Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has launched a powerful attack
    on the Government‘s proposals to introduce ‘smart‘ identity cards. The Home
    Secretary will announce this week a six-month consultation period on the
    possible introduction of identity cards, with a final decision expected by
    the end of the year. In an article in The Observer yesterday, Mr. Lilley
    criticised the idea on a number of fronts.

    Peter Lilley said:
    “I fear this will lead to the introduction of compulsory cards unless
    Parliamentarians and civil liberty groups join forces to oppose this idea.
    They may appear to be a potentially useful tool to tackle various forms of
    wrongdoing, but in practice would be of little use. The police rarely have
    a problem in identifying criminals, only in catching and convicting them.
    Nor would ID cards help to reduce illegal immigration.
    “There is nothing objectionable in a benefit payment card which gives people
    secure access to their money. Indeed I introduced such a card – only for it
    to be scrapped by the Labour Government on the grounds that it would be too
    difficult to computerise up to 20 million claimants. So how will they make
    identity cards work for all 60 million of us?
    “To make any sense at all it would have to be compulsory to carry such cards
    and keep them up to date. It would be a criminal 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. Even though the card would
    probably not help catch a single villain, it would criminalise many
    thousands of otherwise law-abiding people.
    “This is yet another ill-considered policy proposal from New Labour; an
    attempt to sound modern without thinking through the practical implications
    and a desire to sound tough on crime while costing huge sums which would be
    better spent on more police. I call on MPs from all parties who believe in
    the freedom of the individual against excessive state power to reject David
    Blunkett‘s latest folly.”