A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

1984 twenty-one years late!

George Orwell wrote a nice little book about big brother and various trickeries that a government can get up to. Well it seems that the present Identity Cards Bill will give us a helping hand towards some of those trickeries.

Tony Blair gives the impression of a man handing out Cluedo cards. All very innocent and harmless if you join in. Well, he might think that! I think that Bill Cash, Conservative MP for Stone summed it up. From Hansard -

Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): The hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Mr. Todd) referred to principles. Let me give him a principle as expressed by Abraham Lincoln: "Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves."

When the Bill was debated in the previous Parliament, I, my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green) and about nine others marched through the Lobby with clear conviction and certainty to ensure that we registered our protest against the principle of the Bill. Second Reading, of course, is about the principle behind the reasons for producing it. On the previous Second Reading, I produced a copy of a book by George Orwell called "Nineteen Eighty-Four", and directed it to the attention of the Home Secretary. It refers to the "Ministry of Truth", in which, George Orwell says, "Freedom is slavery". That is what lies at the heart of these proposals. [Interruption.] I hear the Minister of State say "Rubbish" from a sedentary position. I heard him generating a certain amount of hot air and rubbish on the subject on the "Today" programme this morning or perhaps yesterday—it was in the past 48 hours.

The fact remains that the Information Commissioner has stated that the Bill has within it the seeds of a surveillance society. In the previous debate, I referred to the fact that he said that it represented a sea change in the relationship between the individual and the state. I have heard the Home Secretary rubbishing the Information Commissioner today. I heard another Labour Member talking about hysterical paranoia. I would like to call their attention to the fact that the Information Commissioner holds a status by Act of Parliament that is no less than that of the Clerk of the House of Commons, in that he cannot be removed from office unless there is an address by both Houses of Parliament. That is a very high status. Those such as the Home Secretary who are wont to describe the measured remarks of the Information Commissioner in such terms seem to be getting dangerously close to fulfilling the axiom of Abraham Lincoln's to which I just referred.
Over the past year or so, we have also noticed that this new Labour Government, in contradiction to what the Prime Minister used to say, have moved increasingly down the route of greater inhibitions on individual freedom. The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 is a good example, as it contained a provision that would enable the Government to repeal any Act of Parliament if they declared an emergency.

In 1995, when the Prime Minister was in opposition, he said: "Instead of wasting hundreds of millions of pounds on compulsory ID cards as the Tory right demand, let that money provide thousands more police officers on the beat in our local communities."

So, the Prime Minister is about to eat his words, and waste hundreds of millions of pounds on compulsory ID cards. Cards which the proposed legislation demands we all pay for, businesses pay for scanners, and masses of computer entries all to prove who we are! The benefits supposedly are to cut benefit fraud, under-age drinking, identity fraud, illegal immigration and various criminal activities. Well, if Tony Blair thinks he can outlaw crime and fraud with ID Cards, then he is a very niaive man indeed! As he is not niaive, he must be doing it for the surveillance, which the Information Commissioner so rightly condemns!



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