PN241005Const

IMMEDIATE

MONDAY 24 OCTOBER 2005

ATTENTION: EDITORS/NEWS EDITORS/POLITICAL CORRESPONDENTS

IDENTITY CARDS BILL HAS INADEQUATE SAFEGUARDS ACCORDING TO LORDS CONSTITUTION COMMITTEE

The all-party House of Lords Constitution Committee today publishes a critical report which reiterates concerns about insufficient safeguards in the Identity Cards Bill.

The Bill was passed by the Commons on 18 October and introduced in the House of Lords on 19 October. It is likely to be debated on Monday 31 October.

The Chairman of the Committee, Lord Holme of Cheltenham, said:

"Contrary to the Government's assertions, the Committee reaffirms that the Bill fundamentally alters the relationship between citizens and the State."

"The Committee firmly reject Government claims that, in respect of privacy, ID cards are comparable to driving licenses and passports."

"If Parliament decides identity cards are needed, it must urgently consider amendments to introduce proper safeguards."

"Parliament should not allow the Home Secretary such powers to administer this significant and complex scheme."

The Committee conclude that:

  • An independent body (not the Government) should be the custodian of the National Identity Registrar and have proper safeguards to prevent improper access to data, by public servants and others.

  • The proposed National Identity Scheme Commissioner should be independent of Government, with the power to investigate complaints and be able to report directly to Parliament.

The Bill's scope should be limited to the "voluntary phase". If the scheme is extended compulsorily to the entire population, then new legislation should be required. 

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. The members of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution who conducted this inquiry were:

Lord Bledisloe

Lord Carter

Lord Elton

Baroness Hayman

Lord Holme of Cheltenham*

Lord Monro of Langholm

Baroness O'Cathain

Lord Peston

Lord Rowlands

Lord Sandwich

Lord Smith of Clifton

Lord Windlesham

*Chairman

2. The report is published by the Stationery Office: Identity Cards Bill, House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution, 3rd Report, Session 2005 − 06, HL Paper 44, ISBN 010 400748 6, price £5.50.

3. The original Identity Cards Bill had to be abandoned because the general election was called.

4. Detailed information on the stages of Bills is available via: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/HofLBpBillsandhow.pdf

5. Parliament is covered live via: www.parliamentlive.tv

For further information contact:

Ian Mackley (Clerk to the inquiry) on 020 7219 1228

For copies of the report contact:

Jillian Bailey (Press & Publicity Officer, Committees) on 020 7219 8659.

[ENDS]