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Identity Documents Bill

That the Bill be passed  

14 members have voted

  1. 1. Ayes to the Right, Noes to the Left

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Mr Speaker

I beg to move, that this Bill be now read a second time.

I am very pleased to introduce this legislation Mr Speaker, which will remove the authoritarian and bullying stain of the National Identity Register from the statute books. This legislation will repeal the mandatory ID cards linked to the National Identity Register passed by the members opposite, while retaining the offenses created by that legislation associated with the production or possession of false ID. We will also retain, Mr Speaker, the right for individuals to apply for a separate ID card that individuals could use in the many places in life that it becomes necessary - such as buying alcohol - but do not want to use or apply for a passport or a drivers’ license. However, that card will not be linked to a National Identity Register in any way and would be a completely voluntary transaction.

With that explanation Mr Speaker, I would like to summarise the purpose of this repeal.

The ID card scheme, Mr Speaker, was an intrusive, authoritarian, expensive, and ineffective idea from the outset. We all accept, Mr Speaker, that we must restrict certain individual liberties to the greater good when it is necessary. But that is always a balance. There was no good, no problem to solve, no benefit offered by ID cards and their proponents that outweighed the gross violation of individual liberty it represented.

They could have made us less safe, Mr Speaker. If the information on the register were compromised, then so too would have been any security possibly offered. While safeguards could have been possible, Mr Speaker, there are no guarantees. I cannot begin to imagine the scale of damage that could be done by identity theft on a national scale.

I want to end today. Mr Speaker, by paying tribute to the many members of this house and this country who campaigned against ID cards so effectively. NO2ID, Liberty, the Liberal Democrat MPs, and the handful of Labour MPs willing to defy their Government at the time. We can now turn the page on this rotten piece of legislation once and for all. 

Identity Documents Bill 2007.pdf

Katherine West

Conservative MP for Watford (2007 - )

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Mr Speaker, 

We can understand the viewpoint of those that pursued the original ideas for national identity cards and a national identity register: they wanted to do what they could to protect the safety and security of the United Kingdom and its people. The original act was proposed not long after one of the most horrific terrorist attacks in recent memory: the 11 September attacks in the United States. Growing concerns over identity theft and how that theft could be used to cause serious harm were at the core of this proposal. The Right Honourable Minister and this Government seems to agree given that those provisions related to identity theft and false documents and punishments for these crimes do seem to remain intact under this legislation. 

But as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Just because safety and security is a good thing, because it is a new positive that we are responsible for in this House, does not mean that every action taken in support of safety and security is necessarily good. 

The arguments in favour of national identity registers are in fact good reasons to oppose the creation of it: it cuts people out of the formal economy and formal legal system. It demonises immigrants and migrants who come here and may not be in the register or for some reason may not be eligible for it at first. It makes it harder for those who are in poverty or who are disabled to receive the services they need and deserve. It can be used to discriminate against minorities. And, like the Right Honourable Minister rightly notes, it erodes privacy to a degree that cannot be justified by the benefits. 

Mr Speaker, there are better ways to protect the people of this country and to fight against terrorism, against identity theft, and against crimes that can threaten lives and livelihoods in the United Kingdom. I hope that this Government looks at this bill as the first step in doing that- in putting together a plan that protects privacy as well as our country. And I look forward to seeing those measures and others debated in this House in the near future. 

But as a first step- and as a first step only- this legislation is an acceptable first step and we look forward to seeing this bill pass in due course.

Devon Milne MP

MP for Aberdeen North (2015 - ) | Scottish National Party


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Mr. Speaker,

As many before me have said, this was a bill with good intentions that ultimately turned out to not be practical, creating far more concerns about civil liberties and budgetary overruns than the issue it nobly attempted to address. I welcome this decision by the Government to repeal this legislation, and will be voting for it. Even the best of Governments don't always get it right--and I have no shame in saying that the last Government got this one wrong. I welcome this chance for the House to redress this error on, what I believe will be, a broad cross-party vote in favour of its repeal.

I trust that the Government will continue to examine better, more fiscally sound ways that respect the civil liberties of our citizens to address the serious concerns that terrorism brings--and establish better mechanisms that the one that was attempted here in future to address these valid and urgent concerns.

Arnold Brown

Conservative MP for Solihull

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The Ayes to the Right: 628
The Noes to the Left: 16

The Ayes have it, the Ayes have it!




  • BNP
  • TUV
  • DUP
  • Marcus Drummond and 10 Labour MPs


  • Everybody else


Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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