ID Cards

This motion against the implemenation of ID cards was put to Council 22nd November 2005 by Cllr Mark Wright and was PASSED.

The Motion

This Council notes that the Home Secretary is currently attempting to push an ID Cards Bill through Parliament. This Bill will have an effect upon all of the people of Bristol.

This Council believes:

  1. That the disadvantages of such a scheme will outweigh any likely benefits to the people of Bristol.
  2. That the scheme will do little, if anything, to prevent terrorism, crime or fraud.
  3. That the national database that underpins the identity card scheme may facilitate criminal fraud, terrorism and potential state abuses of human rights.
  4. That the ID card and database proposals are likely to fundamentally alter the relationship between the state and the individual.

According to Government estimates, the cost of such a scheme could reach £5.5 billion, with independent commentators predicting substantially higher costs. Bristol residents will be required to pay an estimated £35 for a stand-alone ID card or £85 for a passport and ID card together.

This Council resolves to:

  1. Make representations at every possible stage, reiterating this Council's opposition to National ID cards
  2. Instruct the Chief Executive to write to the Home Secretary expressing these views and asking him to reconsider his decision to push forward this legislation

Speech to the Motion

Lord Mayor it gives me some pleasure that my first speech in this chamber should be on a subject that I feel truly passionate about: the freedoms of the British people.

We live in testing times. The government is under pressure to act, and more importantly to be seen to be acting. And so the talk is of ID cards, and databases that will apparently solve all of our problems.

Since David Blunkett first introduced the idea, various different reasons for ID cards have been used: they will help to catch illegal immigrants, reduce identity fraud, stop benefit cheats, and that in some unspecified way they will prevent crime and terrorism.

Lets look at the facts: 1. Other countries such as Spain, which do have ID cards, have similar levels of illegal working. 2. David Blunkett himself dismissed ID fraud in welfare, saying [I quote] "ID fraud is only a tiny part of the problem in the benefit system". 3. The terrorists who attacked New York and Madrid all carried valid ID.

Asked whether she thought ID cards would make the country safer, Dame Stella Rimington said: [I quote] "No is the simple answer. I don't think anybody in the intelligence services will be pressing for ID cards." That's Stella Rimington - a woman who knows a thing or two about security from when she headed MI5. Even the head of Interpol does not think ID cards will help them.

Now, for my day job I program massive databases for British Telecom. I spend all day devising ways for my customers to get every last bit of information from their data. I like to think I know a bit about databases.

Charles Clarke, today says that the personal details contained on the ID card will not go beyond those currently held on passports. If only I had money for every time a customer said to me "oh don't worry, we don't intend for this database to grow and expand in use". But funnily enough, I do get money when they say that, because they always change their minds, and they always come back to me and say "this database is great, we've got loads of new ideas - can you do this?" And do you know what I say? I say: "Show me the money!" It's the only reason my job hasn't been outsourced to India!

You might ask: why am I arguing against this ID database, when I obviously love databases. Well, on this subject I am, if you like, game-keeper turned poacher - because I know exactly how these databases grow.

To believe that because our government doesn't have a history of abusing us means that it's OK to give it that power, is to fundamentally misunderstand the situation - our government doesn't have a history of abusing us precisely because we DON'T give it that power. The reason we are free is because since Magna Carta, we have never put blind faith in the state.

Tony Blair, when he was shadow home secretary, in his younger and more liberal days, said: [I quote] "Instead of wasting billions on compulsory ID cards, let that money provide thousands of extra police on the beat." - An idea SO good, we made it party policy!

Lord Mayor, we will not go quietly - this time we will fight ALL the way. There comes a time when we have to stop creeping backwards in fear, draw a line in the sand, and say to the government: "over this line, and into my private life, YOU SHALL NOT PASS."

Fellow members, do your bit to protect the liberty of Bristol, please vote for the motion...