Travellers to Britain must carry photo ID under new legislation


PEOPLE TRAVELLING to Britain from Ireland will be obliged to carry photographic proof of identity under planned new British legislation.

The change will see Britain adopting existing Irish practice to travel within the Common Travel Area (CTA), comprising the UK and Ireland, along with Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.

The new legislation will take the form of an amendment to the draft Immigration and Citizenship Bill produced by the home office in London earlier this week.

Dublin's interpretation of the CTA rules already has people arriving at Irish airports asked for passports or other proof of identity, although the British government apparently does not consider it has legislative cover to carry out similar checks on people arriving in Britain.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern and British home secretary Jacqui Smith had been expected to sign off on the plan at a meeting originally planned for last Wednesday.

The meeting was cancelled because of diary complications and may not take place until after the summer holidays, although there is some speculation that Ms Smith might make a statement in advance of that.

The British government had committed itself to a review of the operation of the CTA in a number of documents, including the 2007 strategy document on Securing the UK Border. The conclusion of that review is set out in a commentary on the new Immigration and Citizenship Bill, asserting that the principle of movement without controls in the CTA is now "out-of-date".

It says: "Today, the law allows for a Common Travel Area (CTA) comprising the UK, Ireland and the Crown Dependencies (Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man).

"The ability to travel freely for all CTA nationals is important to the special relationship between the constituent countries which make it up.

"But the principle of movement without controls regardless of nationality in the area is out of date. We therefore made a commitment to review the arrangements for the CTA.

"The results of our review, undertaken in partnership with the Irish and Crown Dependency Governments, will be announced shortly. The legislation required to implement our proposals will be included in the Bill before its introduction [to Parliament] and following public consultation."

Proposed changes ignore Northern Ireland issues

BRITISH AND Irish sources anticipate the planned legislation change, which will see Britain adopting existing Irish practice to travel, will prompt little or no public controversy.

However, the limited nature of the proposal also underlines the apparent continuing failure of the home office to resolve the more politically sensitive and symbolic issues - including the question of any controls on people travelling from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK - arising from its plans for "electronic borders" as a counter to international terrorism.

The DUP has held a series of meetings with home office ministers about this proposal, although it is unclear if any undertakings were secured.