|UK Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday knocked the wheels off Home Secretary David Blunkett's ID card bandwagon, citing "huge logistical and cost issues that need to be resolved" before the cards can be implemented. If words such as "privacy" and "freedom" also figured in his reasoning he neglected to share this with us, but he pointed out that the last government (by which he presumably means Tory government, rather than the one he himself baked earlier) had examined the issue "over a period of years" and had come to similar conclusions.
Blair's comments were made in response to a question, covering asylum seekers, at his monthly press conference. In recent months the Home Office's desire for an "entitlement card" to be used for interaction with government has morphed into a more security-driven compulsory national ID card scheme. Yesterday, however, the question followed up on proposals for ID cards to be used as, yes, "entitlement cards" for health service treatment. Health Minister John Hutton has supported Blunkett on this basis.
Blair however addressed asylum specifically and the issue of ID cards. On asylum, he clearly does not regard cards as the central issue - "what is vitally important with all these questions to do with asylum is to get the numbers down"... this is the "only way of dealing with this in the end."
In the long run he thinks there is a case for Britain "moving towards a system of ID cards," but they present huge logistical and cost issues. It is "worth looking, and this is what we are doing, at how you can resolve them, but it is not a quick fix for the system."