Howarth attacks government for using city to push ID cards

January 5, 2010 1:45 PM

NO2ID logoCambridge MP David Howarth has reacted with anger after Government ministers have chosen the city to push its national ID card scheme in "through the back door".

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas will be in Cambridge tomorrow (Wednesday) to launch the ID card for foreigners through the city's St Andrew's Street Post Office.

The move means Cambridge will become a testing ground for the scheme, focusing on the immigration issue, and the first step towards rolling it out nationally.

Mr Howarth, who has fought tirelessly against national ID cards, said: "The government is trying to bring in ID cards by stealth by picking first on the weaker groups, such as foreigners and they are using Cambridge to do it.

"They know their national database system will not work even in theory unless everyone is is on it. They are trying to soften up public opinion by choosing a few key cities around the country and linking ID cards with the immigration issue. But since anyone who is here illegally will neither have nor need an ID card, this change will make no difference.

"I am extremely worried about the effect of ID cards on the economy of Cambridge, which relies on a stream of highly qualified scientists, engineers and academics from all over the world. Treating highly qualified people as potential criminals rather than as welcome guests is not going to put us at the top of their list of places to go to use their talents.

"ID cards will be an expensive and pointless fiasco. The Liberal Democrats are suggesting spending the money on extra police instead. That is a good suggestion. In truth, the money would be better spent on almost anything government does."

Andrew Watson, joint Cambridge coordinator of the NO2ID campaign said: "Today it's only people from outside Europe who are being fingerprinted for ID cards, but from next year the Home Office wants to do this to British passport holders too.

"Although ministers say that ID cards would be 'voluntary', they plan to stop you getting a passport unless you register for one, and then report every change in your personal details for life.

"There are fines of up to £1,000 for losing or damaging an ID card or failing to buy a new one every few years. The wasteful, authoritarian identity cards scheme has no place in our country and must be scrapped immediately."

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