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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, it refers to crime, which is why Committee will be important. We have made it plain in the other place, and I make it
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plain now, that we are using the test of serious crime. We recognise that there is a line to be drawn, and that we can seek to make it even clearer.
I come to the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, about this House being prevented from modifying orders in relation to compulsion. Compulsion was a huge issue during the debate. I assure noble Lords that Clause 7 allows this House to amend or modify any proposal for compulsion. The effect of Clause 7(2)(c) is that either HouseI emphasise thatcan amend the report containing a proposal for compulsion. Only if the proposal is approved by both Houses can an order be made to give effect to it. That order is itself subject to the normal affirmative procedure. In summary, this House could amend any proposal for compulsion, and must then vote to approve any resulting order before it can come into force.
We have made it plain that the issue will need to be discussed in detail. I assure noble Lordssome have raised the point outside the Chamberthat a super-affirmative order under Clause 7 can be made only in an approved report setting out the proposal for compulsion. The noble Baroness, among others, says that she would prefer primary legislation. We will debate that. My honourable friend Mr Burnhamthe Minister with primary responsibility for this policy areamade it clear, as I have made it clear, that the Government are listening on how best that will work.
We were also asked to consider how soon we would move to compulsion. Noble Lords will know well that we have not been precise in terms of timetable for the move to compulsory registration. That is in the second phase of the scheme. Not only will that be subject to approval by Parliament, but government will need to be satisfied that initial rollout of identity cards has been a success before moving to compulsion. That is a sensible and proportionate way forward. There are specific safeguards in Clause 18 to prevent private sector organisations demanding a card or consent to check against the register as the only proof of identity before it becomes compulsory to register with the scheme. I say that to try to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, who was concerned that that would not be possible.
As well as civil remedies in the courts being available to the individual against the organisations involved, as spelt out in Clause 18(3), part of the National Identity Scheme Commissioner's remit is uses to which information from the register of ID cards is to be put. Any complaint about unlawful demands that cards be produced or the register checked will be investigated by the commissioner, who could recommend removal of the offending organisation's accredited status. It would then no longer be entitled to verify identity against the register. Concerns on that basis will be capable of being dealt with well.
The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, asked whether we had a draft code of practice on civil penalties. I assure her that we will try at least to indicate in Committee the areas that the code of practice will cover. She will know that it would be inappropriate
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and improper to do anything more than give an indication before the House had decided what to do with the Bill.
I move to some of the specific issues. I thank my noble friend Lord Soley who, in his maiden speech, captured so much warmth and attention in the House about illegal working on immigration. He is absolutely right that it is a major issue. I agree with him that we need to do more to prevent vulnerable people being taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers. We very much feel that the provisions will help us.
The noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, and the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, asked me about designated cards. Only government-issued documents can be designated under Clause 4. I assure them that there is no power in the Bill to designate credit cards or other documents issued by private bodies.
The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, raised the issue of the Data Protection Act. That will continue to bite. The rights of the data subjects will remain, as will all data protection rights. We have always made it clear that subject access requests under Section 7 of the Data Protection Act will remain available.
The issue of fishing expeditions was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Holme. Due to the way in which we have structured the Bill, it will not be possible to go on fishing expeditions. No organisation will have direct access to the register, with or without consent. Information will be provided only in relation to a specific request. There will be no browsing, as has been suggested.
With regard to officials in the agency who will be responsible for matters relating to ID cards and passports, working procedures and technical systems are being designed so that all authorities within the agency will be tracked and each person will be accountable for his or her actions. So any unauthorised access will generate alerts. The Bill lays out offences for tampering or unauthorised access to, as well as unauthorised disclosure of, information from the register.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, other western democracies have a record of all the identity cards issued. If they did not have a record, one would not know who was who. Before the Committee stage, I shall try to obtain for noble Lords specific information on how other countries deal with this matter. Our national register may be expressed differently but, so far as I understand it, most other countries have a means of recording this information. They may call it something different but they each have a means of running a database.
