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ID cards will control Big Brother state, says Clarke

ABC News | September 28 2005

This is like saying, you've already had both arms amputed so why not remove the legs? The truth is that the government told us that the ID card would make our information more secure. Blair said this would protect, not infringe our liberties. And how did they propose paying for it? By selling the information of 44 million British citizens to private companies. How secure is that?

Identity cards will not create the "Big Brother state", but will instead bring it under control, Charles Clarke claimed yesterday. The Home Secretary urged delegates to support his ID card legislation on the grounds that it would make it easier for people to protect themselves against identity theft.

Why You Should Resist the National ID Card

Ministers originally proposed ID cards primarily as a means of combating terrorism and benefit fraud.

But yesterday, in a change of tack, Mr Clarke defended the scheme mainly on the grounds that it would benefit individuals as consumers and citizens. "ID cards are controversial, of course, but we all need to understand that we already live in a society where there are enormous databanks of information about all of us, whether held by financial institutions, employers, passports and driving licences, health and education authorities or criminal justice agencies," Mr Clarke said.

"Moreover, we all face many occasions where we need to prove our identity, whether it is to open a bank account, take out a mortgage, claim a benefit, pass through a border control, get a criminal records bureau clearance or many other basic transactions."

Mr Clarke, who is thought to be more sceptical about ID cards than David Blunkett, his predecessor, or Tony Blair, said the Government's proposals would make these transactions "easier for the individual".

He went on: "It will not remove civil liberties, but will give an individual greater control over his identity. It will not create the Big Brother state. It will help to control it."

In his speech Mr Clarke also accused the Tories of "mobilising prejudice and bigotry" during the election campaign through their comments on immigration.

He said he was committed to creating a "fair system of immigration and asylum" over the next four years so that no party would be able to exploit the issue in the same way at the next election


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