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Lord Lyell of Markyate: I am most grateful to the Minister. One thing that concerns me when she refers
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to validation and verificationbecause everything in a sense comes back to Clause 1is whether government officials themselves or others whom they employ will be permitted to send investigators to people's homes to seek to verify information in the register. Will there be a right of entry to those homes, with or without some court control?
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: I thank the Minister for dealing with my point about the European Union and any powers that it might have. I appreciate that at present it is an intergovernmental matter; but she will be aware that the European constitution has been signed by all member states. Indeed, it is still a live issue, although there is a period for reflection on the matter, following the rejection of the constitution by France and the Netherlands. Does she agree that under the constitution intergovernmentalism will be no more, because the constitution will collapse the intergovernmental position into one single entity? Therefore, does she agree that if this country was foolish enough to vote for the constitution, it would no longer be an intergovernmental operation and the European Union would have some override over our identity cards and the national register?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The short answer to the question asked by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lyell, is no. The answer to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, is that I still say that we are covered by Clause 18, because designation does not prevent Clause 18 applying. Compulsory registration is defined as an order under Clause 6. "Subject to compulsory registration" is defined in Clause 43(1) as meaning,
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We say that even when the scheme becomes compulsory, it will still mean that an individual would have to consent to that information being given to any other agency, such as a company. That still continues.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We say that Clause 18 protection will still apply. Perhaps it would be helpful if I wrote to the noble Lord saying why we contend that the protection is still there, and copied
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that letter to noble Lords who have participated in the debate. Otherwise, this discussion may take some little time.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I beg the noble Lord's pardon. I did not reply to himbut I understand the point that he makes about the European constitution. The noble Lord knows better than anyone else in this Chamber that although it was signed it could not be ratified and would not come into force until all 25 signatory countries were content for it so to do. The fact that two signatory countries did not get it ratified means that it is not currently capable of being implemented by anyone at all. There is a longer debate to be had on the consequences of the collapsing of the two pillars and the extent to which that would have influenced our ability to keep control of these issues. Noble Lords will know from our endless other debates that that itself is a contentious issue, which I am sure that we could debate for at least another 10 hours.
We are back to an issue which is still not clear to meand that is who the Government actually intend should be included on the register. Can anyone in the world be on it? Is it intended to build up a record of the 25 million visits to this country each year? That might, I confess, have some remote security purpose, but there must be a major risk of information overload. When we go to a country such as Italy and are made under that old 1930s law to hand over our passports in a hotel for our names to be logged officially, I sometimes wonder where that information actually goes. I do wonder where, when we faithfully fill in our landing cards when we fly to another countryincluding this onethose cards actually go. There must be landfill sites across the world in which millions of these documents are filed, mostly irrecoverably.
In the brave new world of biometrics and electronics into which the Government intend to take us, is it the intention that all that information will be registered, and may be registered ultimately on everyone? The alternative is that, as we discussed on Clause 1, this is just a national register and that, as the Government, I believe, faintly absurdly, claim, the cost of hundreds of schools and hospitals is being poured out all for the convenience of British citizens who want to open a building society account. In that case, should not entries in the register be confined to United Kingdom citizens, as this amendment suggests? In particular, when the Minister replies, I should be grateful if she could indicate why, precisely, the register, at least so far as the statutory purpose in Clause 1(3)(a)
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is concernedthe so-called convenient mutual identificationshould not be confined to United Kingdom citizens only. There seems to be no reason whatever why UK citizens should finance a service of convenient identification for people from overseas.
The amendment would, I accept, also exclude foreigners residing here or who have resided here in the past. But how are these people going to be found? The tragedy is that we cannot even find the illegal immigrants on the loose in Britain. How will we possibly catch up with those who are touring the country on an extended visit; or journalists from the Washington Post here on station, or over to follow the six months running up to an election campaign; or academics spending a term as a visiting professor at a university?
Will the regulations state that when someone has been here for 14 or 28 daysor 90they must come forward and register? How will it work for foreigners who cannot be dragooned by compulsory volunteering, as our citizens will be if they want the freedom to travel abroad or to drive? They will have their own passports and driving licences, and they cannot be compulsorily volunteered.
I am just mystified about how this whole clause will operate. If someone is not a UK citizen but was a student at Essex University in the 1960s, say, can he just turn up at an interrogation centre and say, "Look, I was resident here 40 years ago. I would like to be on your register so that I can conveniently prove who I am". If he arrives here not having done so, will he be turned away? How will the Government know he was once here? Exactly what is the target group for registration: United Kingdom citizens or others? The Government must decide, as each would lead to very different conclusions as to how the scheme should be set up. Is it not essential that, before agreeing to go on to Report, we see alland I mean allthe draft regulations about this clause? When will those be laid before us?
The object of Amendment No. 47 is to raise directly the issue of whether the ID card system is intended to be used in the war against terrorism, or is effective against terrorism, when the Government's current plans put greater demands on UK citizens than on those who may come from states that harbour or foment terrorism.
Clause 2 sets out who may be entered on the register and the Secretary of State's duty to make arrangements to enable these entries to be made. Subsection (1) sets out which individuals must have an entry in the national register. I have therefore amended that subsection to make it clear that entries must be made in respect of all those individuals who are citizens of other countries where there is evidence of proscribed terrorist organisations; evidence of other terrorist activity; support for such activity; or support for a proscribed terrorist organisation that the Secretary of State has decided is a threat to the UK.
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