ID cards and the database

Yesterday I asked Chris Grayling (Shadow Home Secretary) to confirm that he wishes to scrap the new ID data base as well as the cards. He confirmed he did.
The Opposition held a debate yesterday to urge the ggovernment to scrap the whole scheme and save some money instead of blundering on with a part compulsory part voluntary project. We sought assurances there would be no poison pills put in place to prevent us saving large sums if a Conservative government is elected to office. There were no assurances forthcoming.

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27 Comments

  1. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    You will have to work hard to get across the message that what Johnson announced recently was simply a ruse to make people think that Labour had given up their relentless drive towards a surveillance society. Don’t believe it!

    • Sir Graphus
      Posted July 7, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      Correct; journalists have been lazy and gullible on this news story.

      Johnson merely said that ID cards would never be compulsory, a statement that is completely non-binding and is consistent with the current legislation. The important part, both the expense and the principle of privacy, is the database. If we are still required by law to give up 57 pieces of intensely private information, then what Johnson says is completely meaningless.

      ID cards may indeed never be compulsory, but if banks and shops start to require them to open accounts or even make transactions, then they are effectively compulsory. If public amenities, such as swimming pools, can demand to see your ID card to check you aren’t on the child protection register (for the safety of your family, you understand), then they are effectively compulsory.

      Some papers even stated that Blunkett didn’t think ID cards should be compulsory anymore. This was gullible in the extreme, since he’d only said that a proper chipped passport would be sufficient.

      Nothing has changed; the outrageousness of it will hit home when we all report to the police station to be fingerprinted and thus given state approval to exist.

      Assure us again, John, that this trip to the police station will never have to be made under a Tory govt.

  2. Colin D.
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    The question to ask is whether the ID database is driven by the EU. If it is, the government (even a Conservative one) won’t be ALLOWED to scrap it.

    • APL
      Posted July 7, 2009 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      That is a very distinct possibility.

      Since, from the EU perspective the UK is part of a unified area with a right to free movement across ‘internal’ borders, Id cards are the norm rather than the exception in many other EU districts.

      And given that Cameron shows no discernable anit EU tendencies.

      It is very likely that after an election he might say. The EU made us do it, we can’t do anything about it.

      Don’t forget the Galileo satalite constellation, the EU (non free ) competitor to the US sat nav system, has already been put forward as a means of tracking vehicle movements across the EU, with talk of every car manufactured in or sold into the EU having to have a Galileo transiever installed.

    • pipesmoker
      Posted July 7, 2009 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      It is of course as was the decimalisation of the currency etc all part of the long term project and they may be shelved for years, even tens of years but they will never go away while we remain a member of the EU.

      • Number 6
        Posted July 9, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        Agreed, the ID cards and indeed all of the liberty crushing laws that we shout about here emenate from the EU and are rubber stamped by its sock puppet Nu Labor.

        Sadly, as Dave is still wedded to the EU ‘project’ I see no chance of the laws ulimately being stopped. As long as we remain in the EU we will do what the EU demands.

    • Mark
      Posted July 7, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Much EU legislation that relates to privacy issues has been driven by the Labour government: that’s certainly true of the internet and phone contact database, where other EU countries either didn’t see the justification at all, or thought that a much shorter retention period was sufficient. Ministers are much more influential than MEPs on legislation – so perhaps a new government with new ministers can introduce some countervailing influence.

    • adam
      Posted July 7, 2009 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      It is. Its multifaceted though. It is actually a global id card system that is be designed alongside the global ‘e borders’ system.
      There are EU directives discussing introducing ID cards (cant find the links) and EU funded projects to coordinate them (http://www.eid-stork.eu/

    • Guy Herbert
      Posted July 10, 2009 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      It isn’t. Simple as that.

      The global travel surveillance system that is being gold-plated as e-Borders, has been driven by the US and the UK, who together lobbied for the new ICAO passport standard, ably assisted by securocrats everywhere who are keen to demand PNR data of carriers. The EU’s bureaucracy is not interested in surveillance per se, but is desperate to copy anything the US does, to prove to itself that “the country called Europe” is big and important, too.

      @adam,

      You are wrong, and you don’t understand how the EU works. Directives do not discuss things, they set out a legal framework of obligations. There is none in relation to ID cards, and unless the Lisbon treaty comes into effect, the EU is expressly forbidden by its constituting treaties from exercising any control over national ID cards and the like. STORK is extremely pernicious and prevents a threat to privacy but it is an indirect project aimed at making member-countries’ various e-ID systems (most of which are themselves nascent projects not real systems) interoperable, NOT introducing ID cards.

  3. jean baker
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    No worries, vast savings can be made elsewhere and by de-centralizing ‘iron fist’ state control.

    It’s reported that there are 1,162 quangos in the UK, cost to taxpayers 64 b a year – £2,550 per household. The total number of quangos and government controlled organizations is 2,063, costing taxpayers £257 billion a year.

