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UK ID cards "defeated" yet still going ahead

Steve Watson | January 24 2006

The London Independent is today reporting that the government has been "defeated' on the ID card scheme and that a victory for freedom has been won.

However, this is only the surface appearance. If you actually read into the situation you will discover that in actual fact the scheme will still go ahead, we will all have compulsory ID cards and our personal information will be recorded and stored.

The House of Lords overturned government proposals to place everyone who applies for a new passport or driving licence on a database that will underpin the ID cards scheme.

Not one member of the house spoke in favour of national ID or the biometric database, all uniformly denounced the idea as backwards looking and dangerous.

The Independent reported that Lord Stoddart of Swindon, a crossbencher, claimed ID cards were among several Government policies that were undermining freedoms built up over many centuries.

He said: "Some of these measures have the elements of a fascist state - and this country is preaching to many countries about democracy."

Others invoked images of totalitarian regimes demanding citizens carry their papers.

Current proposals even outstrip this in that they would see everyone who traveled anywhere being biometrically scanned and put onto a giant electronic database. This amounts to an unprecedented level of intrusion and could kill off the notion of anonymity and privacy in this country in the future.

Although we are told the scheme will initially be voluntary, the government has made it quite clear that they intend to make it compulsory in the future with huge civil penalties to be handed out for those who do not fall into line.

Earlier this month we exposed how the government is to give local councils and town hall bureaucrats sweeping new powers to search homes for identity card evasion and to impose heavy fines on occupants found without a card.

Although we are told that the Lords have voted to defeat the ID scheme in actual fact they have voted to simply make it more official and secure. Peers voted by 186 to 142 - a majority of 44 - during the Bill's report stage to enable people to get biometric passports without going on the database.

So we still have to get ID cards and we still have to biometrically scan even though we may not hear about the database. Perhaps the scheme will have a stealth database such as the growing DNA database which is gathering samples from young people aged 10-18 across the nation.

A second vote made clear that an amendment requiring a separate Act of Parliament before ID cards could become compulsory was passed by 198 to 140.

ID cards are still to become compulsory in the future should an act of Parliament be passed.

Two more votes demanded a secure and reliable method of recording and storing citizens' personal data, and the curbing of the use of the register for provision of public services.

So in actual fact they are just demanding that the database element of the scheme be more efficiently designed and more secure. This does not mean that there will not be one and that our information will not be stored.

So what exactly have the Lords "defeated"?

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