London: Britain's new coalition
government has begun the process of scrapping identity cards
and destroying the National Identity Register, measures that
the previous Labour governments had initiated to improve
The scrapping of the two Labour-inspired measures will
take place within 100 days under the Identity Documents Bill,
which is the first piece of legislation introduced to
Parliament by the coalition government.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: "This bill is a first
step of many that this government is taking to reduce the
control of the state over decent, law-abiding people and hand
power back to them.
With swift parliamentary approval, we aim to consign
identity cards and the intrusive ID card scheme to history
within 100 days."
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "The wasteful,
bureaucratic and intrusive ID card scheme represents
everything that has been wrong with government in recent
"By taking swift action to scrap it, we are making it
clear that this government won't sacrifice people's liberty
for the sake of Ministers' pet projects".
The measures implemented by previous Labour
governments were aimed at tackling fraud, illegal immigration
and identity theft, but were criticised for being too
expensive and an infringement of civil liberties.
The cards were designed to hold personal biometric
data on an encrypted chip, including name, a photograph and
The supporting National Identity Register was designed
to hold up to 50 pieces of information.
Clegg said that cancelling the scheme and abolishing
the National Identity Register was a major step in dismantling
the surveillance state.
But he added that ID cards were just the tip of the
"Today marks the start of a series of radical reforms
to restore hard-won British freedoms", he said.
The Identity Documents Bill will form part of a first
wave of priority legislation set out in the Queen?s Speech on
The bill invalidates 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.
The government aims to have the bill pass through
Parliament and enacted by the parliamentary recess in August,
in a move that will save the taxpayer around 86 million pounds
over the next four years once all cancellation costs are taken
It will also avoid around 800 million pounds of
ongoing costs over the next ten years which were to be
recovered through fees, the government said.
First Published: Friday, May 28, 2010, 14:08