Monday, January 16, 2006

ID cards: sense in the Lords

STOP PRESS:

The government has been defeated in the Lords as peers said its controversial ID cards scheme could not go ahead until its full costs were revealed.


Ministers say it will cost £584m a year to issue cards but say revealing costings for the full scheme could make it harder to get a good value deal.

Peers voted by 237 votes to 156 to block the scheme until the National Audit Office and MPs vet the figures.

Earlier today:

ID cards face Lords blocking vote.

The identity cards scheme should be put on hold until ministers provide full estimates of its cost, say Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers. The demand will be put to a vote as the House of Lords begin detailed scrutiny of the identity cards scheme.

Ministers say some of figures are sensitive and revealing them would make it harder to get a good deal. But the London School of Economics says the Home Office is relying on guesswork and has underestimated the costs. The government is facing a possible defeat in the Lords as peers try to block the scheme unless a full costs estimate is vetted by both the National Audit Office and MPs. Conservative peers are so determined to get at the real cost of the scheme that they have proposed holding a rare secret session of the Lords to discuss the issue.

But shadow home affairs minister Lady Anelay said the government had rejected the proposal.

In a letter to the Home Office seen by BBC News, she wrote: "Many of us find it unthinkable that Parliament could be expected to agree to an open-ended commitment to spending what is acknowledged to be certainly many billions of pounds, possibly tens of billions of pounds, without having had the opportunity to debate all costs in detail."

The Home Office estimates that the scheme will cost about £584m to run each year, with each combined biometric passport and identity card costing £93. We have to trust these figures, of course!!! [And the rest - there’s always more.] But it has not given full cost estimates for setting up the scheme and says its overall costs will depend on how government departments choose to use the card scheme. They will, no doubt choose the most expensive card scheme whatever that may be.

I am not a very trusting sort when it comes to government.

In a new report, the LSE sticks by its claims that the scheme would cost between £10bn and £19bn over 10 years if the government followed its original plans [but it never does. The goalposts are ALWAYS moved. A moving target cannot be focused upon. That’s the idea]. That’s a range of up to nearly £2bn/year. Small change, apparently. Simon Davies, one of the academics involved in the scheme, said it was impossible to updates the costs because the government was "changing the goal posts", including making it less secure. That sounds like a system that is supposed to protect is, in fact, being designed to do just the opposite. Perhaps it’s my interpretation. Just trying to follow the spin and find my way through all the bollocks. There is a load of bullshit here - I think! I’m definitely being fucked. Still not sure how, but it hurts more and more at every moment.

He complained there was a "culture of secrecy". Nothing new in that. And he said government departments would now be able to choose to buy into the scheme.

What the Hell does that mean?

"This must be the first in the world where there are official ID cards where there is no binding obligation on the government to use it," Mr Davies told BBC News.

I’m losing this. Using what? The scheme? ID cards? I know that I’m being fucked, just not quite sure how - yet. Bit slow here.

Ian Angell, head of the LSE Department of Information Systems, said they did not know what to believe any more. "Contradictions, guesswork and wishful thinking on the part of the Home Office make a mockery of any pretence that this scheme is based on serious reasoning."

I follow that! This I understand. Double-speak. Spin. The mushroom syndrome: keep them in the dark and feed them on bullshit.

Into the fray comes Home Office Minister Andy Burnham: “the LSE report was based on false assumptions and included figures designed to produce a newspaper headline.“ Really? Isn’t that Blair government strategy? Mr Burnham said he had been as open as he could about the cost estimates, which were "robust". “...as open as he could...”: like a duck’s arse. “Robust” - doesn’t mean much in this context, does it? But disclosing all the figures "may lead us not to get the best deal for the taxpayer", he said. Well, of course.

Jusifying silence on a very sensitive issue. Don’t tell the voters - they wouldn’t understand anyway. Just fuck ‘em. They’ll enjoy it.

Conservative leader David Cameron vowed on Sunday to oppose the ID card plans, calling them "un-British". "I don't like ID cards, I don't like the idea that you have to have this bit of paper just for existing," he told BBC's Sunday AM, saying there were practical reasons for opposing the scheme too. But isn’t that just the idea. We are becoming less British every day, it seems. We are actually becoming “un-British“ courtesy of that megalomaniac Blair. Don’t forget that we are expected to pay for our right to exist in the UK. Do immigrants pay for their ID cards or do they get them free?

See entry: ID Cards (29th July 2005)

Tory and Lib Dem peers are also set to oppose moves to issue people with ID cards when they get a new passport from 2008. They say Labour's manifesto only commits to a voluntary scheme.

Things are getting worse by the day. Much, much, worse. Fucking Blair is out of control [oops! There goes my OBE/MBE or whatever. Never mind.] This makes a new meaning for megalomaniac. Arrogance knows no boundaries.

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