Minister twists truth on ID cards

Home Office Minister Meg Hillier is twisting the truth in a way only a politician can.

She says “enrolment on the National Identity Scheme cannot become universally compulsory until a further Act of Parliament has been passed”. Does this mean the new ID card won’t be compulsory? Of course not, because, at some point in the future, the Government can just go ahead and pass this “further Act of Parliament”.

She suggests other countries around the world are moving to add fingerprints to passports and that all other (democratic) countries are building databases as powerful as the NIR (national identity register), which simply isn’t true. And if they are, why do we have to follow them?

“The scheme will directly combat the use of multiple identities by criminals, which facilitates illegal activity such as fraud, terrorism, and illegal immigration,” she says, but in no instance have ID cards been shown to be a significant deterrent to terrorist activity.

How will ID cards deter illegal immigrants if they’re willing to repeatedly enter the country? How will ID cards stop benefit fraud when most benefit fraud relates not to ID but to over-claiming?

She says: “The NIR will, just as with the current passport database, hold core identity information. It will not be an amalgam of all existing Government data. It will not hold tax, benefit or other financial records.” But what’s to stop them adding these later?

“The scheme will be fully security accredited and an independent commissioner will oversee it,” she says. Is this the same commissioner who ordered the government to publish Gateway reviews on ID cards in July 2006 and was taken to the High Court by the Government? By the time the case has gone through the courts it won’t matter what Gateway reviews said.

She says: “I have yet to hear realistic alternatives … Doing nothing is not an option.” Again and again we hear of new laws to help us catch criminals and terrorists.

This may come as something of a surprise to Ms Hillier but catching criminals has never been the problem; the problem is that the Government keeps letting them go!

How often in the Mercury have there been reports of criminals convicted of 20, 30 or 40 crimes?

The Government does not need to make us all carry ID cards and watch us 24/7, just stop releasing persistent offenders and leave the rest of us to live our own lives without being told what to do.

Avtar Singh, Leicester No2id