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Lord Thomas of Gresford: Perhaps the noble Lord can help me. I live in Wales at the moment. If I am thinking of being a terrorist and decide that I am going to go and live in Scotland where I can carry on my activities rather better, I could fill in a form and say that I am going to live in the south-west, somewhere in Cornwall. There is no check on that. I do not have to hand in my identity card and get a new one because you are not going to ask to see me. There is absolutely no check. People can disappear without any come-back at all. All that happens is that a change is made on the register about where they are living in accordance with the form that is sent in. Is that satisfactory? Does that prevent terrorism?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The noble Lord tries to make the Bill ridiculous by using what I think is a rather fatuous case. He knows that no terrorist is going to operate in those terms and those circumstances. I am not going to dignify his question with a response. I do not think that it would persuade him in any event.

I have made it plain that not every change of circumstance will need to be reported, as the noble Lord said. The change of circumstances will relate only to prescribed changes of information that is on the register. That is important in itself.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I am sorry to interrupt again, and I am grateful to the Minister, but I am trying to avoid a vote. The Government seem to be saying that they propose to offer a choice of appointments for this interview. They are actually proposing to do that. My question, therefore, is why on earth can the Government not accept that most of us do not want any more than that but that we do want it on the face of the Bill? What is so obnoxious to the Government that they are unwilling to have it in the Bill in any form of words they like? If the Minister were to say to me, to the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, or to someone else, "I do not like your words. I do not like your word 'reasonable'", I think that none of us would oppose that. The Government could come back with their own language.

What we are not happy to accept is that there is a requirement in the Bill, full stop, and that everything else is grace and favour of the current policy of the Executive. Surely we can find an accommodation on this.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: This is a debate that we have on a lot of legislation, is it not? On very many
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occasions I have heard the noble Lord make the argument for having something on the face of the Bill because it is terribly important, and sometimes he has a point. However, we are talking here of the detail of the operation of an appointments system. I think that those matters are best dealt with in guidance and so on. We want certainty in the wording. The noble Lord has heard me describe in reasonable terms, I am sure, how we see this scheme working. Yes, we will be providing people with a multiple choice of appointment times. Yes, it will be in a prescribed place because there will be enrolment centres in prescribed places. But they will be able to exercise choice in relation to enrolment centre.

I think that the noble Lord is getting it. We are intending this legislation to work in a flexible and user-friendly way. That is our intention. There is no point designing a system of identity cards which, as the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, said, would cause people to rise up in revolt. That is not our intention. It is certainly not how we see things working. The noble Lord clearly has objections to the language being used. However, the sorts of things that we are talking about here and the degree of detail raised by some noble Lords are best dealt with in regulations. I am looking at the Conservative Benches in particular and thinking that many Members of the Committee have experience of government and will have run many times through arguments about the value of good, sound framework legislation and the need to leave to guidance the detail and the important elaboration of how the scheme will work in practice.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: Will—

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Before the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, presses me on this, I am certainly happy to give further thought to the points that he has made. We want to press on and not to waste too much time this evening on this. I am certainly prepared to have a look at some of the language that he is concerned about. However—and we can deal with some of this in correspondence to be shared—the way in which we have set out the scheme will ensure that it works flexibly and in a way that people will also see as reasonable.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: The point that I was going to make is a fundamental issue. There is a big penalty in the event of a failure to satisfy the requirement. It is a quasi-criminal offence—but let us leave it as it is cast in the Bill as a major civil penalty. We believe that there should be, not unnecessary detail attaching to it, but the right of the citizen to have a choice of interviews. The Minister says they are going to give a choice. So, in heaven's name, why not put something in the Bill that makes that clear, because at the back of it is a penalty?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I invite the noble Lord to think about this a bit. Amendment No. 109 in particular—and I think this was the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, or—
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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I hope that I made it clear to the Minister that I saw my amendment as merely probing. It has been overshadowed by the force of argument on others.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: "The amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay"; that is what I wanted to say. If that amendment was carried it would remove the power to prescribe a time at all. Surely the noble Lord will accept that, ultimately, if you have a system where people are being refusenik about it you have to have a system of penalties. I cannot believe that the noble Lord does not think that.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I accept it. I have already said to the Minister that he is entitled to have a system such as the Government intend. I accept his point about Amendment No. 109. It just seems to me that, given the point the Committee has reached, the Government should say, "We will take this away and come up with a form of words that suits us". If we do not like it at Report stage, we will say so. But I do not think that we would. It seems that there is a gap here which is so small that it is eminently bridgeable.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The noble Lord is right—as this debate has gone on, he has begun to realise that the gap is small. Because of that, as I said earlier, I am happy for us to consider the wording further, but I cannot accept these amendments. If they were pushed to a vote and passed, frankly, they would greatly damage the way in which the legislation will work. The noble Lord has already conceded that you have to have penalties in a system of this nature. I have tried to describe the reasonable way in which the scheme will work per se. For all of those reasons we cannot agree to any amendments in this group but, as I have made plain, we shall give further thought to the wording. But there needs to be clarity and I worry that the words which are offered in this group of amendments would severely damage some of that clarity.

Lord Mayhew of Twysden: The Minister is beginning to move, as he so often does in the face of reasoned and persuasive argument. I wonder whether, particularly in the context of his expressed desire to make this legislation user friendly and certain in its terms, he will extend the examination he has just promised to the obligation in Clause 12(1) upon:

There is a civil penalty not exceeding £1,000 if he fails to do that, and yet we do not know, from looking at the Bill, what those prescribed circumstances will be. It cannot be difficult for the Government to specify them, and it ought to be done if the Bill is to be user friendly in that regard and to be certain. I hope that the Minister will be good enough to extend his examination to that part as well.

Lord Monson: I take it that the Minister is not replying to that point. Would it not save a great deal
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of time and trouble if he simply accepted Amendment No. 106, which is totally lacking in ambiguity and is consistent in every way with the Government's intentions as he has just outlined them?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I am happy to respond to the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew. I shall study what he said and give it fair consideration.

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