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Fingerprints: Children

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 29 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals are being considered to fingerprint children under the age of 16 as part of the passport and identity card system; and if he will make a statement. (126202)

Section 2 of the Identity Cards Act 2006 clearly establishes that only those aged 16 and over are eligible to be registered on the National Identity Register and issued with an identity card. Thus, there are no plans to record fingerprint biometrics of those aged under 16 on the National Identity Register for the purpose of issuing identity cards. The records of passport holders aged under 16 will not form part of the National Identity Register.

To maintain the reputation and integrity of the British passport, we intend to keep in step with European Union regulations which require the introduction of fingerprint biometrics into passports by June 2009. At present, the regulation specifies no minimum age for the recording of fingerprint biometrics and discussions between member states are continuing on that issue.

As set out in the Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme published in December 2006, the Identity and Passport Service has anticipated that it may be necessary to record fingerprint biometrics for passports issued to those over the age of 11. Passports issued to those aged between 11 and 15 years are of a five year validity. They need to match the physical and technical standards of those issued to adults as the holders of such passports hold them when they become more economically active and move into adulthood, possibly continuing to use such passports up to the age of 20. For example it would be anomalous for one 19-year-old to have a passport which incorporated fingerprint biometric data and another 19-year-old to have a passport which did not incorporate fingerprint biometric data as it was issued when the holder was under 16 and not treated as an adult.