My suspicions were all on the money. Home Secretary Alan Johnson defied new Speaker John Bercow and held a spin press conference to announce ID cards were continuing, but were now entirely voluntary. In doing so he didn’t just continue New Labour’s obsession with announcing policy in the press rather than the Commons where it belongs (so much for reform eh Gordo?), but *ahem* lied:
two batches of draft regulations to be approved by MPs tomorrow and next week are expected to include powers to make the passport a “designated document” under the national identity card scheme. This means that anyone applying for or renewing their passport from 2011 will have their details automatically added to the national identity databases.
The regulations also include powers to levy a fine of up to £1,000 on those who fail to tell the authorities of a change of address or amend other key personal details such as a change of name within three months.
Did that really imply compulsory addition to the register and the penalty for not keeping it up-to-date would be pushed through by statutory instrument?! The expenses scandal and the transitory demand for constitutional change have clearly taught this rotten government nothing. They’re prepared to spend tens of millions they don’t have on a scheme they don’t need, which the people don’t want, sidestepping the Commons to do so, and lying to the public. This government fails to comprehend who it’s answerable to and must be reminded.