It makes no difference at what point identity is checked. The point is whether we should ask the health service to fund the checks or ask health professionals to take decisions about whether to ask for the information. I do not want to live in a society in which I have to have my fingerprints or other biometric information taken before I can be treated.
I wish to move on to the Government's next argument, which was about tackling illegal working. This is one of the Government's most disingenuous arguments. We all want to tackle illegal working, but we already have a system in place where individuals who come into this country as asylum seekers or workers have to possess a form of identification. It is possible for the police or the gangmasters who employ such people to check those working documents. What difference will it make if those individuals have to have an ID card? Will the police carry out more checks than they do at present? Will the gangmasters suddenly demand to see ID cards before they employ those people? Sadly, the kind of people who employ illegal workers will not take part in that process. The idea that ID cards will tackle illegal working can be dismissed.
What about the Government's latest suggestion that the card will deal with identity theft? Again, they have got it wrong. The Government argue that about £1.3 billion of identity theft takes place in the UK, but a vast amount occurs through the internet or with credit cards, so I fail to understand how an ID card will tackle that problem. The Association for Payment Clearing Services says that only 36 million of the 500 million cases of plastic fraud are classified as identity fraud. The association is not convinced that an ID card will help in tackling those issues, especially internet fraud. The Government have put up an argument about ID theft, but in reality the ID card will not help to tackle that issue.