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Government plans for ID nation defeated ? (again)

rts | 17.01.2006 01:36 | Analysis | Repression | Social Struggles | London

Not an issue that ever seems to stay dead, the governments ID card scheme has today suffered another major defeat - but don't hold your breath, it will probably be back on the table soon enough...

The proposals for a national ID card and database are in crisis yet again after peers inflicted a treble blow to the government's big brother scheme. Conservatives and Liberal Democrats attacked the massive costs likely to be involved and demanded a full costing. Additionally they demanded that MPs to be given an unprecedented vote on the scheme's budget.

The first major setback for the ID Cards Bill came last night as peers voted by 237 votes to 156 for an amendment demanding that the National Audit Office draw up a report on the estimated cost. Ministers have claimed that the scheme will cost a mere £584 million a year, along with a combined ID card and passport costing no more than £93. But research by the LSE suggests the real cost is likely to be between £10bn and £19bn over three years.

"Dozens of questions about the scheme's architecture, goals, feasibility, stakeholder engagement and outcomes remain unanswered ... The security of the scheme remains unstable, as are the technical arrangements for the proposal. The performance of biometric technology is increasingly questionable. We continue to contest the legality of the scheme", said an LSE report released yesterday.

"The financial arrangements for the proposals are almost entirely secret, raising important questions of constitutional significance."

The second blow came in the House of Lords when peers voted to demand a secure and reliable method of recording and storing personal data which doesn't seem to be much of a blow to me but apparently it is so there you go.

The nail in the coffin (if only) came when the peers voted by 194 to 141 for an amendment limiting the potential for ID cards to be required before people can access public services.

But before you start celebrating, ministers are planning to overturn the defeat in the Commons next week but they also face the peers voting to throw out another key part of the Bill which would stop people being forced to register for an ID card when renewing passports and driving licences.

so, keep up the pressure, this bill isn't quite dead yet!



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