Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, launched an all-party attack on Government plans to introduce compulsory identity cards. On Thursday 7th January, Mr. Lilley tabled an Early Day Motion, signed by MPs from all of the major parties, against proposals recently announced by Home Office Ministers.

    Peter Lilley said:

    “At first glance the idea of compulsory identity cards may seem harmless to the innocent and a potentially useful tool to tackle various forms of wrongdoing. But in practice they would be of little use in tackling crime ? the police rarely have any problem in identifying criminals, only in catching and convicting them. Nor would ID cards help with illegal immigration ? there would be outrage if the police were given powers to stop people who look or sound foreign to check their immigration status. In practice they would only dare stop well spoken white people so the scheme would backfire. There is nothing objectionable in a benefit payment card which, like a credit card, gives people secure access to their money. Indeed I began introducing this but the Labour government scrapped it saying they could not make it work for 20 million benefit claimants. So how will they make identity cards work for all 60 million of us?

    “The estimated ?1 billion it would cost to introduce such a system would be far better spent on more police.

    “To make any sense at all it would have to be compulsory to carry such cards and keep them up to date. That means it would be an arrestable offence to leave home without your ID; to fail to notify the authorities of a change of address; or to forget to report the loss of a card. So compulsory cards would create three new criminal offences ? criminalising thousands of otherwise law abiding citizens without catching any genuine criminals.

    “I am proud to have been joined by MPs from all parties who believe that identity cards would give the state excessive power which could be abused and put individuals? rights to privacy at risk.?