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The Earl of Erroll: I am sorry, but it was. It would have been unthinkable 10 years ago that the
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Government should have a national database of fingerprints. In the same way, the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, made the point that even if we try to exclude DNA in the Bill, given another 10 years, it will be included by legislation that will add to the list in Schedule 1. The point made by the noble Lord, Lord Gould, is that we should put principles in the Bill that would safeguard some of that information because we will not get a chance to put it in when, in the future, Schedule 1 is altered to add DNA. Is that right?
Lord Gould of Brookwood: My point would be there, although that suggests that 10 years down the line more legislation might be added. We are here and now. In addition, the language that some people have used about Orwellian control and surveillance is not common sense. We need to connect more with the reality of the Bill and what it is trying to achieve.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: Before the noble Lord sits down, I should like to follow up what the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, said. It would be extremely helpful for the Committee to know what the noble Lord, Lord Gould, thinks about these two amendments, which have not mentioned Orwell or any of the other stuff.
Lord Gould of Brookwood: I was responding to the comments made in relation to Orwell and surveillance, which seemed to me to exaggerate unnecessarily people's fears about the Bill. That is my point. In debating these kinds of measures at this time, it is important to retain a sensible, realistic and common-sense view of matters, which, for the most part, the noble Lord does.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: In the context of Orwellian situations, I believe that the noble Lord was referring to me. Of course, I was commenting on the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, in which he sought to take the use of DNA way beyond the Bill. I think that I was perfectly entitled to point out that what he was saying was not necessarily true or wise. It was reasonable to say that our DNA belongs to us and to no one else. However, I urge the noble Lord to understand what the Minister has said. She does not want to go any further. She does not want DNA material or information to be included in the Bill. That is what the amendment is about. If the noble Lord, Lord Gould, believes that the Minister is wrong and that she should go much further than she wants to, perhaps he will table an amendment, which we can debate fully.
Lord Marlesford: I think I see where my noble friend Lady Anelay and the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, are coming from. As I understand it, they are coming from slightly different positions. My noble
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friend Lady Anelay wants the Bill to be clear and to result in an effective and efficient form of identity card. She perhaps feels that it would be premature to have a facility for measures that technically are not yet fully available for use. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, and indeed his party, is probably fairly deeply sceptical about the wisdom of allowing the state to introduce identity cards at all. As the Minister knows, I come from the position that the time has come for the state, with the multitude of dealings that it has with individuals, to be absolutely clear about who people are. I have always thought that the card will be a terrible distraction. I would prefer a central register of data on people, forgetting the card, which has many emotional implications.
However, I have great sympathy with my noble friend Lord Lucas. If the object of the exercise is to have a really clear way of identifying people, we want the best biometrics that are available. I am prepared to believe that DNA is not yet sufficiently reliable, particularly in examples of taking it from moisture left by fingerprints, to allow its use. The arrival of the moment when it can be used should be very publicly known. I therefore believe that it should be introduced in some form of supplementary legislation when that time comes. For those reasons, I support my noble friend in saying that I would rather like it not to be included in the Bill. On the other hand, I very much feel that the more biometrics you have, simply by the definition of map finding, if you cross several lines, you will be more certain about where you are if they all cross at the same point. Although we have facial recognition, fingerprints and possibly iris recognition, DNA will undoubtedly constitute a huge step forward as regards certainty in knowing who people are. I do not want to see the possibility of it being excluded in the long run; although it would be a good idea to exclude that possibility from the Bill.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: The noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, made a general remark about the posture adopted by noble Lords on these Benches. I make it abundantly clear that he is perfectly correctwe would rather not have the Bill at all, but we are making the best of it. We do not seek to wreck it but to make the best of it. That will continue to be the posture which we adopt.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I hope that I shall be able to put certain hares to rest. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, is for the third time absolutely rightand I concur with himthat DNA does not form part of the Bill. The Government do not want it, it is not included and no one need worry about it. I hear what the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, says about the way in which technology is going, and he may be right. I hear, too, what the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, says about the accuracy that may attach to DNA in due course. It is already very accurate indeed. All of that may be true but that issue is not a matter for this Bill and it is not in the Bill. It is not included in Clause 43. I shall explain why that is so.
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I understand that these amendments were primarily tabled to enable me to give the reassurance that the noble Baroness and the noble Lord seek. I shall try to answer the noble Baroness's specific question on fingerprints. Noble Lords who saw the demonstration of the new machines in Committee Room 4 would have seen the way in which fingerprints are taken. I believe that there is either a glass or Perspex part of the machine over which one puts one's thumbs and then one's fingers. It is not like the previous practice of rolling one's fingers in ink or some other substance whereby one could leave some DNA behind. However, it is right to say that in theory it is possible to obtain a DNA sample from sweat or skin particles which are left behind on a reader when a fingerprint image is taken. In practice such an image would not be so taken because you simply wipe over the top, the next fingers are put in and the reader underneath reads the data. The fingers do not actually come into contact with the material underneath. Those who had the advantage of seeing the new machinery in Committee Room 4 found that helpful. I shall try very hard to persuade the House authorities to provide another opportunity for noble Lords to see the new machinery before we discuss the matter further on Report so that everyone who is interested can try out the machines for themselves. If the machines are tried out by noble Lords in rapid succession, they will see how easy the process is.
DNA is not included in Schedule 1. There is no intention of changing that. Although DNA might be extracted from a fingerprint, that would require highly sophisticated forensic techniques. Furthermore, DNA does not provide a means of immediate identification, which is why we will be using fingerprints and iris image biometrics.
To put those issues finally to rest it may be useful to go through them. Amendment No. 43 specifically excludes DNA information from the description of physical characteristics in Clause 1. We have always been clear that there was no intention to record DNA.
The noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, has already invited our attention to Clause 43. Biometric information is defined in Clause 43 as data from external characteristics. DNA is not an external characteristic. As such, there is no reason to rule it out expressly in the Bill. If the Government intended to take and record DNA, we would need an explicit power to take such samples. There is no power in the Bill to do so.
To reassure noble Lords, the Bill does not give the Secretary of State any power to take a sample from individuals to complete such an analysis. The powers
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to take biometric information are only those contained in Clause 43(1), which include the iris, face and fingerprints.
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