ID card battle remains deadlocked

An increased majority of MPs have overturned the House of Lords' rejection of 'compulsory' registrations
Written by Andy McCue, Contributor

The ID cards battle remains deadlocked after MPs again overturned a House of Lords amendment that would have prevented people being forced to register for an ID card when applying for a passport.

MPs voted by 292 votes to 241 votes — an increased majority of 51 — in favour of keeping the clause in the bill to make the passport a "designated document" tied in with ID cards and the National Identity Register (NIR) database.

It is the second time this week that MPs have overturned House of Lords' opposition to the ID cards bill, and the parliamentary ping-pong will continue on Monday when peers vote on the legislation for the fourth time.

If the House of Lords continues to oppose what critics call the "compulsion by stealth" element of the bill then the government will be forced to invoke the Parliament Act in the next session in November to get ID cards on the Statute Book.

During the debate on Thursday Home Secretary Charles Clarke accused peers of "breaking the conventions of parliament" and ignoring "the will of the people". He said: "It's a deliberate effort by the opposition parties to sabotage the ID card bill."

But Conservative shadow home secretary, David Davis, said the government's election manifesto — promising an initially voluntary ID card rollout — was "intended to mislead".

He said: "It is ridiculous to assert that the passport is voluntary. Under this bill ID cards are not voluntary, they are clearly compulsory."

Davis also said the NIR database is the fundamental flaw in the government's ID cards plans. "It's the database behind it that's the problem. You do not need to have the NIR," he said.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Nick Clegg, called the ID card scheme "uncosted, untested and unjustified".

Critics also rounded on the government today after the Home Office revealed that bank card-style PIN numbers — and not biometrics — would be used to verify the ID cardholder's identity in some cases.

Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of the No2ID campaign, said the Home Office's "gold standard" of identity has now been reduced to little more than a bog standard chip and PIN card.

"After all its overblown claims about the infallibility of biometrics and how highly secure its ID system will be, it turns out our identities are to be protected by nothing more than a four-digit PIN," he said in a statement. "The Home Office may as well give away all our personal data to organised criminals and fraudsters, who will always target the weakest point in a system."

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