Brown to personalise the case for ID cards

Biometric ID cards are simply the latest technology to secure the lives of the UK's individuals and businesses, rather than a means to protect them from terrorists.

Such a change in tack of selling national ID cards as primarily a perk to consumers and companies alike is to be pioneered by a Gordon Brown-led government.

The repackaging is designed to help the chancellor differentiate himself from Tony Blair's government, which says ID cards would combat issues including terrorism and illegal working.

Extra clout to the claim ID cards will benefit individuals and enterprise is expected to come from Sir James Crosby, who Mr Brown has tasked to set up an identity management forum.

Although commissioned in July of last year, and due to report at Easter, the results of the Crosby review will be delayed until Mr Brown enters Number 10, The Financial Times reported yesterday.

The forum's findings will equip Mr Brown with fresh arguments to make the case for ID cards.

At the time, Mr Brown said he wanted the former chief executive of HBOS to examine the UK's "fraud and security issues and consider how new technologies can help security for all."

He also said, "the question is not whether we have a national register of identity – we have had so for years – but whether we are prepared to consider the most up-to-date and the most secure means to protect our identity from being stolen."

NO2ID expressed disappointment to learn Mr Brown was warming towards the £5bn scheme, particularly in light of reports that he was too prudent to give it full financial backing. The anti-ID card group was unimpressed with anticipated claims that ID cards are primarily needed to safeguard businesses and consumers.

"Mr Brown has a great opportunity to drop the whole misconceived plan for the government to 'manage' my identity and yours, before it has a chance to cripple his premiership," group secretary Guy Herbert said yesterday.

"If he makes only cosmetic changes or tries to sell it differently, just to avoid the temporary embarrassment of changing his mind to a position agreed upon by the opposition, the vast majority of political commentators and the public, he will look increasingly foolish."

The Conservative Party is opposed to ID cards, evidenced recently by its leader's speech to voters in Bath, during which he called the scheme a "threat to liberty" in the UK.

"ID cards are presented as methods to control crime, terrorism and illegal immigration," David Cameron said in March.

"In fact, they are an expensive distraction from the real task of fighting these problems. There are no shortcuts here. We need proper community policing and real controls at our borders - there is no plastic alternative to these."

Nick Clegg, shadow home secretary for the Liberal Democrats, believes the government is making up the case for ID cards as it goes along.

He said: "Finding new excuses to foist ID cards on the British people will hardly be an act of great statesmanship from Gordon Brown.

"The Government's justification for this needlessly intrusive and expensive project has changed from month to month.

"If Gordon Brown were honest about the scheme's failings he would pull the plug the moment he enters 10 Downing Street."

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