HC Deb 26 July 1951 vol 491 cc638-9
47. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Prime Minister whether he will instruct the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Minister of Health, the Minister of National Insurance, the Postmaster-General and such other Ministers as may require the use of identity cards in the discharge of their Departmental duties, to institute a comprehensive review of the present system of identity cards.

The Prime Minister

No. Sir. This matter like emergency legislation generally is already kept under review.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Would my right hon. Friend say by whom this matter is kept under review, because at present a wide variety of people seem to have an interest in it and no single Minister is responsible to the House for the way in which these cards are being used or required?

The Prime Minister

Obviously, where this card is used by a particular Department, the Departmental Minister is responsible, but the general matter is, naturally, considered by Ministers acting together.

Mr. Churchill

Is there any reason why we should not revert to the practice of former years and, in time of peace, allow taxicabs to be used by Ministers of the Crown on their ordinary business?

The Prime Minister

I cannot connect that supplementary with the Question which has been asked.

Mr. Emrys Roberts

Can the Prime Minister say whether he has, in fact, consulted the Ministers mentioned in this Question, and can he explain why he takes such a conservative view of this matter?

The Prime Minister

I am not taking a conservative view, but this is a matter which requires great consideration. There are a number of occasions on which the use of this card saves the general public a great deal of trouble. The matter has to be reviewed very carefully.

Mr. Hopkin Morris

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what action he proposes to take in view of the recent decisions of the courts which now allow a practice which does not conform with the law?

Mr. S. Silverman

Can my right hon. Friend say when it became the practice to insist that identity card numbers should be put on applications for passports and that the identity card number should be put on the passport itself? Does he consider this to be a proper use of a power based only on the authority of a Defence Regulation?

The Prime Minister

That matter concerns passports and perhaps my hon. Friend had better put a Question down to the Foreign Office.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is my right hon. Friend of the opinion that the continuation of the identity card system is essential for the carrying out of our social services? If so, will he introduce the appropriate legislation for that purpose?

Sir H. Williams

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he himself, at this moment, is obeying the law and has his identity card on him? I have mine.

The Prime Minister

I think it is very likely.