John Lettice is on top form at the Register on ID cards again.
"The Identity Cards Act finally (but one still hopes, temporarily) made it onto the statute book yesterday, and the Passport Service and all of its ultra vires identity-related activities (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/23/idcard_passport_roots/) will magically transform itself into the Identity and Passport Service tomorrow. We still don't accept that this is entirely legal, but phase one of the Government's incredible, improbable and unworkable joined-up border-watch, security and immigration policing system has now been given the Parliamentary green light, and immigration is one of the areas where it should bite first.
So consider how it's supposed to work vis a vis immigration, and while doing so suspend disbelief...All that is needed is for the Government to claim that it's working; and claiming things are working when they are patently not is something of a special skill of this regime.
The theory behind the system runs approximately as follows. Overseas visa applicants have their biometrics read as part of the application and can therefore be positively identified on entry to the country. Because their biometrics are on record, the chances of intercepting and deporting overstayers increases, at least in theory. Biometrics are also taken from new asylum applicants, so again they're on record and can theoretically be nicked and returned. Non-UK EU citizens will in the future have to have an ID card if they're resident in the UK for longer than three months; this one won't be in place for a while yet as compulsion can only be applied to them when it is also applied to UK citizens (EU law talking here), but it's an important aspect of the 'ring of steel' in that it provides a means of differentiation between say, Underpaid Polish cockle-picking EU citizens (good) and underpaid Ukrainian cockle-picking non-EU citizens (bad)."
Highly recommemded. As is the series of reports by the Guardian's Felicity Lawrence mentioned by Lettice at the end of his piece.