Orders of the Day — Identity Cards Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:35 pm on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Labour, Glasgow South 7:35 pm, 28th June 2005

I reserve the right to disagree with the Information Commissioner. The House has the right and the duty to make its own judgments, and not simply to take advice and act on information from outside. Going slightly off the point, there was a similar argument last year about information handed down to us from on high by the Electoral Commission. Do we do exactly what the commission tells us or do we make our own judgments as democratically elected politicians? We should do the latter.

We live in a world where the old certainties and securities of years gone by no longer exist. Three years ago in Glasgow, asylum seekers who had identity cards that included biometric details were hunted by the police, because they were suspected of involvement in a serious assault on a bouncer in a Glasgow club. The police could not track them down initially but they were finally apprehended at Stranraer as they tried to board a ferry for Northern Ireland using fake passports. They had disposed of their ID cards, but because they had had to give their fingerprint details when they applied for asylum, their identities were confirmed within four minutes and they were arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. As I said earlier, I do not believe that ID cards are a panacea in the fight against crime, organised crime or terrorism but we should be able to see past our party affiliations to understand that given a fair wind, the Bill will, take us some way towards beating criminal organisations.

In June 2001, 15 minutes before I took my seat in the House, I received word that a credit card and cheque book that my wife had sent me from Glasgow had gone missing in the post, and I discovered that more than £400 had been taken from my accounts in various forms. That was extremely distressing and may be why I did not enjoy the re-election of the Speaker as much as I would have in other circumstances. It was an extremely distressing and emotional experience to know that someone was pretending to be me—using my name and spending my money, although I managed to claim it back. What can be wrong with giving people a foolproof way of proving their identity? Some people have asked why we should have to prove our identity.

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Chris Lightfoot
Posted on 3 Jul 2005 1:56 am (Report this annotation)

How on earth would ID cards have prevented Mr Harris's cheque book and credit card being stolen in the post?