back to article National ID cards might not mean much when up against incompetence of the UK Home Office

The Windrush immigration papers scandal barred Caribbean-born Britons from public services and in some cases deported them because they lacked sufficient documentation. The scandal claimed Amber Rudd's job as Home Secretary. Her replacement, Sajid Javid, is working to sort out the mess. Two of Javid's predecessors, Charles …

  1. UberMunchkin

    A mandatory ID Card system will not (and should not) be accepted by the population. Beyond the privacy implications and the simple, there is no way I'm prepared to give the government that much data about myself and even ignoring the incredible cost (if it's going to be legally required then you can't charge for it, if you try it will just be a massive string of lawsuits) there is the simple fact that our government is completely and totally incompetent when it comes to anything that involves computers.

    They have no concept of information security, they always, always, leak data and they always award these contracts to the cheapest, least reliable outsourcing company they can find. See the Tax Office and NHS IT infrastructures and systems for a great example of how poor they are at this.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      The government already holds all that data on you anyway.

      Without an ID system the UK will never get to back its so called "control" in a number of areas. Including immigration and all the other issues around that which have been blamed on the EU these last decades.

      No ID? No change. It's going to be hilarious watching this dawn on the "Go Home!" brigade.

      1. EastFinchleyite

        The government already holds all that data on you anyway

        Fine, in which case the Government can put it all together and send me my card. I shall file it with all the other important stuff I don't want and never use.

        What I expect is that I will be asked to "apply" for a card. I will be asked for information to justify that application and I will be disadvantaged if I don't or am unable.

        The Windrush generation would have been asked to prove they qualified for a card. A Hostile Environment is not mitigated by a piece of plastic.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: The government already holds all that data on you anyway

          The Windrush generation would have been asked to prove they qualified for a card. A Hostile Environment is not mitigated by a piece of plastic.

          No, the objectives are different. One is to enroll everyone into the ID system, the other is to get lower net immigration figures by any means necessary.

          Therefore, historical NI, employment, and bank account info already on file would have been more-or-less enough information, instead of also having to produce four pieces of official correspondence for every year of residency.

      2. David 164 Bronze badge

        Which is one of the theories I had one why they cancelled Labour government project, so that argument over immirgration would carry on and the tories are always stronger on those grounds than Labour.

    2. JC_

      there is the simple fact that our government is completely and totally incompetent when it comes to anything that involves computers.

      It doesn't have to be this way. Government departments can be (and are) competent and efficient, however, it often serves the purposes of those who would remove all regulation for government to appear incompetent. Hence underfunding and mal-administration.

      As an immigrant I dealt with visas at the Home Office and can assure you that the process was fine under a Labour government and became hellish afterward.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        As an immigrant I dealt with visas at the Home Office and can assure you that the process was fine under a Labour government and became hellish afterward.

        Of course it was fine for applicants, because it was an intentional open door in the belief that immigrants would be Labour voters.

        Through most of the 1990s, net migration was on a modest upward trend, but averaged 50,000 net arrivals a year. Under the Blair/Brown governments this rapidly rose to become an average of around 200,000 a year for the period 1997-2010. That's great for those wanting to enter the UK, or those who believe in an open borders policy. Those with a concern that this creates a need to build the housing, infrastructure and services of an additional medium city every single year might consider it a less desirable outcome. The environmental sustainability of encouraging mass immigration to a country that is a net importer of food, of energy, and runs a persistent trade deficit might also be worth considering.

        1. JC_

          Presumably my down-voters haven't had experience of dealing with the Home Office under Theresa May.

          In my case, they kept my passport for seven months for a single visa application, leaving me unable to travel when a family member was hospitalised. In that time they refused to give any information about the status of the application. That was no fun for me or my family, but it doesn't begin to compare to the Windrush victims.

          These problems are the predictable result of slashing staffing and creating a "hostile environment". May got what she wanted - a Home Office that's not fit for purpose. It doesn't have to be that way. Governments around the world are competent and in the case of the Home Office, the previous Labour government really was more competent and compassionate. That doesn't mean I want Jez for PM, just a decent Home Office.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            UK Passports abroad are not that much fun either

            It isn't that much fun as a British citizen living permanently abroad trying to get a new passport. At least six weeks without a passport (I used to travel a lot so that was very difficult), having to pay a fortune and the only way to contact them to moan about the mistakes made was to pay something like GBP 1 per minute plus VAT when telephoning. Oh and they delivered a passport with the wrong photograph in it. This was "my fault" apparently. And they delivered the passport, twice, without requiring a signature to my neighbours as I wasn't home. The envelope was marked as not requiring a signature..

            1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: UK Passports abroad are not that much fun either

              > Oh and they delivered a passport with the wrong photograph in it.

              That was meant to be delivered to Israel.

              https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/mar/24/fco-british-visitors-israel-passport-warning

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: UK Passports abroad are not that much fun either

              It isn't that much fun as a British citizen living permanently abroad trying to get a new passport. At least six weeks without a passport

              Strange. My wife renewed her UK passport recently, from France where we've lived for 20-odd years. 20 minutes on a website, tick the box saying "yeah, I still look like the old photo". She then sent her passport back by registered post, and the new one arrived in two weeks. Easiest it's ever been.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: UK Passports abroad are not that much fun either

                How would she have got back to the UK if her parents (or someone else) were suddenly taken ill during that process?

                What if the passport had been lost or delayed? How would she have been able to return to the UK to investigate or fix the issue?

                That wasn't a risk I was wiling to take.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: UK Passports abroad are not that much fun either

                  How would she have got back to the UK if her parents (or someone else) were suddenly taken ill during that process?

                  Much as she would if there was a delay getting it renewed in the UK and she had an urgent travel need. She would have gone to the Embassy/Passport Office with supporting paperwork and they would have issued an Emergency Travel Document, it's a standard procedure.

                  That wasn't a risk I was wiling to take.

                  Up to you, of course, but it's no big deal. An ETD can be issued very quickly.

              2. Dr_N Silver badge

                Re: UK Passports abroad are not that much fun either

                >tick the box saying "yeah, I still look like the old photo".

                You can even upload a new photo.

                The new passport site is simplicity itself and the TAT was more than acceptable.

                In 20+ years I've never had to fly to the UK to renew a passport.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            re. they kept my passport for seven months

            well, I had mine kept for almost two. Years. Which was, kind of ok, because I was allowed to do what I applied to do, until they stamped my passport to allow me to do what I wanted to do. But it was suffocating, not being able to go abroad. I mean, sure, I could have applied for a new passport in my consulate and left via Ireland, but not practical.

            As to May and "hostile environment", while I do think that every HO minister must have a screw loose, I would guess that her "hostile environment" was not her initiative. It came down from the PM, who wanted a fig leaf for whatever political (short-term) gain his lot wanted to achieve at that time. May was only following the orders (notwistanding certain disturbing traits of characters all HO heads seem to display).

          3. anothercynic Silver badge
            Megaphone

            @JC_

            Presumably my down-voters haven't had experience of dealing with the Home Office under Theresa May.

            I commiserate with you, and for this reason you employ a solicitor (preferably one familiar with HO politics/procedure) who can cut through all the bullshit. They're expensive, but OH. MY. GOD, are they worth the money! Let them deal with the drama, the crap of rude/unhelpful HO staff, you just provide what they need to know to do their job.

            Had to do that a few times and never regretted it (although it left me somewhat poorer).

          4. 's water music Silver badge
            Joke

            In my case, they kept my passport for seven months for a single visa application

            I thought you were complaining about how long it took, not boasting about how quickly you got it fast-tracked. Although I have used the icon to indicate irony, I'm not really joking.

            In the interests of balance I can confirm from, personal experience, that the home office have been fucking over people's lives in the arena of immigration and asylum since well before the coalition government. Perhaps May's genius was to take the famously 'not fit for purpose' department and redefine its incompetence as a performance target.

            1. Mike Pellatt

              @'s water music: "Perhaps May's genius was to take the famously 'not fit for purpose' department and redefine its incompetence as a performance target."

              Oh, you deserve 1000 upvotes for that one. Superb.

