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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

All I can say is that the hon. Gentleman should have addressed that question to the Home Secretary rather than to me. [Interruption.] I do not recall accepting excuses. I have said throughout that we must have proper tests and that problems must be dealt with. It may be possible to deal with that problem: we may need a new arrangement for the common travel area, though it would be a large change to carry through.

My fourth test is the cost-effectiveness of the scheme. The introduction of the Bill saw the cost of the ID card scheme almost double overnight, from £3 billion to £5.5 billion. Given the time scale and the cost, the Government should not lose sight of the cheaper and quicker methods that could be put in place now to deal with some of the problems that ID cards seek to combat—having proper embarkation controls at British ports, for example, which is something that the next Conservative Government will put into effect as soon as possible. An end to fraudulent visa claims and taking action to control immigration are other examples. All those would address some of the problems that the Government propose to tackle with identity cards, and all of them are part of the next Conservative Government's manifesto commitments. They are the sort of cost-effective actions that the British people want to see happen here and now.