Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140
WEDNESDAY 16 DECEMBER 1998
and MS ELSPETH
140. Do you consider the ownership of identity
cards to be of benefit eventually to both the owner of the identity
card and the social security officer as well as employers etc.,
(Professor Groenendijk) I think it is not only
the government but also a lot of private organisations which oblige
people to produce identity cards.
141. Like us here (in the House of Lords).
(Professor Groenendijk) Like you. I was a member
of the committee which advised the Dutch Government on how to
deal with the issue of the identity card. One of the interesting
experiences I had was that the police commissioner who was on
the Committee, never laid any stress on the idea of carrying identity
cards as being something which would add to the possibilities
to either detect illegal people or arrest criminals. It was more
the politicians who were in favour of the general obligations
to carry ID cards, the representative of the police in that committee
never stressed that. He doubted whether it would be an effective
document in controlling undesirable activities in the country.
142. The question here, as you know, is
down under race relations. The question is would identity cards
benefit or otherwise race relations, I presume in regard to the
stopping by the police?
(Professor Groenendijk) This has been in the Dutch
parliamentif you will allow me to answer that questiona
topic of repeated debate. The relevant provisions in our immigration
law have been amended as to make it hard for immigration officers
and police officers to check the identity cards of people being
suspected of being illegal entrants or illegal stayers unless
they have concrete evidence or suspicion. The courts and the national
ombudsman so far have given very strict interpretation to this
clause because the intention of parliament was to have the controls
not on the street but to have the controls on the identity and
on the legality of the stay at certain specific occasions, specifically
to avoid the problems for race relations which have arisen in
other continental countries where there is a long tradition of
checking people in the streets like, for instance, France and
143. I promised the Committee we would not
keep you too long and that we would have finished by a quarter
to six. May I ask one last question, which I hope is a fairly
brief one though. I think I understood from one of your earlier
answers that those who potentially suffer most from the opt out
on both sides of the opt out are third country nationals, is this
correct? If they get a different visa for Britain than they have
for Schengen then third country nationals resident in this country
for a prolonged period are not able to move freely around the
rest of Europe and similarly third country nationals resident
in the Netherlands are not able to move freely into Britain. Is
(Professor Groenendijk) I would supplement it
with the citizens of the Union who are of immigrant origin because
they have the same problem as the third country citizens. Chairman: Thank
you. There are many other questions we would love to ask you.
If you have five minutes for informal conversation before you
leave I would love to know a little about the Meijers Committee.
Meanwhile, thank you very much indeed for coming. We are sorry
we kept you waiting at the beginning.