Statewatcher | 05.02.2002 19:47
On channel four news this evening Angela Eagle from the HO said that this was not about introducing some identity card, but about using modern biometric technology to make life easier for people by being able to quickly confirm their identity, as well as cracking down on identity fraud. She also said that police would not be given powers to stop and demand production of such a card.
She said given the various debates of the past the time has come for an open debate and consultation on the proposals.
In other words this is a real attempt at getting ID cards through, so if you oppose them let's start getting ready to give them some feedback when they publish the paper right?.
"ID Cards: Arguments Against"
From Liberty, published 4 October 2001
full text available here as pdf file
Ch4 News Text from:
ID card consultation
Broadcast: February 5, 2002
Reporter: Gary Gibbon
On the cards?
The Home Office Minister - Angela Eagle - joined us from Westminster to speak about the government's position on ID cards. Video follows soon.
Is this the first step towards a compulsory ID card?
First it was asylum seekers - now everyone may be issued with a computerised 'entitlement' card under plans floated by the Government today.
The Home Secretary, David Blunkett insisted the card wouldn't be used to identify people but to clamp down on illegal working and benefit fraud.
Ministers first put forward the idea in the wake of the September 11th attacks - but backed-down amid widespread opposition.
So will it fare any better this time round?
Our political correspondent Gary Gibbon reports:
For Labour and Conservative Governments it sometimes looks like the Holy Grail. The polls suggest that voters love the idea.
It's been hailed as the solution to benefit fraud, crime, terrorism. And now the government thinks it could be their answer to illegal immigration - especially illegal immigrants working in the black economy.
A new ID card for asylum seekers has been in circulation for barely a week, it has a fingerprint ID and microchip information store.
The government's said to have been stung by claims by French ministers that the lack of an ID card scheme in Britain was one of the main incentives for illegal immigrants trying to come here.
Mike O'Brien spent four-years as immigration minister trying to kill off the ID card proposals from the ministry.
In the 1990s the Tories repeatedly flirted with national ID cards. When technical and political obstacles stopped that, the then Shadow Home Secretary, Jack Straw, pronounced it dead.
One Labour backbencher tonight called the proposal Orwellian. But outright resistance to ID cards on Labour's backbenches has definitely reduced. The Home Office could well find that its biggest obstacle is the Treasury.
Mr Blunkett's advisors say advances in technology are such they have to look at the subject again - but their minds are open. They may find years of exasperation in the Treasury has made opinion there fixed and hostile
HOME OFFICE PRESS RELEASE:
50 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AT
(night line: 020 7273 4595) Fax: 020 7273 4660
Public Enquiry Line: 020 7273 4000
News Release 05/02/2002
The Home Office will publish a consultation document on entitlement cards later this year, the Home Secretary announced today.
Answering a parliamentary question from George Howarth MP (Knowsley North and Sefton East) the Home Secretary said:
"After the terrorist atrocities in the United States on 11 September, the issue of introducing an identity card scheme was raised by many people. I have received over 600 letters from Rt Hon and Hon Members and members of the public on identity cards since September 2001.
"At the time the Government said that it was not planning to introduce an identity card scheme as part of its response to the events of 11 September, but that the policy was being kept under review. We said that we were considering whether a universal entitlement card which would allow people to prove their identity more easily and provide a simple way to access public services would be beneficial. We also said that a scheme could help to combat illegal working and it could also reduce fraud against individuals, public services and the private sector.
"We have made it clear that the introduction of an entitlement card would be a major step and that we will not proceed without consulting widely and considering all the views expressed very carefully.
"There are many arguments - both philosophical and practical - for and against a scheme. One of the options which the Government has already ruled out is making the failure to carry an entitlement card an offence. However there are a range of other issues to explore and we intend to publish a consultation paper in the Spring or early Summer. This will cover the whole issue of identity fraud and a range of possible responses in the short, medium and long-term including the advantages and disadvantages of an entitlement card scheme - but also other measures which might be taken to improve the security of existing forms of identification issued by the Government.
"In order to ensure that the paper will be balanced and comprehensive and present to the public as full a picture as possible, the Government wishes to discuss its emerging ideas with interested parties prior to publication."