Government policy in the United Kingdom has moved very rapidly during the course of the past eight years in the direction of an active, interventionist state claiming the authority to monitor and direct aspects of life which had formerly been regarded as none of its concern. Laissez faire in the realm of civic and social affairs is being replaced with a doctrine that asserts the right of the state to know far more about citizens and residents then ever it did in the past, for reasons justified by appeals to social cohesion and integration. The promotion of a new mechanism for state scrutiny in the form of the Identity Cards Bill proceeding through Parliament, at the time of writing, is emblematic of these developments.