  4. Pete Chown
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    “Yesterday I asked Chris Grayling (Shadow Home Secretary) to confirm that he wishes to scrap the new ID data base as well as the cards. He confirmed he did.”

    That’s good news from a civil liberties perspective, and it should save quite a bit of money too. Well done.

    “We sought assurances there would be no poison pills put in place to prevent us saving large sums if a Conservative government is elected to office. There were no assurances forthcoming.”

    This is an odd situation constitutionally, isn’t it? It has long been understood that Parliament cannot bind its successors. Labour could not, for example, put a provision in the Identity Cards Act saying, “This Act cannot be amended by Tory governments.” It seems to me that a poison pill clause in a contract concerning identity cards subverts this important democratic principle.

    If Labour did insert a poison pill clause which seemed obviously unfair, perhaps it should be re-examined by the Tories on gaining office. For example, the Act which repeals the Identity Cards Act could include a provision that overrules the offending clauses. Compensation for suppliers could be decided by an independent body, which would have the duty of ensuring fairness, rather than strict adherence to the contract terms.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted July 7, 2009 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      If the tories make it clear that contracts will be subject to overriding legislation cancelling the contracts, you effectively kill it right now.

      • Pete Chown
        Posted July 7, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        That’s right, if the Tories threatened to cancel all the contracts without compensation, it would kill the project. I don’t think the Tories should do this, though. They should by all means threaten to cancel poison pill clauses, but not the whole contract.

        There are two reasons for not threatening to cancel all the contracts by statute. First of all, the current government is elected and should be allowed to govern without this kind of interference. Secondly, companies which supply government have to know that their contracts are secure. If they don’t, they will be reluctant to invest, in case the contracts are cancelled and they lose their money.

        A poison pill clause is different, though. A poison pill clause is Labour interfering with a future elected Tory government, and should be strongly resisted.

        • Sir Graphus
          Posted July 7, 2009 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

          Unfortunately, you can’t cancel a binding contract. That means no money saved on current contracts. However, stopping the project does guarantee no overruns. That’s a fortune saved.

        • Paul
          Posted July 7, 2009 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

          Actually the current government isn’t elected, but apart from that semantic point I agree with your argument for the most part

        • ex-Civil Servant
          Posted July 8, 2009 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

          Yes the Government can cancel a contract. It is is parliamentary principle that the current Administration cannot irrevocably bind its successors, even treaties can be rescinded should a future Government so wish. The Conservatives are quite entitled to make it clear that they would not wish to continue with thes contraqcts should they be elected – the current Administration should not be entering into these controversial long-term commitments when it is clear that they will not be in powere to see them through. Unfortunately the arrogance of the current Administration prevents them from acting in the national best interest (in consultation with the Opposition parties) rather than simply pushing them through using their whipped majority.

  5. no one
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    oh and what computer systems will be used to support production of new passports under a conservative administration? i think that is the key question

    i think you will find a truthful answer to this question will reveal how much spin and nonsense the conservatives themselves are using

    a firm commitment to store the least information possible to support passport production is needed, and a firm commitment to use sigificantly down sized computer systems designed for minimal passport functionality

    • chris
      Posted July 7, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      And will the passport database be shared with other government departments?

  6. Sir Graphus
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    The database should be scrapped on the grounds of freedom and right to privacy, even if it saves not a penny.

    Do you understand from Mr Grayling that the database will be scrapped whatever the circumstances?

    Reply: yes

  7. Jim Pearson
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Hurrah! Shame the present government will still try to spike the next government. But that’s the policy at the mo, scorched earth. Keep up the good work!

  8. wonderfulforhisagew
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Poison pills? What exactly had you in mind?

    • Adrian Peirson
      Posted July 7, 2009 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Oi ! get to the back of the Queue

  9. Freddy
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Only a day or two after this very question was raised here – now that’s what I call responsive politics. My compliments to you, sir.

  10. Adrian Peirson
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    If they are scrapping ID cards it’s probably only because they are going to introduce something else, like having us all chipped.

    This thing can’t go away because it’s all part of their New World Order Agenda.

    We know whats going on, can’t we just have them all arrested so we can all get on with our lives raising and providing for our families and generally enjoying life without having to spend it worrying about ‘them’ and what they are up to.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nD7dbkkBIA

  11. adam
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Not a damned chance the liar party are backing down on this. They are just in re-election mode.
    They will just rename them ‘e cards’ or something equally childish and claim its an entirely different system. If they even bother with that.

    The ID card system was designed to fail anyway. The biometric technology is not ready.

    fake politicians. fake party

  12. Adam Collyer
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    One interesting question with the whole identity cards thing is how the government will identify you to get you on the database to start with.

    For example, a criminal who registered for the database using someone else’s personal details, would then have a card, complete with his own biometric details, proving his identity to be that of that other person.

    Having had some personal involvement with Ukraine, it has been disturbing for me to discover that the power of the State in that ex-Soviet country is actually much less than it is here.

    • adam
      Posted July 8, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      you get called to an interview with the security services where they interrogate you and run various ‘footprint’ checks on you

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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