing a new scheme through which we hope that a second stage change will be delivered. There is no point in looking back and saying that we could do it another way. We have tried other ways and the truth is that we have failed. Therefore, we must examine the situation in which we find ourselves. The committee will provide us with a way forward. We will have a free vote and we hope that we will, using those two instruments, be able to deliver a second stage.

Lord Davies of Coity: My Lords—

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords—

Lord Davies of Coity: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford said that two conversations took place. Does my noble friend agree that if there are elections to this House, its authority will be advanced?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I cannot pre-empt the conversation that will take place. We have not yet determined the way forward. There may be a number of alternatives that will be discussed by the committee. When the committee has carried out its work, we will know the choices that they have put before us and we will be able to make a decision. As I and my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor have said, we on this side of the House intend to have a free vote. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford asked, quite rightly, whether the Bishops' Benches will be involved. Of course they will. They are a vibrant, active part of this House and if this debate is anything to go by, we will need their prayers more than anything else.

Lord Higgins: My Lords, I understood that the Joint Committee would be concerned, rightly or wrongly, with looking at the procedures of this House, and not issues such as composition. Is that right? The Minister seems to be implying that the Joint Committee will produce a stage two, which does not seem consistent with what was said in the manifesto.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, all those procedures will feed into the approach and the decision that the Government will take. Those two issues will thereby be linked.

I am conscious of the fact that a number of noble Lords have spoken about the identity card Bill and other issues. I have now been on my feet for 21 minutes and it is five minutes past ten. I very much want to address the other issues. I anticipate that this issue will be considered with the same interest that it has been
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dealt with on each occasion that it has come before the House. The House of Lords reform will be an active, vibrant, multi-faceted, interesting debate. I am sure that we will have an opportunity to enjoy that debate hour after hour. For now, I wonder whether noble Lords will content themselves with this answer so that I can show a little courtesy to those to whom I have not yet responded.

A number of noble Lords—the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, the noble Lords, Lord Desai and Lord Thomas of Gresford, and my noble friend Lady Kennedy of The Shaws—raised the issue of identity cards. I shall clarify certain issues for them. I know that the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, suggested that ID cards are an infringement of civil liberties, but we do not believe that they are.

The ID card scheme is about providing a single highly reliable record of a person's identity. The Bill sets limitations on the information that may be held and its use. Only Parliament can amend that. ID cards will not be issued until the person has been in the country for six months. The Government do not intend to oblige short-term visitors of less than three months to register with an ID card scheme. All foreign nationals who stay in the UK for less than three months will use their passport or the national ID card for identification purposes.

A number of noble Lords said that biometrics do not work. I respectfully remind your Lordships that fingerprints have been in use for over 100 years. Many countries have well-established systems for storing fingerprint images and matching them to identify criminals. Biometrics link physiological characteristics with ID, whereas passwords or PINs key on linking facts with ID. Those facts can be stolen or shared. Biometrics therefore offer a higher level of certainty in linking an individual with an established recorded ID.

I know that my noble friend Lord Desai has been very supportive of those issues. He properly raises his concerns specifically in relation to young people. The ID card scheme is not discriminatory. The Bill will not require individuals to carry their cards. The card scheme will be open to everyone on an equal basis, alongside rules on identity checks that are consistent with, and which do not single out particular groups, will help to reduce discrimination as everyone will have an equal means of proving identity when using the public services.
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Similar issues were raised by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, about the information that may be held on the national register. It will be strictly limited by the Bill, and will be listed in Schedule 1. It will include personal information such as name, address, date and place of birth. Only Parliament can change the information held on the register. It will not include marital status, details of licence plate, driving licence, medical records or bank details. It will be simply about identity.

I understand the concerns of noble Lords and that of my noble friend Lady Kennedy of The Shaws who asked whether DNA would be on the cards. The straight answer is that it will not. Biometrics is defined in the Bill as data about a person's external characteristics—face patterns and iris scans. That will assist in the fight against terrorism. The British security services have said that an ID card will help. Eliza Manningham-Buller said that widespread use of false documents was an essential aspect of terrorist activity. An ID card will make it more difficult for terrorists to operate. We believe that these issues can be overcome. They are important issues which we need to debate and discuss.

I was pleased to see that mention was made of the equality Bill by my noble friend Lord Parekh. It was not given a lot of attention, but we very much look forward to the equality and human rights Bill because they are important issues.

I am sure that we will have an extraordinarily exciting time. Today's contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Elton, seemed to be restrained to issues relating to the House of Lords, but from his interest and that of others around the House I know that we will have a vibrant debate on criminal justice issues, children, women in prisons, reformation and how they link together. I greatly look forward to that debate, enjoying, as I will, the company of my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor and my noble friends Lord Bassam and Lady Ashton.

Lord Grocott: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Andrews, I beg to move that the debate be now adjourned until tomorrow.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly until tomorrow.

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon—took the Oath.

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