New hi-tech passport and ID card to cost £85

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Indy Politics

The price of passports will more than double to £85 to cover the cost of incorporating hi-tech biometric information, David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, announced yesterday.

Within three years, all travellers will be given passports containing their picture, as well as details of their fingerprints or irises. At the same time they will be given the new identity cards being developed by Mr Blunkett, who argues they will be a vital tool in the fight against terrorism and crime.

The Home Secretary said the annual cost of sending out the new-style passports and identity cards would reach £500m by 2008. To cover the cost, travellers will face compulsory bills of £85, comprising £70 for their passports and another £15 for their ID cards. Passports currently cost £42.

The Home Secretary also acknowledged that the disproportionate rise in numbers of Asians stopped and searched by police in recent years had caused a "degree of fear" in some parts of the country. He said some increase was inevitable after 11 September but added that he would consider any step to ease the impact on the Muslim community.

He also told MPs that the Government was to spend an extra £15m on cameras to read car number plates in an effort to spot stolen, unregistered, untaxed or uninsured vehicles, or those used in crime. A recent one-year pilot in 23 forces in England and Wales led to nearly 13,500 arrests for a wide range of offences, nine times higher than the national average.

The pilot scheme also led to the recovery of 1,152 stolen vehicles worth more than £7.5m, stolen goods worth more than £640,000 and drugs valued at £380,000.