John Bercow, with his customary acuity, detected my quizzical look. That had nothing to do with the principle that he suggested. It was purely because I have observed the random movements of Conservative policy on the issue over recent months and I am sceptical whether, if the scheme is seen to be reasonably successful, the Conservatives would go into the next election pledged to scrap it. I do not believe it, but we shall see.
The Criminal Records Bureau checks are a good example of what we are trying to achieve. At present, if I wish to teach in a school in Nottinghamshire, I have to apply to the CRB for evidence that I do not have a criminal record relating to offences with children and that I really am who I claim to be. That check generally takes about a month at present, although in the past it took longer. If I, as a supply teacher, then decide that I want to teach in Derbyshire, I have to do the same thing again and the CRB goes through the hoops again to verify whether I am who I claim to be. I am reliably informed that the CRB reckons that if identity cards were available it could process the application in a tenth of the time. Most of the time taken up by that check is to check whether I am who I say I am and whether I have an alias under which I might have a criminal record.
The introduction of ID cards is not some sort of revolutionary step. It is not a dictatorial step. It is merely a way of making life easier for the potential teacher, for the school that wishes to employ the teacher, and for society.