Anyone who had hoped that the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office, Andy Burnham would be an improvement over re-shuffled ex Home Office Ministers like Des Browne or Caroline Flint must now be dissapointed, after he answered a couple of questions in Parliament yesterday.
Bear in mind that he is responsible for:
- ID cards and passports
- Forensic Science Service
- Refugee integration
- E borders
- Extradition and judicial co-operation
- Criminal Records Bureau
- Home Office research and science
- Better regulation (hah !)
- Design and Green Minister. (??)
House of Commons Hansard for 23 May 2005 (pt 4):
Tom Harris (Glasgow South, Lab): What steps the Government are taking to combat identity theft.
Andy Burnham (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office:
An identity cards scheme, legislation for which was announced in the Queen's Speech, will provide people with a highly secure means of protecting their identity. Prior to the introduction of identity cards we have set up a public-private sector work programme to tackle identity theft and identity fraud. Identity fraud costs the UK economy at least £1.3 billion a year. Measures that have been delivered include a tougher criminal regime for identity fraudsters and a database of lost and stolen passports."
How often can a statement like this go unchallenged by the Opposition ? Why are they not calling for a Point of Order and having the Speaker discpline this Member of Parliament / Minister for misleading Paliament ?
How many times do we have to keep telling everyone that "Identity Fraud" does NOT "cost the UK £1.3 billion a year ?
As the Home Office Minister responsible for Home Office Research, why has Andy Burnham not commissioned some quantitative research into true the Identity Theft / Identity Fraud problem, insetead of just endlessly repeating a figure derived from an unscientific, back of an envelope guesstimate in the Annex to a 3 year old Cabinet Office report ?
It is astonishing that now soc called "identity theft" is being spun as the latest ever changing justification for the controversial ID Cards/ Database Bill, when there is no factual basis to justify the planned massive expenditure.
"Dr. John Pugh (Southport) (LD): What progress is being made to share the registry of deaths with the financial services industry? After all, being dead is not something that one normally manages to keep confidential.
Andy Burnham: The identity theft of those who have died is a real issue. I know that the hon. Gentleman raised questions in the last Session of Parliament on that very matter. The fact remains that more and more people are trying to evade the law by using false identities. I put it back to him that his party needs to consider what measures it would put in place to ensure that those practices are stamped out. A secure biometric identity card remains the best means of tackling identity fraud into the future."
Explain again how a Biometric Identity Card will work with dead people ? Are doctors , hospital staff or undertakers going to be taking fingerprints or iris scans of people who have died of natural causes, so as to prevent their identities from being used by other people ?
The Frederick Forsyth novel "The Day of the Jackal", written over 30 years agao, outlined this trick ,which the Government had still not clamped down on by January 2003, when the BBC TV programme "Kenyon Confronts: Identity Snatchers" obtained false documents in this way, including Frederick Forsyth's birth certificate and a provisional driving licence for the legally blind then Home Secretary David Blunkett.
If it is a "fact" that "more and more" people are doing this, then where is the Home Office research which shows the quantitative scale of the problem ? How will this problem be solved by Yet Another Identity Document, when the existing ones are not checked properly or even demanded in the first place ?