Speech

Queen's Speech: Identity Documents Bill

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Notes on: "Legislation will be brought forward to restore freedoms and civil liberties through the abolition of identity cards and repeal of unnecessary laws."

The Bill would scrap ID cards on commencement of the Act and require the destruction of all personal information gathered from cardholders to cancel the National Identity Register.

The purpose of the Bill

To cancel identity cards and to destroy the National Identity Register which contains personal data collected to issue cards.

The main benefits of the Bill

  • To reverse the erosion of civil liberties. Government should hold the minimum of information about its citizens and roll back state intrusion wherever possible.
  •  To save the taxpayer around £86 million over the next four years once all cancellation costs are taken into account. It will also avoid more than £800 million of ongoing costs over the next ten years which were to be recovered through fees.

The main elements of the Bill

  • The cancellation of all ID cards within one month of Royal Assent;
  • Removal of the statutory requirement to issue ID Cards on Royal Assent;
  • Cancellation of the National Identity Register.
  • Destruction of all data held on the Register within one month of Royal Assent.
  • Closing the Office of the Identity Commissioner.
  • Re-enactment of certain necessary provisions of the 2006 Act including some criminal offences (possession or use of false identity documents) that are commonly used for identity documents other ID cards.
  • No refunds to existing cardholders.

Existing legislation in this area

The Identity Cards Act 2006 received Royal assent on 30 March 2006. It allows an identity cards scheme to be established in the United Kingdom. It provides for the establishment of a National Identity Register to hold core identity details of all UK residents who have registered together with their photograph and fingerprints and for a card to be issued to them. Information held on the Register can be subject to verification for an employer, bank or building society.

Prior consent of the card holder would be required before IPS would carry out verification of identity. Information from the Register on identity verification may be released without the consent of the individual to the police, security services and other relevant government departments subject to meeting necessary strict criteria. The 2006 Act also created new criminal offences relating to the misuse of ID cards and other forms of identity such as passports and driving licences; and other identity fraud issues. The Bill proposes re-enactment of these offences.

Devolution:

The Identity Card Act 2006 does not provide devolved powers for the issue of Identity Cards and the scrapping of the scheme is not subject to consideration by the devolved administrations.

The Bill does, however, propose the re-enactment of criminal offences relating to possession of false identity documents such as passports and driving licences; and to possession of apparatus to create false documents such as passports and driving licences. We have consulted with colleagues in Scotland and in Northern Ireland on re-enactment of these offences.