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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 March 2006, 09:07 GMT
Clarke vows to continue ID battle
A sample ID card
MPs overturned previous Lords defeats on the ID Cards Bill
Home Secretary Charles Clarke has said he will try to overturn the latest Lords defeat to his ID card plans.

Peers on Monday night defeated government plans to make all passport applicants also have an ID card.

Opposition peers say the plans break the government's promise that ID cards would initially be voluntary.

But Mr Clarke accused some peers of playing party politics and said the House of Lords should respect the clear views of elected MPs.

Setting up a protracted battle of wills with peers, he said he would ask MPs to overturn the defeat for the second time when the Identity Cards Bill returns to the Commons.

"I hope the Lords will recognise that this manifesto commitment, voted through by the elected chamber, should be respected," Mr Clarke told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

'National security'

Ministers say ID cards should be linked to biometric passports, which are being issued for the first time this week - they want everybody applying for a passport from 2008 to also be issued with an ID card.

Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland of Asthal told the Lords that cards were "in the public interest and in the interests of national security".

They would also help "improve public services", she said.

Peers voted by 227 to 166 against the government to insist that people should be able to opt out of the ID card scheme when they get a new passport.

Conservative shadow minister Baroness Anelay of St Johns called the government's plan "compulsion by stealth".

Liberal Democrat Lord Phillips of Sudbury said: "It's not often it's left to the opposition to make sure the government honours its manifesto pledges."

He said the description of ID card plans as voluntary "stretches the English language to breaking point".

Lord Phillips added: "It's not clear to me what benefits the compulsory scheme will bestow, just as it's never been clear what it will cost."

'Not compulsory'

Ministers say the cards will not be compulsory until there is a further vote of Parliament - and even then people will not have to carry them.

Baroness Scotland said there were no plans to extend issuing ID cards to people applying for other documents.

Biometric passports, also known as e-passports, will be introduced to all applicants by the end of August.

Passports will include an electronic chip containing measurements of the holder's facial features, such as distances between the nose, eyes and mouth.

The UK and other countries must introduce biometric passports by October to remain part of the US visa waiver scheme, which makes travel to America easier.


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