Rochdale says 'NO' to ID Cards!

October 18, 2006 12:00 AM
Campaigning against ID Cards - Councillor Dale Mulgrew.

Campaigning against ID Cards - Councillor Dale Mulgrew.

Rochdale Council have confirmed their opposition to Compulsory ID Cards at a very constructive debate at a Rochdale Council Meeting. The Council will now refuse to play 'part in any pilot scheme or feasibility work in relation to the introduction of the national identity cards' and more importantly 'Ensure that national identity cards would not be required to access council services or benefits unless specifically required to do so by Act of Parliament.'

The Motion, criticised by some as 'not being relevant to Rochdale' will safeguard residents in the Borough from having this unpopular scheme 'foisted' on them until absolutely necessary. It became a competition in the chamber on who had the most ID Cards with Councillor Irene Davidson winning comfortably against Councillor Allen Brett's bus pass. Councillor William Hobhouse opened the debate by talking about the financial consequences of ID Cards and questioned their need. He told the Council, "It is important that we have this debate now, this will hit the poorest people in the Rochdale Borough and we are not prepared to do go along with that until the Government tell us we have to by law. What we have said in this Motion is that until compelled to do so by an Act of Parliament - residents of this Borough will not be required to access council services or benefits. I hope more Councils join us - the more that do, the more chance we have of getting rid of this unpopular, costly and illiberal policy."

Balderstone Councillor Darren Pedley surprised his Labour Colleagues by supporting the Liberal Democrat Motion. There was sympathy from many Labour Councillors had deep concerns. Councillor Pedley told the meeting, "I am against ID Cards, they are expensive, will not do anything to deter fraudsters, nor will they prevent terrorism - I will be voting for the Motion."

Councillor Colin Lambert requested that Council Members separate the financial implications from the issue, although he expressed concern at the cost he claimed that ID Cards were a good thing. Councillor Mark Birkett said, "As a former Member of the Labour Party, I am shocked at Labour's support for ID Cards. We are being told to separate the principle of ID Cards from the cost, it is impossible - already the cost is estimated at £5.4 Billion this is set to rise dramatically and as Councillor Pedley said - The Government's track record on IT is appalling so it can only go up, imagine how many extra police officers we can have on our streets for that money - We need Police, Not Plastic!"

The Conservatives, led by Councillor Ann Metcalfe claimed that Rochdale 'could lose out on Government funding as a result of this opposition.' And attempted to delete most of the action from the motion.

Councillor Dale Mulgrew said, "This was a constructive debate, although the Conservatives, whilst opposing the principle of ID Cards have been following their National Party and were not prepared to seek any action to protect the more vulnerable Rochdale residents. It would be illegal for the Government to actively penalise a Borough for speaking against Government Policy. If their amendment had gone through it would have made a mockery of the motion."

Rochdale has now become the 30th Council in the country to pass this type of Motion and the Council have 'affiliated' to the 'No2ID Campaign.

THE MOTION IN FULL:

ID CARDS

Proposed by Councillor Councillor William Hobhouse

Seconded by Councillor David Clayton

This Council notes that that introducing Labour's mandatory ID card scheme is likely to cost every taxpayer in the Rochdale Borough at least £30 each or £93 for a passport and ID together. This will hit the most vulnerable and poorest in the Borough of Rochdale. This Council further notes that this Government have estimated that the cost of such a scheme could reach £6 billion, with independent commentators predicting that it will cost much more. This Council also notes that the estimated costs could pay for as many as 10,000 Police Officers in this country.

This Council believes:

1) That the disadvantages of such a scheme will outweigh any likely benefits to the people of Heywood, Middleton, Pennines and Rochdale.

2) That the scheme will do little, if anything, to prevent terrorism, crime or fraud.

3) That the national database that underpins the identity card scheme may facilitate criminal fraud, terrorism and potential state abuses of human rights.

4) That the ID card and database proposals are likely to fundamentally alter the relationship between the state and the individual.

This Council resolves to:

1) Make representations at every possible stage, reiterating this Council's opposition to National ID cards

2) Make it a policy of the council to ensure that national identity cards would not be required to access council services or benefits unless specifically required to do so by Act of Parliament.

3) Take no part in any pilot scheme or feasibility work in relation to the introduction of the national identity cards

4) Only co-operate with the national identity card scheme where to do otherwise would be unlawful

5) Join 29 Councils across the country that have affiliated to the 'No2ID' campaign, which already includes MPs, local authorities and several political parties

6) Instruct the Chief Executive to write to the Home Secretary expressing these views and asking him to reconsider his decision to push forward this legislation.