Ihre Papiere Bitte
Clauses in the draft Immigration and Citizenship Bill [here] give state officials the power to make anyone who has ever entered the country, at any time, prove who they are without needing any suspicion of a potential crime.
Civil liberty groups warned that the catch-all clauses would effectively cover any British citizen who has ever left the UK, even for a holiday, because they will have “entered” the UK on their return.
The draft was published in July, so it’s a bit of a shame it’s taken until now for the mainstream media to start listening to the concerns of “civil liberty groups”, but good they are doing so.
Refusing to hand over the necessary documents would be a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of almost a year in prison and/or a hefty fine.
Officers will also be able to hold someone until they meet the requirements and can even demand a medical examination, although that will be more targeted at foreign nationals arriving from countries with high health risks of contagious diseases.
The clauses in the Bill, contained in the Queen’s Speech, were unearthed by civil rights group Liberty and centre on a power to examine those who “arrive in, enter or seek to enter the UK”.
A sub-clause refers to anyone who “has entered the UK” and can therefore mean anyone who has entered either recently or in the past.
It means police or immigration officers would have the power to stop anyone, either at a port of entry or inside the country, and demand their identity purely on the basis they may have entered the UK at some point.
Clause 28 gives the power to require the production of a passport or other valid identity document.
A Liberty spokeswoman said: “This extends powers of examination to several new categories including anyone in the UK (whether a British citizen or not) who has ever left the UK at any time. ”
Currently, police or immigration officers can ask for identity if there is reasonable suspicion of a crime or immigration offence.
The Liberty spokeswoman added: “Clause 28(3) dramatically changes this premise allowing identity documents to be demanded of anyone that has at any time entered the UK by anyone authorised by the Secretary of State. No suspicion of criminality or immigration offending is required.”
A Home Office spokeswoman insisted there were no plans to make it compulsory for British citizens to carry or produce forms of identity.
She said: “It is simply wrong to claim there are any plans whatsoever to make identity cards compulsory for British citizens or to require British citizens to have their ID card – or any other form of ID – on them at all times and to present it when asked to do so.
“From next year British citizens will have the convenience of being able to use identity cards to travel in Europe, but they will not become the only way to prove your identityat borders and the UK passport will still be valid.
“In order to maintain an effective immigration control it is only right that we ask everyone attempting to enter to the UK to produce a valid identity document.”
It is “simply wrong” for the Home Office spokeswoman to imply anyone has claimed there are “plans to make it compulsory for British citizens to carry or produce forms of identity”.
The fact is that this is the effect of the legislation is it is written. The logical conclusion is that this is the intention of the author.
Or we can conclude the author is incompetent.
Either way, it must be changed.
Mr [Phil] Booth [NO2ID national coordinator] said it was “appallingly-drafted legislation”, adding: “They have got to the point that we must take the worst possible implication of the legislation.”
I think they are well past that point.
Do read them, they’re very concise.