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3 Oct 2014
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Roger Harrabin ID Cards Feedback
Further to our interviews about the government's desire to find out what Britain thinks of ID cards that one doesn't have to carry...
A selection of letters from Today listeners:

Thank you. Please continue this debate. It's immensely important. Barbara Hughes was weak, unconvincing and unclear. We need to hear debaters who can put the case better.
'Compulsory': was she saying that it would not be compulsory to have an I.D. card or that it would not be compulsory to carry it? The argument put forward (producing it within twenty-four hours) implies compulsion to have one.
Maybe it will be like the Electoral Roll. Registering is mandatory, isn't it? Has anyone ever been taken to Court for not registering?
Please pursue this one with vigour. Today is the forum to be trusted on such a serious matter.
-Paddy Fraser

Whatever is the fuss about? We all have national insurance numbers, tax numbers, bank account numbers, and almost all of us have passports and bank cards. Our imagined freedom from control went long ago. An identity card would only serve to clarify our identity, not detract from it.

The type newly introduced on the continent, with either finger prints or retinal imaging, should be proof against theft, and should serve to prevent a great deal of abuse of social services, so yes, it should be obligatory. Does anyone complain at having to produce a credit card? When will the British learn that they need not absolutely be the last in Europe to move with the times?
- Dr P.A.Andrews

You ran an item today about how the Proms are to drop the lyrics from their rendition of Rule Britannia on their last night. One of the verses of this anthem to freedom, which seemingly someone thinks we shouldn't hear, says:

"Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame, All their attempts to bend thee down Will but arouse thy generous flame; But work their woe, and thy renown.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves: Britons never will be slaves."

The immediately preceding was about the Government's plans to introduce ID cards. Have I detected a sinister plot?

-Andrew Wood, Cambridge.

I have nothing against identity cards as such. In the days before card driving licences I went to the trouble of getting a credit card with my photo on for use as a second identity document in France, necessary when signing cheques for over 1,000 francs. But what perplexes me over the government's approach is that it fails to address two basic questions:
1) What exactly is the problem for which identity cards are seen as the answer?
2) Have identity cards solved the problem where it existed in other countries?
France has identity cards, and while this has not led to the growth in state power feared by the alarmists, neither does it seem to have made much difference in tackling any of their social problems. You get the impression that they have identity cards because it is the French tradition!
- Leslie Palmier, Bath.

I suppose I'm as aware of my civil liberties as anyone else, but I can't see what I have to fear from an ID card, in whatever guise the government seeks to introduce it. I've lost count of the hours I've wasted having to return a second time to complete transactions concerning mobile phones, hire agreements, building society accounts etc because I've brought the wrong kind of ID, and a nationally recognised card would simplify things no end. Also, being the parent of teenagers, they need so many things to prove their age in so many different circumstances, that one card to deal with it all would be a real boon.

What have we all got to be so afraid of? The US are even more precious about their personal liberties than we are, and they can be asked to produce an ID card at any moment. Surely if you've nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear!
- Marianne Barton, North London

When will this authoritarian Christian Democrat government think about the broad (dare I say joined-up?) forward plan and have the maturity to avoid the knee-jerk reaction? Terrorism will not be tackled by ID cards - nor repressive bombing - it needs intelligence (in both senses) and long-term political and economic solutions. Planning will not be improved by short-cutting the democratic process or the public inquiry system.

Incidentally, if identity cards are really so important, why is a driving licence, with not even a photo on it, so widely accepted as ID?
- John Griffin , Oxfordshire

There is a touching naivety about John Humphries' defence of individual freedom.
I work in teaching. Like most - if not all - of my colleagues, I am required regularly to complete form CRBDAF, the Disclosure Application Form for the Criminal Records Bureau. I am not, and never have been incriminated of anything. The only times I have ever been in a courtroom were as a juror or observer.
Even so I have to prove my innocence.
To do so I have to supply the following information on one piece of paper:
  • my personal details - name, address, length of residence, previous
  • addresses; my National Insurance number;
  • my employer's name and address;
  • my place of birth;
  • my telephone numbers;
  • my marital status;
  • my dependent children;
  • my bank sort-code and account number ["this information will help us to process your application more quickly"];
  • my mother's maiden name;
  • my passport number and nationality.
I cannot believe any identity card, whatever its title, could be more intrusive.
- John Whysall, London.

What a waste of time and money!
Crooks will not co-operate, old people, who are forgetful and also the most in need of benefits, will misplace them loose them request replacements (I am on my 3rd free bus pass and I am only 67!) So:Good news for the fearful copper who will chase the victims rather than the criminal because it is safe and he can always say "I was busy sarge check up on some identities."
I just hope everyone will throw them in the dustbin, by accident of course, with all the other junk mail.
- John, Birmingham (Name and address withheld in case of that dreaded knock on the door at midnight)

With regard to ID cards (I shall call them what they are) being voluntary:
Have I missed something? It seems to me that for ID cards to be truly voluntary a citizen that opts NOT to carry one ought to be entitled to exactly the same benefits etc. as one that does. In which case, what is the point of the card? And if not, in what sense is it voluntary? Perhaps the truth is that government in its largesse is offering citizens the Hobson's choice between carrying an ID card or starving. Can this be right?
-Scott Wakeham

I do not want an ID card, but as we are a poor family it seems likely that in order to continue receiving the state benefits that top up our income we will be forced to have one of these cards. That does not appear to me to be a voluntary system.
-Carolyn Downs, Morecambe

John Humphreys Introduction
"ID Cards - The Government wants to know what we think..."
Well, that says it all.
- Malcolm Martin, Peckham

Home Affairs Committee BBC Links
Ernst Craddock's ID Card Page
Privacy International
Charter 88
Fighting ID Fraud/
Making ID cards

NB. The BBC cannot be held responsible for the content of external websites

Listen - Shadow Home Secretary, Oliver Letwin, gives his view on the governments consultation paper on ID Cards
George Orwell's 1984

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