Philip Booth, who was among many Green party members who have just renewed their passports early (i), said: "You can opt out of an ID card if you renew your passport before 1st January 2010. But the card is not the point - even if you chose not to have it, you would still have to pay for it. I renewed my passport three years early as I am appalled by the fact that in future we will have to attend an official interview, producing numerous personal documents to be recorded, and having fingerprints and eye scans taken for the records."
The UK Passport and Identity Service have announced that the price of a basic adult passport will be raised to £66 from 5th October 2006 (ii).
Cllr Martin Whiteside, who has also renewed his passport and organised a debate in Stroud last year on ID cards (iii), added: "The Green party have opposed this ID card plan from the start. We are appalled that Stroud's MP David Drew voted for them, but welcome the growing widespread opposition - all the other key political parties are now opposed to the project, a former head of MI5 has branded the cards ‘useless’ and even Whitehall officials have expressed grave concerns (iv)."
The cards are to be introduced voluntarily from 2008 but, if re-elected, Labour proposes to make them compulsory for everyone over 16. Once you are on the Register you will face penalty charges for not telling the Home Office if you move house or if any other of your registered details change. The government is looking at issuing cut-down 'early variant' ID cards that would 'protect' our identity with nothing more than a four-digit PIN.
Martin Whiteside, who is a District councillor and the Green party's Parliamentary spokesperson for Stroud, commented: "This is a gift to fraudsters - and given the Home Offices' atrocious track record, it seems clear that things will go badly wrong. I would urge all to renew your passport in protest at these ridiculous plans."
Cheltenham to get new interrogation office
The Passport Service have started building a network of 69 new interrogation offices - including one in Cheltenham - for face-to-face interviews for all first-time passport applicants. When the ID card scheme begins to roll out they will extend interviews to all passport applications, including renewals, for the purpose of fingerprinting applicants and enrolling them onto the National Identity Register.
Philip Booth added: "As Baroness Seccombe put it during and ID card debate in the House of Lords last year: 'How many people know that when their passport runs out they will be summoned to an interrogation centre before being allowed to buy a few cans of beer in Calais?'"
(i) Other Green party members across the South West are renewing their passports: 6 so far in Stroud. See more at: http://www.renewforfreedom.org/
(ii) After this date, using the 'fast-track' (one week) service to renew your passport will cost £91, and using the 'premium' (one day) service will cost £108. See factsheet at: http://www.renewforfreedom.org/
Charles Clarke, responding to questions on this on 21st March 2006, said: "... anyone who feels strongly enough about the linkage not to want to be issued with an ID card in the initial phase will be free to surrender their existing passport and apply for a new passport before the designation order takes effect."
(iii)See Coffee House Discussion:
(iv) See The Sunday Times 'ID cards doomed, say officials'(July 09, 2006) at:
Greens challenge David Drew on ID cards in various letters to local press. See: