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

The hon. Gentleman makes a valid point and shows how important it is to scrutinise those provisions in Committee.

Setting aside the costs of technology, how will the Bill help us to tackle crime and benefit fraud and, indeed, to fight terrorism? I shall focus on acts of terrorism. A number of people have mentioned 9/11 and the Madrid bombings. I take a personal interest in such matters because, sadly, I lost my brother in the Bali bombing. When my brother was killed he was carrying his passport. It was destroyed, so it would not have been of any use to anyone. The terrorists who killed him were miles away—the people who did the damage blew themselves up, so ID cards would not have helped in that situation. May I respectfully urge caution when we talk about terrorism in the House and how the Bill will help us to tackle it? I am not sure how ID cards would have helped in my situation and, indeed, in 9/11.

Dr. Palmer mentioned a number of European countries that have identity cards systems. The average price of those cards, however, is not £1,900 but, in the case of Sweden, €15 or £20. The price is low because the system is extremely simple. The middle east is the only place to have more advanced systems, which aim to track people coming in and out of the area. That is the problem with the Bill—as long as we have porous borders we cannot take full advantage of the operation of ID cards.

Time is short, so I shall conclude. The Government's proposal is a costly exercise that will hamper society, not help it. They said that they would drop the scheme if it became too expensive, but what price is the Home Secretary willing to pay before he decides to pull the plug and not proceed with the proposals? The Bill is dangerous and open-ended. It does not have a clear timetable, it is based on technology that does not work, uses questionable costings and is out of touch with the people. I therefore encourage hon. Members to vote against it.