Sheffielder | 12.12.2004 08:10 | Sheffield
Please act now.
The Identity Cards Bill is likely to get a Second Reading (the first stage of real debate in parliament) before Christmas. We urgently call on all supporters to contact their MPs, Councillors, AMs and MSPs to point out that ID Cards are NOT a popular measure, despite what the Government says. If you get a response then please pass on details of their position to our Parliamentary Liaison, Dave Walker ( email@example.com).
List of MSPs
List of Ams
Fax Westminster MPs
+++ Stop ID-cards and the database state
This is the latest email newsletter to keep you informed about the campaign against the Home Office's plans to fingerprint and track the entire population of Britain for its National Identity Register. As soon as practicable the NO2ID Newsletter will also be produced in printed form to let us reach people without email. Meanwhile, if you want to forward this email to friends or print and distribute hard copies, then we have no objections.
++ More Hustle, More Bustle, Some Opposition
+ ID Card Costs Double
The Financial Times reports that along with the Identity Cards Bill the Home Office has issued a cost-benefits analysis which estimates the scheme will cost £5.5bn over 10 years. The original estimate was it would cost between £1bn and £3bn. So costs have doubled before the scheme starts.
But it is not a maximum figure. And it does not include the cost of equipment such as the card readers that would be needed at hospitals, doctors surgeries, police stations, job centres etc. Yet another revised cost-benefit analysis is due early next year. Careful readers will note that benefits seem to be even more elusive than costs. See:
+ Blunkett Rushes Out ID Cards Bill
The government is clearly keen to push the ID Cards Bill through as quickly as possible. On Monday, 29th November, the Bill had its formal First Reading in the House of Commons.
It was presented by the Home Secretary at the start of a debate on the Home Affairs portion of the Queen's Speech. Whilst the debate was not specific to identity cards many members did raise the issue.
+ Opinion Poll Figures - Misrepresented Again
David Blunkett told the house that the government had been consulting on the issue of ID Cards for the last three years and repeated the tired old lie that "around 80 percent of the population are up for it and are on board".
It is two and a half years since the government began consulting on voluntary "Entitlement Cards". It was only from April to July of this year that they consulted on compulsory "Identity Cards", and the result of that consultation was 48% against and only 31% in favour.
The Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis MP, described the progress of the Bill as being, "marked by the avoidance of difficult questions at every turn - putting them off and taking them at some point later - so that people vote for something that is not compulsory yet, but which might be one day."
+ Tories' Five Tests For ID Cards
Mr Davis also spelt out the Tory party's approach to the Identity Cards Bill. These he laid out in a familiar format, as five tests:-
1. The legislation must clearly define the purpose of the cards.
2. Will identity cards effectively address the purposes that are laid out?
3. Is the Home Office capable of making the cards work?
4. When the Government has decided the purpose of ID cards, will they really be the most cost-effective way of tackling the problems?
5. Civil liberties - why should anyone trust this Government to treat the information it holds about them with respect and sensitivity?
+ Sidestepping Difficult Questions
Glenda Jackson MP told the Home Secretary that her constituency very much opposes ID Cards and asked, "What will be the inherent costs of that over and above the introduction of the cards?" She was told that such a question was not valid, that it had been dealt with through the consultation and the draft Bill. The Home Office has never released detailed figures of operating costs, citing commercial confidentiality as the reason.
The Home Secretary also failed to answer Simon Hughes MP's question, whether he accepted "that we should have minimal state interference, not creeping state interference?" Hughes expressed the view that "for a free-born British citizen who has not been convicted of any offence,
the presumption should be that the state does not intrude in their lives and hold information on them, rather than the opposite."
+ Australian Warning
Peter Lilley MP, compared ID cards to a long unsold house -- there is something wrong with its foundations. He had a warning for the Government, as he recollected Australia's failed attempt to introduce ID Cards: "It had even greater
support", he pointed out. But, "as it wound its way through the Australian Parliament and the upper House, the mood changed, and eventually ... 90 per cent of the Australian public were against it. The measure was defeated in the upper House and contributed to the defeat of the Australian Labour Government." A pattern he hoped to see repeated here.
+ Nothing To Hide, Nothing To Fear?
Many of us against ID Cards have tried to come up with strong counter-arguments to the constant "Nothing to hide, Nothing to fear," litany. One excellent rebuttal was put forward by Edward Garnier MP:-
"One might just as well say, 'If you're not going to do anything criminal, you can't object to being bound over to keep the peace..., you can't object to being subjected to a curfew order from 11 o'clock at night to 7 in the morning..., you can't object to being subjected to an order for bail..., you can't object to being subjected to a tagging
Mr Garnier went on to say that the proposed scheme is an insidious move to reverse the burden of proof and to reverse the balance of power between the citizen and the state.