ID cards expensive, intrusive and ineffective - Mark Hunter MP

May 7, 2009 3:32 PM
Mark in chamber

Mark called for a debate in the House of Commons on the Manchester ID card pilot

Cheadle MP Mark Hunter has slated ID cards plans as "expensive, intrusive and ineffective" after the Government announced that the cards would be rolled out in Greater Manchester on a voluntary basis from this autumn. Today in the House of Commons Mr Hunter asked for a debate in Parliament on the Manchester trial.

The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, announced that anyone in Greater Manchester (which includes Mr Hunter's Cheadle constituency) over 16 with a UK passport would, from the autumn, be able to sign up on a special Government website to a voluntary ID card. The plans will also make it compulsory for airport workers to carry and ID card.

Today, Mr Hunter asked the Leader of House of Commons, Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP, for a debate on the pilot saying that the excessive cost of the scheme and the economic outlook meant that ID cards should be reassessed.

In response to the statement Mr Hunter said: "The ID scheme is a colossal waste of money - with the London School of Economics estimating that it will cost between £10 and £20 billion. In the current economic climate we simply can't afford to be throwing away that kind of money on ineffective and ill-conceived schemes.

"Exploiting a 'politics of fear' to sell the idea of ID cards is totally flawed as other countries with ID cards still suffer from terror attacks and threats. The security argument for the cards is even less compelling; it won't help citizens protect their identity. Not only have the Government proved time and again that they are unable to keep private data safe but these cards will be too easy to fake. Without readers to check the biometrics on the card fraudsters will just be able to 'flash' a fake and get away with it. Added to that the idea of a voluntary scheme is useless, what criminal is going to voluntarily sign up to get an ID card?

"The citizens of Greater Manchester don't want to be used as guinea pigs - the Government already tried using us to test the congestion charge and now they are doing the same with ID cards. They promised they wouldn't make it compulsory for anyone to carry an ID card, but now their plans make it compulsory for pilots unless they want to leave their jobs.

"In this time of recession the Government needs to take tough decisions about what is are the public's priorities. Instead of spending billions on this expensive, intrusive, unpopular and ineffective scheme they should be saving the money and spending it on really protecting UK citizens by getting 10,000 more bobbies on the beat"

What would you like to do next?