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Identity Documents Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:43 am on 29th June 2010.

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Eric Metcalfe: That question is premised on the idea that there always has to be a single-answer solution for every situation. The answer that we have been trying to give is that you always have to look at the particular context, and at what is demanded in the particular circumstance. It might be that to access housing benefit you do not need to hand over to a Government official a document with a chip that, let us say for argument’s sake, gives access to a database that has your date of birth, height, weight and eye colour. You do not need to have a database with all that different information on it for the sake of accessing your housing benefit. It might simply be enough to know that you are resident in a particular local authority, and that can be established by a number of different methods. I share the concern that we all can be required to carry lots of different forms of identifiers, but I think that that is probably an unnecessary fear, in just the same way as we have the unnecessary fear about all the bad things that will happen if we do not have the general ID. There are,  however, many different ways of establishing identity effectively—which it is important to do—without resorting to a general database.