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Moved, That the draft regulations and orders laid before the House on 31 January, 28 February and 1 and 6 March be approved [17th, 20th and 21st Reports from the Joint Committee and 24th and 28th Reports from the Merits Committee] [Considered in Grand Committee on 22 March].(Lord McKenzie of Luton.)
22E Page 7, line 38, after "accompanies" insert "or includes"
22F Page 7, line 43, leave out from "manner" to the end and insert "ensure that an application to be issued with such a card accompanies or is included"
The Lords do not insist on their Amendments Nos. 16 and 22, in respect of which the Commons have insisted on their disagreement, do disagree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 22E and 22F in lieu, and do propose Amendments Nos. 22G and 22H in lieu
22G Page 4, line 44, after "individual" insert "and is made on or before 31st December 2011, that application may, if the individual so chooses, include an application by that individual to be entered in the Register.
(2A) Where an application to be issued with a designated document is made by an individual and is made after 31st December 2011,"
22H Page 7, line 42, leave out from "card" to end of line 2 on page 8 and insert "may, if the individual so chooses, in the prescribed manner, include an application to be issued with such a card in any application made by him to be issued with a designated document, where that application is made on or before 31st December 2011.
(7A) An individual who is not already the holder of an ID card must, in the prescribed manner, include an application to be issued with such a card in any application made by him to be issued with a designated document, where that application is made after 31st December 2011."
22GA & 22I Because the Commons do not consider it appropriate to delay until 1st January 2012 the commencement of the rule that a person applying for a designated document must at the same time apply to be entered in the Register and to have an ID Card issued to him
The Motion was agreed by the other place on Tuesday 21 March by a majority of 43 votes. I seekI emphasise the word "seek"to persuade your Lordships not to accept Motion A1 of the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, which would amend Motion A by adding Amendments Nos. 22J and 22K.
I listened very carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong, said in our debate on 20 March and I undertake to listen very carefully again today to what he will say in support of his Motion. I am clearly very grateful to him for the time he has taken to consider this issue and to draft these amendments. I should say at once that I recognise that they are intended to be helpful in resolving the stalemate on this one final issue on the Identity Cards Bill and not to undermine the Government's plans for identity cards. I acknowledge that is the intention. Whether that is the effect, however, is, of course, another matter. However, while in theory an opt-out might well be preferable to an opt-in, the practical impact on delivering the identity card scheme would be much the same.
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The reason I cannot accept these new amendments is that they would have a very similar impact to the original Amendments Nos. 16 and 22 proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, but withdrawn by him on 20 March when he proposed Amendments Nos. 22G and 22H in lieu. I see the noble Lord nodding his assent in relation to that assessment. These later Amendments Nos. 22G and 22H recognise the principle of linking designated documents to identity cards, albeit with a time limit which would have delayed the automatic linkage between designated documents and identity cards.
The debate when the Bill returned to the Commons on 21 March was essentially about the timing of implementing the requirement for people applying for a designated document such as a passport to register and obtain an identity card rather than the principle of doing so. That was certainly the line taken by the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman in the Commons, Mr Nick Clegg MP, during the debate in the other place on 21 March.
The question now is whether these powers should be available straightaway or whether any delay should be imposed. Indeed, Mr Clegg said that in his view the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong, would,
As I made plain in debate on 20 March, the date of 31 December 2011 proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, is unacceptable to the Government. Such constraint on the linkage between designated documents and identity cards would introduce major uncertainties into our planning and create a high risk of additional costs. There would be delays not just in British passport holders being registered, but in foreign nationals being included on the national identity register.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, I thank the Minister for giving way. If I may just clarify, the effect of the amendment passed by this House last time would not have been to delay designation as such. However, a designation having been made, it would have meant that the citizen had an optioneffectively, for five yearson whether he or she wished to have an ID card. The five-year period would mean that that option would end. It is important that that is understood.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I understand entirely the way in which the noble Lord put it. We had an interesting debate on whether that was the effect and the costs that would flow from that position through having to develop two databases. We went through those issues quite fully. The noble Lord, as I understand it, is saying that, in principle, the connection in relation to designation was accepted and that the position was only in relation to when that would take effect and whether it would most probably follow another general election. However,
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the amendment with which we are dealing today puts us back to the position prior to the noble Lord's previous set of amendments and to where we were some considerable time ago when he was still arguing, as a matter of principle, that the designation should not be connected. I agree with the noble Lord in relation to that.
Turning to the issue with which we are now dealing, the connection between those two elements is clear in our current structure. The situation is that it is intended that designated immigration documentssuch as residence permits issued to foreign nationals as well as passports issued to British citizensshould have the designated connection. We are proposing that but it is being countered. The Government have already also made clear the intention to create a new agency, based on the United Kingdom Passport Service, which would be responsible for issuing passports and identity cards. The plans for that agency are predicated on the introduction of a seamless process for the issue of passports and identity cards as a single package. Any opt-out or opt-in would increase the complexity, and thus the uncertainty, of planning the rollout of identity cards.
I explained the history from November 2003 to date on the last occasion. I will not weary the House with that again but I appreciate that the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong, has not necessarily been on that journey with us month by month. He has been deprived of that pleasure, but those of us who have taken that journey can remember it well. Issuing an identity card together with a passport does not require anyone to use that card unless they wish to do so. In fact, Clause 18 specifically prohibits any requirement to produce an identity card as the only proof of identity unless there is a specific provision
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