HC Deb 02 March 1989 vol 148 cc387-8
7. Mr. Bellingham: T

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received on the proposal for a national identity card; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hurd

In addition to the advice of the Association of Chief Police Officers and the recommendations of the Home Affairs Committee, I have received some 380 letters on the subject of a national identity card from hon. Members and from the general public; most have expressed support for some form of identity card system.

Mr. Bellingham

Does my right hon. Friend agree with me that before we get too carried away with the idea of a national ID card scheme, we should listen very carefully to the advice of bodies such as ACPO, which urge caution? Does he also agree that there are strong arguments for a voluntary scheme and does he have any ideas and proposals in that direction?

Mr. Hurd

I am certainly not carried away by the idea of a compulsory identity card scheme. But with regard to advice, my hon. Friend is right. When I asked the chief police officers and chief constables to update the traditional police view on this matter, they wrote back saying that there were pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages; but they did not establish that there was a clear advantage as regards crime prevention in having an identity card scheme.

There would be some clear advantages in a voluntary scheme from the viewpoint of easy travel across Europe. There would be other advantages, too. We are considering whether a sensible scheme could be devised and put to the public and to Parliament.

Mr. Marlow

Would my right hon. Friend agree that without a compulsory national identity card scheme, it would be impossible to have a system of free movement between European countries and the United Kingdom for personnel, and that as there is not going to be a compulsory national identity scheme, we must continue to have frontier controls between the United Kingdom and other European countries?

Mr. Hurd

That is a wider question. Within the European Community, we are considering very closely what kind of checks would be sensible to carry out the declaration annexed to the Single European Act, which says that nothing in the Act should weaken our defences against the drug traffickers, terrorists and organised criminals.