Johnson shows off his new national ID card

Author: By Jack Doyle, Press Association

Speaking at St Pancras Station in central London, Mr Johnson said the card
would provide people with a “safe and secure” way of proving their identity.

The cards will help combat identity fraud, enable the holder to travel to
Europe without their passports and remove the hassle of using bank
statements or gas bills to show who you are, he said.

Mr Johnson spoke as he set off for Manchester where the cards will become
available later this year.

He said: “The identity card is a safe, secure and simple way for people to
protect and prove their identity and to travel around Europe but leave their
passport at home.

“Given the growing problem of ID fraud and the inconvenience of having to
carry passports coupled with gas bills or six months worth of bank
statements to prove identity, I believe the ID card will be welcomed as an
important addition to the many plastic cards that most people already carry.”

On the front of each card is the holder’s name, picture, date of birth, sex
and signature.

Like the UK passport, it also displays your nationality, where it was issued
and when it expires.

A chip embedded in the back of the card holds a digital image of the holder’s
face and two fingerprints.

The front of the card also displays the royal crest as well as the thistle,
the rose, the shamrock and the daffodil to represent the four parts of the
UK.

The cards will be made available across the north west of England early next
year and across the country in 2011-12.

The Tories have pledged to scrap the scheme saying it is a waste of money.

Mr Johnson said the cards had widespread public support.

“Every time we ask the public ‘do you think this is a good step forward, they
agree.

“This is a no-brainer.”

Last month the Home Office signalled a major climbdown on the cards, stating
for the first time that they would never be made compulsory.

Plans to require 20,000 airport workers at Manchester and London City airports
to carry cards were also dropped in the face of union opposition.

Critics say ID cards are unnecessary, expensive and an infringement of civil
liberties.

The overall cost of the cards, biometric passports and the database to hold
the personal information on is predicted at £5 billion over 10 years.

Figures released by the Tories today showed the Home Office has already spent
£215 million on the scheme.

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: “The Government has already wasted
£200 million that we cannot afford.

“The scheme will cost hundreds of million pounds more, even if the cards are
voluntary. It is time this scheme was completely scrapped. ”

He added: “Alan Johnson today launches a wing and a prayer scheme based on the
hope that people across the North West will sign up for a glossy ID card,
and send a message to their counterparts in other parts of the country that
the ID card is the hottest property since Susan Boyle.”

Anyone who wants a card will pay to have their details collected by high
street stores on top of the £30 cost of the card.

Once on the database, failure to keep your details up to date could lead to a
fine of up to £1000.

Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of campaign group NO2ID said: “People should
read the small print and avoid the con.

“This so-called voluntary scheme means a lifetime of fees and penalties and
once you are on the database you never get off.”

Around 50,000 foreign nationals have been given their version of the ID card
since the cards were introduced last year.

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