Lib Dems oppose ID cards as Simon Burns and Tories back down

April 10, 2006 12:23 AM
UK National Identity Card (Design Mock-up)

Lib Dems continue campaign against expensive and pointless ID cards, and massive database

West Chelmsford MP Simon Burns has been accused by Lib Dem Stephen Robinson of caving in to the Government over the introduction of identity cards. The Identity Cards Bill passed into law with most Conservatives abstaining on the final vote and only the Liberal Democrats solidly against.

Stephen Robinson, Mr Burns' Liberal Democrat opponent last year, said:

"I am deeply disappointed that Simon Burns did not join the Liberal Democrats in the vote to prevent the Government introducing compulsory ID cards before the next general election. Mr Burns and his Conservative colleagues have let the Government off the hook over ID cards.

"At the general election Labour made a manifesto pledge to introduce voluntary identity cards. But the Bill the Conservatives allowed through last week introduces compulsory ID cards by the back door by forcing anyone getting a new passport to have an ID card too. So the only way in which people will be able to opt out of having an ID card is by giving up their right to travel abroad, which is an outrageous thing to demand.

"Until last week the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were working together to ensure that no-one would be forced to have an ID card until after the last possible date for the next general election - so any party wanting to make ID cards compulsory would need a general election mandate to do so.

"We had a real opportunity to guarantee a real debate, and a general election, before anyone was forced to have an ID card. That is why I am so disappointed that Simon Burns and most of his Conservative colleagues backed down and caved in to the Government over this when it came to the crunch."

"So much for the Conservative Party's new found liberalism."

NB

1) Labour's 2005 general election manifesto said: "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."

2) The March 29th vote means that (a) Identity cards will be compulsory for anyone getting a new or renewed passport on or after January 1st 2010 - which means that we could well have compulsory (in effect) ID cards ahead of the next general election, which need not happen until May 2010; and (b) People who apply for new or renewed passports before January 1st 2010 will have their names and details put on the new national identity register (although they will not be forced to have an ID card). It is not certain yet when this will apply from as the Government have not said when the national identity register will be in place.

3) The Liberal Democrats' oppose the creation of a national identity database and the ID cards that go with it. It won't work; it will not achieve the alleged benefits and the cost of the cards and the database will be anything between £10 and £20 billion.

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