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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Government up a blind alley on ID cards

This morning's Sunday Times carries good news about the future of the Government's ID card proposals. They report that the flagship identity cards scheme is set to fail and may not be introduced for a generation.

The problems are so serious that ministers have been forced to draw up plans for a scaled-down “face-saving” version to meet their pledge of phasing in the cards from 2008.

However, civil servants say there is no evidence that even this compromise is “remotely feasible” and accuse ministers of “ignoring reality” by pressing ahead.

One official warns of a “botched operation” that could put back the introduction of ID cards for a generation. He added: “I conclude that we are setting ourselves up to fail.” Another admits he is planning Home Office strategy around the possibility that the scheme could be “canned completely”.

In one e-mail the prime minister is personally blamed for the fiasco with his proposal for a scaled-down or “early variant” version. “It was a Mr Blair apparently who wanted the ‘early variant’ card. Not my idea,” writes a top Home Office civil servant.

This is genuinely good news for anybody who cares about civil liberties. It has already been demonstrated that the proposals will add nothing to the fight against terrorism, illegal immigration and crime, despite the claims of some Ministers. Now that the civil servants have recognised that the scheme was never really workable it is time for the politicians to follow suit.

The latest independent costing for ID cards stands at £19 billion making them unaffordable both to the Government and citizens, who it is planned should pay for their own card. Do the Government really want to go into the next election with this new 'poll tax' as the centrepiece of their manifesto?

When John Reid said that the Home Office was not fit for purpose he was clearly wide of the mark. It is the Prime Minister and a succession of Home Secretaries who have been proven to be not fit for purpose and this fiasco is the latest manifestation of that.


I don't think that ID card can be accurate. I heard tell that Tony Blair doesn't actually have fingerprints...:)

But I guess we ought to be grateful that incompetence might yet succeed where democracy has failed us!
Excellent news! Perhaps now the money can be spent where its needed - Real Police on our streets, free from the shackles of bureacracy, and free to do the job in which they are employed.
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