Page last updated at 18:33 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 19:33 UK

Tories put faith in passport ID

Worker holding dummy ID card
The Conservatives say they would scrap ID cards

The Conservatives will "retrench" to a passport database when they scrap the ID scheme, Chris Grayling has said.

The shadow home secretary told a Tory fringe meeting there was no need for an identity card scheme storing 49 pieces of information about every citizen.

Instead they would use the modernised passport database - which held just six pieces of data about each person.

He said Labour was "all over the place" and had a "lack of understanding about ancient rights and liberties".

Ministers say ID cards will provide an easy way of safely proving identity and will help combat identity fraud, crime and terrorism.

ID CARD TIMETABLE
2008: Foreign National ID card launched
2009: UK ID card offered in Greater Manchester
2010: Scheme extended across NW England
June 2010: Last possible date for general election

Mr Grayling also confirmed plans to axe the Contactpoint children database, to allow the deletion of DNA samples of those not convicted of offences and a return to the principle people were "innocent until proved guilty".

He told the gathering that the vetting and barring scheme, which will require millions of people in regular contact with children to register, would also be axed as part of a Conservative government's moves to "roll-back" such "over-weaning" databases.

But he defended the use of CCTV, saying decisions on whether or not there should be more of them should be devolved to local people.

Shami Chakrabarti, from civil rights group Liberty, said she believed there had been a certain element of "cultural complacency" which had allowed long-standing British liberties and freedoms to be lost over recent years.

She welcomed Mr Grayling's pledge to provide "leadership not new laws" on such issues and urged him not to get involved with "gimmicks and spin" if and when he became home secretary.

Whitehall witch hunt

Desmond Browne, chairman of the Bar Council, said that the privacy law used by celebrities against the media was also relevant in relation to surveillance by the state.

He said that data losses such as Child Benefit disc had led to the government going from one extreme to the other - saying that barristers could no longer take discs home to work on.

The "witch hunt" in Whitehall after previous data losses meant that there were huge amounts of data now being collected which could not be put to any use.

He also questioned the huge increase in the numbers of CCTV cameras, suggesting some of the money could have been better spent on improved street lighting.

At an earlier fringe meeting about Conservative plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights, the former shadow home secretary David Davis said it could spell out clearly the rights to trial by jury and freedom of speech that had long been the "freeborn Englishman's" rights.

He also suggested the new supreme court be given a "refer back" power which would allow them to send laws back to Parliament in cases where they thought it was being used in ways that might not have been intended.



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