ID cards ‘will not protect UK against terrorism’

Lord Steyn will say the controversial scheme is “unnecessary”, un-British and should be scrapped.

It comes as a senior Tory attacks the Government for not safeguarding our right to privacy and demand a reversal of the growth of the “Big Brother” surveillance state.

Baroness Neville-Jones, the shadow security minister, will pledge the Tories will restore the public’s right to privacy over personal information.

Lord Steyn will accuse the Home Office of introducing the cards step by step as a way of “conditioning” and “softening up” public opinion.

The cards, already in use for foreign nationals coming to Britain, will be available to anyone living in Manchester from later this year as part of a national roll out.

Ministers say the scheme will help fight terrorism, crime and illegal immigration and help people easily prove their identity.

Delivering the Lord Williams of Mostyn memorial lecture this evening, Lord Steyn will say there is “absolutely no evidence” they would protect the country against terrorism.

Their introduction was an unjustified “invasion” of civil liberties, the former judge will say.

He will add: “The commitment, by and large, of the British people to European constitutional principles and ideals does not require us to adopt an ID card system.

“In my view a national identity card system is not necessary in our country. No further money should be spent on it. The idea should be abandoned.”

“The Home Office now proudly asserts that comprehensive surveillance has become routine.

“If that is true, the resemblance to the world of Kafka is no longer so very distant.”

Alan Johnson, the new Home Secretary, is said to have launched a review of the entire £5 billion scheme amid concerns over civil liberties.

In a separate speech, to the Information Assurance for the Public Sector Conference in London, Baroness Neville-Jones will say: “The individual is the rightful owner of personal information and the state is merely possessor and should behave as a responsible custodian. We need to roll back the advance of Big Brother and restore this fundamental right of our citizens.

“Restoring privacy today must mean a clear statement on the part of those who have custody of personal information of their purpose in retaining it and of their commitment to its proper management. This will involve a review of most of the Government’s centralised databases.”

Tom Whitehead