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Orders of the Day — Identity Cards Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:47 pm on 20th December 2004.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office) 5:47 pm, 20th December 2004

In a moment. I promise that I will give way to my hon. Friend next time.

The debate that we have just had rather highlights my next point, because the question is whether the Government have in place the organisation necessary to introduce the scheme. We know that what they are proposing is one of the most ambitious technology projects that the country has ever seen. We also know that the Government have an abysmal record—I am not making a political point, because most Governments have an abysmal record—in overseeing large-scale projects, as with the millennium dome and new software for the Child Support Agency and for passports.

Only a couple of weeks ago, the national fingerprint identification system collapsed for five days—and that had the complexity of a pocket calculator by comparison with the national identity register. We have to address the issue of how to deal with the matter. I suspect that the Government will put it out to tender and we are going to have to think very hard about that process. I do not see the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee in his place, but I hope that he contributes to the debate because I would be interested to hear what he has to say. I promised to give way to my hon. Friend.