HC Deb 21 January 1988 vol 125 cc1088-9
13. Mr. Wilson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has any plans to seek to introduce a national numbering system for each individual over 18 years.

Mr. John Patten

No, Sir.

Mr. Wilson

If the Home Secretary does not intend to introduce a system of national numbering and, presumably, like all his predecessors, would regard such a system as undesirable, what representations will he make to his colleagues in the Cabinet about the fact that the poll tax will require just such a system, as defined in the report commissioned by the Scottish Office from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy? Is he aware that the report makes it clear that the poll tax cannot work without a system of national numbering — a state ID system—to be known as a community identifier? Does he agree that, as a by-product of the poll tax, we shall go down the road of a state identification system for every individual?

Mr. Patten

That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. Local authorities will have the responsibility of compiling the lists of those liable to the community charge. They will be able to draw on a range of lists to compile the community charge list.

Mr. Jessel

As most other countries have identity cards, and as they would greatly help to combat terrorism and other crimes, including social security fraud, what possible argument is there against them?

Mr. Patten

I know how strongly my hon. Friend and some of my other hon. Friends feel about the issue. However, there is no evidence that in 1952, when identity cards were withdrawn, the police were put into difficulty. We have had no representation from the police that they find difficulty in identifying most people when they need to in pursuit of crime.

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