Human Rights Committee report on Identity Documents Bill

18 October 2010

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has today published its Second report and welcomes the Identity Documents Bill. The Committee says the Bill will significantly enhance human rights by addressing concerns that ID cards and the National Identity Register would interfere with the rights to privacy and non-discrimination.

However, the Committee raises several human rights concerns. Its recommendations include:

  • the requirement to destroy promptly all information on the National Identity Register (NIR) should be extended to cover all information collected in relation to the Register, without delay
  • a more detailed justification of the proposed offences relating to false identity documents. The conduct covered by these offences is already criminal under existing laws, so it is not clear why they are needed
  • more details about the ‘relevant information’ which a range of public and private bodies can be compelled to provide in relation to the issuing of a passport – and about the safeguards which will apply
  • more information about the regime for non EEA nationals’ residence permits.

Dr Hywel Francis, Chair of the Committee, said:

"We welcome the abolition of ID cards and the National Identity Register, and the Bill addresses our predecessor Committee’s concerns about privacy and discrimination. But the proposals should also ensure the prompt destruction of all information gathered for the purposes of the National Identity Register.

The Government should also provide more details of why certain criminal offences related to identity documents are necessary; what sort of information the Secretary of State is likely to insist on being disclosed in connection with the issue of a passport; and how the system of residence permits for non-EEA nationals will be operated in practice without jeopardising the rights of minorities to privacy and non-discrimination."

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