back to article Minister: ID cards 'another Great British Institution'

Sometimes the Reg likes to think it casts a satirical eye over the day's news. And sometimes government ministers are so out of touch with reality that they do our job for us. Thank you then to Liam Byrne, the Home Office minister who is a dead ringer for Otto Flick from 'Allo 'Allo, for today's offering. Speaking at Chatham …


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  1. Dan

    Seems reminiscent of...

    Saeed "comical ali" al-Sahhaf.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "My party has always been suspicious of growth in unregulated and unaccountable power and the risk of new inequalities."

    REALLY now? Most of the unregulated and unaccountable power emanated from the chambers of authority under the Labour government!!!

    And I am NOT a Conservative or a Lib Dem by any means, but making comments like those make me want to support a revolution just to get rid of these buffoons!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Biometric Phone

    Hmmm, a phone that requires a fingerprint to activate... having some prior experience with these 'readers', its going to be interesting to see the average 'user' setting them up.

    Also, if left idle for over 5 minutes, will it lock the phone fully? Enough to render any bluetooth device attached inactive too? Will it block incomming calls?

    Or will it more than likely have people desperately rubbing there phones, in public, yelling things like "come on, come on, unlock damnit!"

    Will 3G stores be packed with dis-satisfied customers, all screaming obscenities and demanding there money back at the poor pimpled pillock cowering behind the counter?

    God I hope so!

    It'll mean people will spend MORE time screaming at there phones, and in a good way too :) If you've ever sat in a pub waiting for everyone to finnish talking on there phones, you'll understand.

  4. RichardB

    Sounds like something from Yes Minister

    Perhaps the Big Brother episode... (1.4)?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pester power

    It's inevitable. Unless they're kicked out of Government, the Labour Party are going to introduce this legislation. No matter how wrongheaded the approach, vocal the opposition, spurious the claims or impossible to implement, it look slike it's going to happen.

    I hear Canada's quite nice at this time of totalitarianism.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice to ministers have a grasp of reality

    From the last lines of the speech...

    "In 20 years time, I suspect that the National Identity Scheme will be just a normal part of British life – another great British institution without which modern life, whatever it looks like in 2020, would be quite unthinkable."

    Now I understand what's wrong, the Government live in an alternative reality where 2007 + 20 = 2020, in my reality it results in 2027.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I rather think that to call this satire just goes to show why Tom Lehrers alleged remark that "Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize." contains rather a lot of truth.

    I think that it's about time we had a new term for referring to self-serving rubbish spouted by some spineless "New" Labour placeman on the topic du jour.

    How about "Arrant shite"?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vote these dicks out of power

    He's trying some seriously lies there. Firstly us Brits don't care what your visa database shows because we don't need a visa. What the hell has an external visa database got to do with us having an ID card?

    "By the Spring just gone, we had checked the 10 fingerprints of almost 400,000 people applying for a visa for Britain...Already we have found 4,000 hits against immigration databases."

    And? You can apply as often as you like, so 1% reapply rate for immigration visas is not special.

    "70% were applying for visas from abroad, had already claimed asylum in Britain."

    You mean 70% of the 1% of the 400,000 = 2800 arrived, tried to claim asylum, which was not granted immediately, then they left and reapplied for a visa. And? This is what they're supposed to do!

    "Many claimed in a different identity. "

    How many is many? The 3 you listed? 4? You kept it vague so people would think it was one of bigger numbers, so it must be a very small number.

    " Nearly 1 in 10, we found was subject to removal directions."

    Again, removal does not prevent reapplication! So you refuse asylum to 280 people, who left and applied for a visa instead. And? Isn't that what they're supposed to do?

    "Multiple identity abuse by a single individual is a problem - perpetrated by people like the man in Cleveland, persecuted for the fraudulent abuse of over 80 identities, and a fraud of almost one and a half million pounds (£1,412,000)."

    Ahh so we need to spend £18 BILLION to save £1.4 MILLION? Unless you check his retina scan every time he signs on the dole, that won't change. He'll simply have 80 new ID cards.

