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?