Brown commits to ID cards

Gordon Brown has affirmed his government’s commitment to identity cards as he called for all-party action against terrorism.

In his first prime minister’s questions since assuming the leadership, Mr Brown urged MPs across the House to back the government’s anti-terror proposals.

He voluntarily confirmed that he would continue to push for ID cards as the backbone of any anti-terror policy.

There had been quiet speculation the new prime minister would abandon his predecessor’s controversial plans for a national identity database and ID cards.

Instead, he called on MPs across the house to approve planned ID legislation, amid repeated calls for a unified response to terror.

It is “vitally important” the “message is sent out to rest of the world that we will stand strong, steadfast and united in the face of terror,” the prime minister said.

Mr Brown was embarrassed when Tory leader David Cameron quoted the new chancellor’s comments on ID cards, which said they were unnecessary and would create more problems than they solved.

The prime minister insisted the security situation had changed, as emphasised by last week’s events in Glasgow and London, and sceptics were increasingly persuaded of the necessity of a national ID card scheme.

He agreed to consider Tory calls for a border police, but insisted this must be accompanied by ID cards. Mr Brown also insisted agency cooperation was achieving many of the functions of a border patrol.

However, Mr Brown resisted Mr Cameron’s calls to ban the extremist group Hizb ut Tahrir, continuing his refusal to adopt a knee-jerk response to the recent terror scare.

However distasteful a group’s views may be, the prime minister told MPs, they should only be banned on the basis of evidence and legal process, not a “few quotes”.

Mr Brown said there would be no “panic reactions” and instead promised a “strong and steadfast” response working within the law.

He called for greater inter-faith dialogue to combat the roots of terrorism and said the government would fund groups working to build community cohesion.

The prime minister’s promised plans for Britishness would build into this, he said, calling for a unified response to terrorism which would bring the UK closer together.

Yesterday, the police minister Tony McNulty said the government was nearly ready to release the results of its consultation on new anti-terror legislation.