By Jane Kirby, PA Political Staff
Identity cards will become “Labour’s poll tax” and will be “introduced for the worst possible motives”, a former Tory cabinet minister said today.
Peter Lilley, who was secretary of state for social security from 1992 to 1997 and then deputy leader of the Conservative Party, attacked the Government’s plans as a waste of money.
He said the cost of the cards could easily double and they would not solve Britain’s problems.
In a report called Identity Crisis – The Case Against ID Cards, for centre-right think tank the Bow Group, Mr Lilley said: “The Government’s plan for compulsory identity cards is a bad idea, in a bad bill, introduced for the worst possible motives.
“The scheme represents an unjustifiable encroachment on liberty in return for at best minor benefits, and at huge financial cost which would be better spent on more police or better control of our borders.”
The Identity Cards Bill passed its first hurdle in December when MPs voted to give it a second reading.
Mr Lilley said the Government seemed determined to “ram this plan through Parliament” without proper consideration.
ID cards would not address the real problem of organised crime, terrorism and illegal immigration, he said.
The problem was not identifying suspects but proving them guilty or removing them.
Mr Lilley backed several statements in the report, including:
“In the Government’s own figures the cost is huge – £5.5 billion over 10 years – so a passport/ID card will cost £85 per adult. All past experience and independent experts suggest the cost could easily double. This will be Labour’s poll tax.
“The public sector’s record in the successful implementation of IT projects is woeful and this would be the biggest yet.
“Biometric technology still involves high levels of error. At present success rates, even if each UK citizen only had their card checked once a year 4 million people would be falsely accused of not being who they say they are.
“If the scheme does not require everyone to carry and produce cards at all times, there would be few benefits.”
The report also attacked the introduction of compulsory ID cards in peacetime as being “the preserve of fascist and communist states”.
It said: “Such plans have always been intended to control their citizens. Common law countries have all rejected them in peacetime.”