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ID card scheme rolls on despite growing opposition | Immigration Matters

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Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith announced today that residents of Greater Manchester will be the first British citizens able to apply for a voluntary ID card from late 2009. 

The voluntary scheme follows the introduction of compulsory ID card to overseas students last November. 

Manchester is already leading the way in the roll-out of identity cards. The city’s airport is working with the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) as one of the first wave of airports who are introducing identity cards to airside workers from this autumn. 

Jacqui Smith, said:

“Manchester is leading the way with the delivery of the National Identity Service. From this autumn the citizens of Manchester will get the first chance to apply for ID cards, giving them a chance to start realising the benefits of identity cards as soon as possible. 

“Our next steps will be for other cities to follow Manchester’s lead before full national coverage from 2012. This phased approach will ensure that card coverage occurs hand-in-hand with development of supporting technology such as chip and pin readers. 

“ID cards will deliver real benefits to everyone, including increased protection against criminals, illegal immigrants and terrorists.” 

This week the IPS Chief Executive James Hall visited the city to launch a new online facility for those who are interested in applying for a card. Those who sign up via the Directgov website will be informed when cards become available in their area and get the latest information about the new service from IPS. 

Lord Peter Smith, Chair of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, said: 

“We are very pleased to support the Identity and Passport Service as the National Identity Service is rolled out starting here in Greater Manchester. 

“We believe that citizens of Greater Manchester will welcome the chance to get an identity card early if they want one to help them prove their identity conveniently and securely.” 

The Government expects to issue more than 75,000 ID cards to foreign nationals by November this year, helping show clearly that they have the right to work and live in the UK. 

From 2010 young people will be able to apply for the card and from 2012 the National Identity Service will begin to roll-out for the general population with identity cards available in significant numbers.

The scheme has come under intense criticism from opposition parties, with Tory leader David Cameron calling for ID cards to be dropped to ease the burden on taxpayers. 

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said of the plan: ‘It’s obvious that the cost of this scheme is rising fast – the harsh reality is neither the taxpayer nor the citizens who’ll have to buy these cards can afford this. It’s a white elephant and it should be scrapped. 

‘It’s irresponsible for the Government to be pressing ahead with contracts for ID cards when Britain simply can’t afford it. It smacks of Labour creating poison to make it more difficult for any future government to scrap the scheme.’ The Government – faced with a huge black hole in the public finances – has been under mounting pressure to scrap ID cards. 

Last week, former Home Secretary David Blunkett – the architect of the scheme – said he now believed it may be better to introduce a mandatory biometric passport instead. 

The Daily Mail reports today that members of the public will be expected to have their fingerprints taken at the Post Office or in high street shops and pharmacies when they sign up for a controversial ID card or passport.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will announce she wants retailers to record an applicant’s most sensitive biometric details, before passing them on to the Government.

She says it will offer a ‘local, convenient recording service’ which will help keep the ID cards project costs under control.

The Home Office originally estimated that the roll out of national ID scheme would cost £5.4 billion and run for 10 years, but the final cost is likely to be closer to £6 billion. 

What do you think about ID Cards? Are they necessary for security or an expensive waste of money?

Do you think we should all carry ID, or do you consider this an invasion of your privacy?

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