No ID cards before the election

It looks like the sun will set on the current legislative session before the government can get its ID card bill on the statute books
Written by Andy McCue, Contributor

The government's plans for a national ID card look set to be shelved until after a general election because of likely opposition to the bill by Conservatives in the House of Lords.

Despite opposition from the Liberal Democrats the ID card bill was passed by MPs earlier this year, although the Tories abstained in the final vote, and it was due for its final reading in the Lords before the election.

But following the tough battle the government faced last week in getting its terrorism bill through the Lords and given the short debating time left before a likely 5 May election, Labour may to sacrifice the ID cards bill in favour of others, such as the serious and organised crime and police bill, which would get an easier passage through the Lords.

The ID card bill's fate is likely to be sealed during the "wash up" — the period just before the general election when the government and opposition parties come to an agreement on what bills will be saved and what ones will be ditched.

Liberal Democrat MP Richard Allan told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com the government should take the opportunity to rethink its "half-baked" ID card proposals after the election, which Labour and Tony Blair are expected to win.

"Thankfully it looks like the government will run out of time. If the bill can't be properly scrutinised then it is entirely wrong to put it on the statute book. It will be best if they quietly let it die and then think again about the whole notion of a national identity register and ID cards," he said.

Allan's and the Liberal Democrat's opposition to the ID card scheme has been well-documented and he likened the bill to "using a sledgehammer to crack a nut".

"On a practical basis if you have this large amount of money to spend on crime and policing there are better areas to spend it," he said.

One Conservative MP told The Independent newspaper the ID card bill is "dead in the water" but Allan warned that the government may threaten to exploit any Conservative opposition in the forthcoming election campaign.

"There are many individual Conservative MPs who know it is a bad idea but the party is running scared of being accused of being soft on terrorism in the run-up to the election," he said.

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