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ID cards sorta compulsory

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ID card opponents lost a key battle in Westminster last night, after a month that has seen the Identity Card Bill tossed between the Commons and Lords.

MPs and peers found a compromise over their long-running disagreement over whether ID Cards should be compulsory: they made them sort of compulsory.

Lord Armstrong, a respected cross-party peer, rescued the two houses from the embarrassment of a prolonged squabble by carving out a compromise amendment that everyone could agree on before they all packed up on Thursday for a two and a half week Easter holiday.

The original proposal, that anyone who renewed their passport would be forced to get an ID card as well, has been held off for just four years until January 2010. People can choose to opt out for now, and there might now be time enough for civil liberties campaigners to build a stronger base of opposition to the rollout.

However, people who renew their passport will still have their details entered on the National Identity Register, the mother of all government databases, a biometric database to which the cards are just the public face.

Throughout the protracted ID debate in Westminster it has been pointed out time and again that the database is what really scares them. ®

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