Peers reject ID-card database plans as attack on freedom

The House of Lords overturned proposals to place everyone who applies for a new passport or driving licence on the database that will underpin the controversial scheme.

In a second reverse for ministers, they demanded a complete set of fresh legislation before ID cards could become compulsory at any future date.

Following three defeats for the Government last week, the Home Office faces taking on the Lords over five crucial elements of the ID Cards Bill. Labour's majority on the Bill shrunk to 25 in October and, with backbenchers in an increasingly fractious mood, Government whips could face an uphill struggle to win a new Commons majority for Tony Blair's flagship bill.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal, the Home Office minister, had to listen to a succession of peers denounce plans to include all holders of biometric passports on the planned ID cards register. Not one peer spoke in favour of the plans. Ministers have always insisted the scheme was voluntary, but critics say it amounts to "compulsion by the back door".

Viscount Bledisloe, a crossbencher, said: "One would be debarred from the freedom to travel around the world unless one 'chose' to go on some other government register."

Lord Stoddart of Swindon, a crossbencher, claimed ID cards were among several Government policies that were undermining freedoms built up over many centuries.

He said: "Some of these measures have the elements of a fascist state - and this country is preaching to many countries about democracy."

Lord Selsdon, a Tory peer, protested that the proposed scheme had echoes of totalitarian regimes. He said: "It's strange we should be swinging so far backwards... Most of the new members of the European Union are longing for the days when they don't have to carry their papers day and night."

Lady Scotland said the claim that the Government was contemplating a fascist state was contradicted by the vigorous debate taking place on the policy. She argued Labour had made clear its intention to move towards a compulsory scheme in last year's election-winning manifesto.

She said: "We have always been clear that the identity cards scheme is being designed and is intended eventually to become a compulsory scheme for all UK residents and in this second phase of the scheme it will be a requirement to register with a civil penalty regime for failure to do so."

However, peers voted by 186 to 142 - a majority of 44 - during the Bill's report stage to enable people to get biometric passports without going on the database.

An hour later, the Government was defeated again when an amendment requiring a separate Act of Parliament before ID cards could become compulsory was passed by 198 to 140.

Last week, peers voted to require ministers to set out detailed costs of ID cards.

This meant the measure would not come into effect until the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, has laid a report for approval by MPs, with a detailed account of the costs, and a statement of expected benefits.

This was followed later by two further defeats when peers voted to demand a secure and reliable method of recording and storing citizens' personal data, and curb use of the register for provision of public services.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test