              And then she claimed that her civil servants were being over-zealous for, errrrr, implementing the hostile environment that was her policy. And anyway, it was all the fault of the Windrush people for not having the documents that they errr, didn't need at the time or for decades afterwards. Kafka must be so impressed.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Or as a UK citizen living overseas. Dave Cameron and his chums from Eton decided that overseas embassies could no longer issue replacement passports. Their solution was that those of us living overseas should post off our passports to the Home Office and a new one would be turned in due course.

            Of course the reality of being in another country with no way to leave if that passport is lost or delayed never occurred to them.

            I'm fortunate in that I was able to afford (just) the cost of flights back to the UK, hotel accommodations in Liverpool, and the extortionate cost of one day renewal processing, but there are many people who are not able to do that and then had to just post off their passport and hope a new one would be returned.

            It's astonishingly incompetent

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Of course the reality of being in another country with no way to leave if that passport is lost or delayed never occurred to them.

              How is that any different from posting it to an embassy in the country where you live? We don't all have the embassy close enough to go in person, even if they'll do same-day service (which most won't). Even when you lve in the UK renewal is usually done by post, unless you pay extra.

              It's astonishingly incompetent

              Maybe if you'd tried it first instead of spending money looking for a way around it you'd have discovered otherwise. Based on 6 renewal experiences I can say that the new online+post to London model is easier, with faster turnaround, then posting all the paperwork to Paris ever was. It's a much more competent service now.

        2. JC_

          The people who arrived under Blair/Brown were EU citizens using their "freedom of movement"; luckily for them, they didn't have to deal with the Home Office.

          If you think there are open borders, then head to an airport. The UKBA really does exist.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            The people who arrived under Blair/Brown were EU citizens using their "freedom of movement"; luckily for them, they didn't have to deal with the Home Office.

            Absolute crap. In rough terms, the net EU migration over the period of the Labour government in question was about half of the net non-EU migration. The data's publicly available, you could even look it up yourself. Take 2005, net EU migration to the UK, 96,000 and non-EU net migration 198,000.

            You could choose to net off British citizens emigration by destination, on the basis that swapping a Briton for a Spaniard has little net demand effect on services and infrastructure. In estimated terms (based on previous government analysis) for 2005 that'd probably make net EU migration to the UK around 55,000, and the non-EU migration around 150,000.

            Whichever way you look at it, the Labour government intentionally let far more non-EU citizens than EU citizens, whilst this country's services, housing and infrastructure were not then (or now) able to cope. I presume you think we should go back to letting in those sorts of numbers?

            1. Adrian Midgley 1

              To run the services

              build the houses and contribute to the infrastructure.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "The environmental sustainability of encouraging mass immigration to a country that is a net importer of food, of energy, and runs a persistent trade deficit might also be worth considering."

          Several countries, including India and Australia, have indicated that any post-Brexit trade agreement will have to include easier immigration and work access to the UK for their nationals.

          During the referendum Leave campaign - government minister Priti Patel said that she wanted to replace any EU immigrants with those from the Indian subcontinent.

        4. cosmogoblin

          So Labour welcome immigrants, and the Tories create a "hostile environment".

          Wonder why they believe most immigrants would be Labour voters...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        As the hubby of an immigrant, it was also fine under a Conservatuive government in 1995 when we spent the afternoon in Croyden.

      3. LucreLout Silver badge

        Government departments can be (and are) competent and efficient

        Ok, name one?

        In 40+ years I've never dealt with a Government department that was the least little bit competent.

        1. David 164 Bronze badge

          The passport office, 100% competent and I have never had any problems with it.

    3. jmch Silver badge

      The problem is with taking the simple concept of ID card and shoving more biometrics and personal data into it than you can wave a stick at.

      Where I'm from , everyone gets a birth certificate number when they are born, at at 16 everyone is issued with an ID card based on that number, which is then the unique identifier for all government services. Immigrants get a card and corresponding identifier when they are granted residency / citizenship. The card has a photo and basic details (name, DoB, registered address). You're not obliged to carry the card with you (so no 'papers, citizen!').

      I know historically UK has not had ID cards and for some reason has seen them as oppressive (that 'papers, citizen! thing'), but in reality everyone who has to buy or rent property, work legally and pay tax, open a bank account etc etc has to show some proof of address / ID which means in practice that "the man" knows who you are and where you live. The only thing a lack of ID cards does is make it more difficult to deal with banks etc.

      There is a case to be made for ID cards with a minimal set of information. It's also important that government backend databases are not all automatically linked to each other and that access is limited on 'need to know' only, but that's true whether the databases are indexed by a unique ID number or by any other key that references a private person

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I know historically UK has not had ID cards and for some reason has seen them as oppressive (that 'papers, citizen! thing'), [...]"

        The UK had identity cards in WW2 - and they had to be produced on demand within 48 hours.

        In 1951 there was a pivotal case when a motorist refused to show his ID card to a policeman who had demanded it. The post-war atmosphere was primed for public discontent about "papers please" powers - and ID cards were then abolished.

        "Let us have the credit for 'setting the people free'," wrote one [Tory] Treasury minister in 1952, [...]

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The UK had identity cards in WW2 - and they had to be produced on demand within 48 hours.

          How true. In fact I still have mine.

          Having lived and worked in countries where you have to have an ID card or carry your passport all the time I have never understood what all the fuss was about or which political party started the fear campaign against them.

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Having lived and worked in countries where you have to have an ID card or carry your passport all the time I have never understood what all the fuss was about

            I often go out without my wallet, phone, even keys at times. As I'm not up to criminal activities, I'm not going to carry around some bloody id card.

            Sure, get one for use at the bank etc. if need be, but compulsory? I can't understand how anyone could be OK with that - or why you think people like me only think this way because of some past Government propaganda.

      2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        ID isn't the problem

        @jmch

        I've said it before, there's not any point having a "no ID cards!" attitude if the environment is one when many essentials (shelter, work, healthcare) require you to present ID.

        For all the huffing and puffing that the British do about this, there didn't seem to be any real objections to the creation of this environment. So either people did not realise what was happening, or felt that the objections to ID checks would be silly.

        In the Netherlands we've got a digiID system, where you have a central ID, and pretty much all other services require you to use that to authenticate and confirm stuff. I've not got an actual ID card (passport and GBA suffice for most things) and I've only been asked for my papers in reasonable circumstances.

        @ubermunchkin

        "Beyond the privacy implications and the simple, there is no way I'm prepared to give the government that much data about myself "

        That seems an odd attitude. Either the government already has that data on you, by being born in the UK. More so if you're on the electoral roll, have a passport, drivers licence, own property etc. Oh, and if you have a bank account or mail delivered to your house or are the chief tenant.

        So the only way the government doesn't have information on you is if you're not from the UK, entered illegally and live illegally while not working, driving or renting. Which seems pretty much an edge case.

        "It's also important that government backend databases are not all automatically linked to each other"

        Nah, that would be helpful and stuff. They'll just keep feeding into GCHQs central database of goodies.

        1. UberMunchkin

          Re: ID isn't the problem

          @JMCH

          "That seems an odd attitude. Either the government already has that data on you, by being born in the UK. More so if you're on the electoral roll, have a passport, drivers licence, own property etc. Oh, and if you have a bank account or mail delivered to your house or are the chief tenant."

          It's not that odd an idea. I don't trust the government to behave responsibly with my data therefore I'm not prepared to give it to them. I don't have a passport or driver's license, I don't own any property (rental costs are so high I abandoned the idea that I could afford to buy myself a place to live back in my early 30s), I rent a room privately from a friend and I give my bank the absolute minimum amount of information about myself (Name, Address, Phone Number).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ID isn't the problem

            I don't trust the government to behave responsibly with my data therefore I'm not prepared to give it to them.

            Pointless, they have it anyway. Probably the serial number of your tinfoil hat as well.

        2. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: ID isn't the problem

          MonkeyCee, but you know its roots, yes? "IHRE PAPIERE!"

          Oh yes... the Nazis have a lot to answer for... But the one indirect effect it's had is that the Netherlands have one of the most pain-in-the-ass Data Protection regulators in the EU (in one sense even more anally retentive than the Germans, ironically). They take citizen privacy *really* seriously because of that.

