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Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, it may have been stated in Bills and in command papers, but 40 million people are to go on to this register. The Government went to the country to obtain authority to continue in government and they claim authority for this Bill. Why did the Government not say that the scheme was to be compulsory? That word does not appear in the manifesto.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the noble Lord is playing with words. Initially, which means "at the first", I explained to the House why and how we propose the two-stage process. We have not varied it. I absolutely understand the position of the noble Lord and those who sit on his Benches. The Liberal Democrats say that they do not feel bound by the Salisbury convention. They do not therefore pay any attention to the fact that the Government were voted in by the people of this country and that we have a majority. Noble Lords on the Conservative Benches take a different view. They say that they do feel bound by the convention, but that, in this regard, they can disregard it because of the way in which it was stated.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, on Report, I hate intervention. It is the last resort. I made it clear at the beginning of our debates in Committee, when the Minister's noble friend Lord Foulkes of Cumnock intervened, that we on these Benches would work with and by the Salisbury convention. We are doing that, and will continue to do that, throughout every stage of this Bill. The noble Baroness is adducing an argument on semantics. It is her argument, not ours.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I of course take note of what the noble Baroness said. Therefore, I shall remind the House what the report of the Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords stated about the convention at Recommendation 7:
"The principles underlying the 'Salisbury Convention' remain valid and should be maintained. A version of the 'mandate' doctrine should continue to be observed: where the electorate has chosen a party to form a Government, the elements of that party's general election manifesto should be respected by the second
In this regard, the Government have been absolutely clear that their policy was for identity cards; that their policy was for compulsory cards; and that this is the way in which we seek to deliver them. It was our clear intention throughout the period 2002 to 2005, before the general election, that this procedure would be adopted; that is, the same procedure that comes before the House today. It would not be right to resile from that position now.
I shall deal briefly with some of the issues that were raised. The noble Lord, Lord Marsh, made a good point when he said that we either have a compulsory scheme or we do not. The arguments for compulsion are strong. The noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, sought to compare the firearms register with this register. I remind him that we have chosen the passport agency because it has a proven track record of deliveryon time, on budgetand it has gained the confidence of the public. The noble Earl, Lord Erroll, said quite rightly that this ID card scheme is going to happen anyway. I agree with him. In response to the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, I say that this scheme will be able to deal with the human rights of individuals, particularly in relation to the issues raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe. This issue was looked at comprehensively. I can reassure the noble Viscount that a compulsory identity card scheme is compatible with our international obligations, including the European Convention on Human Rights. In its report on the Bill, the Joint Committee on Human Rights confirmed at paragraph 4.5:
"A requirement to have or to carry some form of identity cards does not of itself raise human rights issues as has been established by the European Court of Human Rights. Many Council of Europe countries operate identity card schemes which are generally considered to comply with the ECHR".
Viscount Bledisloe: My Lords, the noble Baroness has not answered my question. I did not ask whether it was compatible with human rights to have identity cards, but whether it was compatible with human rights to say that you cannot travel unless, in addition to getting a passport, you pay for something extra which you do not want. The indirect compulsion denies me the right to travel if I apply only for a passport that I do want, but not for an identity card that I do not want.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, for the moment, until the scheme becomes compulsory, the noble Viscount will be able to choose whether to have an identity card, when such cards become available. However, the scheme is a two-part scheme and has been scrutinised by the Joint Committee on Human RightsI invite the noble Viscount to look at its report. The committee believes that the scheme we propose, which includes human rights as part of the
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foundation stone, is compatible with the ECHR, and does not in any way transgress in a manner that should cause concern. We have dealt with that.
The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, mentioned spin. We have been clear about what has been offered to members of the public. The Government have been utterly straightforward and frank in that regard.
I hear what the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, says, but can I remind him that if we were in a fascist state, as he purports, his ability vigorously to argue and debate and to put forward his views would be denied him? I am proud that he has the liberty and opportunity to say whatever he likes with the appropriate degree of vigour and vim. Therefore, our democracy is in good health.
The noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, mentioned the ability to impose fines. People will have to notify changes of address. On the previous occasion we debated such matters, we said that our proposals would allow such changes to be swift and easy. The noble Earl will know that we already have a requirement to notify any changes of name and address in relation to driving licences, with a criminal penalty and maximum fine of £1,000 for a failure to comply. That has been the case for a number of years and it does not seem to have caused us too much difficulty, so I do not suppose that this will be very different.
The noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, suggested that we should give everyone a passport free of charge. That may be a consummation devoutly to be wished, but the fiscal realities of doing that are relatively clear.
We have a clear issue between Members of this House. The Government say that this is part of our manifesto. It means that we will have a cost-effective and cost-efficient system, and the two issues go together. I invite noble Lords not to press the amendment, because to do so would significantly contravene the clear intention of the people of this country who entrusted the organisation of these matters to this Government. We now form this Government and we ask noble Lords to reflect that in the way that they take these amendments forward.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, I am grateful to all of those who spoke in the debate, which has gone on for an hour and 10 minutes. I note that not one speaker spoke in favour of the Government's position on the matter. I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her response, but she did not address one of the arguments in my opening speech. I like to think that that was because she was unable to answer any of the points that I made. It is breathtaking that the noble Baroness ended her defence of the Government's position by saying that they have a clear manifesto entitlement. If ever a matter was not merely not clear but rather clearer in the opposite direction, that has been made manifestly plain this afternoon. This is a very important matter on which the opinion of the House should be tested.
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