Page last updated at 21:42 GMT, Monday, 18 October 2010 22:42 UK

ID Cards Bill

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Phillips of Sudbury has backed Labour calls for refunds for 12,000 people who paid £30 for a national identity card.

On 18 October 2010, during Lords second reading of the the Identity Documents Bill, which abolishes identity cards and the National Identity Register, Lord Phillips urged "sympathetic consideration" to the possibility of refunding those who took out cards before the 2010 Tory and Lib Dem manifestos were published.

"They seem to me to be innocent citizens," he said, "and I am sure it might please a lot of people if it were possible to do that."

He continued: "Simple fairness should lead the government to repay this £30, whether it's to old women or rich hedge fund managers; I don't mind."

But Home Office minister Baroness Neville-Jones, opening today's debate, said the cost of refunds - or alternatively a £30 discount off the cost of passport renewal - was "not a trivial sum".

Lady Neville-Jones said: "It would not be right for the taxpayer to foot this bill and add to the already excessive spending on this scheme.

"Those who chose to buy a card did so in the full knowledge of the unambiguous statements by the coalition parties that the scheme would be scrapped when we came to office. They cannot expect the taxpayers to bail them out."

Lord Bach, for Labour, said: "However much these benches may have supported the introduction of ID cards, we cannot deny this government's mandate to abandon the measure now.

"It was one of the very precious few proposals that actually did appear in both the Conservative Party's and the Liberal Democrat Party's manifestos. We absolutely recognise the right of the government to pass this bill."

He echoed calls for refunds to be given but accepted that, for procedural reasons, the Lords would not be allowed to pass an amendment to that effect. He described the government's response as "pretty cold-hearted".

The bill has already cleared the Commons and gained its Lords second reading without a vote.

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