          Most European countries have always had the requirement of registration of foreigners at their local police station (read some historical paperwork around the turn of the 1900s where it was an expected courtesy to make yourself known to the local authorities), and that's also why some (old) hotels still ask for your passport (to hold on to).

          Back in the old days when births were registered locally, birth certificates were... well... basic. Once more authoritarian regimes came into being (notably the Fascists in the 20-30's and the Apartheid regime in Africa in the 50's) or wars required this (ask the Japanese-Americans in the US and Canada about their internment during the wars), there was a requirement to register all citizens centrally to enforce the withholding/grant of benefits/rights correctly and strictly.

          The UK has a Citizen Card which is a HO- and police-approved ID card that gives you proof of age and photo ID (which is nice if you don't have a driving licence). Of course it's not accepted EEA-wide (because that requires biometrics).

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: ID isn't the problem

            The UK has a Citizen Card which is a HO- and police-approved ID card that gives you proof of age and photo ID (which is nice if you don't have a driving licence). Of course it's not accepted EEA-wide (because that requires biometrics).

            I think the only reason it's not accepted is it's not a state-issued ID. There are countries in the EEA which issue ID cards without a chip, and many of those with a chip just have the photo stored on it as the biometric data.

            Whackypedia

        3. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: ID isn't the problem

          That seems an odd attitude. Either the government already has that data on you, by being born in the UK. More so if you're on the electoral roll, have a passport, drivers licence, own property etc. Oh, and if you have a bank account or mail delivered to your house or are the chief tenant.

          Being on the electoral roll or owning property does not automatically mean you're a citizen, you *do* realise that, yes? Ditto for bank accounts or having mail delivered to your address... All that proves is an address (and someone by said name living there). Driving licences are not proof of citizenship either. The UK requires some countries to exchange their driving licences for a UK licence within two years of arrival (notably Commonwealth countries who have a compatible licence scheme). The EEA licences are valid in the UK under EU regs. Country of birth (as registered on the driving licence) is not an indicator of citizenship either. :-)

          This also goes for the rest of the EU... I hate biometrics, but since I was able to read my own passport with a government-reg scanner and see what's on there, I'm a little bit more relaxed about it. The 'biometrics' kept on there are literally just a digital image of your face and the machine-readable data that's on the page in the passport anyway. The only thing it does *not* have that EEA passports *do* (for those signed up to the full Schengen agreement) is fingerprints. Quite frankly I don't see why that would constitute an issue for a passport (an ID card on the other hand... well... *waggles hand*).

        4. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: ID isn't the problem

          I have NHS and NI number, they are sufficient to identify me - no need for an additional ID card/ stealing my biometric data - you just know UK govt would keep full iris scan, fingerprints instead of just a hashed version so they were "covered" for changes in biometric hashes....

        5. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: ID isn't the problem

          environment is one when many essentials (shelter, work, healthcare) require you to present ID

          I'm going through this at the moment - as the co-executor of my mums will, I have to prove my ID. I have an old-style paper driving license (I don't see the need to pay for a new one every 10 years and I'd rather keep all my current driving entitlements[1]). I also have a passport that expired 5 years ago (other half hates travelling - especially by air or sea..).

          Most banks want you to produce one of those two in order to prove your ID. They will (reluctantly) allow you to present non-photographic evidence of ID (Council Tax statement, utility bill etc) but only after some argument. I'd actually be OK with an ID card if I could be sure that it wouldn't represent a large attack vector for ID theft..

          [1] I know of several people who have had various entitlements 'lost' - one actually had the code for his motorbike test pass removed which got him into trouble when he got stopped while riding his bike.. Fortunately, he had kept an old version of his license so he could prove that he had passed. But the DVLA still made him pay for a new license to fix their error.

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: ID isn't the problem

            Legally, an expired passport is a valid form of ID, as it demonstratably demonstrates who the holder is, it just isn't a valid form of travel documentation.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: ID isn't the problem

              Legally, an expired passport is a valid form of ID, as it demonstratably demonstrates who the holder is, it just isn't a valid form of travel documentation.

              Even that's not a hard & fast rule. I have French friend living in the UK who discovered his passport had expired months ago, when he was due to return to France on holiday. He called the embassy to ask what to do, they told him he'd be able to re-enter France on the expired passport but would need to get a new one before he could travel back to the UK. He had no problem wity the travel.

        6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: ID isn't the problem

          "So the only way the government doesn't have information on you is if you're not from the UK, entered illegally and live illegally while not working, driving or renting. Which seems pretty much an edge case."

          So if they've got all that information why would they need to issue me with an ID card - they know who I am?

        7. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge

          Re: ID isn't the problem

          > I've said it before, there's not any point having a

          > "no ID cards!" attitude if the environment is one

          > when many essentials (shelter, work, healthcare)

          > require you to present ID.

          Well there you have the problem. It's not the ID cards per se, it's the use that will be made of them. Remember Napoleon's accusation that Britain was a "nation of shopkeepers"? What that still means is that Britain is a nation of middlemen, with a peculiarly enlarged strata of underlings, all of whom thrive on the little bit of power that is within their domain. We even have a name for the way this group acts - job'sworths. Already, my wife had the experience of going to the bank to get change. She had her bank card, and was asked to verify it with her pin. Yet the jobsworth still asked her for additional ID. Now multiply that example by millions of others, all getting off with their little display of power, asking you for your ID when you buy bogroll.

        8. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: ID isn't the problem

          Every time I see GCHQ and CCHQ it takes me several second to work out which I'm reading.

      3. illuminatus

        I'd broadly go with this. And we kind of have that single identifier anyway: the NI number. We'd just need to issue it at birth, not at 16

        In the run up to the 2010 election I was very much against compulsory ID as laid out by the government of the time. This partly because of the possibility of being compelled t produce, but mostly because of the nature of the data they were proposing to store, and the ownership of it I was very concerned about the idea that while the government gave you the responsibility to keep the data accurate and up to date, the law specifically ensured that the state were not under any obligation to change that data. It was positively kafkaesque in conception. Add to this a procurement and project process that would likely add feature creep, and shifting requirements, the likelihood was that we would have ended up with a hugely expensive system with lovely huge holes everywhere. Just look at he mess we've had with SSO for government services (with two entirely separate systems) to prove what a car crash it would likely be.

        1. Stu J

          NI Number is already created (if not formally "issued") at birth, as anyone with children who have "Child Trust Funds" will no doubt have spotted that their child's unique reference number follows a suspiciously familiar alphanumeric pattern...

          1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

            > NI Number is already created (if not formally "issued") at birth, as anyone with children who have "Child Trust Funds" will no doubt have spotted that their child's unique reference number follows a suspiciously familiar alphanumeric pattern...

            Yes. All children born in hospital get an NI created. As you say, 'they' try to tell you it doesn't happen until age 16 though. Which might be true for the <1% born at home.

        2. Paul Hargreaves

          NIv6

          > the NI number. We'd just need to issue it at birth, not at 16

          Sounds like we're going to need NIv6...

      4. ciaran

        Some things the government should know..

        I think the government should know all the people who are legally resident, if for no other reason than to tax them. So there should be government-issued cards with your name and face. From there you can bring along any other documentation to prove anything you need proving like your date of birth. I see no reason to put your age, sex, social status into the card.

        The card should have an ID number which should mean absolutely nothing - it should just be an external key into a database, and it should change every time you renew the card. The card should have an expiry date, of course.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Some things the government should know..

          should have an ID number which should mean absolutely nothing - it should just be an external key into a database,

          Which should contain everything GCHQ know, or think they know through 6levels of separation, about you. And the police and any other official from benefits office to county dog warden should be able to see it when they stop you and demand your card - err because of terrorism

        2. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

          Re: Some things the government should know..

          To be perfectly honest, a simple card that is government-accepted proof of who you are is not a bad idea at all. It only needs information like name, address, nationality(s) and date of birth, plus a photo and a unique code for the back-end database. There are a lot of times when that basic information is needed and where I at the moment use my driving licence in lieu of the simple ID card.

