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The Home Secretary David Blunkett is to present Parliament with proposals for a national system of identity cards.


BBC News Online looks at how the scheme might work.


Would ID cards be compulsory?


Mr Blunkett wants most people in the UK to have biometric ID cards by 2011 with a view to making cards compulsory from 2013, subject to agreement from Parliament.


The Home Secretary first raised the issue to the Cabinet over two years ago. Ministers agreed the plan last November, but disagreements delayed a final decision.


Mr Blunkett has previously said at the very least nobody should be able to work or claim benefits without one.


He said people would not have to carry it in the street, but would have to produce it when required by competent authorities.


Even without the card, police could biometrically scan individuals to check they are on a national database.


Why is the government so keen on these cards?



The government thinks such a card would be a powerful way of fighting illegal immigration and fraud.


It would be a way of checking the entitlement of an individual to receive services and benefits, including welfare payments and treatment under the NHS.


But the scheme is also designed to help stop terrorists and organised crime groups using false and multiple identities.


How much will it cost?


Mr Blunkett said costs of setting up the system over the next three years would be around £200m a year. The total cost is estimated at £3bn.


People will have to pay about £77 for a combined passport identity card, compared to the current £42 charge. The cost of a plain biometric identity card will be about £35.


Cards will be free for under 16-year-olds. Those on low incomes will pay a reduced rate of about £10.


What information will be on the cards?



The card would contain basic identification information including a photograph of the card holder, along with their name, address, gender and date of birth.


But a microchip would also hold biometric information - a person's fingerprints or iris image which are unique to the individual.



From 2007-2008, it will be compulsory for anyone who replaces their passport to have their biometric data taken, such as fingerprints.


The biometric details may prove controversial but are designed to make the cards more difficult to forge.


We had ID cards in Britain before. If they are such a good idea, why did we get rid of them?



In the dark days of World War II, the ID card was seen as a way of protecting the nation from Nazi spies. But in 1952, Winston Churchill's government scrapped the cards.


The feeling was that in peacetime they simply were not needed. In fact they were thought to be hindering the work of the police, because so many people resented being asked to produce a card to prove their identity.


What are the other objections?



In a country which prides itself on safeguarding the liberty of the individual, there has always been a reluctance to accept ID cards.


Some critics fear it might cause friction among ethnic minorities and set back race relations.


There are other fears that the cards would simply drive illegal immigrants into hiding, forcing them to avoid contact with hospitals and police.


Civil liberties campaigners say it could lead to thousands of ordinary people being criminalised if they refused to own the cards.


Among the practical objections is the concern that overseas terrorists could exploit the rule that foreign nationals need the cards only if they are coming to the UK for longer than three months.


Lots of other countries already have ID cards - aren't we out of touch with the rest of the world?



Eleven of the 15 original EU member states now have some form of ID card, even if they are not compulsory.


They have become widely accepted by their citizens. In France, for example, about 90% of the population carries one.


But many other countries, like Japan, Australia and New Zealand, have not adopted the idea.


In the United States, despite the attacks of 11 September, there has been no attempt to persuade people a national ID card would be a weapon in the war against terrorism.


The country does intend, however, to make visitors have cards to cover their visas.


The strength of public feeling about privacy and personal liberty remains a deterrent to political leaders.


What happens now?



The government will eventually require fingerprint or iris biometric technology on all new passports.


A bill is expected in the next session of Parliament on passport renewal. Mr Blunkett hopes biometric passports will start being issued over the next three years.


Biometric driving licences are also under consideration.


I believe this is under going a pilot phase, so what are your thoughts? Do you think it can help solve the problems of terrorism, immigration, and fraud?

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Big Brother is watching. ID cards no doubt with secret chips so they can tell where we are and what we're buying in Tesco.


Will it be against the law to leave the card on your house when you go out?


Can we sellotape it to our Dog and set them loose after a pork chop glued to the back of a clapped out Vauxhall Nova that just happens to be passing to try and confuse them?

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But surely people who have nothing to hide should not object... also it could help stop internet pedos and all kinds of stuff like that.


Maybe people should get their fist one fo free and if lost or damaged have to buy a new one.


