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Identity Cards: Passports

Volume 461: debated on Wednesday 20 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of the Identity and Passport Service’s planned expenditure of £473 million in 2007-08 will be spent on the (a) identity cards scheme and (b) development of biometric passports. (135912)

Since the merger of the Home Office identity cards programme and the UK Passport Service to create the Identity and Passport Service on 1 April 2006, projects to deliver biometric passports, identity cards and other improvements have been necessarily combined. As much of the functionality needed to implement identity cards is also required for the implementation of biometric passports, this is the most cost-effective way to deliver these initiatives (e.g. both the implementation of biometric passports and identity cards will require a very similar application procedure as well the procurement of biometric recording equipment, data storage capability for biographical and biometric information and offices to facilitate enrolment).

As a result, much of the work conducted by Identity and Passport Service cannot be categorised, both financially and operationally, as contributing towards either the introduction of biometric passports or identity cards alone. The work is accounted for as future development projects.

With regard to future costs, the Identity and Passport Service Business Plan, published in April 2007, indicates that the organisation plans to spend £473 million in the coming year. The estimate of expenditure relating to resource and capital expenditure for the introduction of second biometric passports incorporating fingerprint biometrics, identity cards and associated developments is £80 million.

Even without the introduction of identity cards, a significant proportion of this expenditure would have been required in order to prepare for the introduction of second biometric passports. Overall, it is estimated that around 70 per cent. of the total cost of the scheme would need to be incurred in order to introduce the second biometric passport incorporating fingerprint biometrics.