Orders of the Day — Identity Cards Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:32 pm on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood Opposition Whip (Commons) 9:32 pm, 28th June 2005

I am delighted to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, as we reach the conclusion of an important debate that hinges on the relationship between the citizen and the state and the borderline of the civil liberties that we feel able to concede so that we can live in a safe and secure world.

Many believe that the concept of ID cards should be supported because if we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear. Alan Simpson talked about the contents of his wallet and said that it contained several ID cards, such as library cards. However, each of the databases to which he referred is separate, isolated and low-cost and there would be limited damage if details were lost or stolen.

The Bill has the commendable aim of tackling ID fraud, benefit fraud, illegal immigration and terrorism. However, the nation becomes more sceptical as we hear more about it. We do not know the definitive cost of the scheme, so we should ask ourselves whether we will get value for money. It has been said that the police support the Bill, but we should turn the question around: if the police were given £5 billion or £10 billion—whatever the cost of the scheme will be—what would they spend it on? In Bournemouth, the money certainly would not be spent on ID cards, but on CCTV and to pay for more people to work in benefits and Inland Revenue offices because those people could combat fraud.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House have expressed concerns about the technology. The Government's trials—not the Cambridge study—show that iris scans have only a 96 per cent. success rate and that fingerprint scans have an 81 per cent. success rate. If I cut my finger or suffered a paper cut I could no longer be tracked on the system.