Liverpool council votes against ID cards

ID Card

Liverpool City Council has voted in favour of a motion against ID cards - and banned them from being promoted in their own offices.

In a motion passed yesterday - and backed by Labour members - the council noted its disapproval of the scheme, which is currently being rolled out in Manchester and could head to Liverpool next year.

"Council notes that the Government is pressing ahead with plans to introduce identification (ID) cards. It is doing this through pilot schemes in the North West, including the planned launch of a scheme in Liverpool in January 2010," the motion from Councillors Steve Radford and Paula Keaveney said.

"Council notes that the existing policy of the City Council is that it is opposed to the introduction of ID cards and the associated database," it said.

The motion stressed that the council did not believe the government's claims that ID cards and the related database would "prevent crime, terrorism or illegal immigration," but would instead "fundamentally change the relationship between the citizen and the State."

The motion also called out Prime Minister Gordon Brown, saying his speech at the Labour party conference "sought to give the impression that ID cards would not be introduced, at the same time as his Government was clearly preparing for these pilot schemes."

Because of this opinion, the council said it would "refuse to co-operate with any plans to promote the card scheme" and would not let council offices or its "communications channels" be used for promotional events - unless forced to by law.

The council also pledged to work with anti-ID card lobbyists - including NO2ID - to raise awareness of the "dangers of the ID card and database scheme" among the people of Liverpool.

NO2ID naturally welcomed the support. "Neither the people of Liverpool nor their elected representatives have been conned," said national coordinator Phil Booth in a statement.

"We particularly congratulate Labour councillors for taking their constituents' sides against the Home Office's favorite surveillance scheme, even if a Labour Home Secretary complacently lets the bureaucrats steam on, spending uncounted millions in the biggest ID theft of all," he added.

Home Office not concerned

A Home Office spokesperson told IT PRO that people need not feel forced into the scheme.

Regarding the accusation the cards would change the relationship between citizens and the state, he said it's "effectively like a passport, you either choose one or you don't - I wonder how that argument stands up."

He also noted that Brown's recent party speech had no bearing on the cards, as they were introduced as early as 2005.

The spokesman said the Home Office would not be concerned by the council's pledge not to promote the scheme. "At the end of the day, we would promote - as far as I'm aware... the IPS [Identity and Passport Service] would be the ones promoting. If Liverpool City Council chooses not to have promotional materials in their premises, that would have to be something to look at later."

Asked if the council would have any affect on a Liverpool-wide rollout of the cards, the spokesman responded: "It wouldn't."

"A council doesn't have any ability to stop people getting them," he said, adding "lots of people will try to sway public opinion" against the cards, but it was up to people to decide for themselves in the end.

The spokesman added that 1,000 cards had been given out in Manchester since the rollout there last month.

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