The Snow In The Summer or So-So

The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Tue 21 Mar 2006

Green and squidgy

Back to Lords' for another round of PCB yesterday. Such is the interest in this contest that the main rights have been bought up by Rupert Creamy-Muckmuck's Snot Sports, leaving us just the edited highlights:

Patty Scotland said, "Linking the issue of fingerprint biometric passports with identity cards makes sense," falling into the deep logic trap of assuming an identity register is a good thing without further debate. This has not been proven, but she does admit some might. "Anyone who feels strongly enough about this linkage not to want to be issued with an identity card in this initial phase will be free to surrender their existing passport and apply for a new one before the designation order takes effect. However, I doubt whether very many people would want to avoid the opportunity of obtaining an identity card when their passport is renewed."

Shorn of any approximation of a logical defence, the Professional's chief spokey used a thinly-veiled threat. "There are those who think that this Parliament should be unicameral. I would not like this House to give them any more basis for suggesting that that would be a good move."

Phillips Sudbury moved that no linkage of passports to the identity register take place before 2012. He rejected Mrs Scotland's charge of treason. "We, on this side of the House, do not accept the premise that if we stick to our guns on this issue we are behaving improperly or in a manner destined to damage the unwritten constitution, let alone in a wrecking spirit."

Anelay St John suggested that Mrs Scotland was trying to have her cake and eat it. "The Minister rejected our compromise proposal in her opening speech. She says that it would require the setting up of two databases, and queries the costs involved. But the Government have consistently refused to reveal the full costs of their scheme."

And she - a Lib Dem member of the upper chamber, not a government minister in the Commons - announced a significant U-turn. "Last week, Mr Burnham, the Minister in charge of the ID card scheme, revealed to the Social Market Foundation conference that the plans for the initial stage of the verification process have been significantly changed. Instead of a system whereby the verification of identity would be by electronic readers - which is what we have debated in this House, at all stages of the Bill - the Government have now announced that they plan to use the chip and PIN system first. Mr Burnham said that a PIN would be an intermediate way of checking the card. The Government now accept what many have been saying for some time: the cost of buying in biometric readers could be a significant burden on businesses, public service providers and government departments."

Richard, another Professional lackey, launched a venomous attack on the Liberal Democrats. Rather than discuss the merits of the proposals, he gave an ad homines. "For constitutional reasons, it is important that this House now accepts the will of the other place. I do not expect the Liberal Democrats to appreciate that - when all is said and done, their chances of actually forming a government are fairly remote - but I do expect the Conservative Opposition to appreciate it."

Crickhowell summarised the position in this sound-bite. "We are confronted with a choice between the Government keeping an election manifesto promise or breaking it, and a choice between personal freedom and some uncertainty for the Government."

Saatchi Ensaatchi blew a massive hole in the Professional's position with this understated point. "There are occasions when one third of the entire population of Britain - the 15 million people over the age of 17 who do not have a driving licence - are required to show a passport. It is not a voluntary act at all when they apply for a mortgage, purchase a property, rent a property, visit a prison, get divorced, teach children, become an executor of a will or collect a bus pass. The Home Secretary said in terms in another place that the holding of a passport was a voluntary activity - now - for British citizens. I have read out a list in which British citizens who do not wish to travel abroad for a luxury holiday find it impossible to carry out absolutely basic tasks without a passport. Therefore it is completely incorrect of him to have said that a passport is a voluntary possession."

Dixon Smith put it this way. "For electoral convenience, the Government put certain words in their manifesto and now, for administrative convenience, they have set those words aside."

And the declaration from the Celebrities: Bogies.

We play on.

posted 21 Mar 2006, 20.51 +0000

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