Monthly Archives: June 2010

David Barrett writes in the Sunday Telegraph: Since 2007, first-time applicants for passports have been required to attend face-to-face interviews with officials from the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) in an attempt to spot fraudsters. Out of half a million people interviewed so far, just eight have been refused passports on the basis of the evidence obtained, according to official figures. Although 4,000 fraud investigations have been triggered as a result of the interviews, not one has led to a prosecution or conviction. Yet the government has admitted that on its own estimate, 4,400 fraudulent applicants per year are still managing to slip through the net and obtain passports. Phil Booth, of campaign group NO2ID, said: “This expensive project was an attempt to introduce a network by stealth for the national identity card scheme. These figures show it has failed to have any significantly effect on passport fraud.” The system […]

Face-to-face passport interviews catch only eight fraudsters

Aida Edemariam writes in The Guardian about an interview with former Chancellor Alistair Darling: He does, however, believe “we could have got through this recession and won the election. There’s bits of medicine we could have administered that would have made things a bit easier.” Such as? “I think we could have gone further about what we would actually have done. But you know – there’s a perfectly good counter-argument which says that you would never have got a fair hearing for it.” Does he mean in his pre-budget report? “Yeah. I … I … I wanted to show more examples of what we could cut, and more examples of what we could switch. But there was a more limited appetite for that than you might think.” What would he have wanted to be more upfront about? A defining, and frustrating, feature of the election, for voters, was of course […]

Alistair Darling: ‘We could have got through this recession’

Denis MacShane writes in The Times: My wonderful national identity card allows free passage without let or hindrance. Nick Clegg, whose mother is Dutch, whose wife is Spanish, and who has lived and worked in Belgium and France, knows all about identity cards. And yet he peddled the pre-election line that they amounted to an assault on British liberty without precedent in our history. Does Nick think the Dutch, Spanish, Germans and so forth are all living in gulags because they have ID cards? But ID cards work. Abolishing them, it now turns out, will save pennies not billions. As terrorism targets travellers, we will, sadly, have to provide more information, whether for passports or ID cards. I accept that an election pledge is an election pledge and this week’s Bill on ID cards is part of the coalition package. But here’s my offer. I will vote for the Bill, […]

I love my ID card. Can they really be taking ...

Yesterday’s Second Reading debate of the Identity Documents Bill in the Commons has seemingly gone completely unreported in the media, save for a few minutes’ mention on BBC Radio 4’s “Yesterday in Parliament”. If passed, the Bill will abolish the ID Cards Scheme (although not the biometric visas that the last government called “ID cards for foreigners”). The full debate can be read in Hansard (840Kb PDF), and is also conveniently broken out into individual speeches by the excellent They Work For You site. The video can be see on the Parliament TV site (begins at 1:14pm) and partially on the BBC Democracy live web site (starts with David Blunkett’s speech). Theresa May (Home Secretary, Con) moved the second reading: The national identity card scheme represents the worst of government. It is intrusive and bullying, ineffective and expensive. It is an assault on individual liberty which does not promise a […]

Identity Documents Bill, Second Reading

Martin Beckford writes in the Daily Telegraph: Nursing leaders are taking legal action against the Government’s controversial anti-paedophile database in another blow to the troubled scheme. The Royal College of Nursing claims that the vetting and barring scheme could have “catastrophic” consequences for its members’ careers, by removing their right to a fair hearing and making them cautious about contact with patients. It is seeking a judicial review of the requirement for all nurses, midwives, healthcare workers and students to pay £64 and register with the new Independent Safeguarding Authority before they can work with children or vulnerable adults. The new Coalition administration is already committed to reviewing the scope of the much-criticised scheme but any High Court battle could delay its full implementation. The RCN believes the absence of a right to appeal breaches the European Convention on Human Rights: Anyone deemed unsuitable to join the children or vulnerable […]

Royal College of Nursing takes legal action against Government’s anti-paedophile ...

Philip Johnston writes in the Daily Telegraph: The Coalition’s first Bill will be debated in the House of Commons tomorrow and, fittingly, it involves the repeal of a measure that is emblematic of the last Labour government’s time in office: ID cards. I have lost count of the articles I have written about them since they were first proposed by David Blunkett, the former home secretary, after the September 11 attacks in America in 2001. At the time, Labour claimed support from about 80 per cent of the population for a mandatory scheme that would involve establishing a National Identity Register to carry the personal details of every adult in the land. For many, as the dust from the collapsed World Trade Centre towers cleared to reveal a changed security landscape, this seemed a small price to pay for improved safety in the face of the terrorist threat. A familiar […]

ID cards were a bad idea from the start

Andrea Petrou writes in Tech Eye: Despite the coalition government making a promise to only allow children’s fingerprinting with the consent of an adult it has made no firm plans to put this in place. The new government outlined these plans which were welcomed by Action on Rights for Children (ARCH) in section 10 of its coalition paper. It said that it would banish schools fingerprinting children of under 18 unless there was parental consent. However both ARCH and No2ID, which has also been fighting for this cause, have said they have not been able to contact any key figures in parliament to find out when this is going to happen. Terri Dowty, director at ARCH, told TechEye: “Departments are silent, we don’t get replies.