          You do not need to make it mandatory to carry such a card, for the population will not like it. Nor should the card carry any more information than necessary. Religion must not be recorded, nor must ethnicity or any other aspects that a future fascist regime might use as a basis for discrimination. That was the mistake of the Labour-sponsored attempt to bring in ID cards; too much info was being asked.

          1. Adrian Midgley 1

            There is a corollary to an ID card

            Which is that it should be illegal to demand of seek any other evidence of identity, residence etc if the ID card is presented.

            There is a desirable design feature as well, the questions the card should answer should only be those necessary:-

            Is this card held by its owner?

            Is the owner over 18?

            Is the owner licenced to operate a car?

            The rest should not be disclosed, or demanded.

      5. stevo42

        You don't get issued an ID card based on your birth certificate number. The NINO card you refer to specifically said 'this is not an ID card'. Nor is it a unique number used for all govt services, it is used for National Insurance purposes only. DWP use a different identifier, passport has a different number, driving licence number, tax URN, VAT reg number, I could go on. That and they don't issue NINO cards anymore.

        1. MGJ

          They do; they post them to 15 year olds, who then have to go through a complex process when they lose them to get it back again. Because of course 15 year olds look after such things.

      6. Mugs

        Personnummer

        Works fine in Sweden (which isn't a totalitarian regime last time I looked). The personnummer was the universal identifier for all services public and private.

        Made it easy for me as a foreigner to rent videos too back in the day.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Personnummer

          Made it easy for me as a foreigner to rent videos too back in the day.

          And hopefully it was visual check of the card to confirm age verification, not swipe and store your details with what you rented...?

      7. cosmogoblin

        Well said. An ID card is a long way from an extensive database, and it's a shame that Labour tried to conflate the two - it always looked like the ID cards were a front, a smokescreen. First "it's just a bit of plastic", then "it won't be a central database of everything" (that's technically true if your database is distributed across multiple servers...). Now the ID card itself is tarnished with the autocratic "citizen database" concept in the public eye.

        But an ID card - just an ID card - would have been very useful to me when attempting to prove my identity to corporations, from landlords to the local public library, who insist on seeing a paper landline bill with my current name and address on it. (I'm still not allowed to borrow books, because the broadband is in my landlord's name.)

        That said, if my passport isn't considered sufficient proof of identity, I don't see that an ID card would be either.

        1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

          An ID card is a long way from an extensive database, and it's a shame that Labour tried to conflate the two

          Indeed.

          As you said, a pure ID card that confirms the identity of a person ONLY would be a wonderful thing, as long as it was either optional or free (or both).

          If it was mandatory (either legally or effectively, as in you couldn't access things you need without it) and they charged for it, you have basically a regressive stealth tax. If it is optional, and this included a legal mandate to accept other forms of ID instead, then charging for it would be OK.

          There are a few things which could be done to sell it to the country (and I don't understand why noone suggested this at the last attempt to introduce them). For instance, it could be made to allow you to incorporate your bank cards on it. Electronic cash could be implemented on it. A user-defined area could be set up to store things like club membership cards, loyalty cards, employee ID. It could be able to be used by your phone and/or PC etc to provide proof of ID over t'interweb.

          All in, it could be implemented in such a way that everyone benefits from it. I doubt it will ever be: the Govt of the day will just keep trying to bring it in as a vast overarching surveillance mechanism, and a way to control the population, all the while charging them for the process.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Proof of identity

          I used to have a problem quite often in the past with services being in the name of my partner or landlord, hence being unable to produce paper bills. It used to take hours of arguing over days or even weeks to usually be unsuccessful in convincing the authorities I was who I claimed to be.

          For about the last 5 years every request for a utility bill in my name has involved 20 minutes with Photoshop. No one has ever disputed a photo shopped utility bill and I always have the right documentation.

          It seems the system is hopelessly broken and needs to be replaced with something saner.

          BUT you can certainly trust the UK government to copy the entire ID card database onto an external hard drive and leave it in the back of a taxi.

      8. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Is it by any chance called EGN?

    4. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      I wonder if that "mandatory" is fooling you. There is no fuss about having a passport (unless not blue) and I gather there is no fuss about having a drivers licence either (don't know about the colour). I also assume you cannot borrow money claiming you are Donald Duck either.

      I could order an ID card for myself, it's a lot cheaper than a passport or a drivers licence too, but I don't need one as I have both the other cards.

      British fussiness at its best.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        British fussiness at its best.

        Seems it doesn't matter about how intrusive the database is, but the real-world manifestation of it can't be card shaped.

        The people who arrived under Blair/Brown were EU citizens using their "freedom of movement"; luckily for them, they didn't have to deal with the Home Office.

        Apart from Romania and Bulgaria.

        It's not particularly lucky for the rest of the EU countries as that's something that's going to blow up pretty soon. A residency registration procedure would have been useful after all.

      2. Third Electric

        "British fussiness at its best."

        Yes, because we're aware that once you give these kind of powers to governments, you rarely get to recind them.

        What my fear with them is that all the various databases are linked and then it becomes common practice to ask for ID cards when purchasing tickets to travel, at the pharmacists collecting presciptions, withdrawing money from the bank or purchasing alcohol.

        Once that occurs, then what if you become a 'person no grata', either intentionally or by accident (Harry Tuttle / Harry Buttle) then you cannot travel, get medicine, alcohol or your own money, and no government should have those kinds of powers.

      3. IsJustabloke Silver badge
        Meh

        @lars

        I'm not so sure that anyone who's given it any thought objects to the idea of an ID card per se. The objections have all been to the sheer quantity of data that would be stored on said card, that the user of said card had to keep it up to date with all kinds of stuff (and at their own cost as originally proposed) and under penalty if you fail to do so. This data included things such as your current place of employment.

        As you rightly point out, most of us already carry multiple forms of ID, many of which are issued by Her majesty's gov and we do so happily.

        So let's not get too carried away with comparing it to other European countries because they're are not the same thing at all.

        There is also the prospect of feature creep, once a biometric card is mandated you can be sure that in a short amount of time (for our protection of course) it will become impossible to enter government buildings without producing it, not long after that it'll be banks and building societies... "Of course you can come in. simply swipe your card! For your own protection of course!" and from there it's a short step to logging everywhere you go in/out

        I'm not saying it would happen but you can be sure someone will have thought about it.

        1. cosmogoblin

          The objections have all been to the sheer quantity of data that would be stored on said card

          And the fact that the list of people who had access to said data included virtually every civil servant in the country. The proposed protection against abuse, as I recall, was "staff will be disciplined if they access information inappropriately". Hardly a strong deterrant!

      4. Adair

        There's quite a bit of complacency and misunderstanding being expressed by some posters here.

        It's not really about 'ID Cards' per se, as some have already expressed, properly done they serve a badic and useful purpose.

        The problem is the associated 'database/s' - what info does it hold and why; who has access to it and why; what are the security measures, are they credible, are they effective; what recourse does the private citizen have in the event if error or abuse, is the recoursr timely, affordable and effective?

        These, and similar fundamental questions, were almost entirely unable to be answered in ways that demonstrated a genuine ability to protect individuals from mistakes and abuses in the Labour sponsored scheme - it was rightly dumped.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: there is no way I'm prepared to give the government that much data about myself

      sorry, but this is just an empty threat. You WILL give them the data, or rather, they will take it from you (and you will have paid dearly in your taxes for them to waste billions to create that ID system first).

    6. barrejam

      Do you really think that the government doos not hold an enormous amount of data on you already? With an ID scheme at least everyone would know that and be better placed to hold the goverment accountable for the safe keeping of that data.

      Personally I would welcome any scheme that ends the farce of having to "prove" your details for various contracts using utility bills - what a joke!

      Anyway, we already have the basis of a national identify scheme that is used by ~45 million people - it is run by the DVLA. Why not extend that to cover non drivers?

    7. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Utility

      @ubermunchkin - you're right. I much prefer the current system which gives anyone the right to identify themselves as me by simply presenting a gas bill with my name and address on it.

