GP Taylor: Windrush scandal shows folly of refusal to accept ID cards

IN the wake of the Windrush crisis, there has to be some protection given in law to the people who came to our island at a crucial time in history and brought with them their great talents. Their contribution to our country must be honoured and their right to stay guaranteed.

Alan Johnson backed identity cards when the Hull MP was Home Secretary - and GP Taylor says the case has never been greater. Do you agree?
Alan Johnson backed identity cards when the Hull MP was Home Secretary - and GP Taylor says the case has never been greater. Do you agree?

None of this should ever have happened. Anyone with a valid claim to come to this country should be helped in any way we can. They contribute more to our way of life than the costs incurred. Legal, controlled immigration is a very important thing.

Sadly, in this day and age, far too many people come here without the right to reside. I cannot understand why politicians such as Diane Abbott can never give a clear answer to the question of what to do with illegal immigrants.

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There is no shame with saying that anyone who comes here illegally should be automatically sent back. There is no shame in saying that we should return as many illegal immigrants as we possibly can. It is not racist or xenophobic, it is practical, financial and in the interests of every one of us.

Our health and education systems cannot cope with the people who live here, never mind those who have sneaked in or overstayed. We are an island. There is only so much space. There is only so much money.

Unlike so many of our European neighbours, we have no practical way of validating who has the right to reside here.

In Germany, everyone has to carry an ID card that can be used to prove who you are to banks, utility companies, libraries and the police. Everyone over the age of 16 has to have one and it is considered as being a right of passage to have your first card. Germans have to register where they live and carry an ID card with them at all times. No one seems to worry.

In Britain, we had ID cards until around 1952. They were part of our way of life. I see no reason why they should not return. A simple biometric card with our photo and fingerprints would add to our national security and make us easily identifiable to the authorities.

Personally, I don’t really care who has my details. So many people hold my data. Another organisation having my name, address and date of birth makes no difference at all. I have nothing to hide.

People give more personal details to Facebook than they would for an ID card, so why do people make such a fuss? Why did the law and order Tories repeal the Labour ID legislation when they got into power? Former Labour Home Secretaries Alan Johnson and Charles Clarke asked this very question last week.

I am constantly being asked to prove who I am. My bank recently asked to see my passport and driving licence to transfer some of my own money, even though I had been at the same branch for 30 years and all the staff knew me by name. With an ID card, life would have been so much simpler.

Nor am I concerned with the police having a sample of my fingerprints, come to that, I would gladly give them some of my DNA. After all, the police now have all my details anyway. The new National Law Enforcement Data Programme will combine data on motorists’ driving licences, criminals and vehicles from the DVLA database, the Police National Computer and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems. They will have access to my photograph, insurance, MoT and road tax details. The ANPR has the facility to even tell them where I have been driving. So, ID cards are small beer in comparison.

In Britain, we are the most spied-on nation in Europe if not the world. CCTV cameras are everywhere. What difference does it make for the Government to have us all carry a card with details they most probably know anyway. There is no encroachment on our civil liberties, we lost them long ago.

With an ID card, I would be instantly able to prove who I was and that I had a right to access educational and medical facilities.

With an overstretched NHS, it is something that we urgently need. Such a measure would cut the ‘health tourist’ pressure on hospitals. No ID card would mean no treatment other than for medical emergencies.

The only issue I have with ID cards is that the information in them should only be used by the Government, and not sold to parking companies and debt collectors.

The time is right for the reintroduction of a national ID system. In the age of identity fraud, there has to be a certain way of being able to instantly validate who we are and our rights to public services.

After all, my Nectar card appears to know more about my little secrets than a state ID card ever would.

GP Taylor is an author and broadcaster.