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Post offices and pharmacies to sell Government ID cards

Pharmacies and post offices could act as enrolment centres for the Government's identity card scheme, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said today.

Anyone who wants an ID card or biometric passport will go to their local post office or pharmacy to have their fingerprints read and stored along with a face scan.

The card will cost £30 and the shops could charge another £30 to collect the data, which will be stored on a Government database.

Greater Manchester has been chosen as the launch area for the £5 billion scheme with thousands of cards likely to be printed from this autumn.

Ms Smith is meeting Post Office managers and pharmacy trade groups this morning to discuss the plans.

"The companies interested in working with us to deliver the service will play a key role in ensuring the public can apply for an ID card or passport simply and easily," she said.

"While private companies will clearly benefit from the increased footfall from offering this service, their customers will benefit from being able to quickly provide their biometrics while they are out doing the shopping.

"With an identity card, people will be able to prove their identity quickly and conveniently while helping to protect themselves against identity fraud.

"ID cards will deliver real benefits to everyone, including increased protection against criminals, illegal immigrants and terrorists."

She added: "Our next steps will be for other cities to follow Manchester's lead before full national coverage from 2012.

"This phased approach will ensure that card coverage occurs hand in hand with the development of supporting technology such as chip and pin readers."

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling called for the scheme to be scrapped.

He said: "The Government is split down the middle on ID cards but it looks as if Jacqui Smith is carrying on regardless.

"Piloting the scheme in one city is nonsensical and will only serve as a tax on the people of Manchester.

"They should abandon this farce and scrap the whole scheme."

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil liberties group Liberty, said: "One begins to wonder what planet the Home Secretary is living on when in the middle of a recession, she wants to charge us £30 for an ID card and another £30 for handing over our own personal information.

"The idea of private companies profiting from this dangerous and expensive nonsense will be little compensation to hard-pressed families."

Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of the NO2ID campaign against identity cards, said: "Five years in, the admitted Home Office costs are over £5 billion - and they're suspiciously silent on fees.

"Anyone who registers now has been conned into signing away their privacy for life and giving the Government a blank cheque."

Belfast Telegraph


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