Page last updated at 18:18 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Holyrood rejects identity cards

UK ID card from pilot scheme
Scots ministers hit out at the costs of ID cards

The Scottish Parliament has voted against the UK Government's plans to introduce ID cards.

MSPs backed a Scottish Government motion stating the scheme would not increase security or deter crime, while raising concerns about civil liberties.

Scots Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing said the estimated 5bn needed for ID cards should be spent elsewhere.

But Labour declined to back the motion, saying parliament should focus on issues which were devolved to Scotland.

The first identity cards will be issued to foreign nationals from next week, while young people will be asked to sign up from 2010 before their expected general introduction from 2012.

There's nothing extreme or unusual in the introduction of ID cards
Richard Baker
Labour MSP

Mr Ewing told parliament ID cards were a "colossal waste of money", and that the UK Government could not be trusted to keep the data safe.

"This scheme won't achieve its primary stated objective of making people safer nor reducing the terrorist threat," he said.

"We do believe that it poses an unacceptable threat to citizens' privacy and civil liberties."

Liberal Democrat MSP Robert Brown said he was uneasy at the decision to issue cards to foreign nationals.

He said: "It goes under the rather unpleasant title of identity cards for foreign nationals, with all the nasty implied innuendo of the recipients being aliens, other people from far-off countries that we know nothing about and probably terrorists anyway."

Tory Bill Aitken said governments had every justification to take action on improving security, but added: "Where there have been terrible terrorist outrages in the past, in countries where identity cards are compulsory, they have made not one whit of difference."

Pointing out Holyrood had no jurisdiction on ID cards, Labour's Richard Baker said there would be no obligation on people to carry ID cards.

He said the UK Government was bringing forward a series of measures to enhance national security and public safety.

He added: "ID cards are a part of that.

"There's nothing extreme or unusual in the introduction of ID cards and the kind of data which will be on them."

The government motion was passed by 69 votes to zero, with 38 abstentions.

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