Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Identity Card Law Comes Step Closer

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Identity Card Law Comes Step Closer

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Deane

Legislation for a national identity card scheme will be put before Parliament this autumn.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said a draft Bill outlining the Government's plans is to be published today.

But Mr Blunkett made clear that after consultation on technical issues, Parliament will quickly be asked to process a full Bill so that the scheme can become a reality within a few years.

Mr Blunkett's determination to press ahead quickly alarmed civil rights campaigners, while others questioned its likely effectiveness against terrorism.

A pilot scheme to test the technology gets under way today, when participants will have biometric details taken for the first time. It will gather facial scans, iris scans and fingerprints from 10,000 volunteers.

Mr Blunkett said: "We are going to build this on the renewal of passports.

"Within three years we will be in a position to start everyone having a biometric passport issued and along with it a biometric card - specific identifiers like the iris of your eye, fingerprint, facial recognition, which because we are putting this on a clean database will not be forgeable. People will not be able to have multiple identities."

Ministers have already said the scheme's cost - estimated at pounds 3.1bn - will be met by increasing the cost of passports. The biometric checks are expected to become compulsory for anyone applying for or renewing passports from 2007. Biometrics will also be introduced into driving licences.

By 2013, when ministers are due to decide whether to make the ID cards compulsory, 80pc of the population is expected to hold either a biometric passport or driving licence.

If they are made compulsory, cards will have to be produced to access a range of public services, including the NHS and benefits.

Tomorrow's draft Bill will also set out proposals for a National Identity Register to hold details of all 60 million people in the UK. …

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