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DEAR SIR,

RAY Fleming has written several times in favour of ID cards. In last weekend's Daily B he says he is confused over the apparently different regard he believes that Britons resident in Spain have for ID cards (positive) compared to Britons resident in the UK (negative) and asks for an explanation.

Perhaps Brits here are not so much in favour of ID Cards but against the residency certificate because it is bulky and does not identify the holder as it is without a photo. In Spain the law requires that we carry ID at ALL TIMES and even a compact passport is inconvenient compared to the single plasticized credit card size ID. In Spain the ID card is a way of life. It is not a way of life in the UK and the claims of its benefits are largely illusory.

It does not control illegal immigration.
The illegal immigrants carry no ID – and especially none relating to their homeland. When apprehended the authorities are unable to identify their country of origin and hence unable to “immediately send them packing”. Spain with ID cards may have as many illegals as the UK without.

It does not control international terrorism.
The 19 highjackers who destroyed New York's Twin Towers on September 11th, 2001 killing almost 3000 people had all their papers in order as did the 4 suicide bombers in the London tube attack of 7 July 2005 where some 750 people were killed or gravely injured.

It does not control criminals/burglaries/crime in general. In addition to a photo, address and signature, the card carries a finger print. As possibly 95% of Spain's inhabitants have their finger- prints on record, do we have a 95% clean up rate on break-ins? No. Robbery detectives seldom bother taking finger prints and if they did, may have no practical way of cross- referencing the millions on record held in a multitude of offices scattered all over the country. On a technical level, the police only take a print of one finger for ID purposes – not the whole 10 needed for forensic purposes.

It does not eliminate credit card fraud. Illegal twinning of credit cards is common. The addition of a unique iris scan to the ID card/passport has been proposed and might remove this fault in face to face purchases but it is impractical to imagine iris scanning machines in your local corner street grocer. In the ever-growing internet sales, it is of no use at all. If the system could be effective why don't we hear from the Credit Card companies, who lose millions, offering to foot the £40 cost? I still use my old one (expired 2008) which normally works fine as no one checks its validity date - so much for security.

It does not eliminate benefit fraud.
I don't say that the card won't help but my experience in Spain where biometric data is used (fingerprints) is that their efficiency is very limited. Unless the benefit offices have biometric readers how will they differentiate between all the John Smiths and even more difficult bearded Mohammed Ibrahims and turbaned Ramesh Patels? Unless there is centralized cross-checking how do they control one man with multiple but correct cards using various addresses? I have no trouble with a loss of privacy but at a reputed cost of a billion pounds, the card has been over sold on the false merits which I dispute above. In the current economic climate I believe its cancellation is justified. I am not opposed to ID cards – there are useful tool for credit card purchases but little more - don't regard them as a panacea against “rotten, criminal people plus our growing security risks”.

Mike Lillico, Playa de Palma