ID card U-turn under fire

The Home Secretary has come under renewed fire from civil liberties campaigners for distorting the truth about the compulsory introduction of Identity registration.

This week new Home Office supremo Alan Johnson backtracked on a proposal to force around 30,000 airport workers in Manchester and London to carry ID cards following the threat of legal action.

He announced however that the government was pressing ahead with and accelerating the voluntary roll-out of ID cards, while stating that the cards would not be compulsory for British citizens.

All foreign nationals in Britain are to be forced to carry identity cards and the Home Secretary said he wished to see this scheme fast-tracked.

But Mr Johnson did not mention that, under regulations due to go before Parliament, anyone renewing or applying for a British passport will have their details recorded on the National Identity Register.

The regulations would make passports a designated document under the national identity card scheme.

The regulations would also give the government the power to fine people up to £1,000 if they failed to inform the authorities of a change of address or change in personal details within three months.

When contacted by the Morning Star a Home Office spokesman confirmed that, “from 2011 anyone aged 16 or over applying for or renewing a passport will be enrolled on the on the National Identity Register.”

Critics of the scheme argue that this is just compulsory registration by another name.

Responding to the new Home Secretary’s announcement on ID cards, Liberty Director of Policy Isabella Sankey, said: “However you spin it, big ears, four legs and a long trunk still make an elephant.

“And this white elephant is as costly to privacy and race equality as to our purses.

“As long as entry on the National Identity Register is automatic when applying for a passport the ID scheme will be compulsory in practice.”

Paddy McGuffin