“Old fuddy-duddies” versus Big Brother

The House of Lords has continued to fight against compulsory ID Cards but Home Secretary Charles Clarke persists.The Ulster-Scot in me is always wary of too much power in a central power’s hands and this enabling act reeks of a government using public fear for a power grab. The pressure for ID cards, more terror laws (that attack free speech) and government insisting the police be allowed to hold the DNA of innocent people including children should be grounds for serious concern.

The DUP and SDLP have been opposing the ID cards’ introduction. Despite their opposition, Sinn Fein’s voice and votes are absent from parliament on this issue (although Adams Ard fheis speech opened the possibility of that changing in the future). This leaves Slyvia Hermon the sole local parliamentary voice in their favour.

This action is also the latest example of how the House of Lords, since the reforms, has become a greater check on the government. A check that will remain for a while considering Blair’s nominations for new peers are still in trouble.

  • Actually some members of Sinn Fein have been voicing their opposition since last May. Nothing to do with Big Brother-esque powers though, there’s talk that if nationalists in NI didn’t want a “British Citizen” description on their ID card, the only option left would “Foreign National”.

    Priorities….

  • fair_deal

    Beano

    I didn’t mean to imply SF were in favour of them so I will adjust the blog accordingly.

  • Occasional Commentator

    In the various disputes between the Lords and Commons, supporters of the Commons will usually say “the Commons are democratically elected” to which I respond “but the Lords are usually right!”.

    I say it’s time the Lords were made the dominant chamber. The Parliament Acts should be rewritten thusly 🙂

    Anyway, because the Republic isn’t a “foreign country” (see the Ireland Act http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ireland_Act ), with any luck Irish citizens won’t need an ID card and will be able to move about the UK under that legislation, perhaps only having to carry their Irish passport.

  • Manc

    “I say it’s time the Lords were made the dominant chamber. The Parliament Acts should be rewritten thusly :-)”

    Whilst the idea of a non-elected chamber turns my stomach, I can see where you are coming from with your post. The Lords are now an indespensible check and balance on an irresponsible and self serving Labour Government. If only the Liberal’s and Tories (can’t believe I’m about to type this) could start attracting more votes.

    On the Sinn Féin point, their priorities do seem to be a bit hammered on this issue, but then again, I sure as hell don’t want “Foriegn National” on any ID when I’m back home in Derry.

  • heck

    The solution to the need for an undemocratic chamber to protect civil liberties from an authoritarian labour party would be a written constitution guaranteeing basic freedoms; such as freedom of speech,(taken away by Honest Tony-no broad black brimmer songs any more), freedom of the press (honest Tony doesn’t like that one), the right to keep and bear arms (ok scratch that one for fenians), the right to a fair trial with a jury of one’s peers(you expect honest Tony to give that to wogs?), and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

    And then have a sensible judiciary to enforce it. (no Huttons or Dennings please)

  • Manc

    Lord Denning has produced some of the most revolutionary and sensible law in UK history. His interpretative skills were second to none. Fair enough some of his obiter was frankly mental, but during my studies I have always found him to be the most refreshing Law Lord.

    I don’t agree with you on the right to bear arms. Last thing we need is more guns floating about. But I do believe that a degree of codification (made up word?) is needed for the UK constitution.

  • wondering

    What will the situation be in future for people who consider themselves Irish though born in N.I. Will those who refuse to get a British ID card be obliged to take out an Irish passport if they don´t already have one and carry it at all times? Or will the Republic bring in ID cards straight after the UK does?

  • Swamptrash

    Wondering – if this noxious bill goes through, you’ll get (sorry, be forced to pay for) an ID card if you’re resident in the UK for more than 3 months, regardless of nationality. Hence British citizens who are expats will not get one. They’ll get a lovely new biometric passport though, specifically to appease Mr Bush.

  • heck

    Manc,

    The right to bear arms was in there semi tounge in cheek. (although a recent article in the belfast bellylaugh about the number of legally held guns in east belfast made me wonder why all the fuss about disarming the fenians!)

    If there is a written constitution defining basic rights then we need a judicary to enforce them. Lord Denning was not the type of person one would want doing this. One of the rolls of the judicary is to protect the citizen against the arbitary use of executive power. Denning’s shamefull view of innocent irish people in british jails showed that he put the interests of the state above the interests of the individual, If Britain had the death penalty in place at the time he would have come to the same conclusion and killed the innocent to protect the state. In this he was no different that those who would kill the innocent to destroy the state. It’s just that he thought he was superior.

  • wondering

    What about people people from the Republic just visiting the North for a day, shopping or whatever? If the Republic doesn´t introduce ID cards what will they be expected to produce if asked for papers by the PSNI? Or is it pretty much to be expected that the Republic will follow suit and introduce ID cards anyway, to please Big Brother UK?
    This ID business is ridiculous, they even admitted it wouldnt stop terrorist attacks so what´s the point?. Another example of the fact that Labour are just as right wing and authoritarian as the Tories.

  • Manc

    “although a recent article in the belfast bellylaugh about the number of legally held guns in east belfast made me wonder why all the fuss about disarming the fenians!”

    The Telegraph is one thing about back home that I have never missed during my exile. But an interesting point all the same. To be honest I believe there should be no gun owners in NI at all – we simply can’t be trusted with them.

    “Denning’s shamefull view of innocent irish people in british jails showed that he put the interests of the state above the interests of the individual, If Britain had the death penalty in place at the time he would have come to the same conclusion and killed the innocent to protect the state.”

    You have enlightened me here. To be honest I was only aware of Denning’s record in contract and equitable disputes. Do you have any suitable further reading on the persecution of Irish by Denning LJ? It’s certaintly something I’d like to read.

  • heck

    manc

    try this link

    http://www.christis.org.uk/archive/issue05/victims.html

    and this link to a guardian story which mentions his position vis a vis innocent Irish people in jail.

    sorry I am not a lawyer or I could do better

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,315559,00.html

  • George

    Wondering,
    McDowell has already said Ireland would probably have to introduce voluntary ID cards if Britain did as it is a common travel area.

    I would assume northerners could apply for those cards rather than the British one.

  • Manc

    Cheers for the linkage. The Grauniad article in particular was very informative (pity the first one went all Jesus crazy after a few paragraphs :S).

    Just goes to show how much is excluded from an education. Before reading this article I always had the impression that Denning was a great judge and a great man, based solely on discussion in lectures and seminars. I suppose almost everyone has a shameful side, great judges being no different from the rest of us. I would have appreciated knowing this before writing a few essays praising him on his contribution to the British legal system!