The House of Commons last week debated identity cards for the first time in two-and-a-half years after the Conservatives proposed a motion for the government to abandon the scheme.
As expected, the motion was defeated, but the debate proved instructive in outlining both the government’s and the opposition’s attitude to what has proved a controversial scheme in two key areas – what will it cost and what the alternatives are.
The Tories and Liberal Democrats have argued that in times of fiscal constraint, the £4.9bn scheme must be abandoned – although they are ideologically opposed to the plan as well.
But scrapping ID cards will not simply save £4.9bn. According to the latest cost estimates confirmed to Computing by the Home Office this week, £3.6bn of spending on the scheme supports the issue of passports – a measure that none of the political parties opposes. So ending the scheme will save £1.3bn at most.
But the issue is complicated further by home secretary Alan Johnson’s claims that this £1.3bn would be recovered by the charges levied for cards. ::MORE HERE::