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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I am grateful to Members of the Committee who have given support to this amendment, and thank the Minister for his, as ever, courteous response. However, I am disappointed with his response, because there is a failure of a meeting of minds on the basic principle. I do not believe that the Data Protection Act is a sufficient protection. The Minister adduces arguments about IT access being more widely available, so that people can get access that way; but I am always wary about expecting that everybody, vulnerable or not, can have access through IT. I am also wary about access by telephone because one is not able to verify the textone is relying on a relaying of the information to that person.
The Minister said that my amendments were at best unnecessary and at worst imperfect. I would say that the Bill was imperfect in parts as well. I do not feel that I would be able to progress further if I brought the matter back on Report. I feel strongly about it, and therefore tonight I wish to test the opinion of the Committee.
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The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 67, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 68, which stands in my name. I note that Amendment No. 67A, which was a late entry into the list in the name of my noble friend Lord Peyton of Yeovil, is also in this group. My noble friend remarked to me earlier that he would not be able to be here at this late stage. He asked me to convey his apologies to the House and said that if on reading the debate in Hansard on the remaining amendments in this group he felt that it was not appropriate to bring it back on Report, he would not do so. On the other hand, he may find that he needs to return to it on Report; so we await that with interest.
We have had some long and ultimately inconclusive debates on Clause 1 about what may or may not be registered. The link was never clearly elucidated between Schedule 1 and Clause 1.The noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, carefully pointed out some of the mismatch between Schedule 1 and Clause 1. Here is another set of information purporting to define what may be registered. Clause 3(1)(c) is rather muddy and needs to be explained. My question is simplewhat are the,
I looked in the Explanatory Notes for help but came there none because they were silent on this point. The Explanatory Notes did say something else that rather intrigued me on Clause 3(1); namely, that people's emergency contact details might be included on the register. Where would that information come from? Could anyone just write in, as provided for in Clause 3(2)? That information is not listed in the schedule, but I suppose it could come under the Government's outer limit of a catch-all in Clause 1(5)(i). I wonder how it could be accessed in an emergency and how access to it could be controlled.
Amendment No. 68 refers to Clause 3(2)(c). It looks at the ability of the individual to place information on his record that he wishes to have placed there. As currently drafted, Clause 3(2)(c) states that information about an individual must be recorded in the register if,
I have substituted a different requirement of reasonableless, and I have done so to ask the Government to put on the record how they intend to
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judge what is "practicable and appropriate" to be entered and why they feel that "reasonable" would not be a better test. I beg to move.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Amendment No. 67 would remove the ability to record the technical information necessary to ensure the integrity and operation of the scheme. The ability to manage the security and performance of the register's IT systems is reliant on being able to assess the operation of the system effectively. The information referred to under Clause 3(1)(c) are the key pieces of information that allow this to happen. Necessary technical data includes the network event information and encryption codes that would be used to detect and prevent security attacks and to protect the integrity of the data. Certificate revocation logs ensure that lost or stolen cards cannot be used in attempts to access the register. The clause is also about keeping useful records of card reader and biometric reader information such as current operational status, manufacturing information and fault history. Such pieces of information are well established elements within standard IT infrastructure packages. It is essential information for the security and operation of a database system of this kind.
Clause 3(2) provides that where a person makes a request to add voluntary information to their entry on the register, the Secretary of State must record that information if it is within a description of information set out in regulations and it would be "practicable and appropriate" to do so. During our consultations on the issue of ID cards with the public, the ability to record voluntary information was mentioned frequently as a feature people would like to see on their card. Many people saw the advantage of being able to record information such as organ donor status, blood group, allergies and so on. Since it is possible to do this, we think the Bill should make provision for it where that information is practicable and appropriate.
Amendment No. 68 would replace the requirement for the recording to be "practicable and appropriate" with a requirement of reasonableness. In general terms, what would be "reasonable" to record will be the same as what would be "practicable and appropriate" to record.
However, the requirement for a proposed addition to the register to be "practicable and appropriate" ensures that information that might be "reasonable" to record, because the subject matter was related to identity, for example, but was impracticable to record, because it was too large, or was in a format incompatible with the register, for example, would not have to be recorded. Similarly, it might be inappropriate in the Secretary of State's judgment to include a large amount of detail about matters irrelevant to the purposes of the register.
The noble Baroness kindly advised the Committee that the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, has given his apologies. I entirely understand that and the reasons why, and we appreciate all the time that the noble Lord
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spends here and value his contributions and it is only right that I should respond to his amendment. Amendment No. 67A seeks to remove the Secretary of State's ability to prescribe what sort of voluntary information may be held on an individual's record.
I regard the power to set out in regulations the type of information which may be recorded under this power as important for two reasons. First, it is right that the Secretary of State should set the parameters for the information which can be included in a way which is public and subject to parliamentary scrutiny under the negative resolution procedure. The categories of information might include medical information useful in an emergency such as blood group, donor status or allergies. But without the filter of the regulation making power, any request by an individual would need to be considered on its merits and the Secretary of State would have unfettered discretion in adding whatever he liked. Individuals might apply to record irrelevant information, such as affiliation to a particular football club, or information which we do not wish to be on the register, such as the individual's religion.
Is it right that the Secretary of State be able to regulate the information which can be held on a voluntary basis on the National Identity Register? We say that it is and that it is practicable and appropriate for it to be recorded, as I have already outlined in relation to the previous amendment. For these reasons we consider these amendments to be unnecessary and I hope that after hearing our argument on this that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendments and I hope that when the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, has read Hansard he will feel confident in our response.
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