Tory party set to withdraw ID scheme support

No vote, as opposed to voting no

The Tory Party is to withdraw support for the UK's identity card scheme, following the Government's failure to deal with the 'five tests' the Tories put forward as a condition of their support. Tory leader Michael Howard personally favours ID cards, but substantial sections of his party are either sceptical or totally opposed to them.

According to a report in today's Sunday Telegraph, short of a face-about by the Government when the House of Commons votes on the bill on Thursday, the Tories will now abstain. This may induce more Tory refuseniks to vote against the scheme, but even if the party line was to oppose rather than abstain, it would still be approved because of Labour's large majority.

The Liberal Democrats have opposed the scheme throughout the bill's passage, and Richard Allan MP, who has been arguing the party's case through the Bill's brief committee stage, has moved a number of amendments which he expects to be ignored. Allan predicts that the report stage of the Bill (where the Standing Committee's report back is considered) will take approximately three to four hours, leaving as little as 30 minutes for the Commons to consider the Bill prior to the curtain being brought down (Allan's comments and amendments here).

The Bill will however be likely to run into stiffer opposition in the House of Lords, where the LibDems have a number of highly competent opponents, and where Tory opponents may view their party's tiptoeing away from support as carte blanche to cause mayhem. ®

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