The Home Office has abandoned plans to combine biometric national identity cards with passports and driving licences following criticisms that the scheme was poorly thought out.
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The Home Office said it would press ahead with a standalone biometric ID card that would be
issued alongside a biometric passport to head off concerns about the complexity of the technology.
The turnaround follows criticisms from the Home Affairs Select Committee that the government’s original decision to combine biometric passports and ID cards locked it into technology standards that may be inappropriate for an ID card.
In a 40-page response to the committee, the government said it would arrange for the whole
ID programme to be independently assessed, including a review of the business case, technical requirements and procurement methods.
"The aims of this programme are to provide confidence to key stakeholders that the programme can deliver to time, cost and quality," it said.
The report revealed that the government’s national programme for IT will install infrastructure across the NHS to check ID cards, although the number of card readers needed would be decided locally.
The Department of Work and Pensions has estimated that it would need 4,500 card readers. Other government departments, including Education, Customs and Excise and the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, are investigating how many readers they would need.
The Home Office, which has been criticised for failing to produce a regulatory impact assessment of ID cards, said it would publish an assessment along with the ID card bill, which is expected to be announced in the next Queen’s speech.