Identity Cards Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:00 pm on 29th March 2006.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Conservative, Stone 10:00 pm, 29th March 2006

I end this argument as I began it. I am not certain that there will be a vote—[Interruption.] It sounds as though the Liberal Democrats will press this matter to a vote, and it is with great regret that I must tell the House that I shall enter the Lobby with them, as a matter of principle.

I have fought this proposal from Second Reading onwards, and I have been joined by people such as my hon. Friends the Members for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) and for Buckingham (John Bercow), among others. Not all of them will know what has happened this evening, and some may therefore not join the Liberal Democrats in the Lobby.

It was astonishing to hear the Home Secretary argue, in the most spurious fashion, that he had three bases for accepting these amendments. The amendments were tabled by Lord Armstrong, who I said earlier was being economical with the votes—an adaptation of the expression "economical with the actualité", with which the House may be familiar. By the sound of it, the amendments represent a stitch-up with the Cross-Benchers in the House of Lords.

What are the three bases for the Home Secretary's acceptance of the amendments? He mentioned the integrity of the register. Could any word be less well chosen, in this context, than "integrity"? This is not a matter of integrity.

The Home Secretary went on to say that all information would be on the register, but I am glad to inform him that I shall be excluded from the provisions until 2016. That is simply because, by an accident, I happened to receive a passport and a driving licence only this week. All the other people in this country affected by this authoritarian and totalitarian provision will simply be overridden by what has been described as an "elective dictatorship". As a matter of principle, I find it impossible to support the proposals.

In conclusion, I have never before voted with the Liberal Democrats on a matter of constitutional importance, but that party's tradition goes back to the great Liberal party. It has departed from that old Liberal legacy, which remains a bastion and a beacon of independence and integrity when it comes to the country's constitution and our people's right to make their own choices.

The Bill should be excoriated and put in the dustbin. I shall not support it under any circumstances whatsoever.