The government's majority was slashed by more than half at the ID cards bill vote in parliament on Tuesday, despite Home Secretary Charles Clarke promising a range of concessions in order to stave off a full-scale backbench Labour rebellion.
The second reading of the ID cards bill was passed by 314 votes to 283, giving the government a majority of 31. In the end just 20 Labour MPs joined forces with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to oppose the ID card scheme, meaning a few abstentions swung the vote in the government's favour.
The vote followed a five-hour debate in the House of Commons that saw Clarke forced into a series of concessions. He said the government would be prepared to rethink key parts of the ID card scheme during the bill's committee stage before it goes to the House of Lords.
Clarke promised a cap on the price people would have to pay for an ID card but would not say what that cap would be. He also refused to rule out a cap on the price of the new biometric passports, the prices of which could be raised to offset any cost-overruns on the ID cards. And MPs were promised the full costs and charges for ID cards would be made public before the bill is put on the statute book.
The government still faces a battle to get the ID cards bill passed into law with opposition expected from the House of Lords and Labour MP John McDonnell. McDonnell warned the government will need to make "substantial changes" to the bill during its committee stage if it is not to face renewed opposition from MPs at the next vote.
The 20 Labour MPs who sided with Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs and voted against the ID cards bill on its second reading were: Diane Abbott (Hackney North & Stoke Newington); Katy Clark (Ayrshire North and Arran); Frank Cook (Stockton North); Jeremy Corbyn (Islington N); Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich); Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent Central); Paul Flynn (Newport West); Kate Hoey (Vauxhall); Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North); Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate); Lynne Jones (Birmingham Selly Oak); John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington); Robert Marshall-Andrews (Medway); Linda Riordan (Halifax); Clare Short (Birmingham Ladywood); Alan Simpson (Nottingham South); John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan); Robert Wareing (Liverpool West Derby); David Winnick (Walsall North); Mike Wood (Batley and Spen).