The Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, MP Home Secretary Introduction Good

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					                    The Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, MP
                          Home Secretary
Date: 29th January 2009
Event: National Identity Service – Stakeholder Conference, Manchester


Good morning.

Today, I’m here to talk about the National Identity Service. In an
era when more and more people are worried about how to protect
their identity, I believe that this service represents a major step
forward for the UK.

It gives each UK citizen the chance to get a small card that proves
to anyone from banks to bus companies that they are who they say
they are.

It’s that simple.

It is a service that creates safe and easy way for people to interact
with other organisations, as well as making it just that much harder
for the criminals and fraudsters to do their worst.

That is why there is real support for this service and as people get
to understand all the potential benefits they will see that far from
being Big Brother, it’s really just less bother.

Moving house

Look at what happens now if you move house to another area.

Maybe you shopped around for a mortgage, which means the bank
is likely to ask you for your passport and various other forms of ID.

Let’s say you want to register with a new doctor – that takes a
photo ID and two letters with your new address, which you may not
have since you’ve only just moved in.

You then want to register with the local DVD rental store. Again,
you’ll probably need a photo ID and some paper documentation, all
of which the person behind the desk goes off to photocopy in the
backroom where you can’t see what’s happening with your details.

Or maybe you are a woman moving house to get away from a
stalker or a violent partner. With an identity card, you will still be
able to access services, prove your age and so on, but your new
address will not be on display for anyone to see.

Practically every organisation you deal with at a certain level
requires some form of identity check. At the moment, there’s no
certainty about what they will or won’t accept as proof – and
certainly in the case of the DVD rental store, there’s no way of
telling how secure their system might be.

That’s why the National Identity Service represents such a
significant advance – not just in security, ease and convenience,
but also in terms of cutting out needless paperwork between you
as an individual and the companies and businesses and public
services you deal with every day.

Clearly, the card offers many benefits to the individual. But as the
national identity service develops and the cards become
widespread, we fully expect the private sector to develop new
ways of using the card to make their businesses more efficient and
your services cheaper.

To pick out just a few points, the NIS will give employers added
reassurance that the person they are employing is who they say
they are. It will help them check details such as an individual’s right
to work in the UK – and all without wading through masses of extra

I’m sure that we’ll see benefits across government and public
services as well.

That’s important, because all these advances have the potential to
get things done quicker and cheaper.

Indeed, an independent review by Sir James Crosby last year
stated that “… those countries with the most effective ID assurance
systems and infrastructure will enjoy economic and social
advantage and those without will miss an opportunity”.

Sir James also pointed out that the haphazard proliferation of
different ID systems combining utility bills, passports, birth
certificates, bank cards, user names, and passwords were so
complex that the system was in danger of creating a whole new
form of social exclusion among groups such as the elderly.

That can’t be right.

That’s why I believe that the national identity service will more than
prove its worth in the coming years.

It provides the choice for each person to use one simple card to
verify their identity.

It adds another layer of protection against ID theft by locking your
personal information to your own identity through your fingerprints.

Crucially, it protects against the disclosure of personal information,
since only authorised users will be able to access sensitive
information on the card.

It will make it harder for criminals to create and use false or
multiple identities.

And if you are a victim of ID Fraud, the National Identity Service
will make it far easier to repair the damage and re-establish the
integrity of your identity quickly and efficiently.

All in all, I’d say that level of security adds to the privacy of the
citizen rather than the other way round.

Foreign National ID

Since November 2008, the system is already proving its worth to
foreign nationals who want to stay in the UK.

I have heard for myself some of the many positive comments
made by overseas visitors who say that ID cards are helping to
smooth their path into British life. So for example, a new student
enrolling at Manchester University will be able to prove who they
are straight away.

But the system is not only helping individuals who have a right to
be here – it is also helping to protect our country by weeding out
those who shouldn’t.

The implementation has already helped to thwart illegal immigrants
and those trying to enrol under multiple identities.

Not only that, but an early pilot scheme actually helped us pinpoint
several criminals – to date we have secured four convictions and
put the spotlight on a possible case of child trafficking that is
currently under investigation by the Police.

Again, we are only just beginning to see all the benefits from the


Some of you here today will be familiar with the National Identity
Service in another area – the Critical Worker Identity Card – or
CWIC for short.

Manchester and London City airports have already committed to
working with us on CWIC and we have had some very productive
discussions with the aviation industry so far.

In the early days, CWIC met with some scepticism in the sector
from people concerned about added costs and red tape. But as
we’re getting the message out about how the service can address
these issues, the terms of the debate are changing.

