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

No, I want to push on because other hon. Members wish to speak.

I want to touch on the Bill's civil liberty implications, which have not been thought through in great detail, by picking up on an intervention that I made during the Home Secretary's speech. I have a very real concern about the fact that certain ethnic groups will regularly be asked to show their cards. That concern relates not to the police—I accept the Government's promises in the Bill that the police will not be able to ask such questions—but to access to public services.

The small print of the regulatory impact assessment makes the point:

"As pressures grow on public services, service providers will have to bring in complex procedures for checking a range of documentation as the old assumptions that if you are here you are probably here legally is no longer acceptable. There are also cultural problems about getting service providers to ask only certain groups for proof of identity for fear of being accused of discrimination."

There it is in print; it is extraordinary that the Government admit in the regulatory impact assessment that only certain groups will be asked for proof of identity. That is the proof that the Bill could have an impact on ethnic minorities.