Government dismisses reports of ID cards review

By Tash Shifrin

Downing Street has denied reports that the prime minister is planning a technical review of the controversial £5.4bn ID cards scheme.

report in the Guardian newspaper said “a number of ministerial sources” had confirmed that Gordon Brown was concerned about the technology behind the ID cards scheme and had demanded a review — a move that could delay the programme.

But a Number 10 spokesperson denied the reports, saying: “There is no change in our policy.”

Last month, the Identity and Passport Service announced a shortlist of eight key suppliers for the scheme. It has now entered a period of competitive dialogue, which as the next stage of selecting a supplier.

IPS commercial director Bill Crothers has said potential bidders would be expected to raise critical points about the technical feasibility of the scheme during the dialogue process.

But the government has consistently refused to release details of gateway reviews of the ID cards scheme carried out by the Office of Government Commerce. Information commissioner Richard Thomas ordered the release of the documents — and was backed by the information tribunal — but the government has filed a High Court appeal against the tribunal’s ruling.

Gordon Brown did announce a review of data sharing by public and private sector bodies in a speech focusing on civil liberties last month that acknowledged the “continuing debate about ID cards”.