First British ID card unveiled

The first UK ID card has been unveiled by home secretary Jacqui Smith .

Ms Smith unveiled the design of the first card at a press conference in central London.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman said: “It does not matter how fancy the design of ID cards is, they remain a grotesque intrusion on the liberty of the British people.

“The government is using vulnerable members of our society, like foreign nationals who do not have the vote, as guinea pigs for a deeply unpopular and unworkable policy.”

Ms Smith told journalists the unveiling was a “mark of commitment” from the government to the controversial scheme, which will begin on November 25th.

“Foreign nationals want to be able to prove they are living, working and studying [in the UK] legally,” Ms Smith said.

“[These cards] will also stop those wishing to illegally benefit from the privileges of living in Britain.”

ID cards are a hugely controversial issue with many campaigners vehemently opposed to the government’s plans.

The Home Office has said it will begin rolling out biometric residence permits for foreign nationals in November and expects the first ID cards to be issued to British citizens in 2009.

And, from 2010, the cards will be offered to young people on a purely voluntary basis.

The government claims that ID cards will provide “an easy and secure way for legal UK residents to prove who they are when they apply for services at private businesses, or for government benefits”.

“The cards will be linked to their owners by unique biometric identifiers (for example, fingerprints). This is [a] reliable way to ensure the cards are legitimate, and to protect everyone from identity theft,” the Home Office states.

The Conservatives reiterated their opposition to the scheme.

“The government are kidding themselves if they think ID Cards for foreign nationals will protect against illegal immigration or terrorism – since they don’t apply to those coming here for less than three months,” said shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve.

“ID cards are an expensive white elephant that risk making us less – not more safe. It is high time the government scrapped this ill-fated project.”

Phil Booth, from the campaign group NO2ID, commented: “No doubt the home secretary is relieved to be able to wave a plastic card and claim it for the ID scheme, given her department has now spent over £100 million pounds of public money; but this is still a cynical branding exercise.

“To suggest ID cards are somehow connected to immigration policy Jacqui Smith is deliberately engaging in populist bullying of the soft targets – anonymous individuals seeking marriage visas or education – those who have no choice but to keep quiet and comply.

“All resident foreigners is a different matter. When it comes round to fingerprinting Madonna or Kylie, say, such tactics will backfire.”End of story