THE Government today vowed to press ahead with the hated £5 billion ID cards – and roll the scheme out within months.
Ignoring furious opposition over the staggering cost of the project at a time of economic crisis, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith revealed plans to charge taxpayers twice for the controversial cards.
The scheme, which is to be introduced in Greater Manchester in autumn, will see everyone in Britain paying £60 for their own card on top of the billions already spent.
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And in the same week Labour deemed the cost of our brave Gurkhas living in Britain too expensive – at just £1.4 billion – the Government prepared to spend a whopping £5.4 billion on the nanny state scheme.
It means the cost of Britain’s surveillance society – which currently stands at a crippling £800 per household – could be sent spiralling even higher.
Today Mrs Smith was met with fierce opposition from some MPs and Conservatives – who said they would scrap the scheme if they win power next year.
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling blasted Smith and called for the plans to be scrapped.
He said: “The Government is split down the middle on ID cards but it looks as if Jacqui Smith is carrying on regardless.
“Piloting the scheme in one city is nonsensical and will only serve as a tax on the people of Manchester.
“They should abandon this farce and scrap the whole scheme.”
Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil liberties group Liberty, added: “One begins to wonder what planet the Home Secretary is living on when in the middle of a recession, she wants to charge us £30 for an ID card and another £30 for handing over our own personal information.
“The idea of private companies profiting from this dangerous and expensive nonsense will be little compensation to hard-pressed families.”
Anyone wanting to take part in the – initially voluntary – scheme will have to go to their local post office or pharmacy, where they will have their fingerprints read and stored along with a face scan.
All the information will then be saved on a Government database.
In a speech to businesses today, the Home Secretary ignored calls from some Labour MPs and the Conservatives to scrap the scheme and instead pledged to have the cards nationwide by 2012.
She said: “With an identity card, people will be able to prove their identity quickly and conveniently while helping to protect themselves against identity fraud.
“ID cards will deliver real benefits to everyone, including increased protection against criminals, illegal immigrants and terrorists.”
She added: “Our next steps will be for other cities to follow Manchester’s lead before full national coverage from 2012.
“This phased approach will ensure that card coverage occurs hand in hand with the development of supporting technology such as chip and pin readers.”