Government to issue 'ID cards' to teenagers

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Teenagers are to be issued with government smart cards that will offer them a range of attractive discounts - but will raise suspicions that they are being given ID cards under another name.

The cards will guarantee cut-price admission to public facilities and may even let them buy CDs. High-street stores may be encouraged to offer discounts to young people using the card. Conversely, sanctions will be implemented against those teenagers who are deemed to misbehave.

The smart card will be the most eye-catching item in the Government's long-delayed Green Paper on youth, to be published tomorrow. It was originally due to come out in October 2004. Margaret Hodge, who was children's minister until the election in May, is believed to have favoured an emphasis on improving youth services without threatening teenagers with sanctions.

The new children's minister, Beverley Hughes, who was forced to resign from the Home Office in 2004 after unintentionally misleading Parliament over visa fraud, was heavily involved in rewriting the paper to bring it into line with Tony Blair's campaign to end anti-social behaviour and instil respect.

But a senior government figure insisted that the teenage smart cards were not a junior version of the compulsory ID cards that the Government plans to introduce for every adult.

The Green Paper is part of what one insider called the "soft side" of the campaign against anti-social behaviour. It is based on the premise that teenagers will stay out of trouble if there is plenty for them to do and they are in a position to choose how to fill their time.

The new smart cards, based on schemes successfully introduced in London, Wiltshire and parts of Scotland, will provide teenagers with a series of "incentives".

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