Friday, March 17, 2006 3:56 PM
Time to redouble our efforts - lobbying crossbench peers
This week the government overturned the Lords' amendment on 'creeping compulsion' twice! But peers are standing firm and the mood and strength of feeling in the Commons, with regards to compulsion, appears to have changed - yesterday MPs voted to reinstate compulsion by a narrower margin(51 majority) than 'glorification' of terrorism(59 majority).
Calling the young!Anyone under 26 (or thereabouts) out there? Young people are a huge untapped resource in the battle against ID cards, and underrepresented in the resources of NO2ID. We're trying to get a bunch of younger members together to launch a youth website and produce some materials aimed at a younger audience. Obviously this should be organised and led by young people! Anyone interested, please send an email to: email@example.com or ring 07956 681 328 and we'll get the ball rolling.
18th March - NO2ID Swindon leafletingSaturday 18th March 2006, 11.00 - 2.00pm, outside BHS, Swindon town centre. A fabulous way to spend a Saturday - good company, a good cause and friendly locals. Leaflets provided, just need you. If you can spare some time lovely. If you can't - drop by and say hello. Contact Lynda Warren (firstname.lastname@example.org).
22nd March - Science and Technology Committee to hear evidence on ID cards programmeWednesday 22nd March 2006, 9.30am in Committee Room 8, Houses of Parliament. The Science and Technology Committee will hold its third evidence session in this inquiry on Wednesday 22 March when evidence regarding the technology supporting the Government’s Identity Card proposals will be heard from: Home Office - Ms Katherine Courtney, Director, Identity Cards Programme, Dr Henry Bloomfield, Technical Lead, Identity Cards Programme, Mr Nigel Seed, Project Director, National Identity Register and Operational Technology Infrastructure.
18th April - NO2ID Planning meeting, Central London
Tuesday, 18th April 6.30pm at University of London Union, Room 3a, Malet Street WC1 (Nearest tubes: Goodge Street, Warren Street, Russell Sq). NO2ID invites you to an open meeting to discuss how best to carry the campaign forward. The meeting is free to attend but we will be asking for donations to help cover the cost of the room hire.
What just happened?
NO2ID's positionSome people have asked why NO2ID is encouraging peers and MPs to vote for an amendment to make registration on the National Identity Register voluntary, saying a voluntary ID card is as bad as a compulsory one. This is a good question.
NO2ID remains entirely opposed to the government's ID scheme. But few people understand that the Home Office idea of "voluntary" means compulsion via 'designated documents'. Making a stand on this exposes the fraud on the electorate at the very outset of the scheme.
At this stage in the Parliamentary process there are very few options, but we do know that the government cannot accept such an amendment without derailing their whole plan, which relies on hidden compulsion. Very few people will enjoy the interrogation of their entire life that the scheme requires, so to make it properly voluntary will quickly kill it as the
guinea pigs tell their stories and rejection spreads. Meanwhile, each refusal by the Lords draws the attention of more people to the true nature of government plans.
Far from modifying or toning down our opposition, this is just one means by which we can build future resistance.
New NO2ID events managerThis week Steve Coast was appointed as our new events manager. Steve will collate NO2ID events and information from across the country and feed it to the website and others. Local groups should let him know whenever you are doing something - street stalls, public meetings, Council votes, etc. (please bear in mind that Steve is interested in forthcoming NO2ID activities and unfortunately cannot offer free advertising for any old event). Steve can be contacted at (email@example.com).
Government's case destroyed on Sussex airwaves in secondsOn Tuesday NO2ID Brighton's Harry Metcalfe was interviewed on Bright FM's lunch time news bulletin. Harry managed to attack the government's position on ID cards with relation to immigration, benefit fraud and terrorism in under two minutes. NO2ID Brighton are regularly out on the streets of Brighton campaigning against ID cards, they can be contacted at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Campaigner addresses local Labour partyOn Monday 6th March NO2ID Wandsworth's Serena Martin addressed the Labour party's Bedford & Nightingale Branch in Tooting Bec, at the invitation of the ward secretary. Lively discussion ensued, with one staunch advocate of nothing to hide, nothing to fear, though others were concerned about errors, cost, and people being denied access to services.
