The Sketch: So many devils in the ID cards detail, the Lords will need a five-day exorcism

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The Independent Online

For ID cards, they say, the devil is in the detail, but they don't tell us which devil. I think it's Legion (for they are many).

The more we heard about this scheme in the Lords committee, the more diabolical it became. There's a five-day exorcism planned. It's a big job and I don't envy those who have to clean up afterwards (the red benches show up green stains something awful).

The little devils first. Baroness Anelay said the biometric readers that establish identity beyond a flicker of a doubt have problems with brown eyes. And also with ... she became inaudible. She may have said "people with a nose". Then: "Fifteen per cent of tests fail at the highest level of corroboration." Lord Crickhowell said that there would be great incentives to penetrate the register and as teenagers on Welsh council estates were able to hack into the Pentagon this would happen promptly.

Lord Foulkes (pronounced variously as Fooks, Fowks, Fokes) justified ID cards as terrifically popular with the public, according to Home Office research. Lord Gould, the People's Pollster, made the same point. He of all people should know you could get 1,000 people of any persuasion to come to any conclusion you wanted by asking them the right question in the right way. He certainly hadn't told people what Baroness Scotland told us. "The Government has always said £584m was the figure," she said.

We were getting quite high up the demonology. No one had heard this figure before. She repeated it very firmly. She seemed to be suggesting it was the annual running costs of the card. But as a hospital can be built for £25m it seemed unlikely. I mean, would you rather have ID cards or 25 new hospitals a year, every year or ... stupid question. I apologise.

The grandest demon was gripped by Helena Kennedy. DNA on the national register. Once the Government adds our DNA records to the register they will be as gods. "Employers, insurers, pension fund managers will all be interested in our potential for disease and our life chances." Baroness Scotland fiercely denied there was any provision for DNA records in the Bill. Then two peers guided us deftly through the drafting to show exactly how it was being legalised.

A DNA-based register of every British citizen! If they could, do you think they wouldn't?

As the serpent subtly says, the Government is spending such large amounts of public money they have an absolute moral imperative to see it's spent properly. Without wanting to overstate the case, it is a plan from a cabinet-level devil in the hierarchy of hell.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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