City Council says no to ID cards

February 25, 2005 1:00 PM
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Cambridge Council joins Norwich and York in supporting the No2ID campaign

Cambridge City Council has passed a motion opposing the government's plans for a national identity database. The council joins authorities in Norwich and York in supporting the No2ID campaign, whose meetings in Cambridge have been strongly attended.

The motion, which calls on the council to make representation against the proposals, and to "only co-operate with the national identity card scheme where to do otherwise would be unlawful", was proposed by councillor Iain Coleman:

"ID cards will be of little use in fighting terrorism - the 9/11 and Madrid bombers had valid ID. They will not help to control illegal immigration, and will have little impact on benefit fraud compared to their cost."

The cost of the scheme is expected to rise to over £5.5 billion - about £200 per taxpayer. On top of this citizens will have to buy the card, at a cost of £35 - and be liable for a £1000 fine should they lose or damage it. Councillor Coleman continued:

"Anytime you move house, you will have to pay to have your details updated - and there is a presumption of accuracy in the database, you are responsible for maintaining your own record. IT experts agree that any database of this size will have significant errors and could be tampered with.

"At best, the scheme will be an expensive fiasco - at worst, it will fundamentally damage the freedoms of all British citizens."

Councillor Colin Rosenstiel, seconding the motion, asked for a united front against the plans:

"I hope we will hear a positive response to these moves from both MPs representing Cambridge, and from the opposition group on the council. We are being asked tonight to take a stand against this scheme."

Anne Campbell, Labour MP for Cambridge, and Andrew Lansley, Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, have both supported the government and voted for the bill.

But Lib Dem Parliamentary spokesperson and former council leader David Howarth welcomed the council's move:

"These unprincipled government proposals will fundamentally change the relationship between the citizen and the state, and will cost the taxpayer a fortune to do it. We must fight them now, before they are written deep in the statute books, and the council has demonstrated it is determined to do that."

The motion was passed unopposed, with Labour councillors abstaining and the Conservative member absent.

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Original text of 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 Cambridge.

This Council believes:

1) That the disadvantages of such a scheme will outweigh any likely benefits to the people of Cambridge.

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. Cambridge 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) affiliate to the 'No2ID' campaign, which already includes MPs and several political parties

2) make representations at every possible stage, reiterating this Council's opposition to ID cards

3) take no part in any pilot scheme or feasibility work in relation to the introduction of the national identity cards

4) make it a policy of the council to ensure that national identity cards would not be required to access council services or benefits unless specifically required to do so by law

5) only co-operate with the national identity card scheme where to do otherwise would be unlawful

6) 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.

Proposer: Councillor Iain Coleman

Seconder: Councillor Colin Rosenstiel

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