The industry is now talking more about how they can cut costs with
a reliable, portable, identity system.

In the past, for example, someone working airside for Smith
Sandwiches was often checked all over again if they switched jobs
to Jones Sandwiches at the same airport.

A similar situation applies to baggage handlers working for
different contractors at an airport.

With portable background checks – backed by the ability to confirm
an identity using fingerprint data held securely on the card – all
airport workers will find it easier to move between jobs and across

We believe that by working together with aviation sector partners,
identity cards will make pre-employment checks faster and more
integrated, as well as saving on paperwork and administration

The evaluation programme gets underway at Manchester and
London City airports this autumn and I hope that their example will
provide broader lessons for everyone.

Young People

Young people are another group that will see the immediate
benefits of identity cards.

Indeed, I had a very interesting discussion about the potential of
the service this morning with the pupils at Newall Green School.

Particularly when they are first striking out on their own, young
adults need to be able to establish their own separate identity
away from their parents.

That is true when they open their first bank account; take on their
first rental agreement for a flat at college; or perhaps make their
first hire purchase agreement for a car.

A secure and convenient ID card will go a long way to making all
these processes a lot safer and easier – both for the person with
the card and for all those organisations providing services.

As such, it is far more than a Proof of Age ID for young people
trying to get into the local club – but I’m equally sure that they will
be happy to hear that their passports are no longer at risk of
getting swept up with the plastic glasses at the end of a long

Timetables for action

ID cards for young people will be available from 2010 and I’m sure
we’ll see a major pickup, especially as this demographic tends to
be very comfortable embracing new ideas.

In the wider population, polling indicates that on average 59% of
people are supportive of the national identity service – but there
are still a few who remain to be convinced.

That’s partly why we are pushing ahead with some other initiatives
to build confidence in the scheme this year before we roll out the
NIS across the whole country.

For example, I announced in November that I wanted to find a way
to give members of the public who already see the benefits of ID
cards a chance to get one this year.

The Identity and Passport Service have been working hard to
make this happen and will launch a website on DirectGov in the
next few months.

The site will give the public a wealth of information about how to
best prove and protect their identity, as well as keeping people
updated about how they can apply to be the first holders of a new
national ID for British citizens.

Beacon areas

Obviously, we want to make sure that the systems are operating
smoothly – especially in the early stages of the main roll-out – so
we will be launching the system in several Beacon Areas later this

First of all, this will ensure that we have the right capabilities in
place. But working in specific geographical areas will also help
generate a critical mass of services and infrastructure that will
drive the broader use of the cards, making it even more valuable
for individuals and businesses.

The Identity and Passport Service has just started the process of
identifying regions that may want to be at the cutting edge of this

I intend to announce which areas will take this forward in the
coming months, but I’m sure Manchester is likely to be a strong
contender for Beacon status, given that the airport is involved in
the CWIC scheme and the city has young people who can already
see the benefits.


The National Identity Service goes nationwide in 2012 when
everyone will have the chance to take advantage of the cards.

In the meantime, some of you might have seen that we are
advertising for an independent National Identity Scheme
Commissioner to monitor the system and act as a strong advocate
for the public interest as we move forward.

For me, this is a crucial step.

No matter how well framed the system might be, I want the public
to have a strong voice in determining how their details can be
accessed and protected. An independent champion for the public
will be essential in making sure that this happens.

There is no question that we need to build a secure and trusted
environment for the NIS to meet its objectives and provide the
reassurance and confidence in the system that the public rightly

And here I would point out that the Passport Service has a long
and distinguished record in doing just that.

There is no room for complacency, though, and whoever takes on
the job of National Identity Scheme Commissioner will be expected
to play a very full role in preserving the integrity of the programme
as technology advances – no matter how the future looks many
years from now.


In short, the NIS is a simple solution to the problem of securing
your unique identity.

It’s secure. It’s portable. And it may – as an added bonus – help us
to curb the proliferation of fake identities that are often used in
crime, fraud and terrorism.

That type of protection is very valuable in the 21st century – as Sir
James Crosby noted – and I’m sure that the combination of
benefits to the individual, to business, to government and to public
services will make the National Identity Service an invaluable asset
for this country for many years to come.

The service is already up and running for foreign nationals and as
the service is rolled out to the rest of the country, I look forward to
working with everyone here to make sure that we maximise the
potential of the NIS to deliver safer, more convenient, and more
efficient services for everyone.

Thank you.



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