Austin Mitchell MP

Austin Mitchell MP (Labour) MP for Great Grimsby. Member of the All Party Internet Group. First elected in 1977. Before entering Parliment Austin was an academic (Nuffield College Oxford and New Zealand Universities) and a television journalist (BBC and Yorkshire Television).

The BBC say

He engages in regular criticism of the Labour leadership whom he has accused of arrogance and elitism. A prolific writer and journalist, he is a strong Eurosceptic, and is one of the fiercest critics of the single currency and of the Common Fisheries Policy. He often rebels against the Labour whip, on matters such as benefits or civil liberties.

Identity cards

Signed Early Day Motion 263 Identity Cards 06 June 2005

That this House believes that a convincing case for the introduction of compulsory biometric identity cards and a national database has not been made, that the risks involved far outweigh any discernible benefit, that the introduction of identity cards will fundamentally change the relationship between the citizen and the state, diminish personal privacy and threaten civil liberties, that the present proposals do not provide properly costed, proportionate or effective solutions to the problems they are claimed to solve; and calls upon the Government to shelve plans for their introduction.

Talking about ID cards in his blog 28 October 2005

Last week's vote on ID cards and particularly the amendment to make them voluntary had the whips rattled to a degree I've not seen before and unnecessarily as it turned out.
For the first time there were heavy appeals to loyalty and the kind of "see us through this and we'll promise this, that and the other".
It worked with me, though I thought the ID card should be compulsory to make it more unpopular with more people more quickly. The whole business reminded me of the top-up fees legislation: it passed by five votes because of heavy persuasion.

ID cards in his blog 4 July 2005

The ID Cards Bill is one of those things that are easy to rush into but which get disastrous later. The crucial issue is cost. Government estimates are low at the moment. They know that the higher the charge the more public opinion will turn against it.
But the estimates are wrong. A team of professors at the LSE put the costs as high as £19 billion (incidentally, the cost of repairing and renovating every council house in the country. As with all government contracts the final cost will, of course, be much higher.
Which makes me think that this is something more than just another folly like the Dome. The costs escalate and the problems become massive at two points. At four years the costs of supplying IDs to all passport renewals, driving license applicants and others turn big. At eight when cards finally become compulsory, bill turns massive.
Those are the times when Gordon Brown will be trying to lead us to our fourth and fifth victories. Doesn't Tony want Gordon to win?
The Government is rightly nervous about the prospects for the ID Bill. Potential rebels were phoned through the weekend. By Monday the story was let it through and the government will make concessions. Tuesday it was pass it and it will dribble into the sand.
I abstained but I don't believe either. This is the kind of measure which once it has a second reading is home and hosed. Only the Lords can stop it now.
The worst part of the ID Cards mess is the power it gives to jumped-up jobsworths. Mitchell's Law of Authority says it will always chuck itself around. So don't give it any vague omni-purpose powers to let it do so.
Asking for ID Cards is one such. It will be like the old Sus Law. Guess who's going to be harassed by being asked for ID by anyone in uniform. Not respectable middle-aged men in suits. Blacks, the poor, the odd, the angry, the hip, the young and the ethnic.
The only consolation is that thanks to the huge cost of the Cards we won't be able to pay for quite so many police to do the asking.

Talking about ID cards in his blog 4 May 2005

Charles Clarke tells us that ID Cards will also help defeat terrorism. I'm not sure how. Both the American and the Spanish terrorists had ID Cards. Since no visitor staying less than three months in Britain is going to need an ID Car it would be quite easy to come in, blow up a strategic target – like Cleethorpes Pier – and disappear again.
There's one other category of people who don't need an ID Card. Anyone who's Irish needs neither an ID Card nor a passport. Rightly, too, but do remind me where has the main threat of terrorism come from over the last twenty years? Where is terrorism most likely to come from again if the Peace Process breaks down?

Links

News

2004-04-08 - BBC - ID card Bill 'within four weeks'
Summary: Proposals for ID cards should be published within a month, David Blunkett has told BBC Radio 5 Live. Labour backbencher Austin Mitchell said ID cards were "not going to be an answer to terrorism" adding there was "a lot of discontent" on the government benches over the issue.

This page was last edited on 17 June 2011, at 21:24.

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