Editor: I don’t know about you – but I think I can wait!
People ‘can’t wait for ID cards’
Jacqui Smith is phasing in the introduction of the new ID card
Jacqui Smith says public demand means people will be able to pre-register for an ID card within the next few months.
The cards will be available for all from 2012 but she said: “I regularly have people coming up to me and saying they don’t want to wait that long.”
The home secretary made the claim as she unveiled revised ID scheme plans.
Opposition parties say they would scrap the ID card scheme. The Tories call it a “complete waste of money”. The Lib Dems call it a “laminated poll tax”.
The first biometric cards are being issued to students from outside the EU and marriage visa holders this month, and it had been planned to make them compulsory for all 200,000 airside workers from 2009.
In a speech to the Social Market Foundation Ms Smith said cards would be issued on a voluntary basis to young people from 2010 and for everyone else from 2012.
She must be ignoring twice the number of people who are coming up to her and saying I don’t want my details on any database whatsoever
She added: “But I believe there is a demand, now, for cards – and as I go round the country I regularly have people coming up to me and saying they don’t want to wait that long.
“I now want to put that to the test and find a way to allow those people who want a card sooner to be able to pre-register their interest as early as the first few months of next year.”
Biometric cards are being issued to some foreign nationals from this month
She told the BBC: “We’ll see where that interest is, and then we’ll see if we can issue some cards to those who’ve expressed an interest by the end of next year.”
People applying for cards and passports from 2012 will have to provide fingerprints, photographs and a signature, which Ms Smith believes will create a market worth about £200m a year.
And in changes to earlier plans the Home Office is talking to retailers and the Post Office about setting up booths to gather biometric data.
The government believes it would be “more convenient” for people and cheaper than setting up its previously planned enrolment centres in large population centres.
Phil Booth, national coordinator of the NO2ID campaign, said Jacqui Smith’s claim that people were saying they wanted an ID card “beggared belief” and would “come back to haunt her”.
“She must be ignoring twice the number of people who are coming up to her and saying I don’t want my details on any database whatsoever,” said Mr Booth.
The government’s plan to involve retailers in enrolling people was “worrying” given the government’s IT track record, he added.
Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: “Ministers are choosing a limited number of guinea pigs at two smaller airports because they are aware of how unpopular ID cards are.
“The government is too scared to force ID cards on voters before an election because they know it would be a laminated poll tax.
“The problem is not the ease with which we can give up sensitive personal data, but the ease with which the Home Office loses it. The Government cannot be trusted to keep personal information safe.”
Full Story BBC