back to article Tories don black cap for ID cards

The Tory Party has written to firms involved in bidding for ID card contracts and told them to think long and hard before signing anything. Chris Grayling, shadow Home Secretary, told Radio 4's Today programme that firms should think before committing cash and other resources to bidding, preparing for work or signing contracts …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Thankfully someone acknowledges the trapdoors

    It was pretty evident that New Labour was trying to brute force the scheme by any means possible before they're thrown out (IMHO about 4 years too late), so I'm glad someone has had the guts to (a) identify this and (b) be upfront about countering it.

    Bonus evil question: just how many people involved in this scam, sorrry, scheme will now not get nice new jobs? I know the consultants have done quite well out of this, clocking money for months for being disorganised and generally sitting about until someone showed some leadership (a fact interestingly missed by the NAO when it "audited" using what were practically school leavers to interview well briefed staff), so they've had their share of tax money.

    Ah, here's a fun question: who will be charged (and make money) with cleaning up the mess? Keep watching..

  2. The Original Ash

    The thing that concerns me most

    Is that Labour will sign with such "poison pill" clauses which make scrapping the scheme MORE expensive than going ahead, essentially with corporations directly forcing the hand of government.

    I for one do NOT welcome our new corporate overlords.

  3. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

    Tories want to be elected

    I don't know why they are saying scrap the ID card scheme, they have surely already won the next general election. They are going to look silly when they don't scrap the ID cards and people will be even more annoyed than they are already.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Going by the corrupt goverments history.. will cost almost as much to cancel as to keep going....but MP's need not money, as no doubt they have cushy jobs lined up with said companies...they in the money, there in the money....and all within the rules....

  5. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I thought they invented the cancellation clause ploy

    where, if you want to stuff the next government with one of your policies, you sign a contract so that the contractor gets paid even if the project is pulled.

    In fact some NHS IT contracts seem to have clauses that actually prevent projects being completed - they're just there to pay party donors!

  6. jsp

    The danger is...

    ... that this will just encourage them to have tougher penalty clauses in the contracts.

    Although it would be interesting to know if they could be enforced if they have already been warned of the circumstances under which they would be cancelled.

  7. John Macintyre

    hmm.. really?

    Someone in the tory party with a brain? They contractors will still do it anyway, and will probably add extra lock-ins - short term bulk pay twinned with long term project termination pay-offs = profit

  8. N2 Silver badge

    Let hope

    That this large step further towards a totalitarian police state gets a well aimed kick in the fork by the Conservatives & is buried for ever.

    If not, Ill get my coat & bugger off elsewhere

  9. James Pickett


    "He warned IT firms not to sign long-term contracts for a project likely to be abandoned by any Tory government."

    A contract is a contract, and if the government (of whatever hue) wants to break it, they have to compensate the other party, so I suspect this is for the Tories' benefit, not ours!

    I'd welcome the job - money if you do it and money if you don't!

  10. alain williams Silver badge

    Nice words from the Tories

    With comments like that they are beginning to sound electable ...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just seems to me that if a company enters into a contract with the foreknowledge that there is an intent for it to be cancelled at a later date, then they ought not to be able to claim any form of compensation; regardless of what the contract tries to achieve. After all it is hardly something sprung unfairly on them; it ought not be the case that one can enter into contracts expecting to make a packet on "compensation" claims. Projects should require a "buy in" by a sizable majority of our representatives, not a simple one that is likely to be overturned.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    I know historically Tories aren't as legislative as Labour, but they could easily legislate themselves out of any commitment. With such an overwhelming majority they're likely to get come next year, I don't see this as an issue.

  13. The Mighty Biff

    Smash the rich

    Well it ent the Tories that'll be paying to break these contracts - it'll be the Treasury, i.e. the taxpayer, i.e. us.

    So, James, you've got it completely back to front.

    Wayland - perhaps they're saying they're going to scrap em because, er, well, maybe they are actually going to scrap them ! Gumpf !

    They've said this fairly consistently over the last few years, so it seems unlikely that they are really in favour of them. Contrast that with their reticence to go into much detail over other policies...

