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Mr. Winnick : The Bill will undoubtedly receive its Third Reading, probably with a slightly greater majority than the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) suggested, but it will pass without any enthusiasm whatsoever. It will pass because it is subject to a three-line Whip, understandably, but I do not think that it would get through, or that it would have received its Second Reading, on a free vote.
I have been opposed to ID cards from the very beginning. Although the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke with much passion, I must tell him that the only member of the Home Affairs Committee that studied the matter who voted against the original measure was me. Conservative Committee members voted for the Bill and only one Labour Committee membermyselfvoted against it, as the record will show.
Moreover, if I was convinced that the measure would help to prevent terrorism, despite all the difficultiesthe practical costs and so onI would vote for it. If identity cards could prevent casualties such as those on 7 July when people died or were seriously injuredone woman, for example, survived but had to have both legs amputated above the kneehow could I say that I would vote on principle against identity cards? I am simply not persuaded, however, that identity cards would prevent terrorism in any way. There have been terrorist incidents in Istanbul and Madrid, but there is no evidence whatsoever that identity cards, albeit without biometrics, prevented terrorism in those countries.
The Government have given various reasons for introducing the measure, including the need to tackle identity fraud and illegal working. They gave the impression that identity cards would do the trick and those problems would be resolved. Countries that have identity cards, however, have the same problems. Hardly any of the problems that the Government say will be dealt with by identity cards fail to afflict countries that have long had identity cards. It is therefore difficult to understand the determination on the part of the Government and of senior Ministers to push the measure forward. I am convinced that in time the card will become compulsory. Moreover, it will be necessary to carry one at all times. I accept that that will not happen initially, but inevitably suspicions will be aroused among officials when they discover someone is not carrying their identity card.
In conclusion, I do not accept the scenario painted by the hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) and others, who say that the Government are determined to bring about
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a "1984" state and have sinister motives. I believe that the Government are misguided but are acting with the best of motives, which I do not question, nor their integrity. I certainly question their judgment. I would like the Government to remain in office and to be re-elected in due course. They are a Government whom I support and for whose election I fought, like other Members, for 18 years in opposition. There is a danger, however, that they will give the impression that they take our traditional liberties lightly. Our opponents will use every opportunity to convey that impression to the country.
Labour Members must be very careful indeed when dealing with the threat of terrorismI am the last person to underestimate that threat, even if 7 July had not happenednot to give the impression that everything dear and precious to us and for which we fought for so long over the centuries can be taken lightly because of dangers that confront the country. I believe passionately in civil liberties. I believe passionately that this party and this movement are committed to civil liberties, but the measure before us today does not do anything to strengthen that impression. It is not justified, hence I shall vote against it on Third Reading.
Mr. Carmichael: When we subject today's proceedings to mature reflection we will realise that the House missed an opportunity earlier today when it failed to vote for the Bill's recommittal to a Special Standing Committee, as proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath). Despite the fact that this is the second time around for the measure and despite the Home Secretary's boasts that the Bill has received more scrutiny than has ever been the case with other legislation, an enormous number of questions remain. The House has still not addressed the practical issues surrounding the proposal. That is no accident. It is the result of the way in which the Government chose to present the Bill. The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality has told us times without number that this is an enabling Bill. The Government have thereby allowed the House to postpone the hard questions until a later stage. The Minister may say, as he did today, that there will be 61 other occasions on which we will revisit the matter, but that ignores the manner in which secondary legislation is dealt with in the House.
I know what our constituents will say when they are faced with the prospect of paying for cards that they do not particularly want but which they must have. They will not be impressed if we say, "We could not ask those questions because it was an enabling Bill." That will result in the public's further public disengagement from the political and parliamentary processes.
I shall watch with interest the progress of the Bill in another place. During the summer the Minister of State was reported as saying that the so-called super-affirmative procedure was flawed and unworkable. He is right. He will know that I pointed that out to him in Standing Committee, yet no amendments were made today to clause 7. Will the Minister tell us when we can expect to see the appropriate amendments to make the super-affirmative procedure workable, or are we to be left guessing? Will that change be made in the Lords?
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Like the Home Secretary, while preparing for today's debate I considered the speeches that were made on Second Reading, and I see little change. That is remarkably depressing. As the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham) observed in his contribution as Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, the key points were made a year ago and still the Government have failed to act on them. The Home Secretary told us that we need the benefits derived from identity cards, but it will not be lost on the House that he did not go on to enumerate them.
Others have said in the course of today's debate that the Government are asking us to buy a pig in a poke. As one who has a farming background, I feel that that is an inappropriate metaphor. I have bought many pigs in my life, and if one is buying a pig in a poke, one might not know what it looks like, but at least one knows the cost. A more appropriate retail metaphor for the Government's action would be to say that they have reduced the role of Ministers in the Home Office to nothing more than that of snake oil salesmen.
does that not tell it all? The claims that Ministers make are overblown. They move glibly from one issue to another as each justification is demolished, and ultimately we know that the Bill will not work.
The Home Secretary rightly pointed out the number of positions taken by the official Opposition in relation to the Bill. I am delighted that they have finally arrived at the right one. It is a brave politician who is prepared to say that he or she has considered the matter and changed their mind. We should not denigrate the Conservatives for doing so. I merely remind the House of a speech that was made to the Labour party conference in 1995, when a delegate said:
Martin Salter : This is not the first time that I have debated this issue in this place. During earlier exchanges, we heard a lot of fuss about the compulsory nature of this enabling Bill, which will become evident further down the road. I sat on the Standing Committee that examined almost exactly the same Bill in the last Parliament. At no point have the Government ever denied their intention to move towards compulsion in respect of ID cards. It is no secret, and hon. Members should not be surprised.
Indeed, it is difficult to see the point of a voluntary ID card system. What would it achieve? Do we have voluntary driving licences? Do we have voluntary passports? Do we have voluntary national insurance numbers? If one wants to travel, one needs a passport. If one wants to drive, one needs a driving licence. If one wants to work, one needs a national insurance number. The right to travel and the right to work are pretty fundamental rights. I have absolutely no problemand all the surveys show that the British people have absolutely no problemwith the right to be a UK
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resident being dependent on one's name and identity being on a national identity register. I do not get the argument that my civil liberties in a democracy would be in any way diminished by my, or my constituents, being required to say, "I am who I say I am."
There was a lot of hyperbole in some of the more ludicrous exchanges earlier. In an entertaining speech, the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron) took us on a tour of the great Liberal hall of fame, which I should have thought was more of a hut. I agree that Lloyd George belongs in it, but let us have Norman Scott, Jeremy Thorpe and that dog in there as well.[Interruption.] Yes, and Brian Sedgemore. [Interruption.]
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