We don't bother to debate principles anymore and it is that that concerns me. Also, using the justifcatory principle as it's basis, we seldom start by asking : "what's right with the proposal to introduce ID cards?" Instead, we asssume them to be a good thing by definition and star by asking the question : "what's wrong with the proposal to introduce ID cards?"
You're right, nobody seems to be interested in principles any more only costs. I'm not sure whether to advance the theory that it's because we're a more materialistic society these days or that education has failed to equip people with skills unrelated to passing exams. I'll leave these two potential rants alone for now
On the cost front its also interesting that its the cost per person, not overall that seems to be the sticking point. This implies that somehow people see items funded from taxation as being 'free money'.
I think part of the problem is that the Government and some of the media have been helping to create a climate of fear around several issues. This has made it easier for the many authoritation laws that have gone through lately.
There also seems to be a widespread and developing contempt for civil liberties. I'm tired of hearing people ranting about "do-gooders". I tend to ask them if they'd prefer "do-badders".
On your question about the quality of debate there hasn't really been one. The Government have done their best to avoid it. All we've really seen is the incumbent at the home office waving a piece of plastic about with a silly grin on his face (while going "La la I can't hear you" to all his critics).
So we now have ministers spluttering that the LSE figures must be wrong, while not having produced any of their own (or a design of how it will work) and expecting MPs to vote for a "make it up as we go along" scheme.
I find it quite sad that this stupid plan could go through based on people's fear and ignorance but I'm afraid that's the way this country is these days.