As civil libertarians like to remind us, one of Hitler's first acts as chancellor was to impose compulsory ID cards on every German citizen. If the smiling Ms Smith's ID card was the beginning of the totalitarian state in Britain, it came not with a bang but a simper.
Still, it has taken six votes in the Commons, and five defeats in the House of Lords, for the Government to get this far. And the price of getting around the legislative obstacle course has been that ministers had to give up their original hope of making ID cards compulsory.
Under the legislation that was passed by Parliament, they will be compulsory only for foreign nationals (people such as my Californian wife), who will need one to enter the UK, to work and to claim benefits. UK citizens will not be forced to carry one: the Home Secretary hopes that most of us will pay the £30 required to get one "voluntarily".
Dream on, Jacqui! Having dropped the requirement that the ID card be compulsory, the Government has destroyed its case for them, because it has ensured that ID cards can't possibly work as an effective tool for catching terrorists or criminals.
Obviously, no self-respecting jihadi will carry an ID card voluntarily. There will be other refuseniks, such as those who object on principle to the idea of ID cards (and they include senior members of the judiciary, the House of Lords and all three political parties, as well as thousands of ordinary citizens).
So the police won't be able to take your failure to produce an ID card as an admission that you are planning to detonate a suicide bomb.