One step closer to unwelcome ID Cards – Jo

The Government has been accused of breaking its manifesto committment to make carrying an ID card voluntary

Jo Swinson MP has expressed her concern at the latest moves towards compulsory ID cards.

House of Lords amendments to the Government’s ID Cards Bill were debated in Parliament last night.

Despite a backbench rebellion by some Labour MPs, legislation was passed dictating that anyone renewing their passport will be forced to apply for an ID card. However, a concession was granted that further laws would have to be passed before it becomes compulsory to carry an ID card.

Commenting after the debate, Jo said:

“We are another step closer to the unwelcome introduction of ID cards.

“ID cards will be expensive, bureaucratic and ineffective. The cost of £14.5bn would be better spent on getting 10,000 more police officers on the streets, instead of unduly restricting civil liberties.

“The Government has not been convincing in making the case that the cards will be an effective weapon against terrorists, fraudsters and illegal immigrants, indeed the previous head of MI5 doubted that this was the case.

“Now it will be compulsory for anyone renewing their passport or driving license to apply for an ID card. This is compulsion ‘by the back door’ and is certainly at odds with the Government’s manifesto pledge that the scheme would be voluntary – it is only voluntary for those people who give up their right to travel abroad.

“There is some consolation in the fact that further legislation will be needed before carrying an ID card is compulsory for all. We will have another opportunity to defeat this flawed piece of legislation.”

Notes to accompany the story:

The Lords amendments to the ID Cards Bill were passed by a Government majority of 31, with 20 Labour MPs voting against the Bill.

The Government conceded that there must be primary legislation (an Act of Parliament) before any move to compulsory ID cards.

A recent study by the London School of Economics found that the cost of the ID cards scheme could be as much as £14.5bn.

The Home Office estimates that each combined biometric passport and identity card will cost £93.

Labour’s 2005 general election manifesto stated: “We will introduce ID cards, including biometric data like fingerprints, backed up by a national register and rolling out initially on a voluntary basis as people renew their passports.”

Dame Stella Rimington, head of MI5 until 1996, gave her personal views on ID cards at the Association of Colleges annual conference in Birmingham, 16 Nov 2005: “I don’t think that anybody in the intelligence services, particularly in my former service, would be pressing for ID cards… If we have ID cards at vast expense and people can go into a back room and forge them they are going to be absolutely useless… I don’t think they are necessarily going to make us any safer.”

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