Orders of the Day — Identity Cards Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:49 pm on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley North and Sefton East 5:49 pm, 28th June 2005

I am slightly puzzled by the contribution of Mr. Oaten. Either he has not read the Bill and does not know what is in it, or he has done so but has not understood it. In either event, he seemed to be talking about something entirely different from the Bill.

When members of the Conservative party cry freedom, as David Davis did earlier, we know that one of two things is under way. Either France is about to invade or there is a leadership contest. In this case, we know which test was met. [Interruption.] Perhaps both were met—I have to admit that I had not allowed for the possibility that both events were going on at the same time.

There are two things that we must determine on Second Reading. First, is an identity card scheme right in principle and, secondly, is this particular scheme, given the consequences that will follow, the right one? I believe strongly, and have done so for many years, that a national identity cards system is right, for all the reasons that have been stated. The arguments against such a system, particularly the argument about the erosion of freedom, are bogus. What is the freedom about which we are so concerned? Is it the freedom not to have to prove that one is who one says one is? One would have the freedom to pretend to be someone else, but I do not think we should defend that in the House. Alternatively, would one have the freedom to evade demonstrating who one is?