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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Rights fear over ID cards
How a possible UK ID card could look
The issue of ID cards has divided opinion
The introduction of identity cards for benefit claimants would "drive a wedge" between ethnic minorities and the police, the Scottish Human Rights Centre has warned.

The plan has been floated by Home Secretary David Blunkett to crack down on bogus claims for NHS treatment, education and state benefits.

Mr Blunkett intends to launch a six-month consultation period with a final decision by the end of the year.

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


It is important that we can police that black economy and reduce it wherever we possibly can

Eric Joyce
Falkirk West MP

Centre spokesman John Scott said he had grave concerns about the merits of the scheme.

"Every time the ID card issue resurfaces apparently it will cure some other terrible problem," he said.

"I have yet to hear a decent justification for having one."

However, Mr Scott said the introduction of new cards would not stop people from abusing the system.

Crime detection

If the cards were designed to target illegal immigrants and combat terrorism then it would ultimately "drive a wedge" between ethnic minorities and police.

"Finding out who the person is not the problem," he insisted.

"The problem as far as the police is concerned as I understand it, is detecting the crime in the first place," he said.

Bank notes
Benefit fraud is rife

But Falkirk West MP Eric Joyce said the cards would not impact negatively on people's lives.

"As I understand it the announcement by the government is going to make it clear that there will be no plan for people to carry cards compulsorily."

He said Scotland had a problem with a "black economy" that could be found across the country.

"We have to deal with that because it affects other people's jobs and all sorts of opportunities across the country.

"It is important that we can police that black economy and reduce it wherever we possibly can."

See also:

01 Jul 02 | UK Politics
05 Feb 02 | UK Politics
31 Jan 02 | UK Politics
25 Sep 01 | UK
01 Oct 01 | UK Politics
24 Sep 01 | UK Politics
14 Sep 01 | UK Politics
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