For the opponents of the particular scheme set out by the Identity Cards Bill 2005, yesterday was another step towards disaster, and another lesson that by the time a bad piece of legislation has reached the Lords, it is too late, as most of their improvements (even from the viewpoint of a supporter of the scheme) tend to be lost in the face of Government arrogance and stupidity.
The House of Lords debated the Commons rejections of the previous Lords amendments to the Bill.
It is true, that the Opposition won the only vote, on a motion about changing the inital compulsion by stealth, to compulsion later after a voluntary period, via the mechanism of forcing everyone who has to apply for or renew a passport to have far more details and biometrics than are needed for a Passport to be stored on the centralised National Identity Register.
Whoopee ! However, the Government will, no doubt seek to overturn this in the next round of Lords / Commons Parliamentary "ping pong".
However, despite putting forward compelling arguments, the Opposition chickened out and accepted, without a vote, all 5 of the other Government rejection motions.
One of them was a minor amendment which achieved the same effect as an Opposition amendment of little consequence to do with somehow requiring that security of the database is required, something which is obvious, but which is unachievable in practice, especially through legislation.
So there is to be no proper detailed cost benefit analysis of the ID cards scheme by the National Audit Office, only the easliy circumvented "Dobson" amendment for a censored 6 monthy cost figure to be published, limited to only the Home Office costs and not across Government and the private sector as a whole.
Your personal National Identity Register data will be passed on to foreign Governments under the "Gateways" provided by the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001.
The role of the the National Identity Scheme Commissioner is weakened , again with only a censored annual report to the Secretary of State, who also appoints this Commissioner, rather than an independent Commissoner appointed by the Crown and reporting independently to Parliament.
The way in which the Home Office Baroness Scotland held up the example of the Surveillance Commisioner etc. as an example of the way in which the Home Office want to work, is worrying, and presumably means that the National identity Scheme Commissioner will also be excluded from Schedule 1 of the Freedom of Information Act.
The Home Office argument that oonly the Home Secretary could censor the details of say, a sub judice or ongoing criminal investigation, which would almost certainly not be directly alluded to in a report written by , presumably, an ex High Court judge, or whoever else is considered to be "sound" enough to be appointed as a Commissiner, is wrong.
What is likely is that when, not if, the security breaches of the human and technical systems of the scheme occur, they will be supressed from public scrutiny on the grounds of "national security", to prevent political embarassment which should really llead to the resignation of the Home Secretary, who will, no doubt try to shift the blame onto someone else.
So much for transparency on costs or on the detailed operation of the scheme - it will all be censored.