ID Cards to be scrapped - but must be scrapped for all

27 May 2010

Liberty today welcomed the new Government’s Identity Documents Bill which will repeal the much criticised ID Cards Act. The organisation has campaigned against ID cards since they were first suggested by then Home Secretary David Blunkett in 2001.

However, the new Bill will only apply to British nationals – ID cards were made compulsory for foreign nationals in 2008.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said:

“Liberty thanks the Government for the Bonfire of the ID cards and the junking of the National Identity Register. We have spent many years arguing that this grand folly would cost our freedom, privacy and race relations dearly and the public agreed.

We hope that scrapping ID cards for foreign nationals will soon follow. Passports and visas are appropriate for immigration control – ID cards are even more divisive when only one group in society is required to hold them.”

The hugely expensive ID card scheme was unsuccessfully touted by the former Government as a solution to identity theft, benefit fraud, crime, and terrorism.

Journalists contact: Liberty’s press office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831 128

Notes to Editors

1. Compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals have been rolled out in stages since November 2008. The first categories of people required to have an ID card were foreign students and foreign spouses, partners and dependents of UK nationals. As of March 2009, retired people, those on UK ancestry visas, academic visitors, domestic workers and others have also been required to obtain an ID card. Sections 5-15 of the UK Borders Act 2007 apply to biometric registration for foreign nationals. This gives a power to the Secretary of State to make regulations requiring a person to apply for, or use, a document recording biometric information. The Immigration (Biometric Registration) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/3048) set out the detail of what is required. This legislation will need amendment to scrap ID cards for foreign nationals.

2. ID Cards Timeline

2001: as Home Secretary, David Blunkett puts forward the idea of compulsory ID cards

2002: White paper published on ID cards

April 2004: Draft ID Card Bill published for consultation

March 2005: Second reading of the Bill in the House of Commons just before the General Election

May 2005: ID card scheme introduced to Parliament

March 2006: Identity Cards Act receives royal assent

Nov 2008: ID cards start to become compulsory for foreign nationals
2009: cards were due to become compulsory for airside workers but plans were scaled back amid protests from the airline pilots union BALPA – cards are currently required for airside workers at Manchester Airport and London City Airport.

April 2009: David Blunkett expresses doubts about the scheme. Also in 2009 a voluntary scheme is launched in the North West.

Jan 2010: young people in London aged 16 – 24 are able to voluntarily apply for a card

Late 2010: cards were to become available voluntarily to the general public

2011: all new passports were to be entered on the National Identity Register either through ID cards or biometric passports.

2017: the Home Office intended to roll out compulsory ID cards throughout Britain