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The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong, however, will allow us to draw a line under the more disturbing elements of this episode. Should the House agree to the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong, the Government will accept it when the Bill returns to the House later today. We hope that we have found an honourable way of resolving the issue between the Houses and that we can restore comity between them.
22M Clause 8, Page 7, line 31, at end insert
"but this subsection does not require an ID card to be issued as part of or together with a designated document issued on an application made in a case falling within subsection (7)(a) to (c)."
22N Page 7, line 42, leave out from beginning to end of line 2 on page 8 and insert
"(7) Where an individual who is not already the holder of an ID
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card makes an application to be issued with a designated document, his application must, in the prescribed manner, include an application by him to be issued with such a card unless
(a) it is being made before 1st January 2010;
(b) the designated document applied for is a United Kingdom passport (within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971 (c. 77)); and
(c) the application for that document contains a declaration by that individual that he does not wish to be issued with such a card."
22O Clause 10, Page 9, line 13, leave out "who does not hold a valid ID card" and insert "in a case in which
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I was brought up on the principle, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again". The noble Baroness made clear yesterday her objections to the amendments which I proposed then and which the House approved. She said that my amendments drove a coach and horses through the Government's proposals. I hope that, with my new amendment, I have taken the coach and horses off her lawn.
The Minister has explained the differences between the two sets of amendments. Somebody who applies for a passport will continue to have to apply to be entered on to the national identity register, but will be able to opt out of applying for or receiving an identity card, with the consequences that the Minister described. A time limita sunset provision, if you likemeans that that right to opt out will expire on 1 January 2010, unless some later legislation extends itbut that is not part of my contemplation today.
I regret that the Government were unable to accept my amendments yesterday, which would have broken the link between the application for a passport and the application to be entered on to the national identity register, but I understand the advantages of protecting the integrity of the national identity register. I would have preferred a later cut-off dateperhaps 1 January 2011 or 30 June 2010but I judged that the Government would not be prepared to accept the later date and, at this stage, I feel that the considerations to which the Minister has drawn attention apply with a special strength.
If my amendments seem likely to command the acceptance of the Government, that will bring the exchanges of messages between the Commons and the Lordsthe ping-pong, if you liketo a close and the Bill can proceed. That is a consummation devoutly to be wished. We have had several goes at it. The Government have movednot quite as far as I would have wishedto compromise on these points. I therefore accept that compromise in the spirit in which it has been offered and move these amendments. I hope that they will command the assent of the House so that this Bill may proceed on to the statute book in due course. I beg to move.
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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, for all his valuable work in finding a compromise; he has found one which the Government have today accepted. If anyone outside this House wanted an example of the value in our deliberations of those who sit on our Cross-Benches, they have only to look to his work on this matter.
ID cards will be voluntary in the initial period of the scheme. That is the crucial issue: voluntary will mean voluntary. The Government get their national identity register. Noble Lords will know that I do not like thatI do not now and I never willbut I accept that the amendment breaks the bridge between the individual and the NIR. If you do not have an ID card, you are not using it and no audit trail is being left by you in the initial period. As the Minister has already said, a significant additional point is that one then does not have to follow all the rules about notifying changes of address under the ID cards scheme, an issue that occupied many happy or unhappy hours in Committee.
The cut-off date is not our first choice. It could have come after the general election, which is what we would have much preferred, but if it is before it, I can assure noble Lords that it will be a campaigning point on these Benches and will certainly be referred to by noble Lords and by my honourable friends in another place.
Can the Minister confirm, in her winding-up remarks, her previous assurances and those of her right honourable friend in another place that those who do not wish to be forced to have an ID card after the Government's now accepted date of 1 January 2010 will be able, prior to the designation of documents and prior to that date, to surrender their passports and obtain a new passport that has a full 10 years to run? I realise that the Home Office website has been updated, but the prose is still impenetrable.
The amendment ensures that the option of avoiding having an ID card will not be available to foreign nationals. We understand the argument that the Government would not wish to be prevented from designating immigration documents in these matters. We do not see that as a fatal flaw to the amendment.
