Orders of the Day — Identity Cards Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:21 pm on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of Mark Oaten Mark Oaten Shadow Secretary of State for Home Affairs, Home Affairs 5:21 pm, 28th June 2005

I want to move on.

There is another issue, in relation to costs. If the Government are serious about rolling out the scheme to tackle benefit fraud, have they considered the cost of putting scanning machines in all the outlets? We are told, again from Home Office figures, that the reading equipment will cost between £250 and £750. Just putting readers in every single post office would cost £11 million. Interestingly, the Home Secretary seemed to imply that the decision whether to purchase readers would be down to individual authorities. It is interesting, is it not, that health authorities and local government may end up picking up the bill?

There is one hope in relation to costs: they may ultimately be the way in which we can defeat ID card bills. I want to ask the Minister—he may intervene on me—to clarify what the Prime Minister meant when he said:

"So you have got a process which you are only at the very beginning of now, but it stands to reason, no government is going to be introducing ID cards if the cost to the public is seen by them as unreasonable."

Is that a promise that if the figures rise, the Government will abandon the scheme, and will the Minister describe what he regards as unreasonable? I regard a scheme that costs £10 billion plus to be an unreasonable scheme.