I’d forgotten how infuriating watching legislation be made is; Otto von Bismarck had it right. It doesn’t help that I sit here watching an almost-empty house, yet know the place will be packed to the rafters at 2200, full of people (on both sides of the House) who know fuck all about the issues and are just following their Whips.
It would bother me less if it weren’t for the fact that the Labour government are — once again — lying and cheating their way to the statute books and are doing everything they can to suppress debate on identity cards. The Leader of the House placed the debate against the bicentennial of the Battle of Trafalgar; he placed a guillotine on debate today and has put forward a programme motion to limit debate in the next few stages.
I am utterly ashamed of the Labour party forcing this through with a three-line whip and I’ve been very impressed with several speakers on the rebel backbenches. I’ve been much less impressed with some of the misleading statements touted by government spokesmen. Tony Blair yesterday, yet again, suggested that the civil liberties articles have been won and, yet again, mendaciously suggested that we need to introduce all these data into biometric passports because the ICAO mandates us to do so. This is utter rubbish; the ICAO, which creates international standards for passports, mandates that a digitised version of the photograph be included on the passport with absolutely no requirement for an expensive, invasive National Identity Register behind it (indeed, the ICAO acknowledges that a central database will be illegal in some jurisdictions!)
The US VISIT program increases that restriction, by insisting on a smartcard chip in the passport (rather than, for example, a 2D barcode). This still makes no requirement on other biometrics (and the EU biometric passports does, foolishly and possibly illegally, introduce fingerprinting, but only for Schengen states).
Tony McNulty, Immigration Minister came up with all kinds of bollocks in his closing remarks, including suggesting that the Bill couldn’t allow health information to be stored in the National Identity Register, nor could it lead to racial discrimination in its use, both assertions being clearly ludicrous.
So not only are we “sleepwalking into a surveillance state”, but Labour are — yet again — revealing their profoundly anti-democratic tendencies as well.
I should have voted Conservative. I might well do, next time, as they’ve promised to repeal it and Lib Dem is a wasted vote here. I certainly amn’t voting Labour any time soon.
- Main motion, to give the Identity Cards Bill a Second Reading
- Ayes: 314, Noes: 283; majority: 31, abstentions: 47
- Second motion, to guillotine the Committee and Report stages
- Ayes: 313, Noes: 286; majority: 27, abstentions: 45