I made it clear throughout all our proceedings in this House that we sought compromise on this core issue. We have always acted with restraint and care. This House was surely right to press the Government firmly on a matter which the Constitution Committee of this House said represents a fundamental change in the relationship between state and peoplea fundamental change that was not set out clearly in the manifesto. I suspect that we shall have many a happy hour from
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now on discussing the various merits of that one page, clearly set out in the Government's manifesto, which obscured their real intent.
The noble Lord, Lord Armstrong, has shown us that we can find a sensible compromise on the promised rollout of the ID cards, as against the original compulsion that the Government had in mind. This is a pragmatic compromiseit is the nature of the real world that one has to be pragmatic. It is not our first choice, as compromises never are, but there should be a reasonable choice that will protect the interests of the people of this country. This is that reasonable choice, in my judgment. It is a convention of this House that one's vote follows one's voice, so if a Division is called on this matter I shall strongly support the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong of Ilminster.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, first, I apologise for the absence of my noble friend Lord Phillips of Sudbury, who has been defeated not by the Government but by a very small virus. He very much regrets his inability to be with your Lordships at this time.
We on these Benches oppose the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong of Ilminster. The noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, said yesterday that over the years this House has rightly grown in stature. Well, it has not always had the reputation that she describes. Yesterday, reference was made to Asquith and Churchill, and noble Lords would expect me to refer to Lloyd George, who said:
But the present-day reputation of this House has been gained not by being cravenly subservient to a government party supported by 36 per cent of the voters in the last general election22 per cent of the electoratebut by standing for the traditions of liberty and freedom which are at the heart of the British constitution. If there is a constitutional issue, as the Minister said yesterday, that is what it is.
There are links in these two deep-rooted political traditions; we and the Conservatives both believe that the democratic state exists to protect the liberty of the citizen and that civil rights and political liberties are inalienable. It is to the enormous credit of this Government that in their early years they recognised those same principles in passing the Human Rights Act, which was a milestone in the history of this country.
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What, however, has happened since? The watchword is now "security". The philosopher Hobbes, in his 17th-century view of the state, started from the premise that the world is dangerous and filled with unknown enemies perpetually striving to do us harm, and that the only way to achieve security is to give up our freedom and liberty to a common power. This is what he said in his great work, Leviathan:
"The only way to erect such a common power, as may be able to defend them from the invasion of foreigners, and the injuries of one another, and thereby to secure them in such sort as that by their own industry and by the fruits of the earth they may nourish themselves and live contentedly, is to confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will".
In this authoritarian model of the state, it is the state, on the basis of secret information that it does not disclose, that defines the gravity of the threats to this country and to our security, and it is the state that determines what civil liberties it will grant us and to what degree it will do so.
It is a grim philosophy, which in the last few years has underlain much of the Government's approach to legislation in this House: the terrorism bills, the criminal justice bills and now this Identity Cards Bill, where compulsion is the keynote. We have heard in the past day or two that the Government always meant to have compulsion. Why did they not say so? Why did they use the word "voluntary"? What is the initial period of voluntariness to which their manifesto undoubtedly refers?
There are severe dangers. There have been cruel terrorist acts on our streets that have destroyed lives. If the Government had produced any evidence that identity cards would protect us from such dangers, we would freely consent to join a national database and to carry identity cards. That would be an exercise of freedom, not of compulsion. It is in resisting the threat to personal freedoms that this House has made its reputation. It was ridiculous for the Minister to say that we had put the reputation of this House at risk.
The noble Lord, Lord Armstrong, said yesterday that there is an issue of personal freedom that should not be brushed aside as being of no consequence. I pay tribute to him for his shrewd attempt yesterday to arrive at a compromise that the House could have supported as a whole. However, his compromise was not accepted, and what is objectionable in what is put before us now with the full support of the Government is that the applicant for a passport will still have to register on the national database. He may not take his identity card, but the organs of the state will have access to his records under this Bill. Information may be put on that national database referring to him. If you look at Clause 19, you will see how many organs of the state will have access to that information without his knowledge.
We will not have it on these Benches. This is an issue of freedom and of personal liberty. Although I have paid tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong, we cannot support him in the Lobbies tonight.
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