HC Deb 18 November 2003 vol 413 cc829-31W
Mr. Best

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the costs involved in introducing a mandatory national identity card scheme in the UK. [132424]

Beverley Hughes

My right hon. Friend, the Home Secretary announced on 11 November that the Government has decided to begin the process of introducing a national identity cards scheme following the consultation paper published in July 2002.

The Government are determined to ensure that the development of a national identity cards scheme is managed to the highest standards, and that the major business change and IT challenges which we face are dealt with effectively. A Programme Board is being established chaired by the Home Office to co-ordinate and drive forward the different elements of the Government strategy. Progress at every stage will be monitored and reviewed as further decisions are taken during the implementation. Before decisions are taken on implementation, there will be an intensive phase of feasibility assessment and prototyping so that decision making is soundly based and risks in the programme are kept to a minimum.

Once the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has confirmed that the programme is ready to proceed, by means of an OGC Gateway Zero review, we will publish draft legislation to enable the scheme to be introduced.

Set up costs for the first three years have been estimated at £36, £60 and £90 million. Costs thereafter will be covered by charges. Under the proposed scheme, we estimate that a 10 year plain identity card would cost most people approximately £35. The enhanced fee for a combined passport—identity card would be £77and a combined driving licence— identity card would be £73.

The proposed charging schedule would fund free cards for all 16 year olds and a reduced charge of £10 for those on low incomes. We are looking at how those who have been in retirement for some time could obtain a lifelong card, requiring no further payment and are also looking at whether plain identity cards could be paid for by instalments.

For very frail and elderly citizens it would be possible to issue a non-biometric card (for instance those with severe learning disabilities who are in residential care or those over 80).

People who held both a passport and a driving licence would only pay the additional charge for one document. This is because the charge covers the cost of establishing a more secure identity including recording the biometric information which only needs to happen once.

We will continue to work with potential suppliers and partners to ensure estimates are accurate, realistic and deliverable.

Mr. Webb

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his oral statement on identity cards of 11 November 2003,Official Report, column 176, what was the basis for his estimate of savings to be made in benefit and related systems from introducing an ID card was. [139089]

Beverley Hughes

The Department for Work and Pensions estimates that the level of identity fraud in the benefit system is between £20 million and £50 million per annum. A national identity cards scheme would reduce this once cards were widely held. It could also help to streamline the process of allocating National Insurance numbers, though there are no plans in the first stage of the scheme to require the possession of a card in order to obtain a National Insurance number.

Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from(a) police authorities and (b) other interested parties on the introduction of identity cards, with particular reference to the effect on under-age drinking; and if he will make a statement. [139440]

Beverley Hughes

"Identity Cards—A Summary of Findings from the Consultation Exercise on Entitlement Cards and Identity Fraud" (CM 6019) was published on 11 November 2003 and gives a summary of the comments received from organisations and from the public on identity cards.

It records (at page 111) that police organisations considered that an identity card scheme would assist licensees to control the sale of age related products and (at page 39) that 6 per cent. of members of the public who were surveyed and were in favour of identity cards gave "to stop under-age drinking" as a reason.