Noble Lords suggested that the register was somehow a major threat to individual privacy. I remind noble Lords that the register is concerned with
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identity information. It will not be a combination of existing separate databases and so it will not include medical records, financial or tax records, criminal records or driving records.
We do not accept that ID cards and responsibility for the register should be at arm's length from government. Some of my noble friends say to me, "Go further. You should do more", and my noble friends Lord Campbell-Savours and Lord Harris say that this is a great opportunity for us to do more. I reassure them that the Bill provides an opportunity for information to be kept on a voluntary basis. Clause 3(2) allows voluntary information to be added to an entry on request if it is in a category set out in the regulations. We do not think that other information should be compulsorily required, but there is an opportunity to include it. I am conscious of the time.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. This point is germane to the remark that she has just made to her colleagues behind her and to her earlier comments when she said that there was no danger of the register containing, for example, health records. Am I right in saying that Clause 3(5) gives the Secretary of State the right to modify the information contained in the register without limit? She may say, "We have no intention of using that power to put on that kind of information", but she cannot speak for her successors.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, we have made clear the mechanism by which things are added, and we shall have an opportunity to consider, talk about and challenge those issues before the changes are made. The Bill makes absolutely clear the kind of information that we are going to invite people to give compulsorily. That does not include the other information to which we have referred. I listen very carefully to a number of my noble friends on the Benches behind me who say that a huge opportunity is being missed. We hear that, but we have come to the conclusion that we must have a balanced view on these matters, and that balance rests where we currently find it. These provisions are not without limit and are consistent only with statutory purposes tied into the registrable facts in Clause 1. I believe I have dealt with that. I set out earlier the five criteria which must apply. I hope that is clear.
On the issue of costs, the last of the concerns raised during the debate, I have already said that the cost of the ID card scheme will be £584 million per year. That is our genuine estimate. We recognise that there are concerns about costs and thus the Government have sought independent assurance of their costings. KPMG, which I hope noble Lords will acknowledge is a large, world-class audit and accounting firm, was commissioned to review our costings. Its report confirms that the costing methodology used is robust
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and appropriate. Additionally, the programme is subject to the Office of Government Commerce gateway process. The identity card scheme has just passed the second gateway, which is business justification. Thus the Government are confident in their estimate for this stage of the development of the scheme and so too are the independent experts. These are robust figures that will do well.
I listened with great interest to the comments made by the noble Earls, Lord Erroll and Lord Northesk, on central databases. I hope noble Lords will forgive me if I do not go into great detail on that, but I am sure that we shall be able to explore them very fully in Committee. My noble friend Lord Dubs said that £30 is too much. I can reassure him that the Bill provides power to set fees, and that includes power to make exemptions and exceptions and to make different provision for different cases. In setting the fees, consideration will be given to setting discounted fees or waiving fees, for example, for those on very low incomes or in disability groups.
It is intended to make a plain identity card available for Irish nationals that would not be valid as a travel document and so need not recall the holder's nationality. We understand the concerns about that and we have sought to deal with them.
The noble Earl, Lord Northesk, and the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, raised the point about the Home Affairs Select Committee. The noble Earl suggested that the Home Affairs Select Committee did not support the case for identity cards, while the committee made a number of recommendations to which the Government have responded. It said in paragraph 279 of its report:
I say to the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, that I warmly welcome his support in principle for the Bill. I understand his concerns about the register. I look forward to the debate that we shall have on that and I assure him that ID cards will be nothing like the register.
I look forward to the trenchant debates that we shall have, and I thank my noble friend Lord Brennan and all who have spoken so warmly in support of the Bill. I see the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, rises to speak about children. I have at least five minutes of notes for her on children. They are complex issues but, in view of the time, I shall write to the noble Baroness and to all noble Lords on whose specific issues I have notes as I cannot do them justice this evening.
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