  14. NAS

    Easy to solve

    Just tell the suppliers that if they pursue compensation they won't be considered for other government IT contracts and that the compensation process will be dragged out for as long as possible,

  15. The BigYin

    Useless flannelling

    This is a mere PR stunt an El Reg fell for it. Once the contracts are signed, they will be too expensive to break. Once the Tories are in power they will either "forget" or "have a change of policy due to new information" or some such crap (probably assisted by fat directorships and other perks).

    There is simply too much money to be made by MPs in the scheme.

    Remember, an MP is their to feather THEIR nest and make as much as they can. Any speech of public service etc is just utter bullshit. Look at Brown. Unelected, unpopular, no mandate and STILL IN POWER!

    Then there's the expenses. "No rules were broken". Really? Then THE RULES ARE WRONG! All MP and civil servant expenses should be open to public scrutiny. Period. No exceptions for any reason whatsoever. Failure to disclose should result in summary dismissal.

    But that will never happen as MPs will NEVER vote against their own gravy train.

    So the ID database will come in, not matter who is in power. People of Britain - Britannia weeps.

    Now there's a thought....what if the cards a scrapped by the Tories but the database remains? Just the kind of tactic your expect from the scum of humanity that is an MP.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cameron's behaviour is unacceptable

    His job is the opposition. He should not be taking such liberties and behaving as if he is currently in power, or assuming that power will be his in a short period.

    I'm not exactly enamoured with Labour, but if this is a sign of things to come, this is a serious alarm bell warning of what is likely to be the conservative attitude should they come to power.

    Cameron - you do not impress me. Battling in the house or publically announcing the conervatives intentions is one thing. Making public bullying announcements is a nasty, unpleasent tactic.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why against ID cards, per say?

    I'm against the large, ever increasing, amount of cash that is being thrown at the UK's ID card scheme. However I am not against ID cards per say, just the way in which systems are linked. I suppose as techies we realise that it's pretty easy to start linking databases containing fingerprint hashes to the various police databases in the future, which is surely where the protests against ID cards is.

    I think immigrants would get less of a hard time if we had ID cards, as it would perhaps reduce the number of illegal immigrants. In saying that, being 'underground' in society is hard, but possible, so perhaps it would not reduce the number of illegal immigrants who don't try to get in with false papers, but get around the border patrols we have.

    I really feel the tories are going to stupidly massively reduce immigration which is the real reason for them scrapping ID cards, when the English inevitably all flock from being pro-labour to pro-conservatives.

    On that point, how do the majority of the English seem ok with flocking from psuedo-right to left wing in a few years? Those of you that do this, don't you realise it not only undermines democracy, but means you don't stick with the whole underpinning of voting? Hence why we Scots voted in SNP finally, get the underdog in.

    Go for lib dems this time is the only reasonable assertion I can provide, they seem more labour (from 6 years ago) without the nonsense racism that the tories are doing a good job of cloaking currently. Also, you're not voting for a person (Mr.Cameron,) but the ethos of a party.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plenty of companies...

    ....and not much money for new government projects.

    Perhaps we can beat the contractors with the "if you stiff us over this your company will not win a major govt contract whilst we are in power" stick.

    It's about time someone tried to bring companies that rip taxpayers off into line. I say tried because no doubt these companies will have better legal departments than the government if recent history is anything to go by.

  19. Mike Banahan

    Responsibility of politicians

    Here if ever the case was the need for legislation (and an outside body controlling it) which places a duty on ministers not to indulge in contracts which, in the view of the courts, contains clauses tantamount to poison pills. If a minister willingly signs a contract which unreasonably constrains a later change of government, they should be legally responsible for that with severe criminal penalties.

    Job done.

  20. Jimmy Floyd

    Careful now

    Good plans from the boys in blue there. I hope their tone of "when" we get elected rather than "if" is just a case of semantics rather than over-confidence. It would be a bit of a disaster if they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

  21. Nomen Publicus
    Thumb Up

    Ever been done before

    Has any party ever issued such warnings before? I can't recall a case.

    I don't think that any of the usual suspects bidding for the contracts are UK companies. Kicking them in the teeth will have little if any consequences.

    Then there are the legal questions. Who really signs the contracts on behalf of who? Is the UK government a legal entity capable of entering into a contract? If parliament makes and breaks laws, exactly what is there to prevent it breaking any contract made by a government department without compensation? It's not like anybody is going to be too bothered if Standard&Poor down rates the UK credit rating :-)

  22. Paul 87

    This is where the US wins..