    8. macjules Silver badge

      But you are aware, I trust, that the Home Office already has sufficient information about you to be able to produce your ID card without your approval?

  2. AndyS

    How would ID cards prevent anything?

    Introduction of an ID card would not have prevented the Windrush debacle, it would have forced it to happen sooner (presumably during enrolement in the scheme). I don't see any reason that the outcome wouldn't have been the same.

    Sure, it might prevent any further ambiguities arising, but it would solve the existing, 40-50 year old ones in the same sledgehammer-meet-nut way as the current Home Office approach.

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: How would ID cards prevent anything?

      @AndyS

      You beat me to it,... registration for ID cards would have seen those caught up in Windrush identified at that point. The problem was the Govt destroying data.

      Meanwhile, we have had a National ID card previously, I recall being sent a National Insurance Number Card when I turned 16, with my NI number on it. They don't issue those cards any more, because they cost too much. Let's just dwell on that for a moment,.... the management of simple data, name, address, and NI number is too costly to maintain via an ID card system. Yet somehow, that problem goes away if we make the data more complex?

      Driver's licenses are what,... £34, ... a passport is ~£75 and a biomentric National Indentity Card would be,..... oh, if it's mandatory, it would have to be free. Now, once we have a National ID card, why would we need a driver's license, or passport? Surely that would just be a couple of extra fields of data, and therefore we could scrap the other systems. But if we have to pay, what about those who cannot afford to pay out? Do they become non-citizens?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: How would ID cards prevent anything?

        They would have been identified, but they couldn't have been deported as that law was rescinded in 2014.

        Presumably by that time someone would have realised they've got a problem as passport applications came in, and worked out how to regularise them to get them into the ID system, instead of the Home Office actively deporting British citizens and people with ILR in their haste to achieve their target of lowering immigration figures and/or because their records are a mess or destroyed.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: How would ID cards prevent anything?

      "Introduction of an ID card would not have prevented the Windrush debacle, it would have forced it to happen sooner"

      It might have happened sooner, but even if we had ID cards, under the current 'hostile environment' I could imagine the Home Office going back through old applications and revoking ID from people who got them through perceived 'loopholes'.

  3. 0laf Silver badge
    Big Brother

    They'll do the same as Scotland. Call it an 'entitlement card' tell you you don't need it but you will be unable to claim benefits or services without it.

    That why nearly every pensioner in Scotland has a Not-an-ID-card for concessionary travel and most teenagers as a Young-Scot discount card.

    1. Captain Hogwash

      Re: entitlement card

      That's the exact phrase I seem to remember Labour using when they first started trying to push the ID cards/biometric database scheme. They then talked about audit trails as a way to ensure one was not being impersonated for fraudulent purposes. It seems they forgot to mention the value of audit trails as a means of keeping tabs on one's whereabouts.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Secure Photo ID cards without bio-metrics could work and be used for access to services but we know the government will add bio-metrics, make you carry them around with you and add information into the system that really shouldn't be there. It will also be as secure as a rottweiler on a leash made out of spaghetti.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Don't forget that a card with a picture of your face on it is biometric.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Of course, I'm talking fingerprints/DNA then they'll add Police Record/Medical Records/Financial History/Political & Social Affiliations/Education Record/DVLA ANPR records/Facebook Profile/Which hand you wipe your arse with.

  5. Ali Dodd
    Big Brother

    Main issue I've always had with the ID Card schemes

    Is the plan to sell access to this data to world+dog and to link it into EVERY OTHER government department for frankly orwellian control and monitoring with new added COMMERCE APPEAL!

    Do it simply. Base it on birth certificate and residence status from the home office. DON'T Link it to NHS, DWP or POLICE databases, don't use one of the usual incompetent gov IT contractors. DO PUT PENALTY CLAUSES IN THE CONTRACT and not for the benefit of the suppliers. And most importantly, I cannot stress this enough DON'T SELL ACCESS TO THE DATA.

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Main issue I've always had with the ID Card schemes

      @Ali Dodd, while I agree with you, the DVLA and the HO (well, the Passport Office) already share data. If you apply for a driving licence (or a replacement), you can, should you choose to, tell the DVLA to get the info from the Passport Office (if you have a passport number) as a secondary ID check, and ditto when you apply for a replacement/renewal of your passport.

      THAT kind of integration I don't mind, because that *does* make things easier. Of course it requires careful data rules in place.

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Main issue I've always had with the ID Card schemes

      Had ID cards been made real, the government would have breathlessly announced the scheme was now completely 'self-funding' thanks to innovative third-way stakeholder-engagement multiplatform linkups with Facebook and Google.

  6. Ledswinger Silver badge

    A mandatory ID Card system will not (and should not) be accepted by the population

    As a general rule, the establishment prefer not to give the population much of a say, so to say that any such measure will not be accepted ignores many decades of finely honed skill in doing what the establishment want, without proper consultation. Arguably the Brexit issue shows why they don't, but also the singing up to all the EU treaties proves the case that they happily do stuff without considering public opinion or unintended consequences.

    And there's plenty of ways they can do this. Bury things in vague wording deeply in the depths of manifestos that nobody reads so they can claim a "popular mandate"; Implement measures at the whim of a minister's pen (via secondary legislation); Or leave it to some unelected civil service "regulator" to define the law in practice. And that's before the official mis-information system kicks in. Persuade people that ID cards will help solve their concerns of excessive levels of immigration or abuse of NHS services - that'll be the ticket! At the same time invoke the usual fear factors of terrorists, paedophiles, Russians, and international money laundering.

    Now who would be the decisive fool to force through such a stupid, flawed idea? Ladies & Gentlemen, clap with one hand for your future Home Secretary, Smeagol Gove. And anybody who think's that is humour should consider the depth and breadth of mediocrity across both front benches at Westminster, and the fact that Gove has besmirched education, and is now laying waste to the DEFRA portfolio - in the eyes of top Tories, he will be a contender for one of the top four cabinet jobs in future reshuffles . Of course, if Corbyn wins the next election, the outcome will be the same since we should expect Diane Abbott to get the Home Secretary role.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Clarke and Johnson were two Labour home secretaries who attempted to implement the Blair/Brown government's ill-fated identity card plans in the 2000s. The scheme was terminated by the Conservative/LibDem coalition soon after it gained power in 2010, [...]"

      At the next General election - the public then blamed the LibDems for other Tories' acts that they had been unable to stop. Thus giving the next majority Tory government a free hand to do more of the same.

      Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett was also a left wing politician who proved to have a very authoritarian streak in office.

      Probably the last time there was a Home Secretary who was sensible in his reforms was Labour Roy Jenkins (1965-7). He later became a LibDem peer.

      1. David 164 Bronze badge

        The Lib Dems could have stopped them, after they got the tories stuck in a fixed term parliament, the tories needed them to get anything done. A strong leader could have stood up to the tories a lot more, they got annihilated at the next election because they didn't. They didn't get a single one of their policies that the general public actually cared about through intact. aka the general public really really really don't care about constitutional reforms and how we vote politicans into power in this country. An even the referendum on changing our electoral system was watered down by the tories to the point where there was no point in changing it.

        An it happens in similar coalitions all across the world, minorities getting at least one or two of policies fully implemented. Ultimately Nick Clegg will go down as one of the worst politicans this century, David Cameron and Theresa May won't be far behind them.

        Gordon Brown will at least be remember for taking leadership during the financial collapse in 2008 an leading the world to solutions to stave it off. Through at the bottom it will probably have something along the lines of the bloody idiot called a election either three years to late or two years to early, both would have led to election 2012, where the economy the on the up, as the tories policies didn't completely kill off growth.

        How Blair will be thought off will ultimately depends on how Middle East turns out in the long term. I suspect in the fullness of time he may actually be considered someone who change the middle east for the better. People in the future won't care about how he lied to get it done or how many people died because of his actions, after all we don't care about how churchill sacrifice Coventry to hide the fact we broke the german codes or the devastating bombings of Dresden, we just care that he lead us to victories over the Nazies. An ultimately I believe Iraq change the middle east in ways that we won't see the full extent off for decades in the future.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We don't need no ID-Nation

    Another brick in the wall.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We don't need no ID-Nation

      We don't need no ID-nation / We do need to thwart control.

