2 March 2004

To: Ian Kemish, First Assistant Secretary, Public Diplomacy, Consular and Passports Division, Department of Foreign Affairs

Subject: Re: Passports Legislation Consultation Group - Next Meeting

Dear Ian

Thank you for Adrian's email notifying that the next meeting is on 12 March.

We are concerned that the consultation is not as effective as it should be, and in particular note the following:

(1) you have provided no response to date to my email of Wed, 25 Feb 2004

(2) 8 days after the last meeting you have provided none of the materials that you undertook to deliver

(3) you have reduced the inter-meeting gap from 3-1/2 to 2-1/2 weeks

(4) there is therefore a maximum of 9 days available during which we will be able to analyse the substantive materials describing the biometrics scheme, and specifying the contents of the proposed
Bill; and that time is counting down fast

(5) you have provided no indication of the agenda for the next meeting

(6) it is highly unlikely that we, or other organisations, will have the requisite time for internal discussions and consideration of documents, in order to provide considered responses

All of the above need to be seen in the context of a proposal for the complete replacement of a substantial and important piece of legislation around which a moderate body of case law has developed, and the authorisation of unproven and highly privacy-invasive technology.

We submit that, to avoid the credibility of the process evaporating, a sufficient period needs to be allowed after the receipt of substantive materials before a further consultative meeting is held.

We also draw to attention our repeated affirmation that this process can only be described as 'consultative' if there is a realistic possibility that the outcomes will directly affect the proposal generally, and specifically the legislation that is tabled.

Regards ... Roger