ID cards still on track, despite pilots’ protest

ID cards became compulsory for international students in November. | Photo: Samuel Cox

ID cards remain on track despite a recent refusal by pilots to carry them.

Last week the British Airline Pilots’ Association said they would challenge compulsory identity cards for pilots and other airside staff at Manchester Airport.

In November ID cards started to be issued to students who came to UK universities from outside the EU. Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, said that the government’s plans were still “on track”

When this came into force, the NUS said that they believed “singling out international students from the rest of student population could [increase] stigmatism and alienation” for students already having to cope with living and studying in a foreign country.

More frighteningly, documents leaked to the Conservative Party in January 2009 revealed that the government planned to force those applying for student loans from 2010 to have an ID card. However, the government later claimed that the cards would not be a requirement to use such services.

In August, the government launched the ‘MyLifeMyID’ website which solicited the views of young people on identity cards. The site was quickly shut down after being barraged by comments ridiculing the ID card scheme.

The recent pilots’ association’s move came after the government announced that residents of Greater Manchester would be the first people who could apply for a voluntary ID card.

However, the cards would be required for those working at Manchester’s airport. Jim McAuslan, the pilots’ associations’ general secretary, said it was “demonstrably unfair that the people of Manchester can choose… while pilots and other airside workers are being forced to have one.”

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One Response to ID cards still on track, despite pilots’ protest

  1. Jacqui Smith’s Demos speech implies it won’t work unless it’s compulsory:

    ‘It will make it easier to enrol on a course, apply for a student loan, open a bank account, or prove your age – especially as we get tougher on sales of alcohol to those under-age. [Voluntary?]

    ‘We will begin to offer cards to anyone who wants one later in 2010 – earlier than previously planned – and three years from now we will be offering cards to millions of people.

    ‘We will co-ordinate this with the planned upgrade of the current electronic passport, to contain digital fingerprints alongside its existing digital photograph. [Voluntary? Only if you don’t want a passport]

    ‘I want to give people a greater degree of choice about how [not if] they access the National Identity Scheme, and speed up the timetable for their participation in it.’

    The BALPA (British Air Line Pilots’ Association) successfully put a motion at last year’s TUC COnference pledging to ‘resist this scheme with all means at its disposal.’

    This year, the Home Office is targeting all airside staff at London City and Manchester Airports. They and all non-EEU foreign nationals (not just foreign students) are being used as soft targets for this contoversial ‘voluntary’ scheme.