No refund for Britons who bought new identity cards

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More than 15,000 British citizens who spent £450,000 buying new identity cards will not get their money back the Home Secretary said yesterday after committing the Government to scrapping the scheme within 100 days.

The abolition of the £5bn national identity card and its database will be the first piece of legislation introduced to Parliament by the new Government.

But Theresa May said that existing card holders, who each paid £30, will not receive a refund because the Conservatives had made it clear it was their committed intention to reverse Labour's scheme.

The decision to scrap ID cards, which had been introduced partly to combat illegal entry to the UK, was made on the same day the latest immigration figures were published.

They reveal the scale of the task facing the Government which yesterday promised to cut net annual migration from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands.

The numbers of foreigners entering the UK in the year to September 2009 was 503,000, despite a fall of more than 50,000 from the previous year. Net immigration, the difference between those coming into the country and those leaving, fell from 160,000 to 142,000 last year.

Yesterday Damian Green, the Conservative minister responsible for immigration, repeated his pledge to cut immigration to tens of thousands.

He said the biometric resident permit would continue to be issued to foreign nationals living in the UK.

The new figures also showed that the number of foreigners given a UK passport last year jumped by more than half to a record 203,000.

More than half of those came from Africa and the Indian sub-continent with the largest groups being Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and people from the Philippines, according to Home Office figures published today.

Almost half of those were given a passport on the basis of long term residence in Britain and a further quarter through marrying a British citizen.