Government to re-introduce ID Cards Bill

The Government’s plan to introduce compulsory identity cards will be attempted for a second time following a trial of the 'biometric' ID card.

Under the proposals UK citizens will be charged for the ID card on issue or renewal of a passport - this is likely to more than double in cost to £80.

The Conservatives say they will oppose the introduction of ID cards and that there were serious doubts among Labour MPs over the scheme.

Backing the Bill, Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "The abuse of identity actually costs this country billions of pounds a year."

The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, is also reported to be considering strengthening the powers of a compulsory card commissioner to oversee the scheme. The Liberal Democrats are also set to oppose the plans.

Mr Clarke has offered to meet critics to discuss their concerns, and believes that it is critically important that the issues of identity fraud should be tackled.

The Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, has indicated that he will oppose a measure which he regards as both impractical and expensive.

The Home Office has estimated that ID theft costs approximately £1.3bn a year in the UK.

Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman, urged Conservatives to join forces with the Lib Dems and Labour rebels to defeat the proposals.

The Home Office said citizens will be able to apply for a stand-alone ID card without a passport, but confirmed it will not be possible to apply for a passport without an ID card.

The last time the Government attempted to get the Identity Card Bill passed there was a marathon stand-off in Parliament. Facing amendments the Bill failed to get through when Labour rebels refused to back the proposal.


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