19 October 2005

The government have persuaded me, I want an ID card.

Thirty quid for a ten year card that allows you to travel around Europe, not much really, is it?

Yesterday, Charles Clarke announced that the cards will only hold the same information as a passport and that primary legislation would be needed to change this.

The bill specifies that only name, date and place of birth, gender, address, nationality and immigration status can be recorded on the ID database. When you think of all the records our telecoms/mobile companies, supermarkets, banks, credit card companies and ISPs hold, its a joke to suggest this is intrusive.

Further to this, everyone will have access to their own entry on the database and even information of who has been using it to verify their identity.

Fiona Mactaggert MP was a former head of Liberty and a vehement opponent, but she now sees the benefits of ID cards and argues that progression in biometrics technology have made them inevitable and worthwhile. She also categorically states that; "There will be no new powers for the police to demand ID cards". This seems to address most of the opponents concerns.

What about the cost? Well a lot of the expense of upgrading passports to bio-metric technology is going to have to happen anyway to comply with US standards being introduced. Some costs might actually be recouped by savings in other departments by making an ID card standard for NHS and benefit access.

So will it make a difference to crime, immigration, identity theft etc? (Clarke has already admitted it won't make much, if any, difference to terrorism).

Well most countries in Europe have ID cards and they wonder how we cope without them. It is just the natural progression of a responsible society that we do have them.

I would actually go much further than the government and DNA test every baby at birth. I can hear the screams of outrage at this suggestion, but think what this would mean. Thousands of rapists caught at the first offence, more victims coming forward with a confidence they will get justice. The deterrent effect would be massive. This alone would make the process worthwhile without all the other benefits in crime reduction. This of course is just my own suggestion, nobody in the government would dare propose anything this controversial.

While it is good that plenty of criticism of the ID card scheme is forthcoming and that the legislation is carefully made (it can still be messed up), a lot of opponents are just not thinking this through properly, but acting on an instinctive mistrust of this government driven by the media.

It's time we realised, like the 11 countries out of 15 in the EU that have ID cards, that the benefits outweigh the costs. I'm sure I'm not going to very popular with a lot of you out there for posting this, but I'll give more details on this when I get them together.

9 comments:

  1. Neil, is there a Blair/Labour policy you don't agree with left?

    Why do we need ID cards? What are the benefits? To quote you briefly:

    "So will it make a difference to crime, immigration, identity theft etc? (Clarke has already admitted it won't make much, if any, difference to terrorism).

    Well most countries in Europe have ID cards and they wonder how we cope without them. It is just the natural progression of a responsible society that we do have them."

    So that's it? It's just a natural progression? I don't think I've heard a worse argument for introducing them.

    The list of countries with no compulsory ID card includes Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, USA, Japan, Australia and Canada. You may notice that by a remarkable coincidence, these 12 countries and the UK take up 13 of the first 15 positions on the UN development index. (And in case you've no faith in the UN index you may also be interested to know that of the top 25 cities to live in, the residents are not required to carry ID in 21).

    ID Cards - "The natural progression of a responsible society". Right.

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  2. Neil:

    Had to respond in-depth to your comments here

    To much to say to put anything in comments

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  3. Paul, you must know by now from my previous posts that I can hardly be called New Labour.

    Which of any of the following is Blair/Labour policy?

    Proportional Representation for Westminster.
    Incentive Voting.
    Citizen's Income.
    Legalisation of all drugs.
    Congestion charging.
    Complete ban on smoking in the workplace.
    Ban on Alcohol advertising.
    Amnesty for all illegal workers.
    Every secondary school to have an automatic place at Oxbridge for its brightest pupil.
    Triple Council Tax for second home owners.
    Re-emphasis on restorative penalties not prison sentences.
    Widen Council Tax bands from 2.8 times to 10 times for the highest band over the lowest.
    Free local bus travel for all in local area, paid out of council tax.

    I've argued for all these and more on my blog and website.

    "It's just a natural progression? I don't think I've heard a worse argument for introducing them [ID cards]."

    You are right, it probably is the worst argument for ID cards, I was being a bit lazy.

    I've not really made the case here, I know that.

    I'm working on a post to list the advantages which I hope to have finished by the weekend.

    For now, follow the Fiona Mactaggert MP link. She's hardly a New Labour crony. If its good enough for the last head of Liberty, there must be something in it.

    A lot of objections to ID cards are in how they are implemented rather than the principle itself. I know there is a lot of persuading to do. This was just a shot across the bows to get people's attention.

    As for the UN development index, do you really think the US is a better free-er place to live than here? Maybe if you're wealthy, but as Hurricane Katrina showed, there is a lot who are not sharing in this wealth. So I don't really understand the relevance of this UN index to the ID card debate.

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  4. Here is a link to Talkpolitics/Unitys detailed rebuffal of ID cards. The other one Unity provides above, doesn't seem to work. I recommend you all have a look, I've posted my response in his comments section.

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  5. Re: using the UN development index... Just a (admittedly poor) way to measure whether a society is "responsible", e.g. it houses and educates its citizens. I was pointing out that the "responsible societies" which have compulsory ID cards, according to the UN, are actually less responsible than the ones I mentioned.

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  6. Neil, "Thirty quid for a ten year card that allows you to travel around Europe, not much really, is it?". Unfortunately, ID cards will not be self financing. How much will the taxpayer have to subsidise the scheme?

    People will need to spend £90 for the combined passport / ID card if they want to travel beyond Europe.

    The £1.3bn cost of identity theft is itself a fraud!

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  7. "Yesterday, Charles Clarke announced that the cards will only hold the same information as a passport and that primary legislation would be needed to change this."

    The first part of the statement is a red herring, as I pointed out to the Guardian last week; the second is simply a lie. s.8 of the Identity Cards Bill would give the Home Secretary the power to change what's on an ID card by secondary legislation. No amendment to remove that power was presented at Third Reading (such an amendment would have surely passed uncontested). Clarke was lying, and you didn't read the Bill to check.

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  8. Chris, point it out, I've just read through s8, and I can't find anything that says what you say it does.

    It does however say this;

    "The Secretary of State must not make regulations containing (with or without other provision) any provision for prescribing—

    (a) the information to be recorded in or on an ID card, or

    (b) the form in which information is to be recorded in or on such a card,

    unless a draft of the regulations has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House."

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  9. As has been pointed out to you elsewhere, that very section describes the power to vary the information by regulation.

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