Dear Richard Caborn MP,
In recent days the Home Secretary has announced that airside workers at Manchester and City airports will no longer be compelled to enroll with the National Identity Register as a condition of their continued employment. This news has been presented as a pledge that Identity Cards will never be compulsory for UK subjects. The press seems to have forgotten that this has always been the Government’s position while Mr Johnson seems to have done one thing and announced another.
I understand the Home Secretary intends to “designate” under the Identity Cards Act a plethora of documents, licenses and permits required by people in their daily lives. Passports will be chief amongst these. Once designated, it will be impossible to apply for (or renew) such documents without also enrolling onto the National Identity Register.
So holding an ID card will remain voluntary, however enrollment on the National Identity Register will be made impossible to avoid, as the list of designated documents expands to include driving licenses; CRB checks; licenses to practice professions such as teaching, social-work, law and medicine. How about marriage certificates? Birth certificates? Death certificates?!
I would like to see the Home Secretary and the Identity and Passport Service held to account on this point. I believe the National Identity Register presents a clear threat to the freedom of UK subjects and to their right to a private life. I find it both sinister and cynical that the Government plans to present a series of Hobson’s choices to the country, forcing people to submit to registration in return for a continuation of rights and privileges they already enjoy, while claiming that our co-operation is voluntary. I find the suggestion that we will have a free choice in the matter objectionable in light of the facts as I understand them.
I would like to ask the Home Secretary whether he plans to make enrollment on the National Identity Register compulsory, or if his recent statements about the voluntary nature of ID cards mean he intents never to designate an official document. If the latter, will he commit to amending the Identity Cards Act to remove the power to designate documents, thus turning the scheme into a truly voluntary affair? If not, what percentage of the population does he expect to be forced to register as a result of the documents they find they can’t live without being designated?
I would be grateful if you could represent my views to the House during Monday’s debate on Identity Cards. Please can you also seek an answer to my questions from the Home Secretary.