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Identity Cards

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 10th May 2007.

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Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 10:30 am, 10th May 2007

What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on funding for the identity cards project; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

There have been no recent discussions. As I told Mr. Blunt a moment ago, the position remains as agreed in November 2003 and confirmed in the House in October 2005.

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

The Chief Secretary gave the House a laugh a few minutes ago by talking about well-run Home Office IT projects. Perhaps he should read the startlingly honest remarks of the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Mr. Sutcliffe—the prisons Minister—who told me last week in a written answer:

"These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing."—[ Hansard, 30 April 2007; Vol. 459, c. 1421W.]

If the Home Office admits that it cannot cope with processing 80,000 prisoners, what hope has the Chief Secretary? Why is he wasting billions of pounds of taxpayers' money on trying to record the details of 60 million British citizens?

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will listen to the views of Lord Stevens, who is advising his party on these matters and who, as the Prime Minister pointed out yesterday, has acknowledged the absolute benefits of an identity card scheme. He may well find that he, along with his hon. Friend, must rethink his position.