Tory motion brings controversial scheme back to House of Commons – although proposal to cancel stands little chance of success
The £5.4bn National Identity Scheme is to be debated on the floor of the House of Commons this evening after the Conservatives proposed a motion to cancel the scheme immediately.
The plan suffered further setbacks this month after new home secretary Alan Johnson announced that the first test groups for the cards – airside workers at Manchester and London City airports – would no longer be issued with compulsory cards after heavy trade union opposition.
The move effectively freezes progress on the scheme until after a General Election next year – the Conservatives wrote to all the suppliers involved with ID cards last month to reaffirm their intention to cancel the scheme should they win power.
The Conservative motion proposes “that this House believes the government’s identity cards scheme should be cancelled immediately.”
It is highly unlikely any vote will lead to a repeal of the scheme, but it is the first time the scheme will have been debated in the Commons since it was introduced.
The Tories consider it a government policy weakspot and are keen to expose its perceived flaws.
The government amendment to the motion claims a “universally accepted biometric passport or identity card linked to a national identity register will help secure the identity of an individual and reduce the incidence of multiple identity fraud”.
But the Liberal Democrats have warned that the Conservatives have never outlined opposition to the National Identity Register – the database that will hold the biometrics of those applying for passports as well as ID cards under current legislation.
Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne told Politics.co.uk: “It’s always been hard to take the Tories seriously on ID cards since they originally backed them when they were introduced by the government.”
A separate Liberal Democrat amendment designed to force the Tory position on the National Identity Register adds: “…and any plans for a centralised biometric register” to the original motion.
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