Although the first national identity cards are set to be issued from this November, the government has yet to appoint the required commissioner or finalise a budget for the commissioner's work.
The National Identity Scheme requires a commissioner according to the Identity Cards Act 2006. The government is expected to issue 50,000 identity cards to foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland and the EU) from the end of November.
In response to a parliamentary question from the Liberal Democrats, home secretary Jacqui Smith said around 50,000 identity cards would be issued between November and April 2009.
She said the rate of the number of cards issued after April might increase as deployment of the scheme widened.
The government said the budget for the commissioner's office had not been set because the precise definition of the role of the commissioner had still to be finalised.
Identity cards for workers in sensitive posts, including airside staff at airports, will also begin next year.