2. Isn't a draft Bill a waste of time?
No. The Government is committed to publishing more of its Bills in draft before they are formally introduced in Parliament and to submit them to a parliamentary committee for pre-legislative scrutiny. Publishing the Bill in draft gives the public and Parliament more time to comment on Government proposals for legislation before a Bill is introduced into Parliament.
3. Why do you need to legislate now?
We need to provide the legal framework to enable the scheme to be introduced. This includes:
• the creation of a National Identity Register of basic personal information;
• powers to issue a family of ID cards based on new and existing documents;
• powers for card issuing organisations to verify data supplied by people applying for ID cards as part of making the process more secure;
• disclosure of National Identity Register information to law enforcement and security agencies in specified circumstances and ensure there is independent oversight of these arrangements;
• criminal offences and civil sanctions required to make the scheme effective;
• enabling organisations to require identity checks for the provision of public services; and
• the power to set a date in the future when registration for an identity card could be required.
4. What are the next steps?
The Home Affairs Select Committee is carrying out an inquiry on all aspects of identity cards. In addition, we welcome the Committee's announcement of its intention of examine the draft Identity Cards Bill. Comments are also being sought from individuals and organisations. The Government will take full account of all comments on the draft Bill before it introduces substantive legislation as soon as Parliamentary time allows.
5. When will the scheme be compulsory?
The date for moving to compulsion will have to be agreed by Parliament following the Government's consideration of a number of issues. These are explained in Identity Cards: the next steps (CM 6020).
6. How would the scheme become compulsory?
The draft Bill sets out a "super -affirmative' process whereby,
(1) the Government must publish a report setting out its case for the move to compulsion;
(2) the report must include a proposition on how compulsion would work;
(3) the report must be laid before Parliament for debate and vote in both Houses. Both Houses may amend the proposition;
(4) the Government then lays an order for compulsion via affirmative resolution. The order must be consistent with the proposition agreed by Parliament;
(5) there would be a debate and vote in both Houses.
If either House did not approve the proposal or the Government was not content with the proposal as modified by either House, the Government must go back to (1) if it decides to make the case again for a move to compulsion.
7. How do you prevent function creep of the Register?
The statutory purposes of the Register as defined in the draft Bill set boundaries for its use to prevent function creep. The types of personal identity information, which may be held on the Register, such as name, address, place and date of birth are described as the "registrable facts". These registrable facts are listed in the draft Bill to set limits on the types of information which may be held on the Register and do not include sensitive personal information such as medical records or religious opinions. Only Parliament would be able to change the statutory purposes of the scheme or the information which could be held by the scheme. It would need to do this via new primary legislation that would receive full Parliamentary scrutiny.
8. Will information be disclosed without an individual's consent?
We expect most identity checks using the register to be done with consent. Information may be disclosed without consent to Security and Intelligence Agencies to ensure that the scheme helps in the fight against terrorism. The Police, Customs, Inland Revenue and Department for Work and Pensions may also be disclosed the types of personal identity information described in the Bill as the "registrable facts", e.g. name, address, place and date of birth, minus the audit trail of card use for law enforcement and related purposes. The more sophisticated types of disclosure to these organisations, for example, to look at card use, would only apply in cases of serious crimes. The draft Bill ensures that disclosures will be properly regulated and subject to independent oversight.
9. Will it be compulsory to carry a card?
No. The draft Bill explicitly excludes the possibility of making it a requirement for individuals to carry a card.
10. Will it be compulsory to use the card?
Many people will choose to use a card as a convenient way to verify their identity when accessing public or private sector services. However, a requirement to make use of the card a condition of the provision of services could only be made once the scheme becomes compulsory. This is not an automatic requirement and there would need to be a separate decision for each service. The draft Bill allows for exceptions. For example, the Government has said that emergency medical treatment or benefits would not be denied to people who are unable to produce a card.
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