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NO2ID Newsletter Supporter’s Newsletter No.33 – 24th November 2005

++ Lords Debate ID Cards Bill

Last week the committee stage of the Identity Cards Bill began in the House of Lords. The Lords have so far had three sessions, two last week and one this week, during which they have scrutinised the bill and tabled amendments. A total of 279 amendments to the bill have been tabled for debate, not all of which will be voted on. Last Wednesday evening the government suffered a minor defeat when an amendment was passed to ensure that only those who “reasonably require proof” should be entitled to ask for verification of identity.

Lord Thomas proposed and later withdrew an amendment proposing the removal of the word “Identity” and replacing it with “Surveillance” on page one of the bill. This led to a debate about the level of surveillance in the bill. Lord Thomas said: “Let us call this identity card and the database behind it what they are ˜ tools for the personal surveillance of every citizen in this country.”

This week, peers discussed the possible inclusion of DNA on the identity register and Baroness Walmsley raised issues relating to the use of the ID scheme to surveil children, in contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). She pointed out that: “the NIR will presumably give the child a unique identifying number. I cannot believe that it will not also be used at the head of any entry about that child in any other database, making cross-referencing very easy”.

Lord Stoddart said: “I believe that we are now getting very far beyond Nineteen Eighty-Four. I do not think George Orwell, the other Blair, could even have contemplated the uses to which an individual‚s personal property˜that is, DNA˜was going to be used to put him under control and surveillance. I know that this is rapidly ceasing to be a free country where the individual matters, but those of us who believe in individual freedom must, I think, stand up for the principle that we belong to ourselves, not to this or any other state.”

The government have still been able to wheel out a whole host of supporters of the scheme. Government Whip Lord Bassam recounted how a taxi driver told him: “I’ve heard this argument about ID cards on Radio 4 and, frankly, I don’t understand what it’s about. I think it’s a really good idea.” Lord Marlesford meanwhile seemed to think that the ID card should be scrapped but only because “the card will be a terrible distraction. I would prefer a central register of data on people, forgetting the card, which has many emotional implications”.

List of amendments at: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldbills/028/amend/ml028-iii.htm
Read transcripts of the debates at: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199900/ldhansrd/pdvn/home.htm
Watch the debates at : www.parliamentlive.tv/Archive.aspx
(Debates were in the House of Lords on the 15th, 16th and 23rd November)


++ What you can do

As the id card bill moves through the lords you can help us by:

+ 1. Lobbying your MP
When the ID card bill completes its passage through the House of Lords, the amended bill will return to the House of Commons for another vote so please encourage your MP to vote against the compulsory registration of UK citizens.

+ 2. Writing to your local paper
Personal letters to your MP or the local press can be effective persuaders.

+ 3. Lobbying a Lord
Ideally you should write to any Lords with whom you may have a connection. Lords Lobbying Tips: resource.nusonline.co.uk/v1/pdf/3913.pdf
How to address Lords: www.parliament.uk/directories/house_of_lords_information_office/address.cfm

+ 4. Signing our ‘Refuse2' pledge
Please, if you can, make your pledge at www.pledgebank.com/refuse2 or by texting ‘pledge refuse2' to 60022 [standard text rate].
Pass on or promote this message/link to as many sympathetic people and groups, mailing lists, bulletin boards and publications as you can *without spamming*.

* We also maintain a list of things you can do on our website at www.no2id.net/getInvolved/other.php

++ What’s next?

+ 25th November, Workshop on the Privacy Implications of ID Cards, Fife Rights Forum

Friday 25th November 2005, morning
Geraint Bevan of NO2ID Scotland will be giving a presentation on ‘The Privacy Implications of ID Cards’ at the Fife Rights Forum Annual Event 2005 on the morning of Friday 25th November.
Registration details for anyone interested in attending are at:

+ 29th November, Lewisham NO2ID Social Evening

Tuesday 29th November 2005 from 7.30pm in the London & Rye, 109 Rushey Green, London SE6 4AF.
Lewisham NO2ID cordially invites you to our next social evening. The nearest overground stations are Catford, Catford Bridge and Ladywell. 
For further information, please contact mailto:brighton@no2id.net or Mark Bennett on 07770 451201.

