Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Friday, 21 November 2008

1,000 fine for wrong ID details

Specimen of UK ID card
Biometric cards are being issued to some foreign nationals from this month

Women who change their name after marriage could face fines of up to £1,000 if they fail to tell the government, under new proposals.

Anyone with a biometric passport or ID card will be required to notify the National Identity Register of changes to the personal data it holds.

The £30 fixed fee for an ID card is likely to rise after 2010, draft laws published earlier also reveal.

And people undergoing a sex change will be entitled to two ID cards.

Identity cards for foreign nationals will be issued from next week, with the first cards being issued to British citizens at the end of next year in a pilot project for airside workers at Manchester and London City airports.

The government is holding a 12 week consultation on the draft legislation, which is likely to come before Parliament in the new year in time for its implementation.

'Not punitive'

The document reveals that most people will have to pay more for ID cards than the £30 fixed fee previously discussed when large scale issuing of cards begins in 2011 or 2012.

Fines will also apply if cardholders fail to report their cards lost or stolen, and will be enforceable by the civil courts.


The National Identity Scheme will bring real and recognisable benefits for British citizens

Home office

The consultation document states fines are "not intended to be punitive or revenue raising".

Cardholders will usually have the fines waived if they agree to have their data updated when the errors emerge, officials stressed.

And they said the penalties are necessary to ensure the information on the database remains current.

Fines starting at £125 for the first infringement will normally only be imposed on people actively refusing to have their data updated, the Home Office said.

Homeless people

But providing false information, tampering with the register, giving out people's data without authorisation and holding false ID documents will be a criminal offence.

Anyone found guilty of unauthorised disclosure of information on the national identity register or an ID card application, would face up to two years in prison, while anyone found guilty of hacking into the ID database could be jailed for up to 10 years.

There will be no penalties, civil or criminal, for not applying for an ID card.

Special provisions have been made for people undergoing sex changes.

Transgender people will have two cards at the same time, one for their old identity and a new one for when they have completed their sex change.

Fines will also apply if cardholders fail to report their cards lost or stolen, and will be enforceable by the civil courts.

Officials have also tried to tackle the issue of how to record the addresses of homeless people and gypsies without a fixed address.

Homeless people wanting ID cards may be able to give their home address as a bench, bus stop or park where they are often found.

Addresses will be recorded on the register but will not appear on the face of the card.

'Nasty stuff'

A spokesman for the Identity and Passport Service said: "The National Identity Scheme will bring real and recognisable benefits for British citizens by offering a more convenient way of proving identity and helping protect people from identity fraud.

"Civil penalties are not intended to be punitive or revenue raising as it will be in an individual's best interests for their information to be accurate.


The government should do us all a favour and scrap this laminated poll tax, instead of making us all pay through the nose for it

Chris Huhne
Lib Dem home affairs spokesman

"We would always encourage people to update their information voluntarily but in some cases would apply a basic penalty of £125.

"This would only increase if someone deliberately or repeatedly failed to update their details over a prolonged period of time. The penalty would normally be cancelled as soon as the person has updated their information."

But Phil Booth, national coordinator of NO2ID, said the proposals outlined in the document were worse than campaigners had feared.

He said: "This is a wake-up call for people who thought it was just about the card.

"There is some very nasty stuff buried in the fine print of this consultation document. Basically, you have to tell them everything they want to know about you under threat - and pay for the privilege."

'Draconian punishments'

Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve, for the Conservatives, said the consultation document showed the ID scheme is "truly the worst of all worlds - expensive, intrusive and unworkable".

"At a time of economic hardship, the public will be dismayed that the government plans to fine innocent people for inaccuracies on the government's own database, using summary powers vested in the home secretary.

"The home secretary has confirmed the worst element of the scheme - a single, mammoth and highly vulnerable database exposing masses of our personal details to criminal hackers.

"Worse still, she has magnified the scope for fraud by allowing spot fines to be issued by email."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: "It is becoming clear how draconian the punishments will be for those that want no part in the government's illiberal and unnecessary identity database.

"Ministers are already admitting that people will be forced to pay more for the dubious privilege of an ID card than they originally promised.

"The government should do us all a favour and scrap this laminated poll tax, instead of making us all pay through the nose for it."



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