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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 November, 2004, 15:04 GMT
Tories 'would not push ID cards'
Photo of David Davis MP
The shadow home secretary is ready to probe the government
The Tories would not push ahead with introducing identity cards if elected, the shadow home secretary has suggested.

David Davis said it was unlikely ID cards would feature on his party's manifesto if an election was called before government plans became law.

On the day before the ID card bill is published, Mr Davis told Sky News he had serious misgivings about the plans and would scrutinise them carefully.

The government says ID cards are needed to fight identity fraud and terrorism.

Asked if ID cards would feature in the Conservative Party manifesto if an election was called before Mr Blunkett's plans become law, Mr Davis said: "I don't think we will be doing that. I hope there's a different way."

But he did not rule out the controversial scheme altogether: "After 9-11 we have to consider them at least because of the terrorist situation.

"We have got to get a balance between the right to life and the right to... freedom."

Referring to German demands for proof of ID in war films, Mr Davis explained: "I don't want an 'Ausweis bitte!' approach to Britain. One of the great things about Britain historically is that we haven't had to justify ourselves to authority."

The last time the UK used identity cards was during World War II.

Setting a standard

The Conservative frontbencher wants the home secretary to clarify whether the cards are to tackle terrorism, benefit fraud or illegal immigration, suggesting each problem could be dealt with by alternative means.

In the light of recent IT problems in Home Office departments Mr Davis has also called for assurances that the necessary technology systems would be sufficiently robust.

The government maintains that some form of hi-tech, biometric - with iris or fingerprint information - passport for UK citizens is inevitable over the next few years as the US and EU move towards these kinds of systems.

Immigration minister Des Browne acknowledged people would have to pay to have their biometric data recorded, but insisted the benefits would outweigh the costs.

"For a comparatively small amount of money...we can give people a gold standard of ID which will not only allow them to be secure in their personal transactions but will also be able to help secure against international terrorism and international crime," he said.





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