Orders of the Day — Identity Cards Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:21 pm on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of Mark Oaten Mark Oaten Shadow Secretary of State for Home Affairs, Home Affairs 5:21 pm, 28th June 2005

That is what people are doing already. They will be able to move from country to country because the biometric systems will not be available in those countries. It is a fundamental flaw in the terrorist argument.

The final argument on terrorism is simple. If it is so urgent, and if the threat from terrorists in this country is so compelling, why will we have to wait 10 years for the system to become compulsory? If we need it for that reason, surely we need it now.

The next argument the Government made was on benefit fraud. The Home Office and other Departments' figures on benefit fraud show that only 5 per cent. of cases of benefit fraud relate to people pretending to be somebody else. That equates to some £50 million of fraud a year. The vast amount of benefit fraud involves individuals pretending to have something wrong with them when they do not—it does not involve issues of identity. Therefore, ID cards will do nothing to help tackle that problem.

Then the Government raised the issue of health tourism and health fraud. However, the Home Secretary did not clarify how ID cards would be used to combat that problem. What would happen? Would I have to have my iris scanned or fingerprints taken before I could see my GP? Would every post office have a reader in place to prevent benefit fraud? If someone wants to access emergency health care at an accident and emergency department, would they have to have their iris scanned? Who will manage that process? Would we ask front-line professionals in the health service to take decisions about who they scan? If the programme is not to be rolled out nationally, would the Government suggest that certain health authorities in areas with certain types of ethnic communities should be encouraged to implement that programme?