Dear Mr Langdon,
Thank you for taking the time to complete the Your Views section of the Focus’ newsletter, raising your con over Identity Cards and wars. These are issues that my Party and I are opposed to; I specifically expressed my opposition to ID Cards through my membership of the Home Affairs Select Committee.
We would scrap the Government’s ID scheme and use the savings to put 10,000 more police on the streets. In addition we would also match the Government’s pledge to fund 20,000 extra Community Support Officers.
As a new Home Secretary, Mr Charles Clarke has a great opportunity to think again on ID cards. He should think through the practical implications of the scheme - not least the considerable difficulties that some people will face in accessing the biometric scanning technology. For example, pensioners and disabled people would face long and quite expensive journeys into cities to go to the secure centres.
The Tories’ decision to support the introduction of ID cards has all the signs of Michael Howard overruling colleagues’ concerns about the scheme. Liberal Democrats voted against the Bill.
Lib-Dem Leader Charles Kennedy has asked the Prime Minister to rule out of consideration any companies which have been associated with earlier computer fiascos such as the Child Support Agency or tax credits.
As regards to wars, Liberal Democrats were the only Party to oppose the Iraq War. We have consistently expressed our concern both before the war and subsequently. We firmly believe that war must always be a last resort when all other diplomatic and political options have been exhausted.
In the votes that took place in the House of Commons on 18 March, 2003 on the issue of war in Iraq, Liberal Democrats opposed the Government’s motion in support of military action and supported instead an all-party amendment. This stated that the case for war had not been made but that, if hostilities commenced, we would pledge total support for British forces fighting in the conflict. The amendment was not carried, and the Government motion was approved.
Our scepticism and concerns have proved to be justified, but we cannot turn the clock back and we cannot abandon the Iraqi people. They are entitled to security and the opportunity of democracy.
UN Resolution 1511, co-sponsored by the UK, US and Spain, failed to give the UN an overarching role in security and reconstruction, which would have done much to bring other nations on board, and to stem sympathy for The resistance to the Iraqi Governing Council and the Coalition Authority. This resolution was a missed opportunity, and has not done enough to secure real support in terms of money and personnel from other nations.
The security and stability of Iraq is under constant and continuing threat from those who wish to derail the political progress being made. Liberal Democrats believe that in the light of events that have taken place in Iraq over the last few months, progress is only possible if the role of the United Nations is expanded considerably and the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis on 3O June is real and visible.
Furthermore, Liberal Democrats believe that no additional troops should be sent to Iraq
It is no longer possible for the US and the UK to complete their task in Iraq without the support of the UN and the international community. The British Government must press in the UN Security Council, and use their influence with the US government, to ensure that the difficult process of transferring power to a sovereign Iraqi government is completed as quickly as possible.
I am grateful to you for contacting me on these two very important matters.
MP for Colchester