Joint Committee On Human Rights Fifth Report


SUMMARY


Summary

The Joint Committee on Human Rights examines every Bill presented to Parliament. With Government Bills, its starting point is the statement made by the Minister under section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 in respect of compliance with Convention rights as defined in that Act. However, it also has regard to the provisions of other international human rights instruments which bind the UK.

In this report, the Committee draws the special attention of each House to the Identity Cards Bill. The provisions of the Bill raise a number of serious questions of human rights compatibility on which the Committee has written to the Home Secretary requesting clarification or further information. A copy of this letter is appended to the report.

The report raises concerns about the compatibility of provisions of the Bill with the right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and the right to non-discrimination in the protection of the Convention rights under Article 14 ECHR. In particular it questions—

  • The extent of the personal information which will be included within the "registrable facts" held on the Register, and whether all of the information held serves a legitimate aim, and is proportionate to that aim, as required by Article 8 (paragraphs 10-15);
  • The potential for personal information to be recorded on the Register without the knowledge or consent of the individual concerned, under clause 2(4), which allows the inclusion on the Register of information "otherwise available" to the Home Office (paragraph 17);
  • The potential for the system of "designated documents" to render registration and ID cards effectively compulsory for certain groups of people who hold these documents, and the resultant potential for arbitrary or disproportionate interference with Article 8, and for discrimination in breach of Article 14 (paragraphs 18-21);
  • The potential for a "phased in" system of compulsory registration and ID cards to lead to interference with Article 8 rights which is not justified by any legitimate aim, and may discriminate against those groups subject to compulsion, contrary to Article 14 (paragraphs 22-25);
  • Under a compulsory scheme, the extent of personal information which may be disclosed from the Register to a service provider as a condition of access to public services under clause 17, potentially in breach of Article 8, and the lack of safeguards against unnecessary disclosure to service providers under clause 17 (paragraphs 26-29);
  • The potential, under a compulsory scheme, for both public and private persons to make contracts or services conditional on production of an ID card, or access to information on the Register, without sufficient safeguards under clause 18, and the risk of breach of Article 8 (paragraphs 30-33);
  • Provision for extensive data sharing from both the public and private sectors in order to confirm information on the Register, or information which the Home Office wishes to enter on the Register, under clause 11 (paragraphs 34-36);
  • Provision for extensive disclosure of personal information on the Register to public bodies for a wide range of purposes under clauses 19-21, and for unlimited extension of these powers of disclosure by way of regulations under clause 22, without sufficient safeguards, risking breach of the Article 8.2 requirements that an interference with private life be in accordance with law, that it pursues a legitimate aim, and is proportionate to that aim (paragraphs 37-43).






 
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Prepared 2 February 2005