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4 January, 2005

Wrong then, wrong now

NØ2IDIn the UK, confidential government documents have always been kept out of the public archive for a period of thirty years (the 'Thirty Year Rule'), or 50, even 100 years for particularly sensitive papers.  This was changed on Saturday, when the Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into force.  Now, government documents still aren't actively put into the public archive for thirty years, but they must be made available on request (some categories are exempt).

One item which has therefore emerged is that a Labour government has considered introducing identity cards before, following terrorist incidents in 1974 - and rejected the plans as 'extremely expensive and largely ineffective'. In a confidential cabinet memo, then- Home Secretary Roy Jenkins said:

"It goes almost without saying that we must guard against the danger of being driven to more and more extreme measures involving unwarranted infringement of personal liberty."

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