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

The hon. and learned Gentleman is absolutely right. We are being asked not only to sign a blank cheque for the costs involved, but to sign up to all sorts of function creep that can be added to the proposal.

I want to turn to whether or not the proposal can operate in reality. We have concerns about the database, but our latest concern, which the Government have not addressed during the debate, is whether or not the biometrics will work in the first place. The Government helpfully did their own study, and what did they find? They found that, on face verification, 33 per cent. of faces could not be recognised; on fingerprint verification, 19 per cent. could not be recognised; and, on iris verification, 2 per cent. could not be recognised. [Interruption.] I am not surprised that the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality wants to leave because there are difficult answers to be given.

The failure rates—up to a third on facial scans—imply that a lot more work is needed before the biometrics could be trusted. I am no mathematician, but even if the Government got the failure rate down to 3 or 4 per cent., with a population of 60 million, far too many people could end up being denied services or being hassled because the scheme had not operated properly.

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Chris Lightfoot
Posted on 3 Jul 2005 1:27 am (Report this annotation)

The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality is Tony McNulty.