Blair defends ID card plans

Prime Minister Tony Blair has defended his plans to introduce identity cards, saying that the cards were “an idea whose time had come”.

Speaking at a press conference today, Mr Blair urged the public to keep “an open mind” on the legislation and said that there was “plenty of time for this debate to develop”.

Mr Blair’s comments came as a report from the London School of Economics (LSE) indicated that the ID card scheme would cost between £10.6 billion and £19.2 billion – much higher than the government’s estimate of around £6 billion.

According to the LSE research, the cost of an ID card, including a new biometric passport, would be between £170 and £230. However, Mr Blair insisted today that the additional cost would be less than £30 extra on top of the fee for the new passports. The government has already estimated that the cards would cost around £93.

The LSE report has also highlighted a number of concerns over the controversial scheme including: fears that a scheme of this size – which has never been attempted before – would not work; that the information on the cards could potentially be accessed by hackers; and may even be illegal, due to the requirement of fingerprints. The report also expressed concerns over how often the cards would have to be renewed and how people would be persuaded to use the scheme.

The LSE report described the current government proposals as “too complex, technically unsafe and overly prescriptive”.

The ID Cards Bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons tomorrow. A number of Labour MPs are expected to join the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in opposing the Bill.


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