[JURIST Europe] The controversial UK Identity Cards Bill [official PDF text; JURIST news archive] will go back to the House of Lords [Commons Insistence on Disagreement, PDF] on Wednesday after Prime Minister Tony Blair's governing Labour Party won a critical vote in the House of Commons [official website] to back a proposal that would make registration for the cards mandatory when applying for a passport. Initially, Labour vowed to make ID cards optional, and critics of the legislation have claimed that connecting ID cards with passports makes them compulsion by stealth. Labour MPs insisted Monday, however, that passports themselves are voluntary documents that are optional to renew and won the vote 310 to 277. If the House of Lords rejects the proposal on Wednesday, as they initially did [JURIST report] one week ago, it will return to the Commons on Thursday. It would then bounce between the two houses until a compromise is reached, one side caves in or the Commons invokes its constitutional authority to override the Lords and force the bill through under the terms of the controversial Parliament Act [Guardian Q/A; UK Parliament backgrounder, PDF].
The identity cards debate has stirred controversy in the UK and prompted opposition by rights groups [No2ID advocacy website], who say that ID cards violate civil liberties and are ineffective. BBC News has local coverage.