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Identity Cards

Volume 515: debated on Monday 6 September 2010

Between April 2006 and March 2010, a total of £251 million was spent on projects to establish identity cards, second biometric passports and other related programmes. Prior to that, the Home Office spent an additional £41 million developing the policy, legislation and business case for the introduction of identity cards.

Given the state of the public finances, many people will think that is a staggering amount of money to waste. Will the Minister say what the future saving is from scrapping the ID card scheme—not only to the public purse but to individuals—on top of the enormous cost to our civil liberties that would have been incurred?

There will be net savings of approximately £86 million over the next four years—[Interruption.]. From a sedentary position, the shadow Home Secretary describes that as “diddly squat”. [Interruption.] He keeps doing this: £21 million a year of public money is of no consequence to the Opposition Front Bench. On top of that, £835 million would have come out of citizens’ pockets directly, as that is what people would have been forced to pay for these wretched ID cards if the previous Government’s policy had been allowed to continue. Labour Members do not recognise the difference between spending public money and spending taxpayer’s money that they have taken directly out of their pockets. We do recognise that distinction.

The Minister pulls many different numbers out of his hat—the numbers seem to change often—on the savings from scrapping ID cards. As he rightly points out, more than 70 per cent. of the cost in future would have come out of the pockets of people who had chosen a voluntary card. One figure that has not come out of the Minister’s hat, however, is the amount of compensation that his Department will need to pay to companies and businesses involved in developing the ID card scheme. Will he tell the House that figure now? If not, when will the House be told that figure?

The hon. Lady asks that question at regular intervals, and as she knows, we are in commercial negotiations with those companies. As soon as we have reached a conclusion, we will let her and the House know.