Coalition government remains silent over kids fingerprinting proposals

Ian Dunt writes in a comment piece on the web site: Remember that Crewe and Nantwich by-election in 2008? Back then, the controversy was all about how Labour tried to paint the Tory candidate as posh. But those same Labour leaflets had something else interesting in them. “Do you oppose making foreign nationals carry an ID card?” they read, in a mock-up Tory MP application form. In actual fact, the Conservatives opposed ID cards for everyone. This was desperate, ugly prejudice, the vain attempt to press that racist button in the British electorate. The media thought prejudice against rich people was more important, as is fairly typical. Labour seized the opportunities offered it by the EU law and ran with it in the most irresponsible way possible. The legislation for foreign nationals was never even in the ID Cards Act – it was completely different legislation. The only similarity […]

ID cards by the backdoor?

Jack Doyle writes in the Daily Mail about increasing abuse of the Department of Work and Pensions’ Customer Information System: The database holds a record of every single individual issued with a National Insurance number, including those who have died, each containing up to 9,800 pieces of information. That includes details of their ethnicity, address, and tax status. In addition, the system records the full income details of anyone receiving any kind of benefit, including 11.5million state pensioners, 2.65 million people on incapacity benefit and four million who claim pension credit or some kind of income support. Freedom of Information Act requests revealed 124 security breaches by council staff last year, including those found looking at the accounts of friends, family, neighbours, or celebrities. That is a sharp increase from just 20 in 2008/9. Of those 26 were dismissed and eight resigned during the disciplinary process. But 37 were given […]

‘Big Brother’s’ little brother: Illegal snooping by town hall staff ...

Ian Quinn writes in Pulse, a specialist magazine for GPs: The coalition Government has revealed it plans to keep the Summary Care Record, despite a massive boycott by GPs and pre-election pledges by both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to rip up the system. Conservative health minister Simon Burns revealed the Government is to stick with the most recent policy introduced under Labour, which will allow records to be uploaded in a patchwork system across the country, depending on whether individual GP practices and PCTs back the idea. Uploading of records, he said, would continue in all PCTs where GPs and trusts agreed there has been adequate consultation and opportunity for patients to opt out. The Conservatives had previously planned to scrap a national system in favour of a more localised system of records, while the Liberal Democrats had called for the rollout to abandoned altogether, with then health […]

Coalition Government to retain Summary Care Record

Benedict Brogan, writing an opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph, thinks that Labour leadership candidates may try to link immigration and ID cards: Yet now power has been lost, and the old views can be disowned, the party has started talking about national identity and the impact of migrants with the bug-eyed enthusiasm of an iPad bore. For those fighting to lead Labour, the topic has gone from taboo to mandatory. The four Identikit candidates likely to be on the ballot when nominations close – the Miliband brothers, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham – all admit that they did not pay enough attention to what they were being told on the doorstep, namely that we are full up. Amid the soul-searching on the Left, there is an acknowledgment that Mr Brown’s general refusal to acknowledge such concerns contributed to defeat. David Goodhart, the editor of Prospect, has even called on […]

Labour, immigration and ID cards

Angela Epstein writes in the Manchester Evening News: They came, they identified, then they bit the dust. So ends the much maligned saga of the ID cards, which have been swiftly junked by the new Con/Lib Government. And as the first member of the public to acquire one of these now collector’s items, I’m deeply disappointed. Disappointed that the scheme, trialled right here in Manchester, has been strangled at birth before it had the chance to prove that ID cards could be incredibly useful as a safe and portable way of proving identity. Instead, our new Government delivered a knee-jerk response and scrapped the scheme, preferring to appease the so-called civil libertarians who hysterically clamoured that the introduction of ID cards was a blow for privacy and further damning proof of an ever encroaching nanny state. If this wasn’t a blatantly cynical exercise in tactical popularism then I don’t know […]

Opinion: Angela Epstein

Lauren Higgs writes in Children & Young People Now: The government has written to all ContactPoint projects confirming that “the idea of a single national IT database for all children has gone for good”. In an email leaked to CYP Now, the government claims the millions of pounds invested in the project so far will not go to waste. “We are scrapping ContactPoint,” the email said. “We will develop better ways of keeping children safe. The investment made won’t be wasted because we can use the technical expertise we’ve acquired to protect those children most in need. But the idea of a single national IT database for all children has gone for good.”

Leaked email reveals further information on ContactPoint plans

According to Contractor UK: The two leading IT contractors on the outgoing national identity cards scheme should emerge relatively unscathed, as their contracts will escape the government’s axe. Speaking last week, the government said ID cards would fold within 100 days for UK citizens, but not for “foreign nationals”, and that biometric passports would remain. The announcement will please CSC, with a £385m contract, whose Application & Enrolment System will be used to issue the passports, and the cards to foreigners. It will also reassure IBM, on a £285m contract for the National Biometric Identity Service, whose storage of biometrics will now be limited to asylum seekers and passports.

ID card contractors escape the axe