The confiscation of passports and driving licences


Citizens having their identification confiscated by unelected government officials for failing to complying with the state – It’s the type of scene we might expect from an old war movie set in Nazi Germany. But if the government gets its way, these authoritarian stamps on our liberty will could soon become reality in 21st century Britain.

Under current plans the government would give power to the Child Support Agency (and their impending successor the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission) to confiscate the passports and driving licences of parents refusing to pay child support. Initially, the Conservatives objected the move, but it will now be included in the Welfare Reform Bill.

The fact that the state feels it has the right to encroach upon an individual’s freedom to the extent of removing their driving licence is madness and ill thought out, while the significance of the driving licence is an obscure aspect to the legislation. A worrying aspect of the plans is that private firms could also be given the power to remove passports without a court order.

This blows the rule of law, accountability, democracy and liberty out of the water. This legislation would usurp and bypass the age-old notion of a fair trial by jury to the unelected.

We can only hope that the Lords Constitution Committee rejects this legislation and that the next government we have understands the meaning of freedom.