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Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Phillips and the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, referred to the Labour Party manifesto from the previous election. Looking at the Bill, one sees that of 45 clauses, three relate to identity cards. The offences in Clauses 27 to 32 relate to the register. It is about setting up a national identity register to which the identity card is an adjunct.
"Across the world there is a drive to increase the security of identity documents and we cannot be left behind. From next year we are introducing biometric 'ePassports'. It makes sense to provide citizens with an equally secure identity card to protect them at home from identity theft and clamp down on illegal working and fraudulent use of public services. We will introduce ID cards"
The emphasis in the manifesto is entirely on identity cards as some form of home passport. It does not set out a compulsory scheme for the introduction of a national identity register, with all the requirements set out in the various schedules. So the Government
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cannot rely on the manifesto at the election as authorising the scheme that they now put forward in the Bill.
Viscount Bledisloe: My Lords, a question occurred to me during the earlier speeches. One document to which this is intended to apply is a passport. A passport used to be a document that, in loud and ringing terms, if the Government were kind enough to give you one, commanded other governments to assist your travel and let you go freely around their country. It is now a document that you must have before you are allowed to travel at all. Instead of being a privilege given by the government, it is now compulsory. Apparently, now, if I want that document, without which I cannot travelto exercise the freedom to which I am entitled of travelling to anywhere in the worldnot only do I have to apply and pay for it, as I have always had to, I must allow my particulars to be entered on a different register and pay extra to get an identity card.
Is it compatible with the freedom of the individual and the Human Rights Act that one shall be debarred from exercising the freedom to move about the world unless one "chooses" to go on some other government register and to pay them an extra fee for that privilege? Surely that provision is bound to be struck down as contrary to human rights.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, the noble Viscount has made an extremely important point that may not have struck most of us. The Bill is a rather ominous sign of the extent to which government has been taken over by spin. One of the main reasons why people have not been as willing to vote as they should be is that they dislike too much spin. Spin has been mounting. It has been the most enormous spin to say to the public: "We are offering you a Bill under which, if you want it, you will get a voluntary identity card that will protect you in all sorts of ways". Some time later, as the Bill went through Parliament, the Government have admitted that it is intended to be compulsory and that all those facts about you will have to be on the register, whether you like it or not. That is the simple point. It was spin. It was an easy way to get people to accept the idea of identity cards from the beginning.
The noble Lord, Lord Gould, said from the Government Benches that there had been various polls in which people said that they wanted identity cards. That was a response to the spin. We are now faced with the compulsion about which noble Lords have spoken. Later, we may probe the question of how we handle the way in which that compulsion is finally brought about through the Bill, but that was a big spin. It has done a lot of damage to public trust in Parliament; trust in Members of Parliament; and, perhaps, in the Lordstrust in government. That is far more damaging than the Bill itself.
This is a good amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, made an extremely good speech. He was quite alone on his Benches when he started, until a couple of people trickled inluckily, before he had finished.
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Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I shall support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips. I shall also support the amendment to remove Clause 6. Those noble Lords who heard the opening speech by the noble Lord would understand, I think, that all the new measures which have been taken by this Government over a quite long period of time contain the elements of a fascist state.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, the noble Lord says that he is listening to me. I hope that he will because I have been around a long time. Indeed, I was in the Labour Party for 54 years. It was a Labour Party which would not have dreamt of bringing forward a Bill of this kind. Nor in fact would it have brought forward many of the measures which the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, outlined in his opening speech.
I repeat that some of those measures have the elements of a fascist state. This country is preaching to many other countries about democracy. It wants democracy in Iraq; it wants democracy in Iran. It wants democracy everywhere except perhaps in this country where the measures that it is introducing are undermining the democracy which has been built up over many hundreds of years. I do not deny that those are strong statements. But the fact of the matter is that there is a creeping competence for all kinds of authorities in this country to have control over the individual.
Let us consider some of the incidents of late. An author on the BBC makes a certain statement about homosexuals and before long the police are telephoning her or are on her doorstep asking her to justify those statements. That is just one instance. The police are becoming the arbiters of free speech. That is very serious indeed. Members of this House and of the House of Commons should understand exactly how their freedoms are being undermined by a host of measures which are coming forward piecemeal. If they do not do so they will find themselves in a state where the Government have complete and utter control over the individual; and, of course, in this country the freedom of the individual has always been the bedrock of our very democracy which we have exported, and still seek to export, to other countries. If we are not
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careful, there is a real danger that we shall be in the sort of society which many of us fought against in the last war.
I know that my former noble friends do not like to hear me say these things, but perhaps it is proper that I should say them because I had been in the Labour Party for 54 years before they expelled me and therefore I do know what the Labour Party that I joined stood for. It did not stand for measures such as the identity card now being put forward by new Labour.
We have before us a Bill that, in the first instance, is supposed to be a voluntary scheme. We have been assured that it will not be necessary, and that the Government will never make it necessary, for identity cards to be carried at all times. Yet on the "Any Questions" programme broadcast last Friday the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said, first, that they should be compulsory and that if they were not, they would not be any good; and, secondly, that they should be carried at all times. In other words, the police will be able to come up to you and say, "Papers", whether they say "please" or not.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I should clarify that that is not what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said. I have the advantage of having a transcript of that interview. In relation to whether the cards should be compulsory, my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer said the following:
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