Should UK use compulsory ID cards to discourage small boat crossings? Poll of the week

As Labour peer Lord David Blunkett suggests a national ID card system to tackle illegal migration, Yahoo News asks readers what they think.

Yahoo UK's poll of the week lets you vote and indicate your strength of feeling on one of the week's hot topics. After 72 hours the poll closes and, each Friday, we'll publish and analyse the results, giving readers the chance to see how polarising a topic has become and if their view chimes with other Yahoo UK readers.

David Blunkett has proposed the introduction of ID cards to reduce small boats crossings. (UK Parliament/Getty Images)
David Blunkett has proposed the introduction of ID cards to reduce small boats crossings. (UK Parliament/Getty Images)

Lord David Blunkett has said compulsory ID cards should be introduced in order to crack down on small boat crossings across the English Channel.

The Labour peer urged Sir Keir Starmer to bring in the policy should he win the next general election in a bid to reduce illegal immigration and lessen the tragedy caused by people smugglers.

He suggested all workers should have to submit their ID cards to employers before they are allowed to work.

As home secretary under Tony Blair, Blunkett proposed the idea of compulsory identity documents in 2001 after the 9/11 terror attacks. He suggested that, in light of the Tory government's Rwanda scheme, smugglers would encourage those crossing the Channel not to claim asylum.

"They’ll say, ‘We’ll get you across to UK, then ring this number, we’ll get you a job and accommodation’, and then they’ll disappear into the sub-economy," he told the Times.

What do you think? Would introducing compulsory ID cards make a difference and prevent illegal migration? Let us know in the polls below.


Come back on Friday to read the results and analysis via the link below.

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The Labour Party has discussed the prospect of ID cards in recent years, with shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock telling Times Radio in November 2022 that such a scheme was being looked at “very, very carefully indeed. He said it would assure the public that “we have control of our borders”.

Blair's Labour government introduced legislation for national ID cards in 2006, arguing that with advances in biometric technology and iris and fingerprint scanning, a national identity register would be an opportunity to protect people's identities from fraud, and prevent illegal migration and terrorism.

He said it was an issue of "modernity", rather than one of civil liberties, arguing that many people give away personal data to private companies on a daily basis anyway.

Legislation for compulsory ID cards was passed in 2006 but, in 2009, it was announced they would not be compulsory for UK citizens The legislation was ultimately repealed by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in 2010, with then-deputy prime minister Nick Clegg saying: "The wasteful, bureaucratic and intrusive ID card system represents everything that has been wrong with government in recent years."

Civil rights groups have long been wary of the potential for national ID schemes. Responding to a proposal of "digital ID cards" in 2020, campaign group Liberty warned against "huge central databases" that would record "all of our interactions with the state".

"This personal data could then be accessed by a range of government agencies or even private corporations, potentially in combination with other surveillance technologies like facial recognition," the group added.

Liberty said it would be "even more intrusive, insecure and discriminatory" than Labour's old scheme, which the group said cost the public £4.6 billion before it was scrapped.

In 2018, Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg told LBC Radio: "If you have ID cards, a policeman can ask you at any time who you are and what you are doing. That's not the British way."

Making his case for national ID cards, Kinnock said it would help the UK keep track of how many people are in the country at any given time. He told Times Radio it was "extraordinary" that before Brexit, three million EU nationals were thought to be in the UK when it turned out to be five million.

Supporters of ID cards argue that if they are required for any employment, it will stop illegal immigrants from disappearing into an informal economy. French authorities blame the UK's lack of ID system for the number of people crossing the Channel from Calais.

However, as the idea was being debated in 2006, journalist and author Henry Porter argued: "It will make the lives of illegal immigrants more difficult, but there is little evidence to suggest that it will actually deter people-smugglers and desperate migrants."

Arguing against Blair's proposals, Liberty warned that given the disproportionate use of stop and search against ethnic minority groups, ID cards would open up the potential for racial discrimination by police.

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