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

The hon. Gentleman is right. It is interesting that the Home Office is relying on the cumulative effect of all the biometrics working, yet many thousands of people will, in one way or another, be cut out of public services or unable to be identified because 1 million or more people are excluded.

The most contentious issue is cost. In one respect, I agree with the Home Secretary. He told the BBC that there was an obligation on him

"to set out the figures in the clearest and most substantive way".

The trouble is that he has not done that. He recently admitted that the original figure of £93 per card was only an indicative unit cost. Once charges are added, the price will go up even more.

What is the cost? The Government appear to have no clue. We realised that when the Home Secretary was asked about local government expenditure on libraries and so on. However, fortunately for the Government—the Home Secretary will not agree—the London School of Economics has been able to provide an estimate. Unfortunately for the Government, it is much more than they let on. [Interruption.] "Think of a number, then treble it" is probably a good way of estimating Home Office cost outcomes.

The LSE states that the true cost of implementing the proposed scheme will be between £10.6 billion and £19.2 billion. That could raise the average cost of each card, without means testing, to £230 a person. That tax will fall on hard-working taxpayers and poorer pensioners on fixed incomes. It may not be much money for the Home Secretary or members of the Government, but for the poorest in our society, it is more than a month's food bill. Worse, councils will have to find a further £10 billion to cover local costs for new technology and staff training.. That is the figure that the Home Secretary could not find earlier. The cost will inevitably be passed on in higher council tax bills or higher general taxes.