John Major on Tuesday fuelled speculation that ID cards may be introduced when he told a Tory backbench MP he was sympathetic to the idea.
Two studies are under way into ID cards for social security claimants and a national ID scheme, the Prime Minister said. There were practical difficulties that needed to be overcome, he added.
But John Spellar, the Labour MP for Warley West, said the Home Office confirmed in a written Commons answer in December last year that the cost of a national scheme would be about pounds 475m based on the cost of a passport at pounds 10.15 each. Annual running costs are expected to be between pounds 50m and pounds 100m.
'Social security fraud is caused by people misrepresenting their circumstances, not themselves. ID cards would not work,' Mr Spellar said.