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ID card scheme unveiled by Queen

BBC | November 23 2004

A bill to introduce a compulsory identity card scheme for the UK has been unveiled in the Queen's Speech.

The home secretary believes identity cards will help tackle international terrorism, identity theft and help the work of the UK immigration services.

A draft bill published in April has been revised after consultation.

Last month David Blunkett dropped a proposal to combine ID with passports and driving licences after criticism his plans were badly thought out.

Facial scans

Under the revised proposals a national database will be created holding personal information such as names, addresses, and biometric information for all those who are issued with a card.

Biometrics include fingerprints, facial scans and iris scans, all of which are unique to each individual.

A new agency, which will incorporate the functions of the UK passport service, will begin issuing ID cards from 2008.

The planned bill outlined in the Queen's Speech, will ensure that access to "specified public services" will be linked to production of a valid ID card and it will include penalties for those failing to register.

Watchdog

It will also create new criminal offences on the possession of false identity documents.

Mr Blunkett has already promised to allow the whole scheme to be overseen by a new independent watchdog.

If they are introduced they will be the first national ID since the Second World War ones ended half a century ago.

The Home Office has said people will pay either £35 for a stand-alone ID card or £85 for a passport and ID card together.

The Liberal Democrats have argued money for a ID card scheme would be better spent on more police and greater intelligence efforts against terrorism.

The Tories meanwhile have been broadly supportive of the plans.

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