Supervision of operation of Act
Section 22: Appointment of National Identity Scheme Commissioner
141.This section establishes a National Identity Scheme Commissioner to oversee the operation of the identity cards scheme and the National Identity Register including the uses to which ID cards are being put and the provision of information held on the Register.
142.The Secretary of State is under a duty to appoint a National Identity Scheme Commissioner under subsection (1). Subsections (2) and (3) set out the functions of the Commissioner. Subsection (3) clarifies that the Commissioner must review in particular the extent to which arrangements for the National Identity Register ensure the confidentiality and integrity of information recorded on the Register as well as the arrangements made for dealing with complaints. Subsection (4) sets out the matters which will not be part of the Commissioner’s functions such as appeals against civil penalties, which will be dealt with by the civil courts, criminal offences which will be dealt with by the criminal courts, and the verification powers for passports under section 38. The provision of information to the intelligence and security agencies will also not fall within the remit of the Commissioner but will fall under the jurisdiction of the Intelligence Services Commissioner as provided for in section 24.
143.It is the duty of every official in the Secretary of State’s department to provide the information the Commissioner requires to carry out his functions (subsection (5)).
144.Subsection (6) sets out that the Commissioner should hold office in accordance with the terms of his appointment and provisions should be made for him to be paid such allowances as the Treasury may determine out of money provided by Parliament.
145.Under Subsection (7) the Secretary of State is under a duty, after consultation with the Commissioner, and subject to the approval of the Treasury as to numbers, to provide the Commissioner with such staff as the Secretary of State considers necessary for the carrying out of the Commissioner’s functions. The Commissioner will be a public authority for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (subsection (8)).
Section 23: Reports by Commissioner
146.Under subsection (1) the Commissioner is under a duty to report after the end of each calendar year to the Secretary of State. There is also provision at subsection (2) for the Commissioner to report at any other time regarding any matter related to the carrying out of his functions.
147.Under subsection (3) the Secretary of State is under a duty to lay before Parliament every report received from the Commissioner. Where the publication of a particular matter in a report would be prejudicial to national security or the prevention and detection of crime, the Secretary of State may, after consultation with the Commissioner, exclude it from the report laid before Parliament (subsection (4)). In those circumstances, in accordance with subsection (5), the Secretary of State would need to lay a statement before Parliament that a matter had been excluded.
Section 24: Jurisdiction of Intelligence Services Commissioner and Tribunal
148.This section amends the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 which sets out the functions of the Intelligence Services Commissioner and the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. The effect of the amendment is to add to their functions oversight of the provision of information held on the Register to the intelligence and security agencies.