Thats a seriously good idea. :xyx

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They wont be complusary untill 2013, they cost us £77 and they will cost the government atleast 3 Billion so it sort of makes you wonder if its going to be worth it.


Personaly the concept sounds OK in theory, as for it working in practise or being supported once its introduced is a different question.

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Still adament you won't get one?


People who refuse to register for the government's planned ID card scheme could face a "civil financial penalty" of up to £2,500, it has emerged.

David Blunkett said not making registering a criminal issue would avoid "clever people" becoming martyrs.


And he promised strict limits on the type of information stored on ID cards.


Under Monday's draft bill, carrying false papers will be a criminal offence but MPs have until 2013 to decide if registration should be compulsory.


'Soft touch'


Details of card holders kept on the National Identity Register will include name, address and previous addresses as well as nationality and immigration status.


Mr Blunkett also confirmed that people will have the right to see their entry on the register.


He said ID cards were needed to prevent the UK becoming a "soft touch" for terrorists.


But DNA and other health information would not be included on the cards and there would be an independent regulator to control the type of information they contain.


Royal family


Legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament in the autumn, with the first biometric passports, which store fingerprint or iris scan information, issued in 2005 and the first cards carrying fingerprint details in 2007.




Passport price hike of £35 to meet £3.1bn cost of ID card scheme

Postal passport applications would no longer be possible

2008: 80% of economically active population will carry some form of biometric identity document

2013: MPs to vote on whether registration should be compulsory

New ID would require people to sit in a "biometric enrolment pod" which photographs them and scans the face and iris

Information is recorded on a microchip and in a central database

Source: Home Office


Ministers will make the final decision on compulsory registration by 2013, as detailed in the government's original timetable published in November.


By that time, Mr Blunkett expects 80% of the population to hold biometric identification either in the form of a passport, a driving licence or a voluntary ID card.


Asked whether members of the Royal Family would be required to apply for a card if compulsion is introduced, Mr Blunkett said: "We are all subjects and citizens."


Illegal working


A trial of identity card technology was launched on Monday involving 10,000 volunteers.


Ministers believe that as well as fighting terrorism, the cards will help to crack down on ID fraud, human trafficking and illegal working, as well as stopping people exploiting health and welfare services.


Mr Blunkett claimed the biometric system would make UK ID cards impossible to forge - unlike cards used elsewhere in Europe.




Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten said: "I would much rather see the £3bn that's going to be incurred in looking at better intelligence".



Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said the Tories backed the idea of ID cards but said safeguards had to be put in place to prevent the misuse of personal information.

The draft Bill sets out proposals for a national identity register to hold details of all 60 million people in the UK. This will enable a person's identity to be authenticated when they produce their card.


The legislation also sets out safeguards to prevent government officials from misusing the data.



As part of a large-scale test of the equipment, volunteers are having biometric details recorded, involving facial scans, iris scans and fingerprints.



Trials are beginning at the UK Passport Service's London HQ on Monday, with further trials to be held in Leicester, Newcastle and Glasgow


The biometric checks will become compulsory for anyone applying for, or renewing, passports from 2007.


Biometrics will also be introduced into driving licences later.



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

The estimated £3.1bn cost of introducing the scheme will be met by increasing the cost of passports.


Civil rights campaign group Liberty said the government was effectively introducing an identity tax.


Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said there were privacy implications, while no government had yet shown itself competent to manage such databases.


The Home Affairs select committee said it would be placing the draft bill under close scrutiny.


As part of the inquiry, the committee will take evidence from the Home Secretary David Blunkett MP on 4 May and will also be calling for written submissions on the draft bill as part of the process of pre-legislative scrutiny.

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I'm 101% for this. £77 isn't a lot of money for something that makes your daily life a whole lot safer. It'll cut down underage drinking/smoking, it should help the fight against terror (meaning a safer UK), and it only costs a fraction of the average monthly wage.


As Tajiri said, in theory it's a great idea, but people seem to find a way to criticise everything the government does these days, so no doubt there's going to be countless headlines like "ID Cards Killing British Way Of Life!" and "Evil Satanic Blair To Issue Sinful Cards Of Doom!".

