Identity Cards Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:15 pm on 29th March 2006.

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Photo of Stewart Hosie Stewart Hosie Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury) 10:15 pm, 29th March 2006

I will be brief. There is no real compromise in the amendments for UK citizens. They do not change the compulsory inclusion on the central biometric database, merely the carrying of an identity card. Although there is a time-limited opt-out in the amendments, that is only for carrying the card and that time limit ends prior to the last date possible for the next general election. That is important. This series of measures has been opposed, at least until tonight, by six Opposition parties and many Labour Members. It is a shock that the Conservative party has capitulated at this late hour. The measure is a fundamental shift in the relationship between the citizen and the state.

The Labour manifesto offered a voluntary scheme, not a compulsory one. Notwithstanding the power of the Labour Whips, given that a manifesto that offered a voluntary scheme was supported and backed by some 21.6 per cent. of the electorate, it was incumbent on the Government to accept the longer time-limited opt-out to allow the proposal to be put before the electorate at another election.

Many on the Labour Benches—indeed, many in the Chamber—will remember the opposition to the poll tax. When the scale of the opposition to carrying an ID card or to being included on a central biometric database rises to the scale of the opposition we saw to the poll tax, I fear that the entire edifice will collapse. Our resistance to the central database will continue.