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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 19:38 GMT
MPs stand firm on identity cards
A sample ID card
The ID card plans have "ping-ponged" between peers and MPs
Ministers have won the latest round in the battle over ID cards - after MPs overturned a call by peers to make the scheme voluntary until 2011.

The government says anyone getting a passport from 2008 should also have an ID card and have their details added to the national identity register.

On Monday peers backed a Lib Dem proposal to make ID cards voluntary until 2011 but compulsory from 2012.

On Tuesday MPs overturned that plan for a fourth time by 284 votes to 241.

It would be inappropriate and a waste of parliamentary time for the opposition in the Lords to seek to force the government into using the Parliament Act to enact legislation such as this
Charles Clarke

Home Secretary Charles Clarke accused the Lords of "a deliberate plan for delay and destruction of the process of the Identity Cards Bill".

"This is the fourth time this issue has come back to us from the Lords and it really should be the last," he said.

He rejected claims by peers that their proposal, to delay compulsion until 2012, amounted to a compromise, saying the real intention was to make the scheme "unworkable".

He argued that many hours had been spent on the bill.

"I suggest it would be inappropriate and a waste of parliamentary time for the opposition in the Lords to seek to force the government into using the Parliament Act to enact legislation such as this," he said.

'Compulsion by stealth'

But Edward Garnier, for the Conservatives, reminded Mr Clarke of Labour's manifesto pledge that ID cards would initially be voluntary.

He questioned whether it was "appropriate" for ministers to present the public with a manifesto "which says one thing and then seek to railroad it through this House and the Lords by avoiding the central issue, which is should we have compulsion by stealth".

"At a time when public confidence in what the Labour party says and does is at an all-time low, it behoves this government to adhere to its promises," he said.

Nick Clegg, Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, contested the home secretary's suggestions that his party's amendments in the Lords had not been "serious compromises".

"This is a major concession of principle from those who objected to identity cards and their compulsory introduction," he said.

The bill will now return to the House of Lords.


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