Orders of the Day — Identity Cards Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:15 pm on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of Nick Palmer Nick Palmer Labour, Broxtowe 8:15 pm, 28th June 2005

I am awfully sorry. I am running short of time. I apologise, as my hon. Friend offered to give way to me.

I want to be careful not to make exaggerated claims. Hon. Members have argued that ID cards would fail because they did not prevent the Madrid bombing. I do not claim that they are some sort of magical device that detects evil impulses in people's brains and alerts the police. ID cards are a practical tool that helps to identify the victims and the perpetrators, as they did in Spain. I do not claim that the police will never again make a mistake in identification. I say only that it makes sense to make that very much rarer than it is now. If one has been accused of something that someone else has done, it will be very much easier to demonstrate that one is not the person involved. That could save many hours at the police station.

I am also not saying the proposals are perfect. For example, the key issue for society is not the card, but the database. As we are not requiring people to carry the card, we can reasonably make it optional to take it, thereby reducing the cost and the perceived intrusion. Let us say that people must register, but whether they have the card is up to them.

The proposal is not a solution to everything. It is, however, a sensible, practical idea to make our society simpler and safer. It is also a manifesto commitment on which we were elected less than two months ago. Let us do it.