§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal)
My right honourable friend the Home Secretary (David Blunkett) today published a draft Identity Cards Bill for consultation as part of a document explaining the need for legislation, entitledLegislation on Identity Cards: A Consultation (CM 6178).
The draft Bill establishes the legislative framework that would be necessary for the incremental introduction of the national identity cards scheme as set out in Identity Cards: the next steps (CM 6020) published in November 2003.
The draft Bill includes provisions that would be required to:
- set up a national identity register that would include identity information on individuals who have been registered and issued with an identity card;
- establish a family of ID cards based on new and existing documents;
- create powers to ensure that the details provided by an applicant can be checked against information already held on other databases to guard against fraud. Each use of these powers will require parliamentary approval;
- provide reassurance that disclosure of information from the national identity register without the individual's consent will not be allowed, apart from for prescribed purposes such as on grounds of national security or for the prevention or investigation of crime, and to ensure there is independent oversight of these arrangements;
- establish new criminal offences for the possession of false identity documents. These will cover offences relating to the new identity card as well as existing identity documents that are false or have been improperly obtained;
- allow a date to be set when it would become compulsory to register and be issued with a card (but not compulsory to carry a card, which is specifically prohibited in the draft Bill). This provision, together with the mandatory requirement to make ID cards the required proof of identity could be brought in only following a vote in both Houses of Parliament, on a detailed report which sets out all the reasons for the proposed move to compulsion and how the Government propose to implement compulsion. Both Houses would be able to amend the proposition before being asked to take a final decision;
- enable regulations to be made, once it was compulsory to register and be issued with an identity card, to make it a requirement to provide proof of identity by the production of an identity card to access public services.
We welcome the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee's announcement of its intention to examine the draft Bill.
Copies of the consultation document, Legislation on Identity Cards: A Consultation are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office and have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and can also be viewed on the identity cards website (www.identitycards.gov.uk). Interested parties are invited to submit their comments and views on the content of the draft Bill by 20 July 2004.