Jo calls for Ministers to come clean over cost of ID cards

Jo Swinson MP has attacked the Government for concealing the true cost of the Identity Cards project.

Leading a debate in Parliament today on the cost of the ID card scheme, Jo said that estimates over the cost of ID cards had omitted those costs that would be incurred by Government departments other than the Home Office.

Speaking after the debate, Jo said:

“A major concern people have with the ID card scheme is over how much it will cost, and there is a pressing need for an open debate on this subject.

“In 2003, the estimated cost of an Identity Card was £35. This year the Government ditched their manifesto commitment to voluntary ID cards and announced that anyone renewing their passport will be compelled to get an ID card, at a total cost of £93.

“Home Office figures put the cost of introducing and implementing the biometric passport and ID card scheme at £5.8bn over the next ten years. No-one is claiming with any credibility that these costs will not rise further.

“Estimates by the London School of Economics state that the true cost of the project will be between £10.6bn and £19.2bn. These figures include costs hidden by the Government, particularly the funds needed by other departments such as the Department of Health to adapt to the new system.

“Unfortunately, what we saw today was another example of the Home Office adopting a siege mentality over ID cards. Perhaps if the Minister had spent more time answering the questions he was asked instead of rubbishing the legitimate views of both opposition parties and academic researchers, we could have had a genuine debate on this important issue.

“The Government’s plans for ID cards inspire little confidence but provoke a torrent of unanswered questions.”

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality Tony McNulty, who replied to Jo’s opening speech, offered to meet her once the official costings of the ID card scheme are published later this year.

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