    "In the past 6 years CIFAS, the UK Fraud Prevention Service, has recorded over 282,000 victims of identity fraud from reports by their private sector members – enough to fill a city the size of Sunderland."

    We use to call it stolen credit card numbers, now we call it 'identity theft'. But the shops & petrol stations won't check the retina scan & fingerprints on your id card before taking your credit card to pay for petrol. If they did you could steal their retina details too! This fixes nothing about credit card number theft.

    Do you think will check your retina scan before taking an order? Do you think we want Amazon to know out DNA, retina, fingerprints? Are you truly that stupid?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The thing about Biometric iPods and Phone, etc

    You choose to use Bio Metric ID with iPods and phones. Not so with the ID cards.

    Besides none of us will be able to afford them after the hike in fees to process such documents.

    This UK Gov sure know how to Tax, even your ID is taxable these days.

    I notice a reference to the register in the full speech:

    "A National Identity Scheme Commissioner will be appointed to oversee the operation of the Scheme and report annually on the uses to which ID cards are put and the confidentiality and integrity of information recorded in the Register." :- Liam Byrne

    I look forward to seeing these reports in the Reg. :-) Make sure there is no reneging on this promise.

    (just in case someone doesn't get it, it's a joke. A bit like the whole ID card scheme then.)

    The fact is I don't trust the Government with my ID and I sure can't trust what future Governments will use it for. To often the rules about the use of these things change. Look at the DNA database the police use for example, if you find yourself on it, that's it. Doesn't matter how they got the information, DNA sweeps of the public for help in the investigation of a single crime, stay on the database and can be used for any other purpose, even if you are not a suspect. Number plates have been used for tax purposes, is it possible ID cards could lead to new tax types. You bet it can.

    Also, If a future government wants to try a bit of "New Tyranny" then this UK Gov is sure helping them have the tools to subjugate the public.

    So before any one says "I have nothing to hide." you better think about your possible future first.

  10. Dillon Pyron

    Fingerprint readers

    My experience with fingerprint readers is that they work about 85% of the time. And add about $75 to the cost of the device. Not much for a $2000 lap top, but outrageous for a $75 MP3 player or a "free" phone.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The UK government has already rolled out ID cards...

    ... It did it in Hong Kong while it was still an English colony. Having lived there for 7 years pre and post-1997 you always had to have your ID card on you although spot checks for gweilos (white people) were indeed rare.

    Was it a pain? No, but they also aren't biometric (yet!)

    Did it work? Hong Kong has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

    HK also has a fantastic tube system... designed by the English... which is strange considering what a mess the tube is here!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ID cards HK

    Interesting comment on ID cards in Hong Kong:

    I see a precedent here, roll out ID cards then hand over to a repressive government.

  13. Simon Greenwood

    There's more:

    "Some UK nightclubs already use biometrics, taking fingerprints to stop under-aged patrons and persistent troublemakers. " Who gave them the right to take fingerprints? I didn't think anyone but the police could take your fingerprints for anything. I can see that it might be possible but I can't believe for a minute that a club would have bouncers taking dabs at midnight while a queue snaked around the block.

    "We think checks that take four weeks today could take four days with an ID Card." Think? If I was paid to do a study I would have to do better than 'think'.

    This is just another vague puff for the uncertain 'benefits' to you, the consumer, sorry, the citizen, get from the ID card. Mr Byrne is no political heavyweight and can be guaranteed to shill for whatever he's told to believe in.

  14. Mike Richards Silver badge

    19th Century railways

    Byrne's ID cards will reflect 19th Century trains in many ways...

    Everyday use of ID cards will be as smooth and seamless as transferring from Brunel's broad gauge Great Western to the remainder of the network. The unparalleled reliability of ID cards will be a delightful tribute to the atmospheric railway and the economic case for their introduction will stand as a lasting testament to 1837's 'Railway Mania'.

    The end result of Byrne's delusion will be a lot of unpleasant crashes and a total inability to get from one side of London to the other without a great deal of inconvenience.

