The taxpayer will have to compensate a French firm for lost profits if the Government’s controversial national identity card scheme is cancelled at short notice.
Under the terms of a Â£5 billion contract signed by the Home Office, Thales will be entitled to claim for its lost profits if ministers call off the ID cards scheme with less than a year’s notice. If the company is given between a year and 18 months’ notice, it will be entitled to have its costs met.
The total bill for taxpayer is expected to run into millions of pounds, but exact details are being kept secret for “commercial confidentiality” reasons.
Details of the contract were obtained by the Conservatives, who have pledged to terminate the ID cards contract if they win power.
The costs will arise because the contract has standard terms and conditions. The Tories argue that a specially-tailored contract should have been used because of the unique circumstances of the ID cards project.