SA Mathieson writes in The Register:
One of the first things Britain’s home secretary Theresa May did on taking office was to abolish the previous governmentâ€™s identity cards scheme. But while she made ID cards history, she is in the process of extending Britainâ€™s range of identity document checks.
Britain may be a country without ID cards, but British officialdom has plenty of reasons for requiring your papers, please â€“ usually a passport or a driving licence â€“ other than for crossing a border or driving a vehicle.
Mayâ€™s immigration bill, published in October, will among other things, require private landlords to check whether prospective tenants are allowed to live in Britain, on pain of Â£3,000 fines.
According to the Residential Landlordsâ€™ Association, which says 82 per cent of its members oppose the measure, it will mean everyone renting will have to show papers, including Britons â€“ with landlords having to learn to recognise the 404 types of European ID documents that legally entitle someone to live in the UK. The association argues that many illegal immigrants will get around such checks by subletting, or renting from those in the hidden economy.
If the bill makes it into law, this measure will be introduced in only one area by 2015, following the intervention of the Liberal Democrats. Even so, it will extend a substantial list of situations when, despite Britain not having an all-purpose identity document, you still need to show one â€“ although donâ€™t expect much consistency or logic as to why.