|Tony Blair||Response from Trevor Mendham|
In short, as we start issuing biometric passports for the first time, we will develop a sophisticated identity register.
Sophisticated perhaps - but not as all-encompassing as the proposed National Identity
Register. For a start such a system would only need to hold details of passport holders,
not the other 20% of the population.
As to the information held, remember that the Home Affairs Committee said last year:
"Before considering the detail of the draft Bill, we note that, as
currently drafted, it goes far wider than would be needed to introduce a
simple system to establish and demonstrate identity"
80% of the population have passports which will all need replacing over the next 10 years.
Now the whole point about this is that it is for a relatively small additional cost to the
biometric cost, and the additional cost is estimated at under £30, not £300, never mind £100 -
under £30 - for that small additional cost we can build on the biometric passport and incorporate
into that an identity card which gives us all the benefits that we know we need for identity
checks in the modern world.
Hang on a minute. Many of us don't agree with those claimed "benefits". You can't just
boldly assert "benefits" without justifying them.
Tony Blair is attempting to duck the argument about whether his ID scheme is a good thing
or whether it will be a massive invasion of privacy and a threat to our civil
It doesn't really matter whether the cards cost £30 or £300. This is a bad scheme, not a
So the next few years are going to see therefore effectively a visa and passport revolution
across the European Union and developed world,
How many times do I have to say it: irrelevant.
The move to biometric passports is not the same as
introducing a compulsory national identity card an an intrusive National Identity
we have the chance to use this opportunity to
get ahead in this change,
The government's plans are not an opportunity, they are a threat.
Attempting to relabel a problem as an advantage is an old marketing trick - people won't
fool for it.
and the move therefore to biometric passports makes identity cards
an idea whose time has come.
The Churchill government got rid of ID Cards 50 years ago.
Identity Cards are an idea that is past its sell-by date.
So I just wanted to set out, before answering Questions on this issue, for you just what is
the background and the context which has led us to the decision that now it is right to move
forward and get these biometric identity cards in place.
This will not be a move forwards. It will turn the civil liberties clock back fifty years.
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