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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 May, 2005, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
At-a-glance: ID card plans
A guide to the key details of the government's Identity Card Bill.


  • The bill would allow the creation of a national identity card scheme.

  • The cards would be linked to a new identity register with details including people's name, date of birth, nationality, immigration status and address.

  • The register would also contain biometric details, such as iris patterns or fingerprints.


  • The government says it would give people a convenient way of proving their identity, prevent identity theft and offer a secure way of identifying people for national security, detecting crime, enforcing immigration controls, preventing illegal working and providing public services.

  • Newly arrived foreign nationals coming to live in Britain will have to register by 2008.

  • People would be able to check their own details on the register.


  • The bill allows the home secretary to implement his plan to make it compulsory for everybody applying for a new passport from 2008.


  • It would cost 93 to produce a 10-year passport and ID card together but the fees people will actually pay for the cards have not been decided.

  • The Home Office estimates it will cost 584m to run the scheme each year but refuses to give details of the set up costs, citing commercial sensitivity.


  • Former home secretary David Blunkett said he wanted Parliament in about 2011 or 2012 to consider whether to make it compulsory to own, but not carry, ID cards. Ministers are now refusing to speculate on the date.

  • To make them compulsory, the government would have to: Publish a report explaining its reasons and how it would work and put it to a vote in both Houses of Parliament.

  • Ministers say they do not expect compulsion until 80% of people have the cards anyway - although this is not spelled out in the bill.


  • Approved authorities would be allowed access to "limited parts" of people's details on the register, with the person's consent, so they could check somebody's identity.

  • The rules could restrict the information available, such as the previous names of transsexual people.

  • Details could also be given without consent to police, intelligence agencies, customs and tax authorities and certain government departments for preventing and detecting serious crime, ensuring national security, investigating benefits fraud and protecting Britain's "economic well-being".

  • There would be regulations so those asking for information without consent would have to be of a certain rank and have to explain why.

  • Home Secretary Charles Clarke has warned those accessing information without permission would be punished with a two-year jail term.


  • The cards could be used to check whether people were eligible to use public services, such as the NHS or receiving benefits.

  • Any rules on checks for use of public services would have to be approved by both Houses of Parliament.


  • If the cards became compulsory, people could be ordered to pay up to 2,500 by the civil courts if they fail to register.

  • People who are told to sign up for cards but then fail to provide the right information, perhaps as part of a protest, could face a civil fine of up to 1,000 and another fine of up to 2,500 if they fail to meet the next deadline.

  • Those failing to update their information on the register with the authorities face a civil court fine of up to 1,000.


  • There would be an offence of possessing false identity documents or the equipment to make them - with a maximum of 10 years in prison.

  • Anybody found with somebody else's ID documents without reasonable excuse would face up to two years in jail.

  • Disclosing information improperly would carry up to two years in jail.

  • Knowingly giving false information for the register could be punished by two years imprisonment, a fine or both.

  • There would be a maximum 10 year jail term for anybody tampering with the register.


  • A new national identity scheme commissioner would oversee the project and produce an annual report to go before Parliament, with certain exceptions.

  • Use of the system by the intelligence agencies would be handled instead by the intelligence services commissioner.

    Prime Minister's monthly news conference

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