The new Home Secretary John Reid has come up with another excuse for ID cards, in response to a planted parliamentary question: keeping track of ex-offenders, like that thousand or so that got Charles Clarke the sack.
"My hon. friend is absolutely correct. One of the many problems that we face is that at no stage of the whole process — through investigation, arrest, inquiry, interview, trial, sentencing, consideration, custodial sentence and release — as far as I have been able to determine in the limited time that has been available to me, is there any legal requirement on anyone to be responsible for discovering a nationality, or indeed, on anyone else, to volunteer their nationality. That is a not inconsiderable problem when it comes to dealing with foreign nationals. As my hon. friend says, this is one of the areas in which identity cards would be a huge boon."
John Lettice can't contain himself
"Police throughout the UK will no doubt be relieved to hear from the Home Secretary that they are in point of fact under no obligation to find out who it is they've just nicked, but we feel sure that, perversely, they will continue to see doing so as one of their top ten tasks after an arrest. Breaks the day up for them, we suppose...
The problem here is not that the system doesn't know who they've got and who they should be monitoring or deporting on release, because the system does know this - it's that the system can't even share the information adequately with itself.
The system, up until the day before it releases the prisoner without considering deporting them, even has the subject's address. Might we propose some kind of prisoner identity register as a kind of alpha test prior to the really big cockup, er, national register?"
Read the whole piece. It's hilarious.