    They simply cancel the contracts and tell the companies to get stuffed, none of this mucking around with sticking to terms that a previous administration signed.

    Simply put, the Tories (should they win), should cancel the contracts, void the terms in the contract that means they pay a fortune for sod all and just pay out for sensible costs for the companies involved so they don't go under as a result.

  23. 7mark7

    HMG should not break a contract.

    If there are penalty clauses, then the gov should pay them. Billions if required.

    Then wind-fall tax the b******s the same amount + 50%

  24. Alex 0.1

    Re: Others

    "Cameron - you do not impress me. Battling in the house or publically announcing the conervatives intentions is one thing. Making public bullying announcements is a nasty, unpleasent tactic."

    Why is it? Opposition or not, the party are stating a fact, and trying to save this country some money - Despite Waqui's blinkered insistence that some ficticious majority of people want ID cards we all know we don't, and with a bit of luck the conservatives will go ahead and scrap it when (hopefully) they get elected.

    I see nothing wrong with the party having the balls to come straight out and tell vendors that they wont accept poison-pill contracts that will screw the taxpayer out of potentially hundreds of millions of pounds, when those poison pills have absolutely no legitimate reason to exist other than labour trying to screw the conservatives (and incidentally the country, but heaven forbid we'd put that minor thing over party politics) over, and the vendors trying to screw the taxpayer out of some free money on a silver platter.

    I take no issue whatsoever with the conservatives attempting to bully either or both of them into putting a stop to it.

    Re: Why against ID cards, per say?

    Frankly I imagine very few people are against the idea of an ID card as such, it's just that anyone with a brain is against the idea of *our government* having access to and controlling the database that sits behind it.

    It's absolutely incontestable that the government simply cannot be trusted to keep private information private (or trusted about anything else, for that matter), they've proven this many times over the past few years, what makes anyone think that the card databases will be any better managed (or hell even the cards themselves, whoever told the government that rfid is secure must be laughing all the way to the bank with his massively over-the-top consultation fee).

    Next time it may very well not be a council's employment records, or navy recruitment records, or even a few million benefit records that go "missing", it might just happen to be biometric data on everyone in the country along with their police records and whatever the hell else the government plan to track through the card database. Oops.

  25. Michael Fremlins

    Time to play hardball

    The Tories should state they will introduce legislation cancelling the ID contracts and any "poison pill" clauses to boot.

    Retrospective legislation is not unheard of. Just remove the ambiguity and get on with it.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ID cards

    "techies we realise that it's pretty easy to start linking databases containing fingerprint hashes to the various police databases in the future, which is surely where the protests against ID cards is."

    It's the linking of the huge surveillance network this government has built, at great expense, against public wishes, to the individual.

    "I think immigrants would get less of a hard time if we had ID cards, as it would perhaps reduce the number of illegal immigrants."

    So your plan is to check the papers of everyone who looks like an immigrant at every opportunity and that will make their lives better? Illegal immigrants don't cross borders, so unless you plan on mass checks inside the country, you won't get to see their ID card. How would you tell Brits from Immigrants? You can't, you have to check their papers too at every opportunity.

    "I really feel the tories are going to stupidly massively reduce immigration which is the real reason for them scrapping ID cards, when the English inevitably all flock from being pro-labour to pro-conservatives."

    All immigrants already have IDs, their passports! We already accept that ID as valid, because we let them in the country on their passport. So why are we duplicating that ID at great expense?

    The only way this can work as they suggest is if the card is issued to every British person, if it is checked at every opportunity, to catch illegal immigrants. Well the ones from outside the EU, because all the EU ones can legally stay.

    And you can't sell this to British people, because they're already sick of the surveillance and endless little pen pushing hitlers dictating their every move. So it has to be sold as 'protecting against illegal immigrants'.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    If only the new found transparency for things financial

    Extended to Government contracts...

  28. Maverick
    Thumb Down

    @ AC 09:36 GMT

    > Also, you're not voting for a person (Mr.Cameron,) but the ethos of a party.

    wow that is a great theory, a real shame it doesn't apply to your countryman sat in No.10 now does it? so would you please take him & the badger back so we can ELECT someone to run the country

    PS one question; why don't we "English" as you refer to us (now who's cloaking racism? eh?) get a vote on Scottish independence ?

