|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, did I understand her to say that a citizen will get a card which does not indicate externally what is actually on the chip, and that they will not receive a bit of paper accompanying the card indicating what is on the chip? They will not, therefore, know the contents of the card that they have to hand over from time to time. Is that the case? That seems a terrible mistake to me. Quite apart from what is on the register, and the arrangements about that which she has reiterated, what is actually on the card will be of great concern to people. That is what they will have, and they will want to know what they are handing over on request to the health service or whoever, depending on what they are using it for.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the individual will know the information on the card. That, as I have described, will be explained in the material which will accompany the application. It will be explained during the meeting. I also tried to draw a distinction between the different types of cards that will be available. There will be the standard identity card for British citizens issued alongside a British passport. That will have on its face certain clear information about the identity of the person et cetera. It will be very clear that this is the travel document. There will then be a stand-alone identity card for those who do not want a passport but who want to travel within Europe on their ID card. Then there will be the plain card, which will not be valid for travel. You will clearly be able to differentiate one from the other.
23 Jan 2006 : Column 1010
Then there are ID cards which are linked to residence permits and other immigration documents issued to foreign nationals.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, again before the noble Baroness sits down, I took the concern of the noble Baroness to relate to checking that what is on the card is what should be on it. I think the noble Baroness was saying, "We will tell you what should be on the card".
The other thing that made my ear prick up was that the noble Baroness said that there will be a portal through which one can gain access to the actual contents of one's card for, I think she said, a period of six or nine months. Thereafter, one would be able to go through the Data Protection Act, but have to pay a fee of £10. If so, that seems to me to be a heavy imposition on many people I can think of, particularly if we ever get to the point of having a compulsory card. Will the Government think a little more about this and give a little more guidance, because I do not think that many people are expecting to have to pay £10 in order to access information made available a year or so back?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I am sorry if I am not as clear as I believe I am being. The chip will only contain what appears on the face of the cardwhen you get the card, the information will appear on the faceand then the technical and biometric information. The categories of information to be held on the chip will be set out in regulations. So it will be very clear what information the card containsthere it will be on the face of the card. One should be able to look at it and, with the naked eye, determine what information is covered.
On the ability to access and check the current information, a web portal will be available. It will be kept up-to-date and will include information regarding verification requests made in the previous six to 12 months. So, if you wanted to monitor on a continuous basis, every six months you would go in and look to see what is on there, and you would be able to do so free of charge. If you wanted further or other information for some reason, you can use the formal procedure, which will be available under the DPA. You can pay £10 and get the whole screed of information that you want. The £10 is seen at the moment as a reasonable fee to pay in relation to the Data Protection Act. I do not think that it would be unreasonable to expect the same procedures to be adopted. Those who have the advantage of a computer could do it on a daily basis, if they so wished.
Lord Selsdon: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness. When she said "reassure", I would take out the two letters "re". She assured me some time ago that there would be one identity card. Now I have a feeling that there will be several identity cards. They
23 Jan 2006 : Column 1011
may all look the same, but they will have different information on them and be used for different purposes.
In preparation for this, I took the liberty of consulting most of the EEA states about their current attitudes to identity cards. The noble Baroness will know that in some countries you no longer have to carry your residence card; in others you have different regulations. At the moment, the Germans are much exercised about biometric data on their new biometric cards and, particularly, the Greens and others feel that this is a complete invasion of privacy. But there is no standard throughout Europe.
This is only a probing amendment, but perhaps the noble Baroness might prepare a schedule indicating her argument that there will be different types of cards for different purposes. There will be a card for people who do not travel and perhaps driving information will be contained on a card. I do not know. I would actually like to have a card containing all my information.
I would like to explain how difficult it is for some of us who have to wander a bit when we often need our birth certificates. I would like my birth certificate data and marriage data on a card. There could be all sorts of exciting things. I have mentioned before that when I have had to prove my identity in some countries, passports having disappeared, it would have been no bad idea to have had tattoos. It may all be fairly easy in this country, since in general we have reasonable officials. We are therefore one of the few countries in the world where an identity card is not really necessary.
I hope that, before we conclude, the Minister might write me a simple letter saying that as we introduce these cards we will eliminate other pieces of paper as proof of identity. Back in my banking days, when introducing a new card we would try to sell it to people. The Government have not made a very good job of selling the card. It could be beneficial; it might even be of use in embassies abroad when someone runs out of money and the embassy cannot help. There are plenty of benefits and side benefits; if it is going to cost money and save the Government money, we should really sell it to the people.
Somebody made a slight mistake earlier by referring to manifestos. I believe that those of us who are in this House by default, or for whatever reason, have a duty to represent all the people. Although I have never had the right to vote, I have made a personal wish to represent the 19 million people who did not vote in the last election, and the 13 million British subjects who live abroad. That is a powerful majority who have not yet had their say. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment alters Clause 8(3)(c) to ensure that a card issued to an individual is only valid for the duration of the individual's life, and not for a prescribed period which could stretch beyond that. I hope to probe the Minister with a series of questions which will provide the House with more information.
What does the Minister anticipate the prescribed period to be? If there is to be a renewal of cards, and the scheme is made compulsory, will the state pay for the cost of each renewal? Will those renewals differ for each individual, and how will renewal take place? To prevent the interception of post by criminals, I assume that it would require a face-to-face meeting on each occasiononce again, taking up time and effort in people's busy lives.
If the intention is that the period should last longer than the individual, can the Government state why? I see no benefit from maintaining cards beyond the life of their owner. Whose responsibility will it be to inform the registrar and ID authorities that someone has died? Will they have workers trawling the obits, or will the family have to perform that administrative task in their state of grief? If so, will there be a set period within which it must be performed, and what will happen in the case of a missing person? Will he or she remain on the register for the seven years until they can, I understand, be declared legally dead?
We on the Conservative Benches advocate the eradication of entries from the register, as well as the destruction of cards, as soon as an individual ceases to need them in person. Will the register be wiped clean of a person's records once he has died? Will there be a retraction and destruction processes which collect the cards of the deceased or will it rely on other family members shredding them, as we do with credit cards? I wonder whether, in years to come, people will keep ID cards as family heirlooms, locking them in time capsules for future generations to find. So, this aspect raises many questions which I hope the Minister can answer. I beg to move.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|