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The Earl of Erroll: I entirely agree, by the way, that the date of death should be held. It is only logical and sensible that it should be. Yet the noble Lord's argument for why it was useful was interesting. It would be useful for people implementing the cards to take a look at it. The argument is that it prevents fraudulent use of the card, when actually the card is linked biometrically. If the biometrics are totally secure, then no one else can use the card. It will be shown up the moment that they give their biometrics. In cases where it is not used via the biometric link, it is used with a PIN number. If that is being held to be secure enough for some other purposes, it is secure enough also for the fact that the chap is dead. If it is not secure enough for proving whether a person is dead, neither is it for some other purposes postulated elsewhere in the Bill. Logically, that is an inconsistency.
If it is to end up as a "flash and go" card, without PIN verification or anything like it, the fact that date of death is registered somewhere is irrelevant. You cannot get at that date until either the PIN number or the biometric is verified against the use of that card. So it suggests there is a loophole in the entire security provision around the card.
Lord Waddington: I do not want to make a meal of this, but the Minister cannot say that the draughtsmanship is felicitous. If one looks at Clause 1(3), one is talking there about an individual who may have a convenient method of proving registrable facts about himself. Clearly, when Clause 1(3) refers to individuals it is referring to living persons. If one then moves to Clause 1(7) and reads "an individual's identity", because there is nothing to show the opposite, presumably one is talking about a living person's identity. To then jump to an entirely different concept of what is going to happen after a person's death in Clause 1(7)(d) really is absolute nonsense. If you are going to deal with the question of what is going to happen after a person dies, whether that death should be registered and if so by whom, that should be
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the subject of an entirely different clause in the Bill. As it stands, what it is really saying is that a live person should register his death.
The Earl of Northesk: I am not sure that I heard the Minister apply his mind to an issue that causes me very serious concernthe requirement under the terms of the Data Protection Act to remove data from a database as and when it becomes irrelevant. I have no idea how the Government are going to apply the criteria to that test, and I seriously would like to know. I am not suggesting that the Minister deal with it now, but if he could guarantee to write to me I would be most grateful.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Of course I will happily write to the noble Earl on that point. The wording is consistent. If the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, looks at Clause 1(3), he will see that the registrable facts are about individuals in the United Kingdom, and they are living persons for most of time for which we are going to be collecting registrable facts. That wording is consistent and follows through with the wording referred to by the noble Lord in subsections (5) and (7) and in the schedule. I will happily spell that out in greater detail in correspondence if it helps the noble Lord to better understand it and follow it through. We are happy with the way in which this has been worded. Of course, as we always do in these matters, we go back and question it to ensure that we have certainty; and there is a consistent thread in it. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, and others for having raised their concerns, because if they are concerned clearly there is some uncertainty in their minds, and we need to ensure that there is clarity. The Bill needs to work, we want it to work, and it will work. I am sure that noble Lords want it to work as well.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: Did the Minister say that it is necessary to register a death with the registrar of births, deaths and marriages and tell the national identity register the date of death? Do two registrations have to be made?
The Earl of Onslow: Perhaps the noble Lord can help me, because not surprisingly I am getting in a muddle. Who has to produce the facts? Is it the individual? Or is it someone wandering around the streets? Or his uncle, his aunt, or his father? Presumably, someone has to produce all the facts. All the facts are listed in the Bill, and one of the facts is that he is dead. As the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, was saying, resurrection is not there for all of us.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: I would have thought it was fairly clear that when the individual is alive it is
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down to that individual to ensure that the agency responsible for the national identity register is kept abreast of the registrable facts. Of course when that person ceases to be alive they cannot do so, and it will be for the GRO to ensure that the agency is advised of the death as it has been reported to it and recorded.
Lord Macaulay of Bragar: In relation to subsection (7)(d) are we not making a mountain out of molehill? The word "and", which precedes "if he has died", is important. That consequentially brings the identity of the person to a logical end, whether dead or alive.
The Earl of Northesk: I am grateful to all noble Lords who have contributed to this debate, not least for the sympathy that my arguments seem to have provoked in the minds of the noble Lords, Lord Foulkes and Lord Williams.
The Minister will appreciate that my original intention in tabling the amendment was probing in character. As I said in my introduction, I certainly have no wish to remove the provision per se; rather, it is my firm belief that the drafting here needs to be tightened up. Indeed, that would appear to be the tenor of opinion throughout the Committee. I find myself extremely torn. The responses that we have received on this issue have been unwieldy and cumbersome and have not helped to move the issue forward.
I certainly wish that the Minister might have responded more positively and sympathetically to the concerns expressed. My mind is torn, particularly because I do not deem this as a first-division issue. Nevertheless, in the absence of anything more constructive from the Minister I have no doubt that we will need to return to this issue on Report, and for the moment I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Baroness said: We turn now to the issue of whether DNA can, or should, in any way be part of the information on the register. The matter was raised in our first discussion last week, on Amendment No. 1, and I have no intention of rerunning that debate. I note that the Minister kindly wrote to noble Lords on the issue of DNA in response to a question raised by my noble and learned friend Lord Lyell of Markyate. The Minister said in that letter, which is undated:
"We have always been clear that biometric information taken under the powers set out in the Bill would be limited to 'external' characteristics, such as fingerprints and features of an iris. This is set out at clause 43(1) of the Bill and would not include DNA".
I know that the Government intend that to be reassuring but my difficulty is that Clause 1 is not even framed in relation to biometric information, which is actually defined in Clause 43 as referring to external characteristics. One has to ask why not. Should we not make it clear that this information cannot be added?
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I have questions which relate specifically to matters that were put to the Minister last week and to which she has not responded in her letter. There may be good reasons why she was not able to do so. If she is not able to do so again today then perhaps she might write to me on them. Will the Minister confirm that, when fingerprints are taken, it is now technologically possible to recover DNA from that same sampling? I ask that because of the points that were put to the Minister by her noble friend Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, as reported in col. 978 of Hansard of 15 November 2005. My other question reflects upon comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, at col. 980 and by my noble friend Lord Lucas at col. 981. Will the fingerprint sample be destroyed so that it is beyond use for any collection of DNA, if indeed it is possible to recover any DNA from the sample?
The Minister said that DNA is not included in the Bill and that there are no powers to take DNA samples, which is fine. But, as the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, pointed out, there is a power in Clause 3(5) to extend what is included in the Bill within the remit of Clause 1(5). As my noble friend Lord Lucas pointed out, it is clear that identity comes under Clause 1(5) and identity is comprised of physical characteristics that are capable of being used to identify somebody. What is DNA if it is not just that?
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