Date for mandatory ID cards in Britain put back to 2012: opposition
Tue Jan 22, 7:10 PM ET
LONDON (AFP) – Britons will not be required to have ID cards until 2012, two years later than originally planned, the opposition Conservatives claimed on Tuesday, citing leaked government documents they obtained.
The interior ministry documents apparently targeted “Borders Phase II (UK Citizens)” as set to begin in 2012, though those in “trusted relationships”, such as security guards, will have to obtain ID cards earlier.
When legislation for ID cards was first approved in 2006, the original deadline for Britons renewing their passports to be in possession of ID cards was January 2010.
In response to the opposition's claims, the interior ministry said that “a date has not been fixed” for a full rollout of ID cards.
A spokesman for the Identity and Passport Service, while declining to comment directly on the Conservatives' claims, said: “We have always said that the scheme will be rolled out incrementally.”
Foreign nationals resident in Britain will begin receiving ID cards later this year, with the documents expected to be issued to British citizens on a voluntary basis from 2009.
According to the original Act of parliament on the subject, passed in 2006, compulsory ID cards cannot be mandated unless both the House of Commons and Lords vote in favour of the plan — at present, the opposition Conservatives and Liberal Democrats oppose the proposals.
The government's plans for ID cards have drawn criticism on the grounds that they will arguably not help to combat international terrorism, and infringe on civil liberties.
The idea has also been hurt by recent government losses of citizens' personal data, in particular the loss of 25 million Britons' personal information by a government agency two months ago.
Unlike its continental European neighbours, Britain has never had a mandatory ID card scheme other than in wartime, but the idea has gathered momentum since the deadly July 2005 suicide bombings in London.