ID Cards – where are we going?

It is easily forgotten that the only time Britain
had an identity card system was between 1939 and 1952. The compulsory issue of identity
cards was part of the terms of the National Registration Act 1939, a piece of
wartime emergency legislation.

The Act set up a National Register, containing details of
all citizens. National identity cards were then issued to all civilians on it.

The Register comprised `all persons in the United
Kingdom at the appointed time' and `all
persons entering or born in the United Kingdom
after that time'. A Schedule to the Act listed `matters with respect to which
particulars are to be entered in Register'. These were:

1. Names,
2. Sex,
3. Age,
4. Occupation, profession, trade or employment,
5. Residence,
6. Condition as to marriage,
7. Membership of Naval, Military or Air Force Reserves or Auxiliary Forces or
of Civil Defence Services or Reserves. (source)

The ID Cards were issued under the Act for 3
, to identify the holder to a policeman, to allow the issue of
rations and to allow the allocation of petrol.

Section 6, sub-section 4, of the Act stated:

“A constable in uniform, or any person authorised for the purpose
under the said regulations, may require a person who under the regulations is
for the time being responsible for the custody of an Identity card, to produce
the card to him or, if the person so required fails to produce it when the
requirement is made, to produce it within such time, to such person and at such
place as may be prescribed”

The demise of the system was forecast while the fight
against Hitler was still fierce. In October 1944, Registrar General Sir Earnest
Holderness said that he did “not believe that public opinion will stand
for the retention of [national registration] in its present form”.

Sir Ernest reasoned that once law-abiding citizens no longer
needed to provide details of their address to ensure their ration allowances,
they would not bother to keep their ID cards up to date merely because the
government asked them to.

In 1947, W S Morrison MP made some important criticisms of the system when
it came up for renewal:

“Now that more than two years have passed since the end of the war, we
ought seriously to consider whether the time is not overdue to get rid of what
was an innovation introduced in order to meet a temporary set of conditions.
There is no doubt that they are troublesome documents to some people. They
frequently get lost, involving the owner in difficulties of one kind or another
simply because he has not got a certain piece of paper. Law-abiding citizens
who live in one community are particularly prone to lose them because they are
known by all their neighbours and do not carry the cards. The dishonest man –
the spiv, as he has been called – is generally possessed, I am told, of five or
six different identity cards which he produces at his pleasure to meet the
changing exigencies of his adventurous career. So in the detection and
prevention of crime no case can be made out for the identity card.”

And later in the debate, Morrison went on:

“The argument advanced on second reading – I conceive it to be the main
argument for the retention of these troublesome documents – was that as long as
rationing persists they are necessary. I do not believe it. We were told in the
House the other day that there are 20,000 deserters still at large. How have
these 20,000 persons contrived to equip themselves with food and clothing? Ex
hypothesi they cannot be possessed of valid honest identity cards, but that has
not prevented them from sustaining themselves with food and clothing themselves
with raiment without these documents. Therefore, as a deterrent to the evasion
of the rationing arrangements the case is proved that they are of little or, at
the best, of speculative value.”

Although this attack did not succeed in getting the system abolished it did
draw a denunciation of identity cards from the Government's spokesman, Aneurin

“I believe that the requirement of an internal passport is more
objectionable than an external passport, and that citizens ought to be allowed
to move about freely without running the risk of being accosted by a policeman
or anyone else, and asked to produce proof of identity”

Morrison had been right to cast doubt on the true reason for the retention
of identity cards. It was the wider web of  identity checks – their use in
all Post Office transactions, for instance, and their use by the police – which
constituted the true reason for keeping them for so long. C.H. Rolph, himself
an ex-policeman, writes:

“The police, who had by now got used to the exhilarating new belief
that they could get anyone's name and address for the asking, went on calling
for their production with increasing frequency. If you picked up a fountain pen
in the street and handed it to a constable, he would ask to see your identity
card in order that lie might record your name as that of an honest citizen. You
seldom carried it; and this meant that he had to give you a little pencilled
slip requiring you to produce it at a police station within two days”

By the time Winston Churchill abolished the cards in 1952
the the civil service had found 137 additional
for them by 39 government departments. 

This is known as function creep. The creeping extra uses of
something once it is in place.


Today, as Gordon Brown’s government again assaults the
British public with ID cards, the modern version being an all electronic card with
mass databases to back up data about every facet of your life, the hollow
promises that they will only carry information about your name, address, date
of birth and other minimal information and be used only to identify people who
wish to access government services or to stop terrorism is a lie in the extreme.

