Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Letter to my MP - Francis Maude

Dear Francis Maude,

I am writing to ask that you make two very important contributions to the argument in favour of civil liberty in parliament. Firstly I believe that you should vote in favour of a transparent government, it is becoming increasingly obvious to the British public that the activities of the government shielded from public view are hidden in the interests of those in office as opposed to those they represent. There is a conflict of intent between the Freedom of Information bill and the Official secrets act and it is your responsibility to ensure that the people of your constituency are able to see how their country is being run, and on what their tax is being spent.

Although the prime minister has said he will reinstate certain liberties that have been taken away since 2001, it is clear from the fact he continues to argue the case for mandatory ID cards and a state database that he intends to jeopardise the relationship of trust between the people and their government. Jacqui Smith will take away the freedom of movement that British citizens have enjoyed since the Second World War by continuing with her plans to demand 53 pieces of information from people before they travel abroad.

As well as the ethical questions that the introduction of a national surveillance database containing the transactions, medical history and a whole myriad of other private information on civilians, has on the integrity of our democracy, there are the economical ramifications of such an expensive proposition and questions of public safety, which have recently gained more significance after the recent scandal involving the loss of 25 million people’s details. I have no confidence in the competence of the government to maintain the security of the database once it has been constructed, even at current Home Office estimates, the additional tax burden of setting up the scheme will be of the order of £200 per person, and if this expense does not wound the nation significantly, it is likely that the expenses incurred in the following increase in identity fraud will.

Please speak out against the introduction of ID cards and also in favour of a transparent government so that those in your constituency can be sure their freedom and their identities are safe.

Yours sincerely,

Thomas Rowsell

Dear Mr Rowsell

Thank you for your email.

I fully appreciate your comments about the importance of having a transparent government. You make a number of interesting and valid points which I will bear in mind in discussion with colleagues.

Conservatives are firmly opposed to ID cards on a number of grounds. The cards will not work, they are a waste of money, and an invasion of privacy. My colleague David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, has made it clear that, if the conservatives win the next election, his first act will be to scrap the scheme. He has written to the cabinet secretary to inform him of this.

The former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, has admitted that ID cards would not have prevented the 7th july 2005 bombings in London. In Spain, ID cards are compulsory, but did not stop the Madrid bombings in 2004. People who work for Microsoft and the FBI have warned they will not prevent identity fraud, and may in fact, increase it.

According to Government estimates, you will pay at least £93 for a combined ID card and passport package. Given this Government's appalling record of implementing IT projects, this figure is likely to go up. Also, if your ID card is stolen, or you lose it, you'll have to pay £30 for a replacement. If you change your name when you get married, you'll have to pay for a new ID card. If one of your relatives dies and you forget to return their ID card you could be fined £1,000. While the government claims the scheme will cost £5.6 billion of the tax payers' money, the independent London school of economics estimates it will cost up to £20 billion.

Your ID card could hold almost 30 separate pieces of personal information on you, including your name, date, and place of birth, gender, previous addresses, photograph, signature, fingerprints, and other biometric details. All this information will also be stored on a massive collection of databases, called the National Identity Register.

Following the astonishing loss of data by HMRC it has become even clearer to me that this government cannot be trusted with our personal information. I think they must now reconsider their plans.

For all these reasons , I believe that this is an extremely poor scheme, and i urge you to visit www.conservatives.com to sign our petition calling for the plans to be scrapped

The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP

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