|Tony Blair||Response from Trevor Mendham|
I will start today by giving you the details of the government's Identity Cards Bill. I know this is a controversial issue, so I want to say a little bit about why I believe ID cards are necessary in today's world.
||The word "believe" is important. Mr Blair is entitled to his belief but should be
aware that millions of us disagree. He should also be aware that just because he believes
something it is not necessarily true - a lesson he should have learned after the invasion
|We know false identities are important to terrorists and criminals because of the
frequency with which they use them.
||There is an unjustified implicit assumption here that ID Cards will prevent false identities - this
assumes that the system will be infallible, ID Cards will not be faked and no-one will
tamper with the Register.|
|ID cards will allow people to prove who they are quickly, simply and securely.
||Hang on, "allow..." - this line is about a consumer benefit, not tackling terrorism.
What's it doing in this paragraph? Mr Blair is either confused about or confusing the
|Of course they are not a silver bullet that will defeat terrorism and organised
crime on their own, no-one suggests that, but they will be an important weapon in the
fight against the modern threats we face from terrorism and organised crime.
||The Government don't say that, true, but they do seem content to let a lot of other
people "suggest" it.|
|It is important at a time of increasing problems that we do what we can to help
the police, the intelligence services and the new Serious Organised Crime Agency.
||True. However it is a non sequiter to assume from this that we need ID Cards. Perhaps
the best way to help the police is to spend the £5.5 billion on them directly.|
Independent research shows that there is no demonstrable link between
ID Cards and reducing terror.
| And it is worth just remembering that of the 6.4 million people recorded on the
police computer, over a quarter have an alias, a false name or identity.
This appears to be an attempt to play up the climate of fear by suggesting 6.4
criminals and terrorists waiting to pounce.
In Britain today it is quite legal to have
multiple identities, many people do so for legitimate reasons. An example is actors who
have a stage name - a second "identity".
Of those with multiple identities who are criminals, the vast majority
are probably petty crooks - not hardened terrorists.
|However, that is not the only reason for identity cards. They will also help in
the fight against illegal working and immigration.
||How? "Gang masters" and those paying illegal immigrants in cash will not ask to see ID
|The Immigration Service have seized over 4,000 suspected false documents this year.
||So what? Maybe in 2012 they'll seize 4,00 suspected false ID Cards. If anything, this
statement proves that the imiigration service today is capable of tracking down illegals -
so why not just give them more resources.|
|ID cards will help to bear down on fraud, and better ensure also that our public
services are not exploited by those who are not entitled to use them.
||Perhaps - assuming the cards cannot be forged and that we are willing to be scanned
and fingerprinted every time we visit the doctor or pay by credit card. But even if it
does reduce fraud, will it be cost effective?|
We know that this also is a problem, and very difficult to police.
Identity-related benefit fraud is estimated at millions of pounds a year, eligibility for
non-emergency NHS treatment is based on someone being ordinarily resident in this
country.||Millions - a drop in the ocean for the health service budget. And the
"solution" will cost billions. So not cost-effective, then, even if it does work.|
|An ID card will allow the correct decision to be made and will allow the present
law to be enforced in a way that all too frequently at the moment it can't be.
Again, this assumes that the cards will not be faked and that we will submit to scanning
It also ignores the flipside: what about those vulnerable groups who slip through the net
and those who lose their ID cards. What about those affected by the inevitable system bugs that corrupt
their NIR details? These will become Unpersons and lose rights to which they are legally
|A common standard which proves on the spot who a citizen is and to what they are
entitled will also mean a significant saving in terms of the checks on individuals and
their identity that currently take place.
||At first glance that could be taken to imply that there will be less checks on people.
In fact, the plans will see many more ID checks. Any "savings" will simply be
administrative ones of only having to hold and check a single database. Against which must
be measured the privacy costs of such a single database.|
|The government of course takes seriously the privacy and freedom of people, the ID
cards register will only hold the basic information which is already held by different
departments and public bodies.
||Nonsense. No Government department or public body currently holds my iris scan
or fingerprints. No Government body currently keeps a list of my current and all
previous addresses. No Government department currently keeps a detailed record of
each and every time I access any public or private service (once compulsion is
introduced, private companies will be allowed to check your ID Card and a record of this
will be held in the NIR).|
|The biometric identifiers will ensure the privacy of that information is protected
and correctly tied to an individual.
||Nonsense. Tied to an individual perhaps (though biometrics are not foolproof) but
protected - no. The Bill allows for a huge range of people to have access to the information
without the individual's permission. This list can be extended "for other purposes
specified by order made by the Secretary of State", an extremely wide-ranging power.|
|Security of that database is also vital, and we are determined to get it right,
which is why we have always said that ID cards will be introduced on a gradual basis,
starting from 2008.
||Nice sentiment, but then they always say "we'll get it right this time".|
| I am also announcing today that there will be two new offences in the Bill to
underline our determination to keep it secure: a maximum of 10 years for anyone tampering
with the database, and a maximum of 2 years for anyone involved in its administration that
discloses information improperly.
||Good. But such offences are unlikely to deter organised crime and
|I believe that this is responsible government, not as some have called it Big
||Again, Tony Blair is entitled to his belief - but millions of us believe him to be
|It is responsible to do what we can to enhance security and ensure that public
services are only used by those that are actually entitled to use them. The public quite
rightly want their public services to be properly used and not abused.
||Again, this is based on the assumption that ID Cards will achieve these aims in a
cost-effective manner - assumptions that are unproven.|
|ID cards will also make our borders more secure,
||Nonsense. Foreign visitors will not be presenting UK ID Cards, they will be
|they will make our free public services and our benefits system more secure,
||Repeating the same unproven assumptions|
|they will help protect civil liberties, not erode them, because people will be
able to produce quickly their own identification,
||Non sequiter. I can already quickly produce my own identification; a credit card
to pay for goods, a passport to travel and a driving licence to drive. (Or I would if I
ID Cards are not about people being "able to" have identification it is about
them being forced to. Talk of "enabling" us is pure spin. The Government is trying
to relabel a threat as an opportunity.
|and I would simply point out, as I did at the weekend, that without proper
security then there can be no opportunity.
||This line has no connection to the preceding one and appears to be an attempt to get
away from the civil liberties issue before anyone realises he was talking