13 February 2006
Barrett attacks ‘creeping compulsion’ of ID card proposals
John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today accused the Government of attempting to introduce compulsory ID cards by stealth and of trying to hide the true cost of the ID cards scheme from parliament.
The House of Commons is this evening debating the House of Lords Amendments to the ID cards Bill. Parliament today approved measures requiring new legislation before identity cards are made compulsory. However the Government still wants to force anyone renewing their passport, to apply for an ID card.
John Barrett said:
“The Government’s proposals amount to compulsion by the back door. They cannot deny the scheme is compulsory on the one hand, and yet force those people renewing their passports to fork out at least £93 for an ID card on the other.
“If everything the Government said about identity cards was true, then we would not need to make them compulsory because everyone would want one. However, many of my constituents have told me they would rather see another policeman on their street than another piece of plastic in their pocket.
“ID cards are not the silver bullet against fraudsters, terrorists, and illegal immigrants as the Government claims. Instead they will unduly restrict civil liberties, while the estimated £14.5bn cost could be far better spent elsewhere.
“One of my campaign promises during the General Election was to oppose the Government’s identity cards and to push for the savings to be spent on employing 10,000 more police. I have heard nothing in today’s debate to change my mind.
· The House of Commons is today debating the consideration of Lords Amendments: Identity Cards Bill.
· A recent study by the London School of Economics found that the cost of the ID cards scheme could be as much as £14.5bn.
· The Home Office estimates that each combined biometric passport and identity card will cost £93.