1st regular NO2ID planning meeting looks at road aheadOn Tuesday evening the first of NO2ID's regular planning meetings took place at the University of London Union(ULU). The meeting discussed a variety of campaigning strategies for the aftermath of the government's oppressive ID cards bill becoming law. National co-ordinator Phil Booth echoed the views of many others when he said: "we must keep telling people about what ID cards will mean to them". Issues discussed included encouraging councils & unions to pass motions against ID cards and the importance of interacting with members of the public via stalls, leafleting and sign-up sheets. The next planning meeting will be 18th April, once again at ULU, all are welcome.
ID bill in parliamentary ping pongThis week saw the ID cards bill move between the House of Commons and the House of Lords in a process known as parliamentary ping pong. On Monday night MPs voted 310 to 277(a majority of 33) to reject the Lords' amendment to the bill and re-introduce defacto compulsion(whereby people renewing their passports must register for an ID card). During the debate only the Home Secretary spoke in favour of ID cards. Nick Clegg MP pointed out that: "The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following definition of voluntary - 'done, given, or acting of one's own free will'", adding that the debate was not just about "one of the most expensive, illiberal follies in recent times, it is also about our specific disagreement on the meaning of that one word".
On Wednesday the bill returned to the House of Lords where peers voted by 218 to 183(a majority of 35) to remove compulsion. On Thursday evening the bill returned to the Commons once again. The fruit of anti-ID card campaigners' work was evident in the Lords as Lord Phillips pointed out that he had "never had such a unanimous mailbag in my eight years here [...] I have not had a single representation made by any organisation or individual in support of the Government’s position in making this card compulsory for every citizen".
On Thursday afternoon the bill returned once again to the Commons where MPs voted once again to introduce back door compulsion (by 292 votes to 241, a majority of 51). The bill will return to the Lords on Monday (20th March).
Home Secretary bigs up NO2ID in commons debateDuring Thursday afternoon's debate Charles Clarke once again bent the English language to near breaking point. He mentioned a poll commissioned by NO2ID ,(see last newsletter), to claim that ID cards are a popular measure and went on to say that: "the NO2ID poll explicitly asked whether the card should be issued with a passport". In fact the poll asked people what they thought of the fact that "the Government has proposed the introduction of identity cards that, in combination with your passport, will cost around £93". Having redefined the word voluntary Clarke now seems to have found a new definition of the word explicitly.
Home Office Minister says renew your passport nowOn Tuesday 7th March Home Office Minister Andy Burnham told The Times newspaper that someone who does not want to be on the National Identity Register "should renew their passport before the introduction of the scheme proper", likely to be 2008 or 2009. More details of passport renewal emerged in the commons on Monday when ex-ID card rebel Neil Gerrard asked for clarification on the rules for renewal. The Home Secretary said: "My understanding is that an individual can renew their passport at any time." On Wednesday the UK Passport Service(UKPS) website was updated to reflect these comments.
Passport website update" You do not have to wait until your passport is nearly expired to renew it, but we can add no more than 9 months unexpired validity from the old passport to the new one. You can renew your passport whenever you wish, but you must pay the full fee and no refund can be given for the unexpired validity in the old passport."
ID Cards could go chip and pinHome Office Minister Andy Burnham, speaking at the 'Smart Cards & e-Government Conference' on Wednesday, revealed that ID cards could us chip and pin technology instead of biometrics. Burnham said a "chip and pin" style code number could be used to verify cardholders' identities in some cases, rather than fingerprints, face and iris scans which will be encoded in the card."
Passport offices deal won by Mapeley
The contract to set up a new network of passport offices has been won
by Mapeley, the property company that bought the offices of the Inland
Revenue in a controversial outsourcing deal five years ago. Mapeley
will set up interrogation centres to be used for passport and ID card
applications. The government sold Mapeley hundreds of Inland Revenue
buildings which they now lease from them and will pay an estimated £2
billion in rent over the next 20 years. As reported extensively in
Private Eye, Mapeley maximise their profits by using tax havens, thus
depriving the Inland Revenue of yet more money.