  29. Brian Mankin

    Breach of Fiduciary Duty

    My personal opionion is that if any MP were to sign a contract that includes onerous cancellation clauses in the full knowledge that their successor is going to cancel the project, they would be commiting a breach of trust / fiduciary duty. This could potentially expose the minister to personal liability. It would probably be costly to litigate and there would be no certainty of legal success but I would want my MP to push this line nonetheless. We should make it clear that so far as is possible, the costs for cancelling this hated project will be nailed to the Labour party and the ministers involved.

  30. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    @Nomen Publicus

    "It's not like anybody is going to be too bothered if Standard&Poor down rates the UK credit rating :-)"

    Wrong. All UK taxpayers *ought* to care dearly about that, because if our government makes a habit shafting its business partners, those partners will increase their prices to make up the difference. Guess who ends up out of pocket?

    There *is* a constitutional convention that no government can bind its successors, but that only applies to laws, not financial commitments. It would clearly be absurd for an incoming administration to turn round to the government's many creditors and say "You aren't getting a penny. We're different people from the last lot.".

    This Tory ploy will simply encourage vendors to insert poison pills, which our present government will then be stupid enough to sign for. But let's be clear. The blame lies with the ministers who sign, not with the companies who are simply taking the free money they've been offered.

    Local government officers who behaved in such a reckless fashion could be (and have been) landed (personally) with (part of) the bill. Perhaps it is time to consider treating ministers the same way as any other public servant.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    It's the database, stupid...

    It matters not whether you are required to have or carry a physical piece of plastic... if all your data is in one centralised database that only plod, bureaucrats and spooks have access to the damage is done. The Tories need to make an unambiguous commitment to scrapping the *whole* scheme, not just the physical card.

    The central point is this:

    Does the government exist at our sufferance, or the other way round ?

    In other words, do we live in a society where we are allowed to do whatever we wish, provided it is not prohibited, or one everything is forbidden unless we prove we have permission ?

    A free society is one in which I am entitled to be believed, and it is whoever wishes to stop me going about my lawful business who must prove that there is a good reason I should not.

  32. TeeCee Gold badge

    So, to paraphrase.

    "If you sign up and we win the election you'll get paid the same amount, but you won't have to do the work or run the risk of being lampooned in the press, lambasted by the commons accounts committee and sued by the government when you deliver your usual barely-functional, unresponsive crock of completely useless shit.

    We'd rather you didn't do this as we haven't got the money. Thank you for listening."

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @Smash the rich


    Eat the rich!

    (I hear your well-fed, 20-25 y/o, Tory is quite delicious with some fava beans and a nice chianti)

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is what concerns me...

    "The Tory Party has written to firms involved in bidding for ID card contracts and told them to think long and hard before signing anything."

    The Tory party hasn't got any right to write to anyone concerning this deal. They have the right to vent in public and make merry in the commons .. .but this oversteps the boundary and makes a deliberate attempt to directly interfere with the business of Government.

    What next ... a soldier with gun aimed at the enemy ... the government says, "Shoot." Is the opposition to be allowed to stand alongside and say, "Don't shot, or else we'll have you court martialled when we get in to power."

    This is very dangerous ground and Cameron should be disciplined immediately.

  35. Tony Paulazzo


    The Tory view... >Tax credits may be the real achilles heal for Labour< (Guardian news)

    As a fairly new startup sole trader, I'm still reliant on those working tax credits. Now, hopefully, in a year or so I won't need them (tho with the current recession in full swing I'm not so sure), but so far they've kept me off the unemployment line.

    With the Tories looking to save money in any way they can, I'm pretty sure these things will be scrapped almost immediately.

  36. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    @7mark7 Windfall Tax

    Exactly. And cut them out of the bidding for any future government contracts if they complain. They'll soon back down.

  37. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    @Why against ID cards, per say?

    Simple - It is not the place of the Government to license the existence of the electorate. It is the place of the electorate to license the existence of the Government.

  38. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Learn from Anderson Consulting

    They pissed off the Conservatives by not noticing Delorean was run by a crook and taking loads of government cash for nothing, They didn't get another UK Gov contract until Blair came to power.

