Ministers accused of ID card stealth

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The Independent Online
The Government was accused yesterday of trying to introduce a compulsory national identity card by stealth.

As Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, unveiled plans for an ID card it became increasingly clear that the Government intends all British citizens eventually to carry one.

Although launched as a voluntary system, with cards costing between pounds 10 and pounds 15, the Government admitted that "the aim will be to introduce an identity card which achieves eventually a very wide coverage of the adult population".

John Woulds, director of operations for the Data Protection Registrar's Office, the official regulator, said: "What is voluntary today becomes compulsory effectively as time goes on ... you find you can't open a bank account or hire a television on credit without an ID card."

The Government is expected to bring in legislation in the autumn and the cards could be available by next summer.

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