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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 April, 2005, 23:49 GMT 00:49 UK
Kirk warning over identity cards
Identity card
The ID card plans have been heavily criticised by the Kirk
The UK Government has been urged to rethink plans for identity cards by a Church of Scotland committee.

A report for next month's General Assembly has warned that the case for the cards for citizens "has not yet been adequately made".

Another report from the Church and Nation Committee expresses "anxiety" over continued anti-semitism in Europe.

It has also expressed "outrage" over the continuing unrest in Darfur, which has claimed thousands of lives.

The ID scheme would cost about 3bn to implement, with each UK citizen issued with a "biometric" card bearing fingerprints and other personal details which would also be stored on a new database.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has described the identity cards proposals as "long overdue" and the best way to fight terrorism, organised crime and immigration abuses.

Being a citizen means - or should mean - not having to justify oneself to the government unless one has already been shown to have done something wrong
Church and Nation Committee

The plans were put on hold at the start of the month when the date of the general election was confirmed.

However, Home Secretary Charles Clarke said Labour would re-introduce the plans if re-elected on 5 May.

The Kirk committee said that, alongside the cost, it questioned the idea that "if all the good people conform, identify themselves and carry cards, we can restrain the bad people", dubbing this "simplistic".

Its members said: "The presumption behind the 'nothing to hide - nothing to fear' mantra is obnoxious.

Senior colleagues

"That presumption is that the citizen is answerable, in this sense, to the government. It should be the other way around.

"Being a citizen means - or should mean - not having to justify oneself to the government unless one has already been shown to have done something wrong."

The committee expressed hostility towards cards being needed to access basic services and raised civil liberties concerns over the "future expansion of the scheme which might see sensitive health or financial data stored on cards".

Officially the Conservative Party supports the introduction of identity cards, despite reports of reservations among some senior members.

Desecrated Jewish grave
The committee has expressed concern about anti-semitism

However, the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party oppose the plans.

In another report, the committee has expressed "sorrow and thanksgiving" on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.

It voiced regret at the "Church's complicity in much of the history of anti-semitism in European history".

The committee also condemned acts of anti-semitism throughout the world and warned that while the Kirk has been critical of actions of the Israeli Government, this should not be viewed as criticism of all Israeli citizens and Jewish people.

It has also expressed "outrage at the inability of the Sudanese government and the international community to protect the people of Darfur", urging support for aid agencies and giving its backing to peace moves in the region.

The General Assembly will meet on The Mound in Edinburgh between 21 and 27 May.



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