OK. So I have a passport and didn’t need to have a national identity card to travel in Europe. But I wanted one, so I registered my interest in 2009 and waited until Feb 2010.
In February I was invited (not forced) to go to the UK Home Office IPS with my completed application form, my reference from my Police Constable friend and of course the £30 fee. I waited for my interview where I had my finger prints taken and my picture taken for the national identity register. All good and the very next day my card arrived. Perfect, easy and with no fuss my biometric card which is valid for travel in the European Union was safely in my wallet.
The main reason for me wanting a card was just that in Spain (where I live in Valencia working for H&K in London) every time you pay by debit or credit card you have to show your ID. Previously this has meant that I had to carry my passport with me everywhere which I hated doing as it was large, it was getting damaged and it wasn’t convenient for me. I know some of you will say … what about your driving licence? Well I am one of the very few 40 year olds that doesn’t have a licence as I never learned to drive and think £30 is a great deal cheaper than having lessons and taking a test! … and a lot less hassle.
So last week when the new UK coalition Government put my lovely ID card on death row, I shed a tear. OK, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but I was genuinely upset. The Government had scrapped something I wanted and volunteered to get in the name of giving more power to the UK electorate. Erm… I wanted my card Mr Clegg & Mr Cameron…. I am a UK voter and I volunteered my details and paid my money and wanted my card! It made my life easier and I have nothing to hide by submitting my details to be kept on a register. God only knows the UK Government probably knows more about me that what was being kept on the national identity register anyway and I have nothing to hide!
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland all have some form of national identity card that can be used for travel across the European Economic Area (EEA). Why not the UK? Why scrap a scheme that cost between £12-18bn (LSE study) to introduce and was voluntary for anyone in the UK. Issue between 100-200,000 cards to UK citizens at £30 a go only to scrap the scheme about eight months later. Why not make it a voluntary ID for people and give THEM the choice of having one or not. Surely that would have been far more democratic?
So I am left with less than 100 days left of use on a card I wanted, I volunteered for, not to mention paying for and will get no refund for! I will keep it as a souvenir of a mad Government for cancelling it and not just keeping it as a voluntary scheme. Who knows, maybe by the time it expires in Feb 2020 a new Government might have reintroduced it! Or maybe it will become a collector’s item? After all, even on conservative estimates regarding the number issued I make mine valued about £50,000 to produce and issue.
Should the national identity card in the UK remained a voluntary card? Was it an infringement of civil liberties or was it just another convenient easy to use document issued by a national Government and did the new incoming coalition scrap it just to make a point to the opposition Labour party about the new kids being on the block?
What do you think? I would be interested to hear your views.