Government wins ID Cards Bill vote

The expected backbench rebellion failed to materialise last night as the controversial ID Cards Bill was passed by 31 votes in the House of Commons.

While 20 Labour MPs joined the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in opposing the Bill, the Government victory means that the card will be issued along with passports in 2008. New legislation will be required before then to make the IC cards compulsory.

The Prime Minister, who missed what could have been a crucial Commons vote due to a plane problem in South Africa, has sought to play down the opposition to the Bill on the grounds of diminished civil liberties and said it was "just a sensible thing to do".

The Government saw off a Lords amendment that would have made the ID card scheme voluntary. An amendment from Frank Dobson to have a six-monthly report on the scheme was accepted without a vote.

The Lords main opposition to the Bill was based on the cost of the scheme and concern over provisions for security of stored personal data.

The cost of the card scheme and the associated database remains an area of contention, with some estimates placing the cost of the card at £300. Home Secretary Charles Clarke, however, put the stand alone cost of the high-tech cards at £30, which is expected to push the cost of a passport to £93.

The ID cards will store unique biometric data, such as fingerprints and iris scans, which can be compared with a national database of all adults in the UK.

Yesterday, the Chancellor Gordon Brown said that ID cards are vital in the fight against terrorism and identity fraud. He pointed out that terrorist often have multiple identities which means that they cannot be easily identified.


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