  39. JohnG Silver badge

    "There were discrepancies in the procurement process"

    If the new government finds that the procurement process was in some way flawed, then I guess there will be provision to cancel in this event. Or they might find that the chosen contractors are in breach of data protection law or have not complied with national security measures, etc.

    Of course, companies that decided to try and extract penalties might find themselves missing from preferred suppliers lists for later contracts.

  40. Scott 19

    Second Jobs

    Next month the list of second jobs for MPs comes out who wants a bet that some of these MPs may have avested intrest in companies the goverment has awarded contracts to.

  41. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Contractors way of thinking

    Sign contract now - get some immediate cash. If it's scrapped, claim under the cancellation clause. What's to lose?

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What About Databases? Data Sharing? Etc?

    "Whilst we do not intend to scrap the programme introducing biometric passports..."

    Does that mean they intend to keep the various databases, etc, that go behind these schemes? My concern is that the Tories intend to cancel the most visible aspects of these Stasi State schemes, such as the actual ID cards themselves, while keeping the rest of the stuff.

    I just don't trust the Tories. Especially since their chosen leader, David Cameron, seems primarily concerned with superficial appearances, rather than actual substance.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "I imagine very few people are against the idea of an ID card as such."

    Not saying that the databases behind the cards are not a primary concern, but I would hope that most anti card folk are against the cards as such. How dare the authorities try to put me into a position where I have to have a card or else I am not a legitimate citizen? As a citizen I should not have to prove myself to the State, it's the authorities that should have to prove their worth to the citizens.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad PR?

    OK, so big corporate sues HMG after cancelling the contract. HMG protest the country cannot afford it and taxes will have to go up. Big corporate pursues it through the courts, appeal after appeal.

    Who will look worse here? HMG for trying to save tax payers money, or big corporate chasing profit using a contract clause put in by a previous government to force the hand of a future government.

    Bring it on I say.

    The lawyers should do well out of it though.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not complex

    Cancel the cards, which is what the electorate want (and to those of you who want the ID card scheme, please do some reading - if you're for it, you don't understand it)

    Tell all the companies that you will pay any get-out fees, but that they will be considered as write-offs against any further contracts. Ok, the companies can still "win" by walking away with the cash, but they won't be able to work for us again until they've paid it back in free work.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On a separate "poison pill" note...

    If the government are so keen to see this happen what about all the other mega contracts... Defense training, Aircraft carriers, NHS database... all of which might benefit from cancellation & re-consoderation. Hmmm, do I see and FoI request before me...?

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ Andrew Campbell 1

    Labour may be in for a rude surprise when their clever little machinations fail. All it takes is for a new parliament to enact that such poison pills are void and of no effect in public contracts.

    The simple fact is that one parliament cannot bind the hands of a later parliament. Each is supreme during its existence.

    It amazes me is that Labour would stoop so low as to allow poison pill contracts. [Perhaps I'm just an innocent where Labour's dirty underhanded tricks are concerned?] Having at one time been tangentially involved in public sector contracts in BC, I know that the standard practice is that they all contain an "executory clause" that provides a penalty-free opt out if the government of the day dictates early termination.

    Labour sucks.

    The Paris icon to memorialize that last verb.

  48. David 66
    Thumb Up

    Old dog says.

    I'd even vote for the fuckers if they cancelled it.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Breach of Fiduciary Duty

    I think it's probably a lot simpler, Cameron has made it clear they shouldn't agree to penalty clauses. When he gets in he cancels it, refuses liability under Sovereign Immunity.

    If they take to court, he reminds the court that the penalty clause was written in to override the wishes of an expected future government and the companies involved entered into that contract fully aware that the penalty clause would not be honoured by the incoming government.

    Then he should remind the court that the last leadership was not elected and the onerous contract terms were clearly for political purposes and hence against the public interest.

    Imagine if contracts could be used to force future policy on governments, which is essentially what is being done here. NuLabour are frightened that voters won't like their mass surveillance database and eject them from power, and they want to ensure that the next government has to do it anyway by making a private contract with the contractors intended to force the next government to do it anyway.

    I don't think a court would back that.