  8. Dan 55 Silver badge

    How do people get flagged?

    Does anyone have any insight into this? My theory is when you deal with the state, some automated system kicks in which searches for your British passport, British birth certificate, or both. If it finds it, you may proceed citizen.

    Otherwise you get to witness the power of this fully stupid and dysfunctional Home Office. And they have been known to get it wrong.

  9. James 51 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    The problem with the hostile enviroment is that it effectively says to the home office, crapita and anyone else is who will rid me of these troubling immigrants? People want to please their masters and by hook or by crook they will. You may not be filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered but you can be tasered, handcuffed to a chair and wake up in a country you haven't seen for fifty years or even have no memory off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
  10. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    No ID would have prevented this

    The issue with Windrush was not the ID system as such. Some of the victims held British passports and were flagged as invalid on renewal.

    The issue was the decision by the Home office to systematically destruct evidence that a particular part of the population is entitled to British citizenship. It is not just Windrush, the Home office destroyed similar evidence regarding "early arrivals" from Eastern Europe at the same time. I know this first hand from the Home Office - it came up when I was re-applying for junior's passport.

    Let's face it - Windrush was a dress rehearsal. A miserably failed dress rehearsal, but a rehearsal for what Mrs May wants to deliver to the ones she considers her electorate.

    In any case - no Id system would have stood a chance to prevent it.

  11. Christoph Silver badge

    Of course National ID cards are the answer

    When the Blairites were pushing ID cards they repeatedly made it abundantly clear that National ID cards were the answer.

    No matter what the question, no matter if it had anything whatever to do with ID, no matter how ludicrous it obviously was, the problem could be solved with National ID cards.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Of course National ID cards are the answer

      Exactly so. For example, ID cards are also the answer to the housing crisis. When Crapita (or whichever lowest bidder gets the contract) leaves a crate full of blank cards in an alleyway due to an entirely unforeseeable shipping error, homeless people will be able to staple them together to form a rainproof covering under which they can shelter. Problem solved.

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: Of course National ID cards are the answer

      Could they solve Climate Change?

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Of course National ID cards are the answer

        Yes - you'd be so worried about the surveillance state that you'd never leave your home and in doing so massively cut transport emissions.

        They could also be used to clean a frosted up windscreen.

  12. wolfetone Silver badge

    "The scandal claimed Amber Rudd's job as Home Secretary. Her replacement, Sajid Javid, is working to sort out the mess."

    Which was absolutely stupid, as it was Theresa May who gave the go ahead for the destruction of those papers.

    "Two of Javid's predecessors, Charles Clarke and Alan Johnson, have popped up with their answer: identity cards."

    Of course they would. They wanted nothing more than ID cards when they were in power. And, to be quite honest, it still wouldn't have prevented this Windrush tragedy.

  13. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    Why they really want ID cards

    What people have said already is true enough, but to my mind the real reason is so the card can have a "pleb bit" available. Just guessing but if you are a VIP member of the 1% it must really grind your gears having to go through the "take your belt and shoes off and get in the machine" thing like everyone else, because you feel you're above all that.

    What they really really want is when they walk through the electronic gate the scanner detects "pleb_bit = FALSE" and gives them the electronic equivalent of a forlock tug and they are on their way.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Why they really want ID cards

      ..."so the card can have a "pleb bit" available"

      Anyone else just had a great idea for an 'app'?

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: Why they really want ID cards

      ...Just guessing but if you are a VIP member of the 1% it must really grind your gears having to go through the "take your belt and shoes off and get in the machine" thing like everyone else...

      If you're a VIP member of the 1%, what are you doing at a public airport getting into a commercial airliner?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why they really want ID cards

      so the card can have a "pleb bit" available

      I used to work for BT, pre-privatisation. We had official government ID. When arriving from Belfast into Heathrow there was always someone checking ID, with a bark of "ID please". Offer a driving licence or passport & they asked a few other questions & then waved you on with "OK".

      Show them a BT card and it was just "Thank You Sir, do have a pleasant stay". Positive vetting has its advantages!

  14. WibbleMe

    ID cards will do little stop domestic terrorism, at the most be able to identify you youths on a drunk night out.

    However I suspect that we will all be made to PAY for the ID card of which like facebook (according to an article I read on the reg a few years ago) was selling out personal info to places like the NSA for $2K a pop, I guess selling that with 80 some what million people in the country thats $160Billion for the Treasury, and thats just from one organisation, what about all those medical companies and insurance agencies that would love our data.

    What we have to remember is that there are multiple agencies from HM Police to HMRC that want something out of ID cards.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the Blair/Brown government's ill-fated identity card plans

    in a sense, we should applaud "the ID system" never came close enough to sinking milions (or bilions, if crapita were to implement it), we can spend all this money on nhs now. This, and new "fair" taxes will make it Great again (and the medical staff from India who'll flock to work in nhs!)

  16. Giovani Tapini

    Is it just me, i dont get the connection?

    I don't think there was any problem with the identity of the people being questioned, the argument was about their status...

    Lost documentation, documentation not catching up with people movements, or getting old enough to need documents that had not been issued when they were too young. Agencies lose documents they have been previously sent or return them to the wrong place, take so long to respond the cases are discharged before any action can be taken. There is only the most tenuous link to identity, and none of which would be improved by having one.

    All an ID system would do is create another way of harassing people for information that is impossible to provide.

    Apart from travelling or opening financial services accounts there are very, very few times I need to provide ANY form of identity for anything. Government will not sort itself out by hiding a crowdsourcing data slurp inside an ID scheme.

  17. Herring`

    How much ID cards cost?

    Let's think, we need a database with 70m records that's able to handle a few thousand queries a day. Stick a web front end with decent authentication on the front of it, add a bit of fault tolerance.

    I reckon Capita could knock that out for £20 - £30bn

    1. Fred Dibnah

      Re: How much ID cards cost?

      I reckon they’d screw it up no matter how much money was shovelled into their trough.

  18. Peter Galbavy

    I have ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) and historically when I renewed my passport I would carry the old one with me next time I had a trip out of the country. On my return the border official would inpect both passports, question me politely (I'm a white male, maybe that helps) and then stamp my new passport with the same stamp as the old one.

    Now, since biometric visas are required, I would have to spend £600 having one added to my new passport. Yes, there is a £60 service too (which is still too much) but that involves being without travel documents for 6 months. There is also a £6000 service where they bring the kit and people to you to do it same same - the "Saudi prince service".

    So, I don't. I carry my documents including the precious letter from 1980 giving me the status and, for now my EU passport, and so far no issues.

    They are supposed to do cost neutral services at the Home Office. Not sure how £60 for a 6 month service and £600 for a three day service quite justifies that. I also understand that the real cost of naturalisation is about £250 but they still charge £1,000+ for an application. I can't be bothered, especially when seeing the laughable "Life in the UK" test questions.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Facepalm

      I actually gave the British citizenship test to my colleagues when it was my turn for the weekly quiz not too long back. The pass rate was 10% for people born & bred in Britain.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Much the same as me. I carry my old thrice-expired non-UK passport with ILR visa in it, as well as the current iteration of same passport, and simply present both of them when entering the UK. No problems so far, and means I don't need to periodically subject my documentation to the tender mercies of the Home Office for weeks/months on end.

      I had some real fun before getting ILR though. I once had to leave the country due to being given some duff information from the Home Office about transferring between visa categories. Surprisingly they even owned up to it. But would they let me stay while it got sorted out, and did they apologise? Did they hell. Onto the plane I got. Luckily I felt like a holiday anyway.

      Another time, I had to get a biometric identity card. Don't know if they still do these, but at the time it wasn't even optional. Due to some issues with the availability of slots in Liverpool I literally had one day in which to do it. I booked online beforehand, drove a few hours to get there and they didn't even have me booked in. Unlike every other dealing with the Home Office, there was a happy ending though - some unusually proactive person realised they'd messed up and gave me a slot. Didn't stop them still lecturing me about "We normally wouldn't do this at short notice..." though.

