Jacqui Smith is set to defy union opposition and announce that the first Britons will have to apply for compulsory identity cards from autumn next year.
From Nov 25 this year, ID cards are compulsory for foreign nationals who come to Britain.
However, the Home Secretary will say in a speech to the Social Market Foundation tomorrow [thurs] that compulsory ID cards for “airside” workers will be introduced at two of Britain’s airports from next autumn.
The plans will be phased in at Manchester and London City and then expanded to all airports after 18 months. The cards will cost Â£30 each.
Unions have fought the plans because they are concerned that their members will be used as “guinea pigs” for a national ID card scheme, which has been criticised by civil liberties groups.
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The fact that the scheme will only be phased could be seen as a partial victory by opponents.
It also could delay any national roll-out of the scheme until well after the next general election, which must be held by May 2010. If the Tories win power, they have vowed to scrap the scheme.
A spokesman for white collar Public and Commercial Services Union said: “There are concerns among our members that they are being used as guinea pigs to push through a national ID card scheme.