The shadow immigration minister has raised the prospect of a Labour government introducing ID cards to help count how many people there are in Britain and reduce irregular immigration.
According to Stephen Kinnock, the party is considering proposals to require everyone to apply for registration. However, the amount of data stored would be limited, in an attempt to assuage the concerns that emerged during Tony Blair’s premiership two decades ago about infringement of civil liberties.
Labour’s attempt to introduce ID cards 20 years ago was mired in controversy about the cards being linked to state entitlements, as well as broader civil liberties objections. Legislation for compulsory ID cards was passed in 2006 but in 2009 the then home secretary, Alan Johnson, rowed back and announced they would not be compulsory for UK citizens. The legislation was ultimately repealed by the Conservative-Liberal coalition in 2010.
In an interview with Times Radio, Kinnock revealed that an identity scheme was being considered “very, very carefully indeed”, adding it would be “so helpful” in reassuring the public that “we have control of our borders”.
He suggested that almost every EU member state had some kind of identity scheme and “it can’t be beyond the wit of man” to devise one for Britain too.