Author Topic: 21st February 2008: Today Is The 56th Anniversary Of Last Abolition Of ID Cards  (Read 716 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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56 years ago today.....The 21st of February 1952, Identity Cards were abolished.

Geraint Bevant, The NO2ID campaign co-ordinator for Scotland marks the day with this article in the Herald

History teaches lesson of ID cards’ intrusion

On February 21, 1952, Winston Churchill's Minister for Health, Harry Crookshank, announced to the House of Commons that ID cards would be scrapped. This Thursday, 56 years later, the government would do well to remember how unpopular those cards were.

Although introduced as an emergency measure in 1939, the cards were used increasingly to exert control over people's lives, particularly for enforcement of rationing. Two years after the war concluded, Aneurin Bevan, speaking from the Labour government benches, denounced the retention of ID cards.

He said: "I believe the requirement of an internal passport is more objectionable than an external passport, and that citizens ought to be allowed to move about freely without running the risk of being accosted by a policeman or anyone else, and asked to produce proof of identity."

However, Clement Attlee's government - beloved of bureaucracy - retained the cards, which began to encroach further into people's lives. By 1951, the British Housewives League had taken to burning their ID cards in protest. Matters came to a head when Constable Muckle stopped a 54-year-old motorist, Clarence Willcock, who refused to produce an ID card, stating defiantly that he was a Liberal. Willcock was arrested and convicted, but the case reached the High Court where Acting Lord Chief Justice, Lord Goddard, upholding the conviction, said: "Because the police have powers, it does not follow that they ought to exercise them on all occasions as a matter of routine. From what we have been told, it is obvious that the police now, as a matter of routine, demand the production of national registration identity cards whenever they stop or interrogate a motorist for whatever cause.

"The National Registration Act was passed for security purposes, and not for the purposes for which, apparently, it is now sought to be used. To use Acts of Parliament, passed for particular purposes during war, in times when the war is past, except that technically a state of war exists, tends to turn law-abiding subjects into lawbreakers, which is a most undesirable state of affairs."

Later that year, Labour was swept from power by a Conservative and National Liberal coalition, with the Conservatives promising to "set the people free". Today's Labour government has inherited an ill-conceived database-backed scheme that promises to intrude into our lives far more extensively.

Five years ago the Home Office claimed 80% support for the scheme. Now two-thirds of people in Scotland are already opposed. Everyone makes mistakes - governments too - but wisdom comes from recognising those mistakes and avoiding them in future. Prime Minister Gordon Brown should demonstrate his wisdom by taking charge and dropping the national identity card scheme before it goes any further.

Geraint Bevan, NO2ID Scotland, 3e Grovepark Gardens, Glasgow.

We recently popped a similar, but much shorter missive into the offices of the Adver.

It didn't interest them apparently.


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