+ 6th December, Brighton – ID Card Debate: farewell to liberty?

Tuesday 6th December 2005, 6.45pm for 7pm at the Forest Suite, Quality Hotel, West Street, Brighton (next to the Odeon)
Home Office minister Andrew Burnham MP will defend the Government’s proposals. Civil rights campaigner Peter Tatchell will put the case against ID cards.
Entrance free. Organised by Brighton & Hove NO2ID. Sponsored by Brighton & Hove UNISON
For more details contact mailto:brighton@no2id.net

++ What just happened?

+ Poll shows 50:50 split on ID cards

An ICM poll of 1,013 adults commissioned by NO2ID last week shows a continued drop in support for ID cards to 50% and a rise in public opposition to the Home Office scheme to 48%. So as to provide a direct comparison, exactly the same question was used as in NO2ID’s previous poll, using government figures for the cost of the card and passport combined. See www.icmresearch.co.uk/reviews/2005/No2ID%20Nov%2005/No2ID%20-%20ID%20CARD%20SURVEY.asp

+ Inverness NO2ID undertake their own ID card poll

This week has seen yet more polls telling us the supposed level of support for ID cards but we constantly hear from NO2ID campaigners that the level of support out on the streets is far lower than polls suggest. Now NO2ID Inverness has put their money where there mouth is and conducted their own poll.

They took votes at various events around the Highlands and in Inverness High Street to ensure a good mix of people and of the 387 people they polled, 272 said ‘NO’ to ID cards and 115 said ‘YES’. That makes 70% against and 30% in favour – the total opposite of the figures that the government claim. Melanie Skinner of NO2ID Inverness said: “We gave people a totally free vote – we didn’t wear or display any information about the NO2ID campaign and only when people voted ‘NO’ did we give them a leaflet (which were also kept out of view).”

The most common reason for voting for the card was: “It will stop illegal immigrants”. However, on deeper discussion people didn’t really know how it would do this. The most common reason for voting against the card was not knowing who would be accessing data and that it wouldn’t achieve anything other than an accumulation of information. Melanie added: “A very interesting couple from Holland told us that they have ID cards and they were told it would help stop terrorism. They felt the terrorists had won because nothing had changed from the terrorism point of view, but every citizen now had to carry ID at all times.” The wrongful shooting at Stockwell tube station also encouraged people to vote against ID cards as they felt it would be giving the police and state too much power.

+ Bristol City Council passes anti-ID cards motion

On Tuesday (22nd November) Bristol City Council voted unanimously in favour of a motion to oppose the government’s proposed ID card scheme, on the grounds that they could lead to abuses of human rights. Bristol City Council is the ninth local authority in the country to officially oppose ID cards.

NO2ID Bristol were instrumental in bringing about the motion. Dave Gould of NO2ID Bristol said: “We simply contacted the LibDem leader for Bristol Council who delegated another councillor to prepare the motion.” They also managed to get the Guardian to write a piece about it, got in the Bristol Evening Post, gave interviews for BBC Radio Bristol and GWR FM and only missed getting on BBC local TV because Prince Charles came to visit (that was their excuse anyway).
Bristol NO2ID’s website is at: www.bristol-no2id.org.uk
The Guardian story is at: society.guardian.co.uk/localgovt/story/0,7890,1648869,00.html

+ Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee Report

On 10th November the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee published a report on the Identity Cards Bill. The report states: “The intent of the bill is clear but the cumulative effect of the delegated powers is such as to raise the question whether the bill is a skeleton bill.” Essentially a blank cheque that the government can fill in later.

