UK Government plans for identity cards for British citizens to be scrapped within 100 days the Home Office officially announced last week.
The National Identity Register, the database which contains the biographic and biometric fingerprint data of card holders, would also be destroyed by the first piece of legislation introduced to Parliament by the coalition government.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
‘This bill is a 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.’
Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said:
‘The wasteful, bureaucratic and intrusive ID card scheme represents everything that has been wrong with government in recent years.
‘By taking swift action to scrap it, we are making it clear that this government won’t sacrifice people’s liberty for the sake of Ministers’ pet projects.
‘Cancelling the scheme and abolishing the National Identity Register is a major step in dismantling the surveillance state – but ID cards are just the tip of the iceberg. Today marks the start of a series of radical reforms to restore hard-won British freedoms.’
The Identity Documents Bill is part of a first wave of priority legislation set out in the Queen’s Speech on 25 May. The Bill invalidates the identity card, meaning that holders will no longer be able to use them to prove their identity or as a travel document in Europe.
The government aims to have the Bill pass through Parliament and enacted by the Parliamentary recess in August, in a move that will save the taxpayer around £86m over the next four years once all cancellation costs are taken into account. It would also avoid around £800m of ongoing costs over the next ten years which were to be recovered through fees.
The Identity and Passport Service will inform customers, overseas governments, borders and airports of the change in law as soon as the Bill gains Royal Assent.
The role of the Identity Commissioner would also be terminated. The public panels, designed to scrutinise the identity cards scheme, have already been disbanded.
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