Fingerprinting charge to double cost of ID card to
Miss Smith told the Social Market Foundation there would be an estimated seven million applications a year for ID cards, creating a ‘market’ with 200million of contracts to be won.
Experts estimated this would allow firms to charge fees equivalent to around 30 a head. This would be on top of the 30 ID card fee already set by the Home Office.
Separate Home Office figures published yesterday showed that the expected cost of ID cards to the public purse over the next 10 years has risen from 4.5billion earlier this year to around 5.1billion.
Opposition critics greeted the figures with dismay, urging the Home Secretary to ‘stop kidding herself’ and abandon the troubled project.
In her speech yesterday Ms Smith also dramatically scaled down the Government’s plans to begin issuing ID cards for UK citizens from next autumn.
The Home Secretary announced in March this year that staff working in sensitive ‘air side’ roles at Britain’s airports would be the first to be issued with cards from the end of the 2009.
But she revealed that only London City and Manchester airports would take part in an 18 month ‘evaluation period’ accounting for only 20,000 of an estimated 250,000 air side staff across the country.
The Home Office has faced strong protests from airport operators and airlines over its plans in recent months.
As well as leaving most airports out of the pilot scheme ministers have now had to sweeten the pill by promising to issue all cards for airport staff free of charge during the trial costing the taxpayer an extra 600,000.
The pilot scheme looks set to delay the wider introduction of ID cards beyond the next General Election which Labour must call by May 2010 at the latest.
As the Conservatives are promising to scrap the ID card project immediately once in office, that means the slower than expected roll out could quietly consign the project to oblivion. Fake IDs
If Labour wins the next election and ID cards survive, ministers hope to encourage all young Britons to apply for a card from 2010, extending the scheme to all citizens the following year.
In her speech yesterday Ms Smith raised eyebrows by claiming that many ordinary British people are already pestering her because they are so desperate to receive their ID cards earlier.
She said: ‘As I go around the country I regularly have people coming up to me and saying they don’t want to wait that long.’
Mrs Smith pledged to set up a special register so that British adults who are impatient for an ID card can record their interest next year in the hope of being among the first to be issued with a card.
Shadow Home Secretary, Dominic Grieve, said: ‘We already know that ID cards will do nothing to improve our security but may make it worse.
‘Now we see that the already substantial cost is going to increase. This is particularly outrageous given the current economic crisis.
Liberal Democrat spokesman Chris Huhne condemned ID Cards as a ‘laminated poll tax’, and said: ‘Ministers are choosing a limited number of guinea pigs at two smaller airports because they know how unpopular ID cards are.’
Ministers’ original boasts that ID cards would help combat terrorism were dealt a blow when former MI5 boss Stella Rimington dismissed the claim.
A pamphlet released yesterday explaining the cards to the public focused on more mundane benefits, such as proving one’s age in a pub or applying for a mortgage.
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