Government U-turn on £5bn ID cards

Government U-turn on £5bn ID cards

Tories claim Home Secretary doesn’t want scheme and doesn’t want to cancel it either

Article comments

The government has effectively spelled the end of its plans to introduce a national identity card for all citizens, after announcing they will not be compulsory.

The news comes only three months after the Home Office signed £650 million deals with CSC and IBM, and weeks after the Conservative party contacted suppliers warning them it wanted to scrap the scheme.

A government call for people to voluntarily take up an ID card has produced only 3,500 responses.

The government was preparing to trial the cards for airport workers in Manchester, but has dropped the move after extensive opposition from unions. The cards have already been rolled out to non-British nationals and will remain compulsory for them.

Contracts with CSC and IBM still include extensive work on biometric passports, which are to share many of the back office systems.

New Home Secretary Alan Johnson is noticeably cooler on the ID card scheme that his predecessor Jacqui Smith.

Originally the plan was for ID cards to become compulsory as soon as 80 percent of the population owned one. A fortnight ago, it emerged the Home Officehad delayed the awarding of contracts to produce the cards.

After the government made it clear yesterday that the cards would not be compulsory,
Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling added that “the home secretary thinks it is a waste and wants to scrap it, but the prime minister won’t let him. So we end up with an absurd fudge instead.”

Anti-ID card campaigners reacted with glee to the news. Phil Booth of No2ID said it was a “humiliating climbdown”.

Announcing the change in policy, home secretary Alan Johnson said: “Holding an identity card should be a personal choice for British citizens – just as it now is to obtain a passport.”


Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
* *