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Britain to scrap ID cards within 100 days

Britain's multi-billion pound scheme to bring in national identity cards will be scrapped within 100 days, the government announced on Thursday.

world Updated: May 27, 2010 20:35 IST

Britain's multi-billion pound scheme to bring in national identity cards will be scrapped within 100 days, the government announced on Thursday.

The National Identity Register, a database which holds biometric information about the cardholders, will also be destroyed, in the first piece of legislation to be brought to Parliament by the new coalition government.

The move spells the end of the scheme, estimated to be set to cost almost £5 billion over the next decade, which was brought in by the previous Labour administration. It had argued the cards were vital in the fight against crime and terrorism.

"The wasteful, bureaucratic and intrusive ID card scheme represents everything that has been wrong with government in recent years," said Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

"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."

The £30 cards, which contained personal details, fingerprints and a facial image, were part of what was seen as one of the world's most ambitious biometric projects.

Initially the aim was to make them compulsory for all Britons but amid opposition from civil liberties campaigners and spiralling costs, the Labour government said they would be voluntary.

Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats had pledged to get rid of the cards before May's election. Now in coalition together, the parties aim to have a bill through Parliament by August which will invalidate the cards.

Those who have already become cardholders will not be reimbursed.

The Home Office said the action will save taxpayers £86 million over the next four years and avoid £800 million of costs over the next decade.