When I was born, my father went to the Registrar’s Office, filled a form in and was given a birth certificate in return. No evidence required, taken on trust. And, I was only identified uniquely by my full name: Brian Otridge. Having done the genealogy of all the Otridges (and variants thereof) I can tell you there is one other Brian Otridge in the world, but he has a second forename of Walter and he’s 13 years older than me. However, I can also tell you that in searching the historical birth registers for common names like “John Smith” is a nightmare. Which John Smith? You need to know other key information of when, where and who the parents are.
Through my life I’ve collected some more numbers that also uniquely identify me: NHS number, Tax number, NI number and Driving Licence number – and they are all different! When I joined the RAF, I inherited a Service Number, which I still have to quote for my Service pension queries.
When we have visitors to Britain who stay for more than just a business trip or a vacation or even one-way immigrants, they may apply for the work permit, or seek NHS treatment, start to pay tax or need a British Driving Licence – they too are allocated a suite of numbers.
Therefore, it is little wonder we can’t keep track of immigrants – we hear horror stories of the Border Agency “losing” half a million of them. And the whole thing is down to not being able to uniquely identify them, like how many people in the UK have the name “Mohammed Hassan”?
The solution is remarkably simple – a National Number. A large number of other countries have this system, and it does not necessarily mean having an ID. Remember the Brown government ID card farce? They wanted us all to get fingerprinted and retinal-scanned and to have the pleasure of paying £30 for it.
In Norway and Belgium they have been able to implement very strict rules for immigrants as banks are required to check national numbers before opening any personal bank accounts. In Belgium you have a very simple ID card with just name, photo, date and place of birth and the Belgian national number on it, and it is needed to access any taxpayer funded service as well. In the USA, the number allocated on birth and naturalisation is so good at uniquely identifying people, it is even used by the Armed Forces as the Service Number.
So, why not introduce such a system here? I stress this is not UKIP policy but I think the idea dovetails in neatly with a lot of the party’s policies. We’d have a bit of a backlog to catch up with, registering everyone in the country, and cross-referencing then to their tax, NI, Driving Licence and NHS numbers, plus possibly bank account numbers and electoral roll entries too. That exercise on its own would reap considerable benefits by identifying people without any of those required numbers, and once completed, we would be left with all the orphan numbers, potentially fraudulently obtained numbers where people had two National Insurance numbers.
The birth registration, immigration, work permit and naturalisation systems would need changing to hook into the newly created numbers. Existing Tax, NI, NHS and DVLA systems would need a simple amendment to add in the new piece of data, cross referenced to the existing number which would eventually be dropped.
And then the system would be ready to roll. No national number? Sorry, no healthcare, no benefits, no work, no driving licence, no bank account, no vote. Simple and effective! Someone tell me what’s wrong with this idea, especially in concert with UKIP’s policies to control immigration and limit British jobs and healthcare to British people?
Brian Otridge is a UKIP Jack of All Trades: “PA to a UKIP County Councillor, foot soldiering activist, UKIP Forum moderator, national newspaper and social media commentor, article writer, IT consultant and enjoyed 5 minutes drinking my pint with Nigel at Conference!” He tweets at @BrianOtridge