HC Deb 18 July 2002 vol 389 cc544-5W
Mr. Wiggin

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the projected costs of implementing the identity card proposals. [69754]

Beverley Hughes

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made a statement to the House on 3 July, announcing the publication of a consultation paper on Entitlement Cards and Identity Fraud. The consultation period will last until 10 January 2003. The Government has made it clear that the introduction of an entitlement card would be a major step and that it would not proceed without consulting widely and considering all the views expressed very carefully.

The paper includes a number of estimates of what a scheme would cost, depending on the sophistication of the card. A reasonable estimate would be that a scheme would cost around £1.5 billion over a 13 year period covering the three years it would take to set up the necessary Information Technology systems and the 10 year period for which the first cards would be valid.

This would include much more stringent identity checks than currently apply for passports and driving licences in response to increased levels of fraudulent applications.

It would also include the costs of using biometric information (fingerprints or iris images) which would uniquely link the card holder with a card.

This estimate does not include any savings to Government through more efficient administration and reductions in fraud. The paper also sets out how the costs might be recovered through increases in fees for driving licences and passports and charging a fee for entitlement cards issued to those who did not qualify for or who did not want to apply for a card in the form of a photocard driving licence or passport card. It would not be the Government's intention to use funds allocated for investment in public services for a card scheme.

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