  15. g lane

    Usless politicians

    Looks like they still don't have a real use for ID cards. Same old justifications that have been demonstrated to be false many times before.

    Identity is no indication of intention.

  16. Graham Marsden

    Coming soon - More lost liberties...

    Some time very soon the Government are going to be publishing their next Criminal Justice Bill which they seem to want to rush through Parliament (without, of course, proper scrutiny or debate) before it rises for the summer as part of Blair's "Legacy" (read: Attacks on basic rights and freedoms).

    I would urge all readers who don't want to see their freedoms whittled away to nothing to write to their MPs via and require them to vote down the draconian proposals in the CJB which will most probably even include the right for the Government to jail people for possessing pictures they don't like.

    Of course the Government have been clever enough to "bury" this as a plan to outlaw "extreme and violent pornography" in the hope that nobody would stand up and defend that, but what they don't mention is that the "Legislative Reform Act" (aka the Abolition of Parliament Act!) will then allow them to make changes to the law by Ministerial fiat *without* even consulting our elected representatives in Parliament at all.

    First they came for the pornographers, then they came for the political cartoonists...

  17. Ed

    I'm leaving the country...

    If ID cards come in, I'm genuinely going to leave the country. I think Canada might be a good choice, or Switzerland...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used to be worried

    But I always played stormtrooper along with camaraderie an easy well paid job, plenty of breaks and only the slight statistical risk of dying. Sure some Civil rights are being taken away but sometimes you just have to chilllax and go with the flow.

    Down with Terrorists!

  19. Dale Morgan

    Well done labour, you've commited identity theft of the highest order!

    14 Billion or however much it is for the ID card project has got to be the highest ammount ever gained through identity theft.

    Their going to force me to pay twice for an ID card, from the taxes i pay to the wages i earn, the British are the ones getting the bill for the ID card project, then we actually have to buy the finished product from the project we funded.

    can anyone see what is completley wrong with that?

  20. bambi

    Re: ID card HK

    haven't we handed over already?

  21. Allan Dyer Silver badge

    In Hong Kong

    To update the remarks about HK ID cards:

    They are biometric now, they've been replacing them for a few years, so I've got a SmartID card with my thumbprint on it.

    Spot checks on gweilos are still rare - I've never been checked on the street. From observation, most of those checked are young Chinese males.

    Is the Government repressive?... Still plenty of free speech and jabbering politicians here, the Mainland Government is still repecting the "One Country, Two Systems" principle, but we don't have direct elections for the Chief Executive yet.

    Hong Kong does have a very low crime rate, the streets are very safe, but I don't see a causual link with the ID card, probably more to do with a large, efficient Police Force.

    Yes, the MTR ("Tube") and other public transport is great, and it has just been announced that the MTR will be managing the new London Overground.

    As for 19th century railways, wasn't Brunel's Broad Gauge Betamax to Stevenson's Standard Gauge VHS: technically superior, but lost on marketing?

  22. Chris Goodchild Silver badge


    As others have already pointed out , unregulated and unaccountable applies to the current government more than any but I think many of your readers are too young to remember much about previous governments. ALL British governments have always been suspicious of any unregulated and unaccountable power. Hence the original reasons for creating the BBC to prevent the wrong kind of broadcast to the worthy british public. What we need is not so much ID cards but better controls on who comes into the UK. NOT based on religion or country of origin but at the visa application stage.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fingerprint scanners

    The trouble with fingerprint scanners on laptops is that they don't work. And, even if they did--congratulations, now the next thief to take your laptop will want to take your fingers, too.

  24. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    OK.. Our government has no concept of Reality.

    "Byrne said we should be reassured because: "My party has always been suspicious of growth in unregulated and unaccountable power and the risk of new inequalities.""

    Erm. Is this the same government who has apparently created 111 quangos in ten years. All of whom are well funded, and not accountable?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like Bodmin looney bin?

    A once great institution, now sadly diminished in purpose with the advent of care in the community.

  26. Peter

    ID cards...

    Didn't our grandparents fight in WW2 just so some jack booted goon couldn't demand to "see out papers" ?

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