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Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, and before I reply and decide what to do with the amendment, can she therefore give the House a clear assurance that Her Majesty's Government have not opted—and will never opt—into any measure which could lead to the United Kingdom being included in any EU identity card system? I ask her that very simple question.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I know the noble Lord is a wily fox who has been trying to lead poor Ministers astray, to bind their governments in a way that is improper, for many years. But I am, unfortunately, old enough to recognise the ploy when I see it. It is a trap into which I do not intend to fall.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, in that case, I am sure that when it comes to read Hansard with attention and enthusiasm—as it undoubtedly will—the whole House will find that reply disappointing.

The Minister suggested that I was confused between what would have been the situation under the proposed EU constitution, had it been adopted—to which the Government have signed-up but have not brought into law—and the current arrangements. I should tell the noble Baroness that I am not confused about that. I am much clearer about the position of the constitution than I am about the detail of this amendment. I have based my remarks on the current arrangement, as I said on the previous occasion, which is the TEC as amended by various treaties, ending with the Treaty of Nice.

Nor was I saying to the Minister that I was worried only about what would happen if the Government decided in future to opt in to a measure which could give rise to us being dragged into an EU identity card
 
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system. I am saying that, but my own position is that I think we have already gone too far, especially if the Luxembourg court eventually supports Brussels in the adoption of an EU card system—which, of course, it will. Brussels has never taken a decision which reverses the ratchet to which the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, referred.

It would be helpful if we were all to study the detail of what has been said. I think it possible that I will have to come back with the amendment at Third Reading. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 41 [Orders and regulations]:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendments Nos. 112 to 114:


"(3) A statutory instrument containing regulations which—
(a) contain provisions that the Secretary of State is authorised to make by this Act, and
(b) are not regulations a draft of which is required to have been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House,
shall"
Page 35, line 29, leave out "Subject to subsection (8),"
Page 35, line 30, after "regulations" insert "(other than the power of the Secretary of State to make an order under section 45(3))"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury moved Amendment No. 114A:


(d) to make special provision (including exemption) for those who by reason of disability or other good reason may be unable to do or disadvantaged in doing what otherwise may be required of them under any such order or regulation."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 114A seeks to amend Clause 41, which deals with the orders and regulations to be passed under the Bill. The amendment would add paragraph (d) to Clause 41(4). The wording of the amendment would make it abundantly clear that those with any kind of disability or disadvantage may be differently treated under the provisions of the Bill.

I am well aware that Clause 41(4) already allows for the Secretary of State, or whoever else is making the regulations and orders, to make different provisions for different cases. Furthermore, in one of the subsections, the clause makes allowance for exemptions to be made with regard to such regulations or orders. This is a belt and braces amendment. It is advanced at the behest of a number of the disability NGOs, which want to be absolutely clear beyond peradventure that their members and beneficiaries will be treated fairly and justly. I am thinking, for example, of Clause 5(5), which will require citizens to attend at a certain place or time; to have fingerprints or other biometric information taken and recorded; to allow themselves to be photographed and so on. That is one
 
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of the very many requirements that the Bill places on citizens. No explanation is required to understand that some groups will be extremely anxious about what they might be required to do. I will not press the amendment. I accept that on one reading of Clause 41(4) it is wholly superfluous, and I hope that the Minister can say with untrammelled certainty that it is wholly superfluous, whereupon that will be the end of it. I beg to move.

8 pm

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I speak in support of Amendment 114A to which I have added my name. I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, for tabling it. It was a very crafty move to have this debate at this stage of the Bill, particularly for me, as it means that I can ask questions that were central to my Amendment No. 45 that I did not move on day two of Report because of time considerations. That is flannel for saying that I was trying to get to a vote at the right time.

I did not move the amendment then. I apologised to the Royal National Institute for the Blind and said that I would ensure that I found a way of raising the issues, if only by bringing the matter back on Third Reading. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, has made sure that I do not need to go to Third Reading but can dispose of matters today. I have, therefore, given advance notice of my questions to the Government in the hope that all will be resolved.

In Committee on 12 December (at cols. 1052 to 1058 of the Official Report) I signalled my concern about the burdens that could be imposed on disabled and vulnerable people as a result of the process that they will have to follow and the Clause 5 issues, to which the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, referred—being enrolled on the national identity register. I said that I would refer back to the RNIB to ask whether the Minister's response had fully satisfied it on its concerns. I did just that, but the institute felt that it would be helpful if the Minister could give some further clarification.

First, will the Minister establish who is eligible for enrolment in the ID cards scheme at home or through a mobile enrolment centre as a result of being unable to travel independently to an enrolment centre? In Committee on 12 December (at col. 1055 of the Official Report) the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton, said that disabled and older people who were unable because of their impairment to travel to an enrolment centre could enrol for the ID cards scheme through a home visit or a mobile enrolment centre.

RNIB said that that was a welcome statement of the general provision that the Government envisage as being necessary to meet the needs of older and disabled people who are unable to travel independently to an enrolment centre. However, the Minister also stated that,

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I am concerned that an hour represents a significant length of journey, especially for an older or disabled person. Therefore, I welcome any additional detail that the Minister can give regarding whether the Government plan to establish eligibility criteria for home or mobile registration, setting out who will qualify for those services, which he said are being considered for older and disabled people. For example, will eligibility for those registration options be restricted to those disabled people who claim disability living allowance or attendance allowance, or will older and disabled people be able to request a home registration appointment without having to produce evidence that they have an impairment that makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult to travel up to an hour to a registration centre? If eligibility criteria are to be used in determining who will qualify for home or mobile registration, we are keen to know what those criteria will be, in case they unreasonably restrict assistance and force some older or disabled people to travel up to an hour to an enrolment centre.

Because these are somewhat detailed issues, I gave advance notice. I hope that the Minister can clarify matters today.


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