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UK national ID cards bill turned back by Lords a second time

[JURIST] The UK House of Lords [official website] dealt another major legislative setback to the anti-terrorism policies of the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair Monday by voting down for a second time a bill designed to establish a UK national ID card system. The Identity Cards Bill [text], a previous version of which failed in the Lords [Telegraph report] in January, was defeated 277-166. After the January setback UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke backed down [JURIST report] on the initial plan to make the ID cards immediately compulsory, and approved amendments passed by the Commons last month [JURIST report] that instead would have required anyone applying for travel or immigration documents in the United Kingdom to register for the card, delaying further legislation to make them officially compulsory until as late as 2011. Peers argued Monday that tying registration to the cards to passport applications in particular would simply make them compulsory "by stealth." From London, the Telegraph has more.

Liberty UK [official website] and other British civil rights groups [No2ID campaign website] have denounced ID cards [Liberty press release] as both ineffective and a violation of civil liberties. Lord Carlile, the Liberal Democrat peer appointed by the British government as an independent reviewer of its anti-terror laws, said in January that the ID cards would be of "limited value" against terrorism [JURIST report] and would not have prevented the London bombings in July. National ID cards were last required in the UK during World War II to facilitate the identification of aliens, but they were judicially ruled unlawful in 1951.

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