Baroness Seccombe commenting on the report during ID bill committee stage in the House of Lords said: “It is skeleton not for the convenience of the public or of Parliament but of Ministers, who patently do not yet know, or will not say, what in detail they intend.”
The report can be read at: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/lddelreg/63/6302.htm

+ Science and Technology Committee Inquiry into ID card technologies

The Science and Technology Committee are to hold an inquiry “to examine the way in which the Government obtains and uses scientific advice in the development of policy”. One of the three case studies to be addressed is “the technologies supporting the Government‚s proposals for identity cards”. They welcome general submissions on this topic. The deadline for written evidence is Friday 20th January. 
See www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/science_and_technology_committee/scitech091105.cfm

+ Ex MI5 chief speaks out against ID cards

Last Wednesday (16th November) ex-MI5 chief Stella Rimmington criticised the government’s proposed ID card scheme and was promptly demoted from an expert to “a private individual”, entitled to her own views. She told the Association of Colleges conference: “I don’t think that anybody in the intelligence services, particularly in my former service, would be pressing for ID cards.” She added: “If we have ID cards at vast expense and people can go into a back room and forge them they are going to be absolutely useless.”

+ Historical experience of ID cards in Britain

Dr. Jon Agar has produced a report on the historical experience of ID cards in Britain. The report points out that: “Universal registration systems have repeatedly been proposed as solutions to short-lived moral panics. But there is little evidence that national registers effectively resolve such panics. The latest government proposals seem to resemble the first national register more than the second. Policymakers would do well to follow their predecessors and learn from the past.”

+ The Lords, the Salisbury Convention and ID Cards

The leader of the Conservatives in the House of Lords, Lord Strathclyde, told the Financial Times on Tuesday 15th November that “the House of Lords has to remember that this bill was a manifesto commitment at the last election but that was for a voluntary scheme not a compulsory scheme”. He also said that the “key aim” of the second chamber would be to “get the answer to the essential questions on technology, costs and compulsion”.

He indicated that Conservatives in the Lords would abide by the Salisbury Convention (an agreement dating back to the 1940s, introduced by Conservative peers, that the Lords would not block or even delay manifesto commitments on the basis that the electorate have voted for them). However the Liberal Democrats made it clear that they will not follow this archaic doctrine, having stated earlier this year: “the continual plea to the Salisbury convention is the last refuge of legislative scoundrels”.


++ “ID” In the News

+ Agenda Setters 2005 Poll
Vote for the agenda setter of 2005, nominees include Simon Davies and Gus Hosein(scroll down), who deserve recognition for their sterling work at the LSE, where they helped to produce the Identity Project report earlier this year.

+ ID cards `like Nazi register’
Identity cards are nearly fascist and similar to registers used to single out Jews in Nazi Germany, a controversial Swindon peer has said. Lord Stoddart, of Swindon, who was the town’s Labour MP from 1970 to 1983, compared the Government’s flagship legislation with fascist laws introduced by Adolf Hitler in 1933.

+ Call for ID cards to get smart
The idea of a UK identity card has stirred up controversy but it looks increasingly likely to become part of most people’s wallets from 2008. A new voice is being heard. It is not asking for the scheme to be scrapped but for the ID card to work for citizens in ways that make it useful beyond the government’s remit for it. news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4400832.stm

+ IBM Calls For Global Identity System
International standards backed up by a UN body are needed to clear up the international identity-verification mess, according to a senior IBM Global Services executive. The growing need for fast, accurate verification of personal identities has prompted a call from an industry observer for a global agency to set international standards.

+ Ten-year lifespan of ID cards ‘unrealistic’
Wear and tear could force taxpayers to replace identity cards much earlier than ministers have predicted, according to consultants KPMG.

+ GATSO 2 Arrives
Britain’s top traffic cop has plans for a national surveillance network of cameras that will track every car, everywhere. According to an article in the Sunday Times and analysed in The Register, Meredydd Hughes wants the cameras installed every 400 yards on motorways, as well as at supermarkets, petrol stations and in town centres.

+ US courts back challenge to ID law
US courts have twice blocked a new law in the state of Georgia which would have made state-issued photo ID a requirement for voting. The case against the law has been brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and a consortium of voting rights advocates and private attorneys.

Please send me any items of interest you encounter – Editor mailto:newsletter@no2id.net

Publication details: NO2ID 2005 – This document may be freely redistributed in one-to-one communications or physical copies as long as it is reproduced in its entirety including this notice. It may not be mass-mailed without the prior permission of NO2ID.

NO2ID, Box No.412, 78 Marylebone High Street, LONDON W1U 5AP

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