So who is right here?

State officials are to be given powers previously reserved for times of war to demand a person\’s proof of identity at any time.

Anybody who refuses the Big Brother demand could face arrest and a possible prison sentence.

The new rules come in legislation to be unveiled in today\’s Queen\’s Speech.

They are presented as a crackdown on illegal immigration, but lawyers say they could be applied to anybody who has ever been outside the UK, even on holiday.

The civil rights group Liberty, which analysed clauses from the new Immigration and Citizenship Bill, called them an attempt to introduce compulsory ID cards by the back door.

The move would effectively take Britain back to the Second World War, when people were stopped and asked to \’show their papers\’.

Liberty said: \’Powers to examine identity documents, previously thought to apply only at ports of entry, will be extended to criminalise anyone in Britain who has ever left the country and fails to produce identity papers upon demand.

\’We believe that the catch-all remit of this power is disproportionate and that its enactment would not only damage community relations but represent a fundamental shift in the relationship between the State and those present in the UK.\’

One broadly-drafted clause would permit checks on anyone who has ever entered the
UK – whether recently or years earlier.

Officials, who could be police or immigration officers, will be able to stop anyone to establish if they need permission to be here, if they have it, and whether it should be cancelled.

That\’s certainly how some people are reading the clause.

Here\’s the non-denial denial:

The Home Office said last night it had no intention of making people carry ID cards.

A spokesman said: \’It is simply wrong to claim there are any plans whatsoever to make identity cards compulsory for British citizens or to require British citizens to have an ID card at all times and present it when asked.

\’To maintain effective immigration control it is only right that we ask everyone attempting to enter the UK to produce a valid identity document.\’

So, who is right?

Me, I side with Liberty in this. What say you?

18 comments on “So who is right here?

  1. a) I suspect that it’s poor drafting rather than a sinister plot.

    b) we should campaign like hell to get it reversed anyway, since we really don’t want legislation which could be interpreted this way on the books.

    One of the reasons suggesting that it’s accidental is that, even under the draconian interpretation, there’s no practical application for the rule. If people who’ve never been abroad don’t have to show their papers, anyone questioned can just say “I’ve never been abroad” and then the police can’t touch them.

  2. “Me, I side with Liberty in this. What say you?”

    Well, you can pretty much assume that anything said by the government is a lie, so…

  3. “I suspect that it’s poor drafting rather than a sinister plot.”

    But they have been drafting poor legislation for 12 years. How long does it take to learn how to do it? 😉

  4. and then the police can’t touch them

    Would that be even if they uttered the magic words “anti-terrorism”?

    I’d love to be able to agree with your third para, but trust of the police has gone the same way as respect for politicians. Which is why I agree with your second para.

  5. The quote from the Home Office spokesman appears to be disingenous:

    “…is only right that we ask everyone attempting to enter the UK to produce a valid identity document.”

    That’s what already happens, and has for years: it’s called a passport and you present it at Immigration control when entering the country. If that’s the Government’s aim there’s no need for new legislation.

    The other quote is equally disingenous. No plans for British citizens but clearly then for the non-British. How does you establish on a spot check that you are British and therefore aren’t required to have an ID card without producing some other form of acceptable identification? Perhaps by responding “bugger off”?

  6. “But they have been drafting poor legislation for 12 years. How long does it take to learn how to do it?”

    These are socialist dick head’s we’re talking about. What’s the age of the universe?

  7. One of the reasons suggesting that it’s accidental is that, even under the draconian interpretation, there’s no practical application for the rule. If people who’ve never been abroad don’t have to show their papers, anyone questioned can just say “I’ve never been abroad” and then the police can’t touch them.

    But that’s not what the legislation allows for. Liberty, NO2ID etc are correct.

    A [Home Office] spokesman said: ‘It is simply wrong to claim there are any plans whatsoever to make identity cards compulsory for British citizens or to require British citizens to have an ID card at all times and present it when asked.

    No, but there are plans to have everyone enrolled on the National Identity Register – either voluntarily in the sense of “I’d like one of those” or voluntary in the sense of, “you’ll enrol if you want to keep your job as an airside worker” – and any transaction involving the identity they’ve been assigned to be recorded in the same. We will have to prove our entitlement to enter or leave our own country, get a job, get non-emergency healthcare, and with this draft Bill, walk around our own streets.

  8. “But that’s not what the legislation allows for. ”

    Eh? The legislation as written only applies if P ‘has arrived in’, ‘has entered’, or ‘is outside’ the UK. None of these are the case for anyone who’s never left the UK. Therefore, if you’ve never left the UK, there is no right to examine your papers under the legislation as written.

  9. Err, they need to prove that you have. Which they can’t, without your papers, which they’re not allowed to demand because they can’t prove that you have.

    (it’s academic anyway. If I’m right that it’s a cock-up, and we protest enough to draw attention to it, then they’ll amend it before it’s passed so that it only targets foreigners and people who’re actually entering the country. If you’re right that it’s a conspiracy, then they’ll amend it so that this loophole is closed…)

  10. Do you really think that you won’t be required to carry your ID card at all times? What’s the point of requiring ID cards, if people don’t have to carry them?

  11. On reflection I think John is right here and I am wrong.

    But it isn’t unreasonable to claim the Home Office spokesman is being rather disingenuous.

    The intention of the Government is clear: we are all to be assigned identities, using “various forms of coercion” to get us on the database, and these identities will be used to prove entitlement to access all sorts of things, in many cases this access will be recorded, and this information is to be shared across government.

    There is no public cost-benefit analysis and the scheme will not work as advertised.

  12. I think both John and Liberty are right. Liberty is right in how it could be interpreted, John is probably right that they’ve written a vague law unintentionally. The problem is that we’ve got a government that seems quite content to draft such legislation on the assumption that “hey, trust us” when nobody really does anymore, not that they ever should any government in the first instance.

    This is the only government I’ve lived under as an adult; do they all throw out legislation as often and as hastily as this bunch? I mean these are the rules we’re supposed to live by. Shouldn’t they pause, consider, debate, pause, consider, debate, an awful lot before putting stuff down in the statute book? I seem to put more consideration into my average blogpost than they do into the law of the land and god only knows I write some nonsense on occasion.

    And all this ignores the fact that the proposal is crap anyway.

  13. Philip, there are lots of complaints about the lack of scrutiny of legislation prior to Royal Assent and they come from not only Tories and LibDems but also Labour MPs (and others). This Government is not only totalitarian but is also afflicted by legislative diarrhoea.

  14. Pingback: eurealist.co.uk » Blog Archive » Tracking the Devil

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