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ID Cards: 'Creeping compulsion' and grovelling MPs
YET ANOTHER threatened 'backbench revolt' on identity (ID) cards by Labour MPs fizzled out on 13 February after some minor concessions swayed most 'rebels'.
ID cards could now be issued within three years. They won't be compulsory until 2013 but anybody renewing their passport from 2009 will get a full 'biometric' passport combined with an ID card and their details will be recorded on a national identity database.
This backdoor legislation has been labelled 'creeping compulsion', although new legislation will need to be approved before the scheme is made compulsory,
Government ministers claim these cards are essential to beat terrorism but civil rights campaigners Liberty point out that they are not a "magic bullet against fraudsters and terrorists." New York had ID cards before the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Madrid had them before the bomb attack on the rail system in March 2004.
And the cost could be enormous - the government estimate that full biometric passport/ ID cards will cost £93 for a five-year card compared to the present £51 for a ten-year passport but the fee has yet to be set and the true cost may be hidden in extra charges. When the card becomes compulsory, there will be fines for failing to have a card or for forgetting to tell the authorities if your circumstances change.
People fear these cards will not only be used to increase harassment of such groups as ethnic minorities but also to try to ration access to services such as education and health. Meanwhile private companies will make fortunes out of Europe's largest public-sector computer project, estimated officially to cost £5.8 billion.
Socialists will keep up the campaign against the threat of ID cards and fight for abolition of the legislation.
In The Socialist 16 February 2006: