Debate over UK biometric national ID deadlocked

Published 20 March 2006

Old habits die hard: Sinn Fein leader detained for extra scrutiny at a U.S. airpor

Another question mark over the U.K. government plans for a biometric national ID. MPs again overturned a House of Lords amendment which would have prevented people being forced to register for an ID card when applying for a passport. MPs voted by 292 votes to 241 votes — an increased majority of 51 — in favor of keeping the clause in the bill to make the passport a “designated document” tied in with ID cards and the National Identity Register (NIR) database.

It is the second time in as many weeks that MPs have overturned House of Lords’ opposition to the ID cards bill and the parliamentary ping-pong will continue this week as peers vote on the legislation for the fourth time. If the House of Lords continues to oppose what critics call the “compulsion by stealth” element of the bill, then the government will be forced to invoke the Parliament Act in the next session in November to get ID cards on the Statute Book.

Critics also criticized the government after the Home Office revealed that bank card-style PIN numbers — and not biometrics — would be used to verify the ID cardholder’s identity in some cases.

-read more in this report