      Those are just my experiences, and as far as I know they're not even that unusual. UK immigration is a not-very-funny joke. Always has been. It's a particularly unpleasant cocktail of bureaucracy, ineptitude, expense, unfeeling not-my-fault-computer-says-no-ness, and shifting policy goalposts.

  19. John 73

    Missing an important point

    Comments so far seem to be missing an important point. Aside from the fact that ID cards solve the opposite problem (as other commenters have said, Windrush was all about over-strict demands for ID), imposing ID cards would merely deny healthcare etc. to more people (mostly poor, immigrant or otherwise vulnerable). This is because these groups are less able to get through the system even when fully entitled - or less informed about the need, or have bigger issues at any given time like finding food. Any ID system that is used to prove eligibility for basic services but that doesn't take into account the fact that those most in need of those services are also those least likely to have the relevant ID, is fundamentally flawed.

  20. silverfern

    I've said this on El Reg. (nice that other contributors agree with me) before but it could probably stand repetition: If the UK had had a decent immigration system with properly-functioning immigration legislation and regulations etc., the Windrush affair would never had happened.

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      @silverfern

      This is called a hangover from an Empire.

      One reason the UK *never* signed up to the full Schengen agreements was that it would've had to tighten up its entry requirements for any visitors from the Commonwealth. Given that the Commonwealth was (and still is) larger than the EU, it was a no brainer for the powers of the day ("shall we alienate our former colonies or shall we just pull the shutters halfway down to the EU?")...

      And of course Ireland has its own special relationship with the bigger island to its east, which meant Ireland is not part of the full Schengen agreement either (otherwise you'd be able to fly to Dublin on your UK driving licence, and then fly from there to Europe without a passport).

      Rationalising all of that will be slightly more problematic, but given that the UK has already pulled the shutters down on pretty much all of its Commonwealth partners (look at the 'dark grey' areas here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_the_United_Kingdom), the UK might as well sign up to the full Schengen agreement and get it over and done with.

      But... oh. Brexit. That'll change everything in 2019, yes?

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: @silverfern

        I very much doubt the Commonwealth had anything to do with the decision of the UK to opt-out of the Schengen Agreement.

        If somebody in Canada or India has a British passport then he is a British citizen like any other Brit. The Visa policy has nothing to do with it, that is, a Chinese* with a Visa to a Schengen country can travel in that area You might also look at Visa free countries to the Schengen states like Canada and Australia.

        To quote:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Area#EU_member_states_with_opt-outs

        "EU member states with opt-outs

        The Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland were the only EU members which, prior to the 2004 enlargement, had not signed the Schengen Agreement. Both countries maintain a Common Travel Area with passport-free travel for their citizens between them and the three British Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, that are outside the European Union. Gibraltar is part of the United Kingdom but neither part of the Schengen Area nor the Common Travel Area.

        The UK declined to sign up to the Schengen Agreement, one argument being that, for an island nation, frontier controls are a better and less intrusive way to prevent illegal immigration than other measures, such as identity cards, residence permits, and registration with the police, which are appropriate for countries with "extensive and permeable land borders".[80] Ireland did not sign up to the Schengen Agreement because it "would not be in the interest of Ireland to have a situation where the common travel area with Britain would be ended and Ireland would impose both exit and entry controls on persons travelling between here and Britain and, in addition, on the land frontier"."

        * China was (and still is) larger than the EU.

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Actually, it would still have happened. The main cause was trying to follow Climate Change Insulation Directives from the EU.

      It would just have happened to fewer people, and more of them would have been white...

  21. Lee D Silver badge

    I have no objection to an ID card.

    I do, however, object to:

    - Being required to have that card on my person at all times (we don't have that now, we've never needed it, I see no need to implement such a policy in a country that hasn't required it)

    - Needing to present that card to anyone other than a government official with a specified need to see it (i.e. not every job interview, rental agreement, shop, etc.)

    - Allowing queries on the underlying database for anything other than law enforcement and court-ordered actions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      >Being required to have that card on my person at all times [...]

      How would they even enforce that anyway?

      If I was required to have an ID card on me at all times, I'd refuse.

      I recently stopped carrying anything on me that can identify me.

      1. GIRZiM

        Re: How would they even enforce that anyway?

        The same way they do in other countries where you are required to present your ID card to a police officer at any time they demand it: they'll detain you whilst they investigate whether you truly are who you claim to be (which is not necessarily an easy, or pleasant, process) and then fine you mightily afterwards as a lesson to you to have your ID card with you at all times - simples.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Big Brother

          Re: How would they even enforce that anyway?

          The only thing I got from that was more contempt for the authorities.

          Esp. since I have no obligation to do their job for them.

          1. GIRZiM

            Re: How would they even enforce that anyway?

            Like it or loathe it, that's how the system works in those countries where they have ID cards.

            Having lived in both the UK and other countries, I have to say that my response to those who thought ID cards a good idea has always been to point out that a) they can be faked and b) the only time they're necessary is when the authorities (rightly or wrongly) take a dim view of your activities for some reason and that, at that point, whether you have an ID card at all, let alone on you, is irrelevant because what they do is detain you at their leisure until they decide what to do with you - and as that's something they do in the UK without ID cards the only real difference between countries that don't use ID cards and those that do is that, in countries in which an ID card is required, you need an ID card... and in countries in which an ID card isn't required, you don't.

            Really, apart from the fact that you are obliged to pay for them out of your own pocket, I don't care either way - as long as I do nothing to arouse the ire of the authorities, they make no difference to my life one way or the other. In fact I'd prefer them: they're smaller and lighter than my passport, fit into a card-holder, easier to carry. But that's only because I spend so much time outside the UK and, therefore, care about it to that minor degree. Otherwise, frankly, it's irrelevant either way around - a fuss about nothing on both sides of the argument.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How would they even enforce that anyway?

          Whereas under current UK law:

          You are required to give your true name and address to a police officer at any time they demand it if they have reasonable grounds for requesting it: they'll detain you whilst they investigate whether you truly are who you claim to be if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that you're lying (which is not necessarily an easy, or pleasant, process) and then fine you mightily afterwards as a lesson to you to give the correct name and address - simples.

  22. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Why is ANYTHING needed?

    ...The lack of an identity card has, arguably, caused severe problems for tens of thousands of people who were invited to move decades ago to the UK...

    The problem was that the government had destroyed all records of these people coming over here. If they had kept those records there would have been no problem.

    If the government kept its paperwork in decent order and used it as appropriate there would be no need of a central database. People are already recognized in lots of ways - these could be used where appropriate. For nationality, what's wrong with using the Passport database to start with? That will cover 83% of people - https://lightwater.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/ok-so-how-many-uk-citizens-have-a-passport/

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Why is ANYTHING needed?

      "The problem was that the government had destroyed all records of these people coming over here. If they had kept those records there would have been no problem."

      Perhaps, but I am not so sure about the "no problem". Your parents arrived around 1950 with you as a kid and now you try to tell them you are that kid on that paper record, could still be a bit more than a no problem.

  23. Norman Nescio Bronze badge

    Benign/malign

    The question that should be on everybody's minds is not what benign purposes a National ID database and potential associated ID card could be used for; but rather, in unforeseen circumstances, what malign purposes could such a database be used for. The politicians and lobby groups pushing for a National ID database and/or ID cards (you can have cards without a database, or a database without cards) will obviously emphasise the benign/vote-winning purposes, and do their best to underplay any malign possibilities.

    Most people tend to believe bad things will happen to other people and not themselves - an aspect of the 'just world' phenomenon/fallacy" - as few think of themselves as 'bad', and therefore think that the negative consequences of a policy will not be experienced by them. So it is important to think, not of all the good things that might be enabled by and ID database that works, but rather think of all the possible bad effects if it is poorly executed, or operated by people with less than noble intent.

    The American Constitution was purposefully designed to restrict the governments rights, and give 'the people' as much control as possible over the government, as the drafters were only too aware of the tyranny absolute power could produce. Inefficiency in government as a result of a lack of a national ID database might be a price worth paying for continuing personal liberty.