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I think its a good idea! Although all the little underage kids wont be able to buy fags or booze!


oh right i didnt know 12 year olds went into shops and bought fags and beer! anyway if this stops me from getting bombed then im all for it

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oh right i didnt know 12 year olds went into shops and bought fags and beer! anyway if this stops me from getting bombed then im all for it


1. Your not going to get bombed


2. The ID system will not stop terrorists, especally if they can hijack a plane from Ireland or France and cause just as much damage. If a terrorist comes into the country as an asylum seeker then he is either going to be given an ID card or is going to have to apply for one, so how does this stop terrorists??


3. Its just another one of your rights being taken away, now the government will monitor everything you do, everywhere you do and so on.


4. If its a national ID system why should the people have to pay to have one?


Overall I'd say this is a good idea because it will clamp down on underaged drinking and smoking. On the other hand it achieves absolutly nothing else except putting people out of money.

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the people who have been terroists are often French Ageirians who travel to different countries because they have a french passport so theyre illegal and we could kick them out. it wouldnt stop underage drinking and smoking because they dont go in for the beer or more likely cider themselves they get older people to get them it and if a shopkeeper does sell alcohol to underaged people an ID card wont stop him
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Personally I'm against the idea. I was on the fence for a while, but now I hear they want to put on medical information, biometric information, financial information, drivers licence, passport - all this kind of stuff, on one piece of plastic. What if you lose it? What if it gets stolen? you're up sh1t creek without the proverbial paddle then. how long would it take to replace it, and can you cancel your old one so that some clever guy who finds it can't tamper with it.


People thought you couldn't forge paper money, but found out you can. They thought that credit cards were totally secure, but they aren't. If they can forge so much stuff now, you can bet that the forgers are just one step ahead of the government with the technology to forge id cards.


I dislike the fact that someone wants to charge me that much money so that they can hold information about me. And how secure will this information be? what if you are a battered woman running from an abusive relationship - will he be able to look up your details and find out where you are hiding? And what if your health is a bit naff - will that mean your bank manager won't give you that loan that you were hoping for so you could fix the roof/the car/have a recuperative holiday? Too many opportunities to abuse the information that is proposed to be held about you.


Yeah, so the govnt says we'll have access to see our information - how much will it cost us to look at that? did you know you have to pay to see your own hospital records, and that they have to be vetted by all the consultants who have ever seen you before they are released to you?


Plus, let's not forget that the September 11 terrorists were travelling under their own names. ID cards wouldn't have stopped that.

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I cant see any negatives with these cards being introduced, except maybe the price tag, but even that isn't exactly crippling. Also, the debate about 'civil liberty' is all well and good. The government will know everything about us, but I think you'll find they already know everything about us anyway.


They know our financial situation, our medical records, they can probably even pinpoint where we are if they really wanted to find out. Its for this reason that I cant understand the complaints. It just makes it easier for the government to protect people.

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ID cards, oh, ID cards, are they a good or bad idea?


1. Will they help prevent terrorism? No. Not a bit, don't buy into that. The 9/11 terrorists travelled in their own names, that's what makes them so dangerous. We don't know their names, so ID cards won't help. Besides, ever heard of forgery? You can forge a passport, in time you'll be able to forge ID cards. Need a biometric scan? Kidnap someone and take out their eyeballs, cut off their fingers. The stricter ID card security gets, the more extreme people become to forge it.


2. I have nothing to hide, do I care about carrying one? No.


3. Symbolically, do I care about carrying one? HELL YEAH!! It is my right to walk down the street, is it not? To play football in the park with my friends, to drink in bars, to chat to girls? It is not the Governments place to GIVE ME THE RIGHT to walk down my driveway, unless I am carrying State controlled ID. That's what the debate over ID cards infringing human rights is, my friends. You are not allowed to walk down the street unless the Govt has all of your details easily to hand, to monitor you. You do not have the right to privacy if somone can access your bloody DNA on a PC screen!


4. Charging for this ID card is scandalous. They are not giving us an option, but are making EVERYONE part with their money to get one. Is this democray at work?


5. Rant over. But will i get an ID card? Yes.



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