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Lord Phillips of Sudbury: Having heard the noble Baroness, I certainly do not want to strike out the clause because there are good bits in it. Perhaps we can contemplate the issue a little further. What she said about fingerprints might allow the Secretary of State to say to the police, "If you have young tearaways who you've charged with public order offences or ASBOs, let me have their fingerprints and other information". The Secretary of State could use this clause for a series of entries that would then be accessible to other government departments and public authorities.

The Earl of Onslow: Another question has been bubbling up in the back of my mind. The noble Baroness is saying that people who have been turned down for asylum or this, that and the other, can be put on the national identity register. Are those not policing matters, and should they be on police registers rather than on something that is supposed to be an enabling document, or have I misunderstood?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: The police records already have a national database in relation to the PNC. All that information is properly collated there.

In relation to penalties, the information can often come from a civil sphere in terms of asylum seekers, for example. They have committed no criminal offence or transgressed our criminal law, but have applied for asylum. Perhaps it turns out that they were not so entitled and should have been removed. It is helpful to retain that data because if someone comes back into the country on a different name we could verify that that individual in a prior application had been refused asylum and was removed. It is not criminal but it is important for immigration control reasons to keep that information.

The noble Earl talked about penalties and being imprisoned and charged. The penalties in this Bill are not criminal but civil.

The Earl of Onslow: Perhaps I did not make myself clear. If it is compulsory to have an identity card it cannot but attract penalties, and penalties must be criminal. There is no way round that. It is a criminal offence not to give in your driving licence within five days. It must be criminal once it becomes compulsory. It is unavoidable.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We in Parliament are entitled to determine whether something is criminal or civil. We collectively are of the view that the penalties
 
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which are appropriate under this Bill should remain civil and not criminal. Parliament, I am sure your Lordships will be reassured to know, is still sovereign.

The Earl of Onslow: If you do not carry your identity card when it is made compulsory and if, because you do not carry it, you are fined, it does not matter whether it is a civil or criminal conviction. In my book, it is criminal because you have got no option but to pay it. It is a fine, and a fine is a fine is a fine. It is not a subscription to a gentleman's club.

Lord Crickhowell: I am sorry to delay noble Lords from their dinner for a few seconds more. It seems to me that with such a wide discretion being given, even if there are good reasons for using it on occasion, this is a subject that the commissioner should specifically make reports on from time to time. Reading Clause 25, I think he is entitled to. I may want to come back later, however, with the suggestion that this provision is so wide a discretion that there ought to be a specific requirement for the commissioner to report on it.

The Earl of Northesk: I am grateful to all noble Lords who have contributed to this short debate. My noble friend Lord Crickhowell has put his finger on the pulse of why we are concerned about this. The provision is exceedingly wide.

That said, I fully understand the desire of the Government to have flexibility. Indeed, I find the desire and need for flexibility eminently sensible. Here, too, however, the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, has firmly put his finger on the pulse as to why the provision, as drafted, is so worrying; because, notwithstanding the examples that the Minister gave, the intent appears to be to circumvent the limitations that we are attempting to put in the Bill, such as the three months residence limit, the age limit and what have you. I concede that the examples she has given are very much on the margins of those issues. There are other examples one could think of, however, whereby the limitations we are attempting to impose upon qualification for an ID card could become so broad as to make them meaningless under this clause.

Nevertheless, I do not want to delay people from their dinner any longer. With a cast-iron guarantee to the Minister that we will return to this issue on Report, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I beg to move that the House do now resume. In moving this Motion, I suggest that the Committee stage should resume not before seventeen minutes to nine.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.
 
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Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 2005

7.43 pm

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Rooker) rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 24 October be approved.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the main purpose of the draft Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions)(Northern Ireland) Order 2005 is to provide powers of entry to and inspection of employment agencies and employment businesses in order to ascertain compliance with regulations governing such bodies operating from premises in Northern Ireland. It will help protect the interests of the recruitment industry's users, both the work-seekers and the hirers.

The provisions are broadly in line with those already in force in Great Britain and, in line with Great Britain, the department will carry out a programme of targeted inspections. Consultation on the draft order confirmed general support for these proposals, including support from the recruitment industry itself.

In addition, the order will amend the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998, commonly known as FETO, to harmonise criteria for certain appointments to industrial tribunals and the Fair Employment Tribunal, and clarify the Fair Employment Tribunal's power to enforce costs awards.

In conclusion, I commend the order to your Lordships' House as an opportunity to safeguard the interests of clients using employment agencies and employment businesses. We are convinced that the provisions will result in increased confidence for users of the recruitment industry in Northern Ireland. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 24 October be approved.—(Lord Rooker.)

Viscount Bridgeman: My Lords, we support this order. Clearly, there was a requirement to give the tribunal powers to inspect and enter premises. I note that it is in line with practice in Great Britain. I am grateful for the human rights issues being set out in the explanatory memorandum, and we are entirely satisfied with those.

Lord Smith of Clifton: My Lords, we on these Benches also support this order. It is an essential tidying-up—a corollary, really. It has our backing.

Lord Laird: My Lords, on behalf of my party, we support this order as well. Surprisingly enough, some of the key questions I was going to ask have been answered by the Minister, and I am totally thrilled with that. I thank him for his explanation of the order, and I look forward to its outworking.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in support from the Conservatives,
 
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the Liberal Democrats and the Ulster Unionists. I hope, wish and pray that the flood of Northern Ireland legislation coming to this House will receive similar all-party support.

I am not looking to create problems for myself, and if I have to withdraw that thanks, I do so. I say that in the best spirits of the House, however. We are very grateful for the support for the order.

Lord Smith of Clifton: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, we on these Benches always try to be helpful with regard to Northern Ireland legislation. There are occasions, of course—there may be some in the future—when that support will not be forthcoming.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.43 pm.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 7.48 to 8.43 pm.]


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