Climbdown on compulsory ID cards

According to the BBC:

Home Secretary Alan Johnson has dropped plans to make ID cards compulsory for pilots and airside workers at Manchester and London City airports.

The cards were due to be trialled there – sparking trade union anger.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said that the reverse in policy was “an absurd fudge” and “symbolic of a government in chaos”.

But Mr Johnson said the ID card scheme was still very much alive – despite Tory and Lib Dem calls to scrap it.

He said the national roll-out of a voluntary scheme was being speeded-up – with London to get them a year early in 2010 and over-75s to get free cards.

Identity cards branded an ‘unacceptable threat to privacy’

Scott Macnab writes in The Scotsman:

THE Scottish Government has stepped up calls for the UK identity card scheme to be scrapped.

Recently appointed home secretary Alan Johnson is being urged to cancel the cards as he reviews his new portfolio.

The SNP administration has long opposed the scheme, which will cost an estimated £1.1 billion to introduce over ten years.

In a letter to Johnson, Holyrood community safety minister Fergus Ewing said: “Given the current financial climate, I believe the UK Government should have better uses for the vast sums of money being spent on this scheme.”

The first identity cards were introduced last November for foreign nationals living in Britain, while residents of Greater Manchester will be the first British citizens able to apply voluntarily for an identity card later this year.

Ewing said they are an “unacceptable threat to citizens’ privacy and civil liberties” with little evidence they will reduce crime or terrorism.

I’ll end Labour’s Big Brother state: Cameron vows to scrap intrusive laws

James Chapman writes in the Daily Mail:

David Cameron will repeal a raft of laws that have eroded civil liberties under plans for the first days of a Conservative government.

The Tory leader yesterday warned Labour has created a ‘control state’ with sweeping powers to intrude into people’s private lives.

Officials now have more than 1,000 reasons to knock on doors and demand to enter homes, he said, making the UK more like a ‘foreign dictatorship or bygone age’ than a modern democracy.

Mr Cameron also attacked ID cards, blanket stop-and-search powers, creeping extensions to the national DNA database, extradition abroad without evidence of wrongdoing and the erosion of the right to trial by jury.

The Mail has learned that the Tories will pledge in their election manifesto to bring in a single ‘repeal bill’ to scrap contentious elements of terrorism and crime legislation.

This is expected to include laws on ID cards, detention without charge, stop and search policing and powers allowing councils to spy on homes and businesses.

The full text of the speech is available here.

Government forced to again deny ID cards U-turn

Computing reports:

Commons leader Harriet Harman has been forced to again deny repeated claims in the House of Commons that the government is about to perform a U-turn over ID cards.

The deputy Labour leader insisted there was no change in policy but said home secretary Alan Johnson was keeping the plan under review.

Pressed further during questions on future government business, Harman said biometric cards are already being introduced for foreigners in the UK and airside airport workers, adding: “If there is any change in that, which I do not expect, he [the home secretary] will keep the House informed.”

Harman was responding to a challenge from Tory business manager Alan Duncan over a delay in processing four key statutory instruments required for proceeding with ID cards, with no sign of when they will proceed.

Duncan called for a statement from Johnson “to clarify what ministers have been briefing in private – that the government are on to a loser and are getting ready to perform another U-turn”.