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Orders of the Day — Identity Cards Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:47 pm on 20th December 2004.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office) 5:47 pm, 20th December 2004

May I start by reiterating my welcome to the new Home Secretary? He will perhaps be pleased to hear that not all our debates are quite this exciting.

The Home Secretary inherits a difficult job: one that always requires a keen sense of the balance between the interests of the citizen and the role of the state. It is the first duty of the state to protect the lives of citizens, but the duty to protect life must be balanced by the duty to protect our way of life. Nowhere is that more evident than in the debate about identity cards that we have just heard.

As I said in the debate on the Queen's Speech, I would not have countenanced ID cards before 11 September. After that, however, I accept that we must consider them. After 11 September, it is incumbent on all of us to examine carefully any measures that might enhance the nation's security. Identity cards introduced properly and effectively may help to do that.

None the less, it is worth remembering that the Bill will not see ID cards introduced to Britain tomorrow. Indeed, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has acknowledged that the process is going to take "many, many years". This legislation merely establishes the framework necessary for their introduction. It is vital for us to consider that framework carefully and to get that consideration right.