The government’s plans for a multibillion identity card scheme ran into fresh controversy today when Peter Lilley, deputy leader of the Conservative Party, broke with the party line to launch a damning attack against the government’s proposals.
In a pamphlet published by the centre-right think tank, the Bow Group, Lilley cast new doubts over the business case for the scheme. The former cabinet minister argued that it would produce few benefits for the £5.5bn expected cost.
"The government’s plan for compulsory identity cards is a bad idea, in a bad bill, introduced for the worst possible motives. The scheme represents an unjustifiable encroachment on liberty in return for at best minor benefits, and at a huge financial costs," he said.
Lilley’s report, raises doubts over the accuracy of biometric technology behind the cards. It argued that even at present success rates, if each UK citizen only had their card checked once a year, four million people would be falsely accused of not being who they say they are.
ID cards would not address the real problem in tackling organised crime, terrorism and illegal immigration, said Lilley, who was responsible for evaluating and rejecting similar proposals for ID cards under the conservative government.
With proposed fines of £1,000 for failing to notify a change of address or £2,500 for failing to register, ID cards could become an electoral liability for the Labour party, said Lilley.
"The government seems determined to ram this plan through parliament without the proper consideration that such a fundamental change demands," he said.