Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I am grateful to all noble Lords—about 13, I think—who have taken part in a debate on an amendment which I had intended to lead to some clarity. I think it has just opened another can of worms. I certainly do not intend to examine that can of worms any more today. I shall consider what we are to do before Report.

I was grateful to the Minister for his response at the end to my noble friend Lord Lucas. I understood him to be saying something that he had not quite said earlier: that we may elect what names we put down and will not then be penalised for leaving out names. If that is the case, then it sounds a very common-sense way forward. I note that the Minister said that this is intended to have a common-sense touch. He then went on, however, to say first that people should register names they use in their interaction with day-to-day life, and then the names to be used consistently in contact with public bodies. Those might be different.

There has been some confusion. I hope that the Minister's closing remarks to my noble friend Lord Lucas will mean greater clarity. If we find that the Government think again on that point, obviously we may have to return to it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Seccombe moved Amendment No. 40:

The noble Baroness said: This probing amendment will remove "gender" as a reference to any individual's identity within the context of the national ID register in Clause 1. The purpose of this amendment is to question the Minister how the use of gender information will sit with the Gender Recognition Act 2004. For example, will the information be entered as the gender on the birth certificate, or as the gender on a gender recognition certificate after a sex change? Will and should both pieces of information be kept? Could it not be an infringement of personal data, considering the large number of uses Her Majesty's Government are proposing the database and cards be used for, as well as the potential function creep in the future?

Section 10(1) of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 states:

Can the Minister confirm whether the onus would be on the Secretary of State to inform the ID register of any gender change, as it is in the 2004 Act, or on the individual involved? Would the Government pay for the change of information? Will the use of gender as an identity reference adhere to the principles set out in Section 21 of the 2004 Act with regard to foreign
23 Nov 2005 : Column 1640
gender change and marriage? Can the noble Lord clarify whether they accept gender change as having occurred in approved countries or territories only as agreed under the Gender Recognition Act?

It is all very well for the Government to argue that this is an enabling Bill, but we need to be clear from the start how it interacts with current legislation. I hope that the noble Lord can shed some light on the issue. I beg to move.

4 pm

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Amendment No. 40 would leave gender out of the list of registrable facts. Gender needs to be included because it is mandatory for International Civil Aviation Organisation standards for travel documentation. It is included in passports and needs to be included on ID cards. It is also a fundamental piece of standard identity information. Knowing someone's gender immediately means that any search to find an individual's record is reduced by 50 per cent.

We completely understand the concerns of transgender people, and our officials have had representations from and discussions with Press for Change, a representative group for transgender people. We accept that it would be much easier for them if gender were not shown on the face of an ID card. However, if we are to meet the standards for travel documentation, that will not be possible and we must recognise that the number of people in this category is relatively small. We have made it clear that there will be special arrangements, including strict confidentiality for anyone who changes gender, so that it is not possible for people who have no need to know to be aware that an individual is holding an identity card in a different gender.

Those with gender recognition certificates will, of course, be entitled to a passport and an identity card in the acquired gender, as it is legally recognised. However, we believe we need to go further, so it is intended that those living what is called a dual-gendered life will be able to have a second, plain card in the acquired gender. That would not be valid for travel but would allow that person to use the identity verification service in the acquired gender. There will need to be solid evidence that the person suffers from gender dysphoria—the condition that defines a person as transgender, moving from one gender to the other—rather than is a transvestite. We shall ensure that staff training and facilities will be designed to be as discreet and as sensitive as possible to the needs of such people, which, of course, the United Kingdom Passport Service is already in dealing with them.

I understand that the situation has not changed from the 2004 Act. The way in which that works will be transposed into this legislation. We are grateful to the noble Baroness for tabling the amendment but, having heard what I have said, I hope that she will feel able to withdraw it.

The Earl of Erroll: What the noble Lord has said could be very useful depending on the name that one
23 Nov 2005 : Column 1641
uses. I have always worried about choosing whether to include a title in the registered name on a card. As people have preconceived ideas, one way or the other, I have a credit card with my title on it and one without it, depending on how I think a shop will react towards me. That is perfectly true and one would be very silly not to do that. Clearly there will be a facility to have multiple cards linked to one biometric record on the national identity register. Therefore, it could be useful for people who have a stage name and a real name—they have two public personae—and for celebrities to be able to travel semi-incognito with two cards with different names on the face of them, linking back into the same record in the national identity register. I believe it would be useful to allow that.

Lord Selsdon: Perhaps the Minister can confirm that my briefing was correct. I do not believe that any of the proposed biometric data can determine the sex of a card holder and that the only method of doing that is through DNA.

Lord Clinton-Davis: What happens when one has a name like Shirley or Evelyn which may be masculine or feminine?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I want to make it clear that one cannot have two cards with different names. That may be what the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, was talking about. However, if one is a British national one can have a stage name, a maiden name and an ordinary name on the same card.

The noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, made another point. I do not think that the card will contain the gender of the individual, but I have a feeling that the photograph will give a pretty strong indication. In nearly all cases, I suspect that there should not be a problem.

Lord Lucas: If the Minister has always found it possible to tell the sex of the people he meets on the streets of Brighton, he is a brighter man than I.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Perhaps I have local knowledge!

Baroness Seccombe: I thank the Minister for giving us this new information on the special arrangements that will be put in place. I was glad to hear of the sensitive way in which these matters will be dealt with.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I inadvertently said that the card will not contain a person's gender but I meant to say that it will include gender.

Baroness Seccombe: I thank the Minister for that clarification. I need to read this in more depth, but now is not the time to do so. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
23 Nov 2005 : Column 1642

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): In calling Amendment No. 41, I advise the Committee that if it is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 42.

The Earl of Northesk moved Amendment No. 41:

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page