Labour got its ID cards bill through the House of Lords last night after Home Secretary Charles Clarke agreed a compromise with the Conservatives. As The Independent reports:
"The Lords accepted an offer from the Home Office that anyone applying for a new biometric passport before January 2010 could opt out of having an ID card… Until yesterday peers had strongly opposed the ID Cards Bill on the basis that Labour’s manifesto had said the scheme would initially be voluntary. They argued that requiring new passport holders to apply for ID cards amounted to "compulsion by stealth", a claim rejected by the Government."
The Tories have vowed to make ID cards an issue at the next General Election. "No one who does not want to have an ID card before the next election will have to have one," said Shadow Home Secretary David Davis. Labour thinks that most voters – particularly in its heartlands – will favour its position on ID cards and its positioning will reinforce its anti-fraud credentials. The Tories believe that middle England will resist the civil liberty implications of ID cards and will believe that the money spent on the scheme would be better invested in better border security and more neighbourhood policing.
The LIbDems refused to the compromise and campaigners against ID cards said they were right to do so. Phil Booth, national coordinator of NO2ID, told The Independent:
"Anybody who thinks this is compromise has not understood the Bill. The problem has always been the database, not the card. Millions are already vehemently opposed – the Home Office will have to round them up and force them to be fingerprinted, which will bring home to the public the true nature of the scheme. This is a self-destructive policy to dwarf the poll tax."