Civil servants first Britons to get ID cards

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The Independent Online

Phil Woolas, the Immigration minister, faced ridicule last night after announcing that his own civil servants would be the first Britons to be issued with identity cards. He told MPs that applications for the £30 cards could be made by UK nationals from next Tuesday.

Mr Woolas added: "This will apply to people working in the Home Office, the passport service and elsewhere, who are engaged on work relating to the issue of identity cards."

The scheme will be extended by the end of the year to residents of Greater Manchester and airside workers at Manchester and London City airports. Next year people across the North-west of England will be invited to apply for cards. Damian Green, the shadow Immigration minister, said: "This would be funny if it wasn't so expensive for the taxpayer. The Government is reduced to selling ID cards to its own staff in a desperate bid to prove that someone, somewhere, thinks that they would benefit from the identity card scheme."

Non-EU nationals have already started to be issued with cards, although uncertainty has surrounded its launch among Britons. Gordon Brown has promised that the scheme will remain voluntary for UK nationals.