  50. daoxin

    Tory smokescreen

    This is just a smokesceen from the Tories. Unless the Pirate Party win the next election in the UK these companies will still get paid large sums to create a huge new biometric database and biometric passports, writing new applications to run it all, replacing the current ancient kit and apps. The ID card itself is an optional add-on which in theory could be put on hold and implemented when we have the next terrorist scare. The main thing is a new biometric passport and database which all the major parties support and is coming to us soon

  51. Anonymous Coward

    Contracts ....

    You put too much faith in them. They can be thrown out. Rescinded . How successful a Tory government would be in this would simply depend entirely upon how many high court judges (law lords) were on their side.

    Quite a few, I imagine. So bye-bye ID cards and no, tax-payers won't end up footing the bill for the cancelled contracts.

    I'd be very cautious under such circumstances if I were a potential supplier, and would NOT take for granted that any contract would ensure I would still get paid. Not at all.

  52. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Binding future parliaments

    "Imagine if contracts could be used to force future policy on governments, which is essentially what is being done here."

    There's no restraint on policy here. The contracts are for the delivery of goods and services. The government of the day is free to choose not to use any of the kit once it arrives.

    Contracts should be honoured. (We have enough trouble as it is in this country with politicians thinking they are above the law.) If a future government were free to break off the deal, then all that would happen would be that our government would be unable to start any project with a delivery date beyond the next election.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like it or Not

    This country hasn't a pot to piss in!

    Old Gordo has overspent for way too long, the money needs to be saved

  54. Anonymous Coward

    No goverment contracts lasting more than 4 years then ?

    Some of the comments on here state that the contracts of companys with posion pill clauses should be invalid especially if they know the contracts will be cancelled !.

    Why ?, any company doing business with the bunch of shifty shysters that is the government will/should try cover there asses contractually just in case of the government doing a suprise u-turn alone otherwise there shareholders would quite rightly screw em. Thats without factoring in the fact that no-one? expects this government to survive an election and most people are suprised it has lasted this long.

    I suspect the conservatives will say "too expensive to cancel- not in the public purses interest" blah blah blah.

    So if i was a director of one of those lucky? companies i would be shitting myself now, possibly going to lose a nice little earner that will keep me and mine happy for years to come with ongoing maintenance contracts and loss of "not in the original spec- thats extra that is!" bonus bits. I imagine they want it to go ahead (I DON'T!).

    If it does get cancelled, payout time, millions and billions etc, the companies in question pay out dividends to shareholders and large bonuses to the wise lads who thought "lets add a termination clause" and lay off lots of now unesessary programmers and support staff (if they even employed any yet!) very few little people will win from that !

    If any government starts retrospectivly changing contracts it (i mean the UK government not the ruling party) has made through legislative means then who will trust it ever again.

    Saying that though i'm sure i'm now going to be told the little shits have done it loads of times already.

    If anyone cares I think we should cancel it or make it a replacement passport., i've not been out of the country in over 30years and don't even have a passport so then I wouldn't need one until they started putting border patrols between england & scotland !, Or my next driving licence could be biometric would make it quicker for the bloody plod to realise yes i do own this car and i am me not some little car thief scroat, don't give a stuff just don't want enforced ID cards and snotty coppers demanding every one carry it to go to the shops.

  55. Martin 6 Silver badge

    Or simply corporate responsibility

    Just propose a new law with jail time for directors of companies that lose sensitive data.

    In fact you don't even need a new law - just classify the data and prosecute under the official

    secrets act.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the suits have it

    Its not the politicians so much as the senior civil servants and "aides" that are pushing ID cards - ministers and others are just parrotting what they've been told to say.

    Not, of course, that any such person would gain personal benefit from these contracts, but the current crop do seem to be wedded to the need for central control of, well, everything - except when it comes to taking responsibility when events unroll, at which point it turns out their main expertise is in avoiding blame.

    These people will still be in place whenever the government changes, so dont expect any major U-turns whatever the parties promise.

    "of course we could do that minister, but sadly you will have to explain it to the press next time there is a terrorist attack this system would have prevented".

  57. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Tories still not clear on the NIR.

    The letter is worded as the "ID Card project." But *no* specific mention of the implementation of the NIR as extensionis across (IIRC) 3 seperate exisiting databases.

    This needs to be *explicitly* dumped.

    They have far too much wiggle room for the old "We got rid of the card. The danger is past. By the way it's still £1000 if you don't keep your NIR details up to date" routine.

