Home Secretary makes it clear that ID cards will NOT be compulsory

Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, has made it clear that ID cards will not be compulsory.   In a press conference, he said that the pilot schemes for airside workers to have ID cards in Manchester and London City Airports would not now be compulsory for UK citizens.

He said:

“Holding an identity card should be a personal choice for British citizens – just as it is now to obtain a passport.   Accordingly I want the introduction of identity cards for all British citizens to be voluntary and I have therefore decided that identity cards issued to airside workers, planned initially at Manchester and London City airports later this year, should also be voluntary.”

At the press conference, he was asked by journalists if ID cards would be made obligatory and said quite clearly that they would not be.

In a Parliamentary written statement he said:

There will be significant benefits to individuals from holding an identity card which will become the most convenient, secure and affordable way of asserting identity in everyday life. Identity cards will also be valid for travel throughout Europe in place of a British passport. ….. However, holding an identity card should be a personal choice for British citizens – just as it is now to obtain a passport. Accordingly I want the introduction of identity cards for all British citizens to be voluntary.”

This is a sensible and proportionate approach to adopt.

I have always felt that identity cards were mis-sold when they were first announced.  They were never going to be a magic bullet in the battles against terrorism or organised crime – although that was what was claimed when the proposals were first aired.  However, a simple system enabling the citizen to demonstrate – should they wish to do so – who they are always seemed to me to have enormous value (certainly better than having to turn up at a bank with a driving license, a council tax receipt and a utility bill).  In essence, that is the system that the Government is now saying we will be moving towards.

15 thoughts on “Home Secretary makes it clear that ID cards will NOT be compulsory”

  1. This annoucement is little more than a different presentation of existing policy. It will still be compulsory to register onto to National Identity Register when one renews one’s passport. Whether one chooses to get an additional piece of plastic to go along with that registration, is of little import. If Alan Johnson is serious about making ID Cards voluntary then registration on the National Identity Register must also be voluntary. If I am compelled to go on the register when I renew my passport or my photo-driving licence then it is not voluntary.

  2. As no-one has said that the information required for a new passport will be stepped up to include NI No, fingerprints etc inclusion on the National Identity Register will be pretty skeletal.

    In my view the numbers of complaints re passports – delays, thefts, fraud involving forged or stolen passports – makes a listing of passports inevitable.

    As passports last at least 10 years now I recall, and provision of extra information is not required this is a significant change in policy. It leaves open the likelihood that having a ID card will be enough of an advantage that more and more people will volunteer to have one.

  3. Has anyone said that the information to be captured in the National Identity Register will be reduced from the currently specified 57 items of information? Once on the register, an individual will be subject to some pretty severe criminal sanctions should he not keep the record up-to-date. Passport holders have never before been fined for failing to update the Passport Office with a change of address. These criminal sanctions belong to the policy of compulsory identity cards. It is disingenuous for Mr Johnson to claim that ID Cards are voluntary when he keeps the essential elements of the ID Cards Act 2006 unchanged. This is sleight of hand and it really doesn’t fool anyone who is familiar with the legislation.

  4. We can expect a question to be put to him if it is commonly suspected that those applying for a passport will have to supply all the info which could be put onto the database.

  5. Don’t worry. We shall continue to remind Mr Johnson that he has not repealed the legislation that makes registration upon the National Identity Register compulsory. If he is genuine about making ID Cards voluntary then registration upon the register should likewise be voluntary. If he is honest and genuine about his intention to make participation in the National Identity Scheme voluntary then he should have little difficulty in making that commitment.

  6. “We await the pressed men and women, and there will be none, but talk of them will increase, tendentiousl”

    That”s an impressively elliptical remark. Let”s make things simple. Is registration on the NIR voluntary or not. It is a direct and simple question and surely Mr Johnson can answer it.

  7. If the answer were in the negative the question would have been put and publicised surely?

    There are myriad tory MPs and others banging a dubious tambourine with liberty misspelt on its side.

    The new Home Secretary will no doubt decide the relationship between the register and passports in good time. A number of possibilities must be decoded between I would have thoguht.

    The Identity and Passport Office also says:

    “However, you may be aware that the Home Secretary recently made an announcement about the National Identity Service and this is available at: http://www.ips.gov.uk/cps/rde/xchg/ips_live/hs.xsl/100.htm.

    “You can also find out more on our online information service, through the DirectGov website, which is available at: http://www.direct.gov.uk/identity.”

  8. Voluntary. That is a laugh. That is what they said about getting into the US Social Security system when it first came out. Oh, it still is. But try and use a child as your dependent if you haven’t filed for an SS number for them. Volutary, what a joke. Christine

  9. As the compulsory Coalition are canceling the ID cards of those who found them useful and paid for them the real laugh is, as ever, with those who support the scheme.

    It is one of irony.

  10. Christine, the scheme as proposed by Labour was never voluntary. Right from the beginning when David Blunkett announced ID Cards two days after the September 11th attacks, it emphasis was put on its being a compulsory scheme. ID Cards were to be voluntary only during the initial stages of registration. Labour made in abundantly clear, both in responses in Hansard and written policy statements, that the intention was to switch to compulsory registration when take up was sufficiently advanced. The figure of 80% was mentioned.

    However that is all now past history, as one of the first acts of the new government was to announce the repeal the ID Cards Act and the physical destruction of the National Identity Register. This should become law by the end of the year. And quite properly to. The only opposition to this entirely sensible measure has been from those with a vested interest in the scheme, to make money from it, or from the tiny, tiny, tiny number of people so ideologically obsessed with national registration that they got one of the 10,000 cards issued over the last 12 months. Such opposition is utterly insignificant.

    Quietzapple, one reason why we have a Coalition government is because millions or former Labour voters, such as me, would not vote for a Labour Party that had a pathological mistrust for civil liberties. It remains to be seen whether Labour can reform itself in this respect or whether we will have to find another party to vote for in 2015.

    As for the tiny number of ID Card registrees who are not getting compensation, well no one can say that they weren’t warned. When Labour made the Brocock air pistol illegal in 2004, over 75,000 had been sold legally in this country. Even though the former owners had paid for them in good faith, the labour government confiscated them without compensation. Many thousands of people lost hundreds of pounds of property through no fault of their own. So excuse me if I feel less than sympathetic for the loss of a mere £30.

  11. Quite untrue.

    The world wide recession and the lies of the billionaire led media were the key factors in Labour’s loss.

    The principal losers via ID cards are those who found them particularly useful when traveling to the EU.

    ID cards will return here, I hope they are British rather than american

  12. Quite untrue

    Such dogmatism. And it most certainly isn’t untrue as I know a hell of a lot of social liberals like me who used to vote for Labour and could not consider doing so now, until the party reforms itself, which at present seems unlikely.

    The world wide recession and the lies of the billionaire led media were the key factors in Labour’s loss

    Actually I think all those things helped Labour, as indeed the temporary ‘bounce’ after the bank rescue showed. The electorate often cleaves to the ‘devil it knows’ in times of crisis, as it did in 1992; and that phenomenon was certainly in evidence in 2010, as the Tories failed to get an overall majority. What made the difference was that Labour had made itself anathema to a relatively small but vocal and influential element of its erstwhile core support.

    The principal losers via ID cards are those who found them particularly useful when traveling to the EU

    I fail to be imprssed by that argument. That is what a passport is for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *