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Consular news – Embassy 18 – July/August 2009

Identity scheme still on the cards

Britain’s national identity card scheme will proceed as planned, contrary to reports in the media that it has been shelved.

Speaking at a Consular Corps lunch, Mr Stephen Chapman of the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) showed consuls the Commencement Order for the enforcement of the Act and gave them an exclusive preview of sample ID cards and material for the information campaign to promote the uptake and use of the card.

He explained that the National Identity Cards are distinct from compulsory ID cards issued to non-EU foreign nationals by the UK Border Agency.

By contrast, the National ID card, which will cost £30, will be voluntary and rolled out gradually, first to staff at the IPS in London and Manchester, followed by people working airside at Manchester and London City airports and then to British and EEA citizens living in the Manchester area next year. Biometric enrolement will be undertaken by the Post Office.

Samples of ID cards have been sent to consulates to ensure that EU immigration officials will be able to recognise the card when it is used as a travel document.

Asked what additional benefit the ID card would bring, Mr Chapman said it was a secure and convenient way of proving one’s identity. He predicted demand would be highest with the British expatriate community in EU countries where the use of ID cards is common.

Questioned about data loss and identity fraud, Mr Chapman assured consuls the IPS had a good record of protecting data.

Quizzed about the proposed scrapping of the ID card scheme under a Conservative government, Mr Chapman said it would be a political decision, but added the savings to the taxpayer would be modest. “The scheme is self-financing so any savings made would only be about £50m on the initial capital investment,” he said.
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Consular Corps President Guy Van Glabeke and Stephen Chapman of the Identity and Passport Service
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