69 MSPs do good
The Scottish Parliament has voted against the UK Government’s plans to introduce ID cards.
MSPs backed a Scottish Government motion stating the scheme would not increase security or deter crime, while raising concerns about civil liberties.
Scots Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing said the estimated £5bn needed for ID cards should be spent elsewhere.
Mr Ewing told parliament ID cards were a “colossal waste of money”, and that the UK Government could not be trusted to keep the data safe.
“This scheme won’t achieve its primary stated objective of making people safer nor reducing the terrorist threat,” he said.
“We do believe that it poses an unacceptable threat to citizens’ privacy and civil liberties.”
Liberal Democrat MSP Robert Brown said he was uneasy at the decision to issue cards to foreign nationals.
He said: “It goes under the rather unpleasant title of identity cards for foreign nationals, with all the nasty implied innuendo of the recipients being aliens, other people from far-off countries that we know nothing about and probably terrorists anyway.”
Pointing out Holyrood had no jurisdiction on ID cards, Labour’s Richard Baker said there would be no obligation on people to carry ID cards.
He said the UK Government was bringing forward a series of measures to enhance national security and public safety.
He added: “ID cards are a part of that.
“There’s nothing extreme or unusual in the introduction of ID cards and the kind of data which will be on them.”
Well, the introduction of ID cards to the UK is unusual in itself; what is on the National Identity Register, the database behind the card, is unusual, particularly the ‘audit trail’ of every transaction involving the NIR (most transactions won’t involve it, which puts the lie to the ‘gold standard’); and the National Identity Number that will be issued to each of us is not only inherently unusual but also unusual in that it will be used as an index to all sorts of other databases.
What isn’t unusual is that it won’t work as advertised and the proportion of the public who do support the introduction of identity cards have been sold snake-oil.
The government motion was passed by 69 votes to zero, with 38 abstentions [38 all Labour].
Well done Scottish Parliament.
The debate can be read on TheyWorkForYou.