Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden): Will the Home Secretary confirm that all asylum seekers already must have an identity document, that all have been

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    fingerprinted since July 1993, and that no illegal immigrant can obtain benefits or work legally without a unique national insurance number? To get such a number, people need to claim asylum, and present the relevant documents. The Home Secretary does not require anyone to carry the documents to which I have referred, so how will extending the requirement to possess an ID card to British citizens help to control illegal immigration one iota?

    Mr. Blunkett: I can certainly confirm that I introduced the asylum registration card for asylum seekers, but I must contradict the right hon. Gentleman on one point: from the year 2000, all asylum seekers who presented themselves to the authorities were fingerprinted, but the fingerprinting facility was not automatically available from 1993 onwards.

    I can confirm too that our scheme will catch illegal residents, immigrants and workers. I did not mention asylum seekers. The ones who will be caught will not be able to identify themselves; if they try, however, it will be possible to show that the relevant identifier is not present in the database.