Biometric passport 2.0 scrapped alongside ID cards, NIR 2

John Lettice writes in the Register:

Second-generation biometric passports will be scrapped alongside ID cards and the National Identity Register by the new Tory-LibDem government, probably as part of a merger between the LibDem Freedom Bill, and the Great Repeal Bill advocated by some sections of the Tory party. It isn’t as yet entirely clear what will be in this Bill, but there is sufficient common ground between the two parties for it to be one of the easier tasks for the new government.

Both parties went into the election committed to scrapping ID cards and the NIR, and though the LibDems were the only major UK party to pledge to add biometric passport enhancements (adding fingerprints, and possibly other weird stuff if you believe Meg Hillier) to the bonfire, the UK has no international obligation to deliver a second-generation passport. They would have been a tempting and easy cut for the Tories if they’d been able to govern on their own.

The BBC web site carries video of Theresa May’s first interview with the BBC as Home Secretary. The interviewer’s first question is about ID cards.

The Conservative web site carries the full text of the LibDem/Tory coalition agreement (PDF). Section 10 reads (in full):

10. Civil liberties

The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour Government and roll back state intrusion.

This will include:
– A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill.
– The scrapping of ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the Contact Point Database.
– Outlawing the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.
– The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.
– Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database.
– The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury.
– The restoration of rights to non-violent protest.
– The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.
– Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.
– Further regulation of CCTV .
– Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.
– A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.

Finally, James Graham writes on Guardian Comment is Free that Labour’s refusal to compromise on the ID card scheme was one of the factors that scuppered Labour/LibDem coalition talks:

For me, this represents a final let-down by the Labour party after 13 years of disappointments. It has become a hollow shell of what it once was. There is hope that it can now reinvent itself as a genuinely progressive party that rediscovers the enthusiasm it once had for individual human dignity. Sadly, however, the early signs show that it is going to retrench into a tribalist sect interested only in gaining outright power for itself. The fact that two of the things the Labour negotiating team would not even contemplate was dismantling the database state and ending the detention of immigrant children makes you realise quite how corrupted the party has become in office.

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