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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 April, 2004, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Public 'happy to carry ID cards'
Passport control
Just one in five are prepared to pay for a card
David Blunkett has pledged to push ahead with ID card legislation after an opinion poll said most people would be happy to carry one.

The home secretary said he wanted a bill paving the way for a national ID scheme to become law before the next general election.

And he said he would bring in outside expertise to ensure the system worked.

Most of the 1,000 people questioned by MORI expressed doubts the cards could be introduced without problems.

Cost fears

Almost half those surveyed said they would not want to pay for the cards. A 35 fee has been proposed.

I don't mind carrying a card, I just don't want to pay for something that benefits the government and not me
Ray, Soton, UK

Mr Blunkett said the cards would probably be free for young people and there would be concessions for the elderly and those on low incomes.

He said the biometric system proposed would end multiple identities and give a boost to the fight against terrorism and organised crime.

"What has anybody to worry about having their true identity known?" he said.

"They have got everything to fear from someone stealing and misusing it."

Prevent immigration

The MORI survey was commissioned by an IT consultancy which has worked on projects with the government.

It revealed 80% of those questioned backed a national ID card scheme, echoing findings from previous polls.
Are the public happy with the new ID scheme?

A similar proportion said they would be happy to carry a card with them at all times, although ministers do not intend to make it compulsory to do so.

The principal reason people gave for backing the adoption of ID cards was to prevent illegal immigration.

The government has said it sees ID cards as a weapon against terrorism.

Mr Blunkett hailed the results. "As we have been saying, it also demonstrates a degree of trust in terms of being able to protect privacy which I'm very pleased about," he told the BBC.

Necessary checks

However, 58% of those questioned said they were "not confident" the government would be able to introduce the system smoothly.

2008: 80% of economically active population will carry some form of biometric identity document
Estimated cost of 3.1bn
Consortium of companies in UKPS trials led by SchlumbergerSema include NEC, Identix, Iridian
Source: Home Office
Only one in five said they would be prepared to meet the suggested 35 charge.

Mr Blunkett said he also accepted these findings and the lack of confidence in government computer systems.

"I have been the first to admit in the two years we have been dealing with this behind the scenes that we need to get this right which is why we will have to take our time," he said.

"We will have to do this incrementally, why at each stage the Office of Government Commerce will do the necessary checks and we are going to get outside expertise in to make sure that this isn't a cock up."

Driving licences

Companies who make ID cards are to give their opinions to the Home Affairs select committee on whether there should be basic or sophisticated types.

Smart and biometric cards could hold unique physiological or behavioural characteristics such as iris patterns or fingerprints.

From 2007-08 all new passports and driving licences will include biometric data.

The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"There is still an internal battle going on in government over the introduction of ID cards"

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