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 shall not submit to that nonsense—that a dictatorship is waiting to be elected to the government of the UK. The Executive is held to account by the House and I am confident that the country can rely on that safeguard. The British public can see through the hysterical paranoia that concludes that ID cards represent some major surrender of civil liberties. They can see through the claim that issuing ID cards will mean the end of civilisation as we know it, any more than driving licences with photos or the installation of closed circuit television in our streets did.

The Government have a responsibility to deliver an affordable scheme and I know that my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench are aware of the public's concerns about costs. It is telling that 80 per cent. of the public were in favour of the Government's proposed ID scheme and that figure went down not when the civil liberties arguments were aired but only because of concern about costs. I can understand why some parts of the press, the Conservative party and the Liberals want to pretend that the costs are going through the roof. That is fair game politically, but they should understand that members of the public support the scheme—their only opposition is on cost. The public understand that there is no threat to British civil liberties in the issuing of ID cards and the establishment of a central database.

On 5 May, I was elected on a Labour party manifesto that supported an identity card scheme. I urge all Labour Members who were elected on the same basis to support the Bill.