Clarke offers concessions on ID cards to head off rebellion

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Indy Politics

He will offer a guarantee that the planned national identity database will hold no more personal details than contained on a passport. The Home Secretary will also outline new laws to prevent people stealing information while cards are being produced.

He will attempt to reassure MPs worried about the cost of the cards that people will only be charged £30 for a standalone card and £93 for a combined card and passport.

The ID Cards Bill returns to the Commons tonight with the prospect of a fresh left-wing revolt before the legislation goes to the House of Lords. Twenty Labour backbenchers rebelled when MPs last debated ID cards earlier this year.

Opposition MPs and Labour rebels are hoping to wreck a key part of the Bill with amendments to remove powers that would force people to get an ID card when they renew their passports or driving licences. They also want to eliminate charges for the cards. Anti-ID card campaigners are keen to slash the Government's majority of 66 to boost attempts to wreck the Bill in the Lords, where Labour does not have an overall majority.

The Liberal Democrats accused the Tories of going soft on ID cards by failing to impose a three-line whip on their MPs today. But Conservative sources insisted that their troops would all be in Westminster and would be voting in force against the measure.

The Human Rights group Liberty urged MPs to reject the Bill. Shami Chakrabarti, the organisation's director, said: "This ID card folly is an example of the need to focus on more good cops rather than more bad laws. The multimillion-pound database budget should be diverted to operational intelligence and policing.

"In addition to the exorbitant financial cost, this scheme comes with immeasurable hidden costs to our privacy, race relations, and traditional freedoms."

The Home Office is speaking to other government departments, including the Department of Health and the Department of Work and Pensions, about the merits of ID cards, in the hope that they will contribute towards the scheme's cost. Andy Burnham, a Home Office minister, said: "If they are going to reap the benefits [of ID cards] there should be a sensible sharing of the cost."