Identity Cards

Home Department written question – answered on 18th January 2006.

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Photo of Lynne Jones Lynne Jones Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 13 December 2005, Official Report, column 1915W, on identity cards, whether mechanisms are planned to be put in place to ensure that radio frequency identification tags will not be used in the identity card scheme at some future date without this matter being decided by primary legislation; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

There are no plans to use radio frequency identification tags, as they would serve no purpose which is relevant to the identity cards scheme. The Identity Cards Bill which is currently before Parliament provides a power for Parliament to approve regulations prescribing the form in which information is to be recorded in or on an ID card. The Government believes that this is the appropriate level of Parliamentary scrutiny which is consistent with the report on the Bill of the House of Lords Delegated Powers Committee.

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Chris Lightfoot
Posted on 1 Feb 2006 10:53 am (Report this annotation)

The Home Office has since confirmed that the ID cards will be a valid "ICAO machine readable travel document". One of the requirements of the ICAO specification is that the computer chip containing the holder's personal details is readable through a contactless, RFID, mechanism. The most charitable explanation for Burnham's answer here -- i.e. the one which means he doesn't lie to Parliament -- is that he believes that a "[RFID] tag" (often used to mean a remotely-readable chip which carries only a unique identifying number) is materially different from the chip which will be on the ID card (which will carry name, photograph, iris photograph, etc.... and a unique identifying number).