  24. JohnG Silver badge

    Residency registration and national identity cards

    There are two issues: identity cards and registration of residency - the UK has neither. In many other countries, in Europe and elsewhere, citizens and other residents are required to register their address with local authorities, within some period since moving in (usually, within three months). Not registering is seen as tax avoidance.

    Similarly, national identity cards are often mandated in many countries, often with a requirement to produce ID on demand. ID is typically also required when signing up for a mobile phone, opening a bank account, registering a car, renting or buying a property, etc. When done without the sort of draconian nonsense attempted by UK government, ID cards can be quite useful.

    Whilst not having residency registration in the UK seems like freedom, it can be a problem if you ever need to prove your residency in the UK for tax/pension purposes, entitlement to free non-emergency NHS treatment, etc. For immigrants, trying to prove the duration of their residency to establish their right to permanent residence or to British citizenship, it is a mess: The Home Office don't have a definitive way of proving residency and historically, they have rejected documentation that courts have subsequently declared as being conclusive.

    Personally, I would quite like to see the UK introduce simple national identity cards (without all the draconian nonsense of previous attempts). I think registration of residency for everyone is essential, regardles of the ID card debate.

    1. H in The Hague Silver badge

      Re: Residency registration and national identity cards

      "When done without the sort of draconian nonsense attempted by UK government, ID cards can be quite useful."

      That's crossed my mind too. Esp. as at present to prove your identify for, say, a bank account, you're dependent on the credit reference agencies. Which are private sector businesses (unelected, unaccountable, etc.) I would rather have a basic identity system operated by an accountable government. During our lives most of us have to deal with the state in one way or another (tax payer, benefits claimant, holder of a passport of a driving licence) so extending that to a basic ID system would not be unreasonable.

      (That would also prevent problems such as those described by a Commentard a while ago who upon returning to the UK after a long period abroad couldn't open a UK bank account as he wasn't listed with any of the credit reference agencies. By contrast, after Mrs H registered here with the council, she was immediately able to open a Dutch bank account - no questions asked other than "Could I see your passport please?")

  25. Twanky

    They've destroyed Capita!?

    The article caused me to choose to visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/identity-cards-and-new-identity-and-passport-service-suppliers#cancellation-of-the-national-identity-register where I found this:

    ---

    Cancellation of the national identity register

    The national identity register was destroyed on 10 February 2011. The personal details of everyone issued with an identity card which were recorded on the National Identity Register were securely destroyed. This included photograph and fingerprint biometrics. The register was destroyed by IPS along with the relevant contractors to approved security standards. The completion of the decommissioning will be reported to Parliament.

    ---

    I got all excited. That'll learn 'em.

  26. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Two of Javid's predecessors, Charles Clarke and Alan Johnson, have popped up with their answer: identity cards."

    Given it was electorally toxic I'm not surprised by such a helpful suggestion.

  27. Mike Pellatt

    Genius statement

    "The solution is to fix their appalling decision-making," Patel says. "There's no technological solution to that."

    Also known as "You can't fix stupid"

  28. Mike Richards Silver badge

    It's their answer to everything

    Two of Javid's predecessors, Charles Clarke and Alan Johnson, have popped up with their answer: identity cards.

    Claiming benefits: ID card

    Underage drinking: ID card

    Buying tobacco: ID card

    Terrorism (they're against it): ID card

    It's a one-fuckup-fits-all policy.

  29. John Robson Silver badge

    The card isn't the issue for most people...

    It's the database.

    If only there was some way we could store data on the card itself, and have the important data on there both encrypted (so only readable with a pin from the card owner) and signed (so the reader can verify that the data was confirmed correct by the relevant organisation).

    No need for central anything other than key distribution - all the potential benefits, with many fewer drawbacks.

    If you're really ambitious you could have a number of separated data regions on the card... so you could store a relevant slice of information from NI/NHS/DVLA/HMRC on your card (and not have to have them all linked in one place elsewhere).

    1. GIRZiM

      Re: The card isn't the issue for most people...

      Then you lose your card.

      You can't prove who you are because you don't have an ID card and you can't compare your biometrics to the ones stored in the database because there isn't a database.

      So, how are you going to get your ID card re-issued?

  30. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    identity cards? go and get fucked.

  31. Steve Evans

    HM Govt IT project...

    If HM govt had started an IT card project for the Windrush generation when they first arrived, they'd still be trying to get the system to work properly even now!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Home Office

    The other issue is Home Office understaffing. Many times I've seen vacancies in the immigration section advertised, and have applied and gone through the online SJW goodthink compliancy vetting assessment, only to be told within 30 seconds that I've failed. No wonder they're sinking under the workload.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Home Office

      >The other issue is Home Office understaffing. Many times I've seen vacancies in the immigration section advertised, and have applied and gone through the online SJW goodthink compliancy vetting assessment, only to be told within 30 seconds that I've failed. No wonder they're sinking under the workload.

      Maybe you are too good for them. Have you tried putting in the worst possible answers to the online questions - perhaps then you would be chosen.

    2. GIRZiM

      Re: Home Office

      SJW goodthink compliancy vetting

      Yeah, maybe that attitude isn't considered commensurate with a role dealing with people unable to express themselves in your native tongue so terribly well - people who might look and sound a bit 'not from around here' and have trouble explaining themselves and their actions to someone intent on exposing them as terrorists (or worse).

      Ludicrous though it may sound, it's just possible that, somewhere in the Home Office there is a sense of an idea that treating others humanely isn't all tree-hugging hippy crap but that the kind of person who bandies around terms like 'SJW goodthink compliancy' might be of the opinion that, on the contrary, "hanging's too good for 'em!" and, therefore, not the best candidate for a role requiring sensitivity and patience with 'Johhny Furriner'.

      When you stop and consider that this is the Home Office we're talking about here (the one that likes to create a 'hostile environment'), if even they're rejecting your application, you might like to question whether your responses to the vetting aren't, perhaps, a teensy-weensy bit extreme (the kind that make the likes of Pol Pot, Pinochet, Stalin et al look like hand-wringing, bleeding-heart liberals) and think about how else you might phrase them such that your warm-hearted, open-minded, live-and-let-live, liberal values are clear for all to see.

      </just an idea>

  33. Noonoot

    Trust me, I am Joe Bloggs

    Officer: Identify yourself sir, please

    Me: I'm Joe Bloggs

    Officer: Ok, I believe you.

    1. Anonymous Noel Coward
      Boffin

      Re: Trust me, I am Joe Bloggs

      I'm Spartacus!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ID Cards

    When Mrs May killed off ID Cards she said she would introduce a National Dartabase instead. We are still waiting. Such a database might have prevented some of the teror attacks in the meantime as well as helping to protect the Windrush generation. You cant believe a word she says.

  35. ShortLegs

    Somewhat late to the party.

    But there are very good reasons to oppose a National ID Card of any format.

    Who will pay for it? The Government or the individual?

    What purpose will it achieve? To establish who I am? I can do that already, with any one from a number of voluntary documents such as a passport, driving licence, utility bill.

    And of course, to work, any card would have to be mandatory. Otherwise there is no point in having one.

    And if it it mandatory, what is the penalty for not having one, or not producing it on demand.

    Just because other countries have one is not justification for Great Britain having one. And for those who wonder why, look up Wilcock vs Muckle

    "But ID will cards will never be used for any other purpose than <stated aim of Govt>" you - or the Govt - might say. Really? Then consider this Judge's comment regarding ID cards in the UK in the 1950s:

    ""This Act was passed for security purposes; it was never passed for the purposes for which it is now apparently being used. To use Acts of Parliament passed for particular purposes in wartime when the war is a thing of the past—except for the technicality that a state of war exists—tends to turn law-abiding subjects into lawbreakers, which is a most undesirable state of affairs"

    It's worth pointing out that Churchill reluctantly introduced ID cards during WW2. He promised to abolis them as soon as the war was over, but was voted out of office at the end of WW2 and before he could do so. The incoming Labour Govt retained them.

    When Churchill and the Conservatives were voted back in, one of the first acts was to abolish national ID cards.

    "papers, citizen" has already happened in the UK. Lets not allow it to happen again.

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