ID Cards coming your way on the quiet.
SCOTTISH ministers are considering opening up an electronic database of people registered with a GP to 120 public bodies, including HM Revenue and Customs
PLANS to share NHS patients’ data with the taxman have been condemned by the country’s biggest civil liberties campaigners.
Scottish ministers are considering opening up an electronic database of people registered with a GP to 120 public bodies, including HM Revenue and Customs.
Critics fear it is a small step away from the introduction of identity cards and have urged the SNP Government to abandon the plan.
They include Lib Dem peer Shirley Williams, who campaigned against the previous Labour government’s introduction of ID cards and said she would rather go to jail than carry one.
Baroness Williams told the Sunday Mail: “We must be careful not to sleepwalk into authoritarianism and ensure that the public understands the ramifications, including the cost.
“People will question why the SNP is proceeding with such an intrusive system, which was widely rejected for that reason in the UK.
“If we learnt anything from the debate over ID cards, it was that our society still places great value on civil liberties.”
Bella Sankey, director of policy for Liberty, said: “The dangers of allowing information to flow between health and tax agencies are not only obvious but chilling. Where is the justification for sharing this personal data?”
Scottish ministers are consulting on plans to open up the NHS electronic database of everyone born in Scotland and registered with a GP north of the Border.
It was originally used to transfer medical records between health boards, but under the proposals the data would be shared on request with 120 public bodies, ranging from Quality Meat Scotland to the Forestry Commission.
The data include a patient’s name, sex, date and place of birth and mother’s maiden name.
According to the Government, sharing the information would help HMRC identify who would be liable to pay new income tax rates in Scotland and help charities and solicitors find missing persons.
James Baker, campaigns manager for privacy campaign group NO2ID, said: “If the Scottish Government wants to make this big change, it should make it a law so MSPs can debate it in Parliament.
“If it wants to create a surveillance society, it should do it by law rather than through a sneaky change in regulations.”
Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran said: “These are the biggest changes to the income tax regime in Scotland that we have ever seen, but only now are they taking action to identify taxpayers.
“The Scottish Government need to do the right thing and ditch these proposals.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney has insisted that the SNP remain opposed to ID cards.
And yesterday a Scottish Government spokesman said: “There are no proposals to share medical records and any suggestion of that is simply wrong.
“Identification of Scottish taxpayers and administering the tax are matters for the UK Government and HMRC.”