BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Politics  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
'State racism' fears over ID cards
David Blunkett and a mock 'entitlement card'

Race leaders across Britain believe identity cards for UK citizens will discriminate against ethnic minorities and seriously hamper race relations.

According to some of the country's leading race campaigners, the introduction of entitlement cards will be a form of "state racism" and cause more problems than they solve.

Professor Gus John, a consultant on race and diversity and race adviser to the home office said: "One of the reasons these cards could be introduced is to stop illegal immigration.


Introducing entitlement cards will have a bad affect on race relations in this country

Maxie Hayles, Birmingham Racial Attacks Monitoring Unit

"This will have a detrimental affect on black people who have been targeted in the past for all sorts of reasons.

"These cards are a form of state racism, they are deeply worrying and extremely dangerous.

"You can't be committed to combating social exclusion and promoting social cohesion if at the same time you are putting particular sections of black and minority communities continually under the microscope."

Maxie Hayles, chair of the Birmingham Racial Attacks Monitoring Unit, echoed Professor John's view.

"Black and minority communities are already discriminated against," he said.

"There are other ways the home office could approach this.

Opposition

"We already see black people treated unfairly by police with stop-and-search and singled out by immigration officials at airports.

"Introducing entitlement cards will only add to this and have a bad affect on race relations in this country."

Opposition to the cards has also been voiced by the Society of Black Lawyers and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI).

Tauhid Pasha, legal policy and information director at the JCWI, added: "The cards could be used against anyone who looks a bit different or anyone who looks like their immigration status is in doubt.

"Essentially that will be black people and ethnic minorities."

Home secretary, David Blunkett, floated the proposals for entitlement cards on Wednesday, with a six month consultation period.


Discrimination does take place, but there is nothing inherently discriminatory in the entitlement card

Home office spokeswoman

Mr Blunkett favours the cards and believes they will provide a simple way of tackling illegal immigration and illegal work in the UK.

The card could also be used to access benefits and tackle identity fraud as well as help foster a spirit of citizenship, he says.

The computerised cards could store a photograph, finger prints and personal information including name and address.

A home office spokeswoman, said: "Discrimination does take place, but there is nothing inherently discriminatory in the entitlement card.

"It won't be compulsory to carry the card and it could be very effective way of identification and accessing services."

A decision over what form the entitlement cards will take is still under discussion.

The cards could be compulsory for all British citizens, a voluntary scheme or targeted at particular groups.

If they are introduced it will be the first time an ID scheme for British citizens has been in use since the end of World War II.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"Ministers believe it can be highly effective in fighting fraud"
Home Secretary David Blunkett
"We would welcome views on a universal entitlement card"
Karen Bartlett, Charter 88
"People are not going to be fooled"

Talking PointFORUM
ID cards
The experts answered your questions
 VOTE RESULTS
Should Britain introduce ID cards?

Yes
 56.60% 

No
 43.40% 

2470 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


Recent stories

Background/analysis
See also:

04 Jul 02 | UK Politics
03 Jul 02 | UK Politics
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


E-mail this story to a friend



© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes