ID Cards Scheme to be Scrapped Within 100 Days

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The £4.5bn
national identity card scheme is to be scrapped within 100 days,
the home secretary, Theresa May, announced today.

The 15,000
identity cards already issued are to be cancelled without any refund
of the £30 fee to holders within a month of the legislation
reaching the statute book.

Abolishing
the cards and associated register will be the first piece of legislation
introduced to parliament by the new government. May said the identity
documents bill will invalidate all existing cards.

The role of
the identity commissioner, created in an effort to prevent data
blunders and leaks, will be abolished.

The government
said the move will save £86m over four years and avoid £800m
in costs over the next 10 years that would have been raised by increased
charges. An allied decision to cancel the next generation of biometric
fingerprint passports will save a further £134m over four
years. Savings to the public under the whole package will total
£1bn.

The publication
of the identity documents bill today marks the end of an eight-year
Whitehall struggle over compulsory identity cards since they were
first floated by the then-home secretary David Blunkett in the aftermath
of 9/11.

More than 5.4m
combined passport and identity cards were due to be issued when
the scheme was started in earnest next year. This was projected
to rise to 10m ID cards/passports being issued ever year from 2016
onwards.

A separate
scheme under which identity cards are issued to all foreign nationals
resident in Britain by 2015 run by the United Kingdom Border Agency
is still to go ahead. Home Office ministers said yesterday this
was a separate scheme for biometric residence permits for foreign
nationals that was required by European Union legislation.

May said: "This
bill is the first step of many that this government is taking to
reduce the control of the state over decent, law-abiding people
and hand power back to them.

"With
swift parliamentary approval, we aim to consign identity cards and
the intrusive ID card scheme to history within 100 days."

The deputy
prime minister, Nick Clegg, said: "The wasteful, bureaucratic
and intrusive ID card system represents everything that has been
wrong with government in recent years."

The legislation
published today will give the Home Office the power to scrap ID
cards within a month of its reaching the statute book and to cancel
its underlying database, the national identity register. All the
data currently held on the national identity register will also
be destroyed within a month of royal assent.

The next generation
of "biometric" passports is also due to be cancelled.
They were due to include electronic fingerprints alongside the existing
digitised photograph already included in chips in the latest passports.

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the rest of the article

May
28, 2010

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