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Lord Renton: I wish to support this amendment. It seems to me that without it a great deal of the provisions in Clause 1 and elsewhere in the Bill will not be effective. We have to make sure that enforcement is supported by a proposition that the changes made should be notified as legal. That is what this amendment, and those grouped with it, endeavour to enforce. I hope that noble Lords from all parts of the Committee will support it.
The Earl of Erroll: I was just thinking about the point made that we do not know what the Government intend. We are trying to tease this out through questioning, but if it is not in the Bill any subsequent government may change it to whatever they like. It is probably worth tightening up in order that it cannot later be expanded with unexpected consequences.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I support this amendment so long as it does not jettison us into further bureaucracy around people's names. One of the glories
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of British common law is that you can call yourself whatever you like, whenever you like, for any purposes barring fraud or deception. I like that and intend to call myself by several different names.
Lord Lucas: When I want to deal with junk mail, spam or whatever else and find out where it is coming from, I employ about 15 names to try to track down who has been spreading my details around without my permission. Beyond that, I have not yet come across a government database in which I can enter my name correctly. Since this is effectively compulsory for everyone, my plea to the Government is: can we please have a way to enter our names as they actually are and as we wish to be called, rather than being parcelled into little pots that are devised by people of limited imagination? Beyond anything else, I do not understand how someone of Chinese origin is able to get his or her name the right way round under most government databases. We need something flexible which addresses the fact that a name is very personal and that one wants to be addressed in the way that one chooses.
The Countess of Mar: The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, is lucky to have had only three legal names. I have had five. I was born Margaret Lane. I became Mrs Margaret Artiss, then Lady Margaret Artiss, followed by Lady Margaret of Mar. I am now the Countess of Mar. I was last Lady Margaret Artiss in about 1965. The Department for Work and Pensions still insists on writing to me in that name because it cannot cope with other titles. But I get my pension, so that is okay as far as I am concerned. If all those names have to go on the database, they will get muddled, as the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, said. I would appreciate just being called the Countess of Mar. There is no other, so I do not need Christian names.
The Earl of Onslow: I am in a pickle here, one which applies probably only to Members of your Lordships' House, who seem to change their names with monotonous regularityat least those 92 of us who remain under those circumstances. Even so, it appears that when the late and much lamented George Brown wanted to take the title of Lord George Brown, Garter said, "You can't call yourself that because you will be muddled up with the youngest son of the Marquis of Sligo". The problem of lots of name changes is very particular to those of us who are here, but there is a serious point to it. It will be very irritating, as it is already, to be addressed as "Mr the Earl of", which I am frequently. I should think that almost every Earl here has been addressed like that. Computers cannot cope with this and as governments tend to get computer things wrong, the concept of a central database getting it even half right strikes me as remote in the extreme.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: This is an important amendment, although I do not understand how it would work. Like other noble Lords I have been called all sorts of things in my post and in other wayseven
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by my colleagues and noble Lords opposite. But my favourite is "Lord Stod of Swin". I do not think that I would want to register that. Nevertheless, as I understand it, people will be able to change their names on the register if they wish. How will they prove that it is legal? As the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, said, you can call yourself what you like. If you can call yourself what you like without any legal document, how will you prove that it is your legal name? I find difficulty with that. Perhaps the Minister can deal with that in her reply.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: Has the noble Baroness consulted the record of the discussion of the regulatory reform order which was supposed to reorganise the registration of births, deaths and marriages, to put them on computer, and of the difficulties that there were with people's names? Before deciding whether this will work, she would do well to look at that. The noble Lord, Lord Desai, was on the committee when we looked at that regulatory reform order, which failed for a number of reasons. The Government had not thought it through adequately. The move still has not taken place, but it will have to. The noble Lord, Lord Desai, pointed out that people from, I think, India put their family name first and their given name second, whereas other people, as in this country, put their given name first and their family name second. This can cause a good deal of confusion. It is very important that all the names are entered identically on all databases in all departments. Otherwise, it will be in a muddle, and not only for Peers.
Lord Selsdon: Perhaps I could help the Minister. I raised the problems with my own name on the first day. I also drew attention to the fact that the name in the passport is generally accepted as the registered name. Over 80 per cent of people have passports, page 6 of which gives their full names, or, if you are ennobled or entitled, the full title. That may be a problem. In the case of ethnic minority groups, as I know from the time that I dealt with the Middle East and as Members of the Committee will be aware, in many families there is no such thing as a Christian name or a surname. The same problem arose when we debated a Bill for a particular kind of tax and the number of Patels that emerged from the woodwork made it impossible for anyone to identify them. For proof of identity in the international world, the passport is by far the best means of identification, but for other, secondary identification, it can be a birth or marriage certificate. Women who have married twice may change their names and use their original maiden names. When people decide to use their own working names separately from their married names, it can create a large number of problems. It would be helpful if the Minister could give some guidance on this. Although some light-hearted comments have been made, it is particularly important that the one thing that should be identified on an identity card is the person's name.
Lord Crickhowell: I shall arch over the point that most Members of the House become the younger sons
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of Marquises almost daily; in my case, I am called Lord Nicholas Crickhowell, which is wholly incorrect. I turn to another issue that I have only just spotted; namely, that subsection (7)(a) asks for our full names and subsection (7)(b) refers to,
I thus toy with the difficulty of identifying the difference between the requirement to register a full name and to register a considerable variety of other names. Usually, I am never known by my first name, but I am sometimes asked to list all my names and then it appears. My wife complicates the issue. Her Christian name is Ankaret, but she is almost always known to her friends as either Ann or Annie. One of the reasons I changed my name on coming to this House was that she was totally fed up of being one of about 10 Ann Edwards in our local health service register. That poses the difficulty that will face us if we are asked to register other names by which we have been known.
It is absolutely clear that we must have some certainty about this matter and must understand what the Government propose to do about it. I would therefore like an explanation of why, in the most important part of the clausesubsection (7)(a)we are asked to register our full name and then suddenly thrown into the realm of uncertainty by being asked to register a string of possible alternatives.
The Earl of Northesk: I had proposed to deal with this matter later, in the context of Amendment No. 81 tabled in my name. However, it may be convenient to the Committee for me to address the issue now.
I support the amendment. Members of the Committee have already highlighted categories of names to which the provision could applynicknames, pseudonyms, perhaps even citizen band handles. More seriously, it could even extend to all the combined username passwords used by individuals to obtain access to an extensive range of secure online services. As we all know, a whole variety of public and private organisations use that method as a means of verifying the online identity of their clients and customers. To that extent, it qualifies as personal information that would be of assistance in corroborating the identity of any given individual. Yet, as we are all only too well aware, one of the simplest ways to attract the risk of identity theft or fraud is to reveal either one's user name or password, let alone both. I merely flag that up as an additional area of concern in the context of the amendment.
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