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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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Shami Chakrabarti: Look at the world war two identity card, an emergency, exceptional measure that started with just a few pieces of information on it; that grew, by the end of the scheme, post-war, to many more—more than a dozen. With modern technology and greater capacity, the irresistible urge to grow the purposes and the information is so much greater. Yes, terrorism was offered as a reason at one stage. Immigration came back many times, which is why I had my concerns about race relations and on-the-street border control. Benefit fraud was offered at one stage, as were the issues of entitlements and social cohesion. At the end of the day, I have never thought that the arguments really stood up to scrutiny and, I am glad to say, I think that the public at large ultimately felt the same. Yes, perhaps financial cost played a part in the decision—let us be honest about that—particularly in a time of economic crisis, but that is not such a bad thing, because sometimes when you  have to make the difficult decisions that all of you in this place have to make about costs and benefits, it focuses the mind on whether the card would really keep you safe, or appreciably safer, from terrorism.