The UK government has confirmed it plans to scrap ID cards for British citizens within 100 days.
The Identity Documents Bill – part of a first wave of priority legislation set out in the Queen’s Speech on 25 May – invalidates the ID card, meaning that holders will no longer be able to use them to prove their identity or as a travel document in Europe.
The government aims to have the Bill pass through Parliament and enacted by the Parliamentary recess in August.
The National Identity Register, the database which contains the biographic and biometric fingerprint data of card holders, will also be destroyed by the first piece of legislation introduced to Parliament by the new coalition government.
The role of the Identity Commissioner will also be terminated. The public panels, designed to scrutinise the identity cards scheme, have already been disbanded.
Home Secretary Theresa May claims the bill is ‘the first step that the government is taking to reduce the control of the state over law-abiding people and hand power back to them’. And Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says “By taking swift action to scrap it, we are making it clear that this government won’t sacrifice people’s liberty for the sake of Ministers’ pet projects.
However, observers argue that the removal of the scheme will take away the right of people who voluntarily purchased the card to travel without a passport across Europe. It also removes the right for individuals to have a recognised piece of ID to prove they are who they say they are.
According to the latest government figures, the move will save the taxpayer just £86 million over the next four years once all cancellation costs are taken into account. It will also avoid around £800 million of ongoing costs over the next 10 years which were to be recovered through fees.