I see Blunkett quietly said that he'd like mandatory ID cards in the UK by next year. Sneaking it in on a Sunday so less people would hear, I guess? Also, he has "no clue" how many asylum seekers there are in the UK. Well, Mr. Blunkett, what do you do all day? He says the government needs "new ideas" to survive. Well, Mr. Blunkett, how about a new idea then?
I don't like the idea of mandatory ID cards, DNA databases or any such thing. If there was a way to live without a passport, driving license, electoral role, etc, I'd support it. So, when Mr. Blunkett says he wants the billion pound mandatory ID card scheme to go ahead as soon as possible, I have concerns.
Mr Blunkett states that the ID card will be required to obtain benefits from the state, and to gain employment. He asserts that this will limit the ability of illegal immigrants and other illegal minorities to obtain benefits illegally whilst also working (possibly illegally). He also asserts that this will save the country money in reduced benefit payouts, and earn the country money in the form of more efficient taxation (because all work would be taxable).
My major concerns with this argument are partly based on civil liberties, and partly based on the vast flaws in the argument. Firstly, benefit payments can be limited to those that are entitled. This is largely in place already, although many abuse the system by claiming fradulently. This fraud can be limited by requesting forgery resistent ID, such as passports or other properly administered ID. Having an "benefit card" would not be an overly bad idea here - it does not infringe on civil liberties for the majority, because it is only required for benefits. Also, since it is only used for benefits, it cannot be used to "spy" on peoples movements or lifestyles.
My other concerns are the use of Blunkett's card to gain employment. This is where the real problem lies. The proposal assumes that all companies are evading tax on employee payments. It assumes that all of the UK workforce is evading tax by working "cash in hand". However, as the very vast majority of UK workers will agree, this is not the case. We are being very nicely taxed at 30% or 40%, and having NI taken from our pay packets, without any specific involvement with the Inland Revenue. A large proportion of us also have to fill in (mandatory) tax returns each year, even if we earn nothing that is not taxed at source.
Further, since illegal workers are deliberately doing so (in most cases), it is unlikely they will simply abide by any extra mandatory requirements. It is already a mandatory requirement to declare all earnings that are not taxed at source. It is already a mandatory requirement that anyone employing anyone else does so with the any earnings taxed and declared. Thus, the ID card is redundant. There are already two legal safeguards in place that achieve what is required.
I understand that the declaration of earnings by employee and employer does not always occur. This is where the problem lies, and not elsewhere. It most definitely does not lie with the law abiding, tax paying workforce and employers of the UK. If Blunkett wishes to attack illegal working by possibly illegal workers, then that is what he should work on. By all means, debate the extension of powers to combat these issues, of the extension of retribution for offenders, but do not simply regurgitate an idea from elsewhere in the hope it will solve any problem.
I broadly abide by the law. I do not claim benefits. I pay tax on 100% of my earnings, which are, without exception, PAYE (taxed at source). I have to (re)declare all of these earnings annually on a tax return, because I am a higher rate tax payer. An ID card will not help me do this, nor will it help the Inland Revenue keep track of my earnings. It will, however, infringe my civil liberties, and in the future will do so more and more.
For an example of how America's TIA could be used against a person, someone has voluntarily kept a track of every financial transaction he has made over a period of time. It is frightening to see how much information is available on him, just from his credit card receipts (see it here). Imagine what would be possible if Blunkett's ID card scheme was extended "for the good of all" to be required for purchases as well. Whilst this is not proposed now, it is simply a matter of time until the government attempts to get more benefit from it's very costly ID card scheme.
Lastly, imagine the growth in black market services: forged ID cards, identity theft, ID-free work, ID-free benefits, ID-free shopping. Now is the time to get into crime - it really might pay rather well.
As I've said before, I will never carry a mandatory ID card, nor will I freely submit to DNA gathering. I will strongly resist any attempts to force me to submit to mandatory ID carding of any kind, for any purpose.
Blunkett beware - I'm going to get on your case in a bit way if you don't realise your mistake.