    I suspect the same groupd of senior Civil Servants will be whispering into Camerions Shadow team to *prove* it's all in budget and it *really* will deliver the benefits they claim although (for security/busines confidentiality/data protection) reasons they cannot actually *reveal* what those benefits will be. But trust them. They will be *huge*.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That is very odd.

    Warning companies that dealing with the Government could be very bad ... for the Government?

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Legal Nicety?

    Someone may remember more details, but I seem to remember that there is a convention that says that one government can't enter into contractual arrangements that tie the hands of future governments. It's fine to have clauses that would cover companies against loss if there is a change of policy but poison pills are not allowed. This is part of our unwritten constitution that has never had to be tested in the past .

    It is possible that this letter is intended to head off a future legal case where the convention is tested in court. If there is a test then the result would become part of common law. Pre-waring the contractors removes from them any defence that they thought that entering into contracts with poison pill clauses was OK.

    Basically they are saying go ahead do your deals but you can't claim cancellation was unexpected, there will be no possibility of damages, and if you willingly sign a contract with a poison pill you will find yourself in court.

  60. MinionZero

    Lock in clause? - What other political games do they play with our money?

    Its a fascinating insight into the minds of politicians. Add political booby trap lock in clauses into contracts designed to discredit anyone who attempts to undo what they want done, as it then makes them look like they are wasting money. Wonderful, thanks!

    So much for just doing a good job. I guess that's to much to ask for. Also yet another way they waste our money. Still its good to see an MP highlighting this manipulative booby trap lock in game rather than falling foul of it later. Usually MPs only act out of self interest and then try to tell us their moves are for our own good.

    Oh hang on, if he didn't highlight it now and had to change it later, then its in his own interest to highlight it now to the public. Ah ok, now it makes sense. For a moment there, I thought an MP had our interests at heart rather than their own.

    As for Tories scrapping ID Cards, they know they are unpopular, so by saying they are getting rid of them they know they get more people on their side. Which means they get more power when they get into power. Oh well, still, the MP power hungry self interest principle is still intact. Just takes a while to see through their PR smoke screens.

    Anyway, I'll have to remember this political booby trap lock in clause in contracts stunt. Its an interesting chess move to get what they want. The more I see of MP's behaviour the more I detest their thinking. A political booby trap lock in clause, wow, what other games do they play with our money?

  61. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    AC@15:19 AC@15:07


    "When he gets in he cancels it, refuses liability under Sovereign Immunity."

    Interesting idea. I thought this only applies to stuff like Health & Safety for nuclear leaks and ineffective equipment for troops, not contract law.


    UK governments have a long history of this. The Concorde SST contract (between UK & French governments) required both parites to agree to terminate. I think this was written under a Conservative (early 60s) administration but a later (mid 70s) Labour government tried to cancel. Which failed as it was expected to.

  62. John H Woods Silver badge


    IANAL, but it seems quite clear to me. You can put anything you like in a contract but that doesn't make it LEGALLY binding. iirc, this goes right back to Dunlop v New Garage (1915): if a party breaks the terms of a contract the other party may be entitled to commensurate compensation. But that party cannot impose a financial penalty on the offending party which is out of all proportion to the losses which the agrieved party has incurred.

    This is why the banks are in trouble for insisting that it somehow costs twenty quid or more in administration charges to refuse a direct debit. So I think all the talk of poison pills is probably a little exaggerated ... although I stand to be corrected (why else would I make a posting on this site :-)

    GARAGE & MOTOR CO LTD [1915].

  63. Justin Clements

    Cmon people, read the last paragraph..

    >>Whilst we do not intend to scrap the programme introducing biometric passports, I wanted to make it clear that we will take an extremely sceptical view of any future contractual arrangements on ID cards that appear to have been put in place simply to tie the hands of a future Government.

    That is a threat. They are warning companies, that when the project is cancelled, if any cancellation charges are too generous, it will be remembered.

    So any contractor who is expecting double bubble from a cancellation, it will be their end of their Govt work for the foreseeable future.

    IIRC The Tories have history with KPMG and DeLorean? KPMG got denied all Govt work until Labour got in, from the way that they behaved over the DeLorean accounts in the 70s.

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