In the 1940's Cards were used to create proof of extra children, to claim extra
ration books, to allow deserters to pass undetected, to make fraudulent
assistance claims, and to enable people to serve in the armed services
underage. In the first half of 1945, there were 217 prosecutions under
the National Registration Act for false declaration, 398 for
impersonation, 113 acts of falsification or forgery, 61 for allowing
others to use another's card and 433 thefts. These figures, of course,
only record cases of successful prosecution and just give an idea of
the bare minimum of identity card criminality, but there was only one case
of a spy being (nearly) caught through the card checks.

It is difficult at the stage to estimate the extent that the
proposed new identity card would be put to criminal uses. The main
lesson from history, perhaps, is that the past perpetrators were highly
inventive in finding unofficial uses, and that many of these uses were not even anticipated by officialdom.

As the present government becomes ever more authoritarian, the use
of ID Cards will spread into social conditioning, social engineering, financial activity
and repressive practices, and the function creep will not stop there. 

Already we see the chip enabled passport, in lieu of the ID
Card being available, being made a compulsory document in order to get work, and for some
members of the population to get hospital treatment or to travel.


To give a clear signal and view of how authoritarian regimes will
use this new technology once it becomes available can be seen in China
as it now takes up electronic ID cards, officially aimed at fighting crime. Now
where have we heard that before !!.

This report from the New
York Times
details how the cards will carry information about each
individual, and will include not just the citizen’s name and address but also
work history, educational background, religion, ethnicity, police record,
medical insurance status and landlord’s phone number. Even personal reproductive
history will be included, for enforcement of China’s
controversial “one child” policy. Plans are being studied to add credit
histories, subway travel payments and small purchases charged to the card. 

“If they do not get the permanent card, they cannot live
here, they cannot get government benefits, and that is a way for the government
to control the population in the future,” said Michael Lin, the vice president
for investor relations at China Public Security Technology, the company
providing the technology. 

How many western nations will berate China
over its human rights now ??

Should you ever be so naive to believe that this would never
happen here, that function creep would not erode the last of your liberty and
rights, all I can say is that I have now forgotten the last time I heard either a promise or a
statement from the present government that was truthful and honest, and not
loaded with spin. Check your own memory.

Now check your credit and bank cards, I bet that the expiry date is the same as the introduction of ID Cards – 2009 or 2010. Its already been decided which year and month you will be getting your ID card.

That piece of function creep has already been agreed with the Financial Services world. The increasing level of bank fraud and ID theft will be put forward as one of the prime reasons for ID Cards by the time they are introduced, in the same way that we saw the TfL engineered increase in congestion in London to justify the introduction of the congestion charge.

Function creep happens regularly, the latest one being the London Congestion Charge cameras.

They lie, you pay.


“I believe that the requirement of an internal passport is more
objectionable than an external passport, and that citizens ought to be allowed
to move about freely without running the risk of being accosted by a policeman
or anyone else, and asked to produce proof of identity” 

Aneurin Bevan MP, 1947

“I regret the trespass made on our dearly valued traditional
liberties, and I look forward to the day, when our liberties and
rights will be restored to us, and when we shall be able to share them
with the peoples to whom such blessings are unknown”.

Winston Churchill MP, 1939

Today it is our duty to protect our freedoms and our rights, to oppose this interference in our Liberties. We need a Churchill again that we can trust and rally behind. Who will be our Churchill now?

The further back you look, the further forward you can see –
Winston Churchill

NuLab – Destroying Britain
from the inside out.



About IanPJ

Ian Parker-Joseph, former Leader of the Libertarian Party UK, who currently heads PDPS Internet Hosting and the Personal Deed Poll Services company, has been an IT industry professional for over 20 years, providing Business Consulting, Programme and Project Management, specialising in the recovery of Projects that have failed in a process driven world. Ian’s experience is not limited to the UK, and he has successfully delivered projects in the Middle East, Africa, US, Russia, Poland, France and Germany. Working within different cultures, Ian has occupied high profile roles within multi-nationals such as Nortel and Cable & Wireless. These experiences have given Ian an excellent insight into world events, and the way that they can shape our own national future. His extensive overseas experiences have made him all too aware of how the UK interacts with its near neighbours, its place in the Commonwealth, and how our nation fits into the wider world. He is determined to rebuild many of the friendships and commercial relationships with other nations that have been sadly neglected over the years, and would like to see greater energy and food security in these countries, for the benefit of all. Ian is a vocal advocate of small government, individual freedom, low taxation and a minimum of regulation. Ian believes deeply and passionately in freedom and independence in all areas of life, and is now bringing his professional experiences to bear in the world of politics.
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