The new government says scrapping British identity cards will save £86m – even after paying off the suppliers’ cancellation fees
The government has today issued its plans for winding up the £5-billion ID scheme, after announcing its intention to do so last week.
The National Identity Register database, containing the biographic and biometric fingerprint data of card holders, will also be destroyed by the first piece of legislation the introduced to Parliament by the new coalition government – the Identity Documents Bill.
The role of the Identity Commissioner will also cease to exist, while public consultation panels, designed to scrutinise the identity cards scheme, have already been disbanded.
“Intrusive” scheme consigned to dustbin of history
Home secretary, Theresa May said that, with “swift” Parliamentary approval of the new bill, “we aim to consign identity cards and the intrusive ID card scheme to history within 100 days”.
The coalition was keen to stress that the move will save the taxpayer around £86 million over the next four years, once all contract cancellation costs are taken into account. It also said it would avoid around £800m of ongoing costs over the next ten years which were to be recovered through fees.
The Identity Documents Bill is part of a first wave of priority legislation set out in the Queen’s Speech on 25 May, invalidating 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.
Today’s announcement said the aim is to have the Bill pass through Parliament and enacted by the Parliamentary recess in August.
The Identity and Passport Service will inform customers, overseas governments, borders and airports of the change in law when the bill gains Royal Assent.
Deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg added: “The wasteful, bureaucratic and intrusive ID card scheme represents everything that has been wrong with government in recent years. 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,” he added. The Tories had been the main proponents for scrapping the scheme in the run up to the General Election.