ONLY 8,000 people have enquired about getting the government’s controversial ID cards, which will be launched in Manchester.
During a live webchat at the M.E.N offices, Lord Bill Brett, the minister responsible for the introduction of the ID card scheme, admitted only a small percentage of the population had asked about the voluntary scheme.
The cards will cost £30 and contain biometric details of holders.
They can be used in place of a passport throughout Europe.
Lord Brett hopes the cards, available in Manchester in October, will be rolled out across the north west by 2010, and eventually the rest of the country.
He said he foresaw the cards becoming ‘the accepted form of ID in the UK’.
But a poll on this website revealed 81 per cent would not be taking part in the trial.
Lord Brett said: “We have not set targets for what is a purely voluntary scheme, but our research shows a majority of people support ID cards.
“We are confident that support and the number of ID cards will grow incrementally in the period from its introduction in Manchester to the ongoing rollout across the country.
“A lot of opposition to the cards has been based on fear from misconception and mischievousness. I don’t believe the initiative is doomed to failure, rather that it will grow over time to become the accepted form of ID, as the voluntary ID card in France has become.”
The cards will be valid for 10 years.
Lord Brett admitted the cards would not by themselves ‘provide a silver bullet’ in the fight against terrorism, but he said: “The security services and the police believe it will be a helpful tool in that task.”
The minister claimed the cards would provide ‘a secure and unique identity’ for holders. He said they would be targeted in particular at young people, who he said had ‘problems with security and identification’.
He said: “They will have all the information they need on one card. This will assist young people who want to buy cigarettes, alcohol, and in a city like Manchester with a lively nightlife, they can access clubs and bars while also having a document that protects against fraud and allows travel through Europe.”
Lord Brett, admitted that the cards – which should be available from 2012 to all British citizens aged 16 and over – could be scrapped by a future government.
He said: “No government can bind its successors.”
Lord Brett stressed the government had ‘no intention to make ID cards compulsory’. Asked why Manchester had been chosen for the pilot, he said: “Manchester is a major city, with a large young population, a large university and major airport.”