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Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I am grateful to the noble Lord for responding to what has been said. I am not sure that the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Corston, would be helped by ID cards. First, if an employer is in league with, or otherwise oppressing, workersand it sounds as though this might have been such a caseI do not see how identity cards would come into it. Secondly, under Clause 2(3), the Secretary of State may provide that an individual residing in the United Kingdom, in the exercise of an entitlement to remain here temporarily, will not be entitled to an ID card in any event. So, while I am not saying that there are no issues where they might help, we may be exaggerating the degree to which ID cards will help in cases of improper employment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
"(4A) For the purposes of subsection (4), the provision of a public service or services will be made more efficient and effective if, and only if, the Secretary of State can demonstrate, and certify in a report laid before Parliament, that, for the relevant service or services, the total cost to public funds and the total additional cost to users of the relevant service, which together will result from the establishment, maintenance and application of the identity card scheme to the service or services concerned, will be significantly less than the saving to public funds that the Secretary of State certifies will result from the establishment, maintenance and application of the identity card scheme to the relevant service or services.
(4B) In calculating the costs and savings in subsection (4A), the Secretary of State must include costs to public funds and service users that would not arise, or would not have arisen, if a document were not designated under section 4 of this Act."
The noble Baroness said: When I introduced our first amendment yesterday, I did not anticipate that it would lead to such an early furore on the issue of this scheme's cost. Noble Lords from both sides of the Committee soon seized upon the importance of that. Amendment No. 21 remains on the list only so that I
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can indicate publicly the kind of questions I hope the Government might be able to address more effectively by the time we get to Report. It is, therefore, very firmly in the nature of a probing amendment.
It is important that the Government should be able to demonstrate clearly that the cost of the establishment and maintenance of the identity register and the ID card system are proportionate to the alleged benefits to be realised by the better control and detection of fraud in the public services, and the better delivery of those services to all. The Minister referred to the KPMG report, a concise version of which has been placed in the Library. She will have realised yesterday that we feel it would be appropriate if, before we reach this full debate on Report, further information could be made available, so that a proper assessment of the Government's position may be made.
There was a certain amount of disarray on the Government Front Bench yesterday about the real figures for costs. I do not attach any blame for that disarray to the Minister. I attach it firmly to the Cabinet that has, as yet, not properly worked out the cost of the scheme or has done so and not seen fit to let those costs be known. I make no judgement on that; I simply wish to take part, in Committee, in a further examination of what the real costs are.
Last week, I chaired an all-party meeting at which the two speakers were Mr Simon Davis, referred to earlier today by the noble Baroness, Lady Corston, and the Minister who has responsibility for the Bill in another place, Mr Andy Burnham. I understand that that was one of a series of hustings that they have attended. I was grateful to both of them for so clearly putting forward their relative cases to an audience of predominantly information technology experts. There were also several Peers there, representing both sides of the House.
What concerned me most during that presentation was the feeling that Mr Davis was beginning to move closer to what he thought the Home Office figures were, only to find that Mr Burnham, during questioning, volunteered the plea that we should not take into account the integration costs because these would not fall upon the Home Office budget. That left the meeting somewhat open-mouthed; we need to look not only at the impact upon the Home Office budget when determining proportionality and cost benefit analysis but also at the impact upon the budget of all departments, because that may have an impact on tax paid by individuals.
Therefore, if a proportionate benefit is not achievedthe noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, was rightly interested to ensure that that benefit is taken into accountor if benefits outweigh the costs, one could say, "It's all fine and dandy to say that £30 will be the cost of an ID card if you don't have a passport and £93 will be the cost with a passport"if those are the correct figures. However, that would be no use to individuals if the real costs of provision of the
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whole system were somehow loaded on to other departments and had to be borne by the taxpayer in other ways. That is a problem at the moment.
I will certainly not go into the kind of detail I had intended because that would merely repeat some of the snippets of yesterday's debate. However, it is important that the Government carefully take into account points made yesterday from all parts of the Committee.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I am pleased that the noble Lord asked that question because I was intrigued by his contribution yesterday. He appeared to say that the Inland Revenue would suddenly have extra information about people. I should be grateful if the Government would tell the House whether the Inland Revenue will have access to information about peopleabout their principal place of residenceand whether capital gains tax will be assessed on places they have not declared as being their principal residence. I am thinking of people with second homes who may judge one to be a second home and not the other. If I were to say yea or nay to the noble Lord, who asks a proper question, I would be prejudging who the Government intend to have access to the information and what information will exist.
I had perhaps previously been falsely reassured by the Government that there would be no information on the register that would be of value in tracking down people who were trying to con the system. Let us face it, people who try to abuse the tax system abuse all of us. Perhaps I should declare an interest in that my father was an Inland Revenue tax inspector. I grew up thinking it was one of the dirty things in life to try to claim things wrongly. I suspect that both my husband and I overpay tax rather than being tax-efficient. That is the last thing we are.
The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, asks a proper question but it is not one I am in a position to answer. I wish that I could, but the Government have not yet told us what information would be on the register that could be used by the Inland Revenue.
Lord Campbell-Savours: Does the noble Baroness accept that some people in society are completely outside the whole system of tax collection? They simply use our services and yet they are unknown to the state. Does she accept that in having an identity card such people would be drawn into the system even in the most minimal way which she suggests might be the case?
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: At the risk of taking the debate more broadly than I shouldthe noble Lord tempts meof course I agree that groups of people are outside the system and I have done so for many a decade. Again, I declare an interest in that I started my early life as a student working during the vacation updating records in tax offices. They were not
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my father's, I hasten to addthere was no patriarchal system, but open application. I could certainly see even then that broad swathes of people were trying to operate outside the system. That is even more apparent when people bring in those from overseas and get them to work in unsafe conditions while not being part of the tax take.
There is a different point here. Would such people be brought within the protection of the Inland Revenue system if they had an ID card? I return to the point that it depends what information is held on them and what access the Government say the Inland Revenue will have to that information. Until I know that, I cannot answer the noble Lord, but in many senses I am with him in wanting to reduce fraud on the Inland Revenue. I do not think that this is the way to do it but I wait to hear from the Government.
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