Blunkett was on the 'Today' programme yesterday morning condemning the judgement in a recent case where a judge passed a seemingly light sentence (interesting as Lord Falconer was on Question Time last night saying 'It wasn't the judge's fault - his hands were tied by legislation', or words to that effect).
At the end of the interview from 12 mins, 40 secs in, Blunkett was asked about a possible amnesty for illegal immigrants. This is what he said:
Interviewer: Let me as you, because as you say, the Home Office is engulfed in difficulties, about Amnesties and Illegal Immigration. The Immigration Minister made a statement to the Home Affairs Select Committee which indicated that he's looking at the evidence which bears on the question of an Amnesty. Did you seriously consider an Amnesty for illegal immigrants when you were home secretary?
David Blunkett: Not without Identity Cards. We had a little debate, it was supposed to be under Chatham House Rules [Should be Singular] at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in 2003, it immediately was released as ever, erm, about the issue, as I was asked this question specifically by a journalist. And I said it was impossible to have an amnesty without ID cards and a clean database because you firstly don't have any incentives for people to actually come up front and register and make themselves available, and secondly you have no means of tracking them. And what you can't do is announce an amnesty in advance of the date of the amnesty because obviously you then act as a magnet for pulling people into the country....
Read that again, ID cards were needed to track people who had been given leave to remain. This is essentially saying, unless I've greatly misunderstood, that ID cards could be used to track anyone. At will. The only way this can work is if papers are demanded frequently and often....
Sounds rather un-British to me. ID checks for there own sake won't mean a thing. Anyone planning something naughty will not show up on an ID check, rendering checks meaningless (at least, unless a lot of background searching is done at the time of the check). Recently in the states, there was such a check on a public bus. The woman won the case.
When Willcock v Muckle eventually reached the High Court in 1951, Lord Chief Justice Goddard said the continuation of the wartime ID card scheme was an "annoyance" to much of the public and "tended to turn law-abiding subjects into law breakers".
Update: No2ID have also commented upon this.