On this day in history : 21st February 1952 – Winston Churchill’s Conservative Government abolishes identity cards in the United Kingdom ~ ‘Setting the people free’….
National Identity Cards were introduced by the National Registration Act at the beginning of World War 2…. Every man, woman and child was issued with one and on it was recorded name, age, sex, address, marital status and occupation…. The first cards were brown – with the introduction of blue cards for adults in 1943 and green cards with a photograph were issued to government officials….
At the end of the War the Labour Government, under Clement Attlee, opted to keep the identity card – which was not a popular decision amongst much of the population…. Labour argued that the card was important for preventing fraud, for rationing, the health service and benefits such as family allowance….
In their election manifesto the Conservative Party had pledged to scrap the cards…. It was in answer to a question that he had been asked in the Commons that Health Minister Harry Crookshank said… “It is no longer necessary to require the public to possess and produce an identity card, or to notify change of address for National Registration purposes, though the numbers will continue to be used in connection with the National Health Service”… His reply was met with cheers from members in the House of Commons….
From then on other forms of identification were acceptable when required, such as passport, driving licence, trade union membership card etc…. However, the National Registration number was kept and became the National Health Service number….
In 2006 the Labour Government made the Identity Cards Act law…. A voluntary National Identity Card scheme with a National Identity Register database…. It proved to be very controversial and when the Conservatives came to power the Act was repealed in 2010….