Orders of the Day — Identity Cards Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:34 pm on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office) 4:34 pm, 28th June 2005

No. In about two minutes, I will explain to the hon. Lady why that will, unfortunately, remain too easy.

Before I get to that, I want to deal with the next test, which is the question of whether the Home Office could do this. The Home Secretary showed admirable loyalty in defending his Department on that issue, but again, did not answer the question despite its being asked by the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. Other people, however, have answered that question.

Let us recount some of the computer projects that the Government have made a hash of. Last week, we saw that the tax credits system is in chaos because of IT problems. The Home Office itself is one of the worst-offending Departments when it comes to IT management. Remember the police national computer? One would think that that would be very accurate because it has biometric data associated with it, but an audit recently found that 65 per cent. of its files contained errors. Remember the asylum seeker processing system? With a budget of £80 million, the project was scrapped after it was found to be flawed. Remember the infamous Passport Agency project? Its delivery was delayed and it eventually came in £12.5 million over budget. Before the supposed good performance that the Home Secretary told us about, the failures led to more than 500,000 people waiting for passports in the early summer of 1999.

The important point to understand here is that one good year in six is not good enough for a computer that is fundamental to our security systems.

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