Report Proposes Payment for ID cards…


October 27, 2003

People could be paid to have an ID card under proposals put forward in a paper published today by think-tank Migrationwatch.

The paper, written by an IT expert with experience of designing and implementing complex computer systems, proposes a 'virtual card', in that there would be no need to carry it, nor would it be compulsory. After a period of grace those who declined to register would simply cease to qualify for social security benefits.

'This is a serious contribution to the current debate put forward by Nigel Foster who was responsible for designing and implementing the computer systems that transformed the DVLA, on time and within budget and who now directs a software and services company,' said Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch.

'ID cards are increasingly being seen as being an essential part of the enormous task facing us if we are to regain control of our borders and begin to reduce the massive abuse of the Social Security Systems, including the NHS. This paper shows that there are innovative ways of achieving this that are worthy of serious consideration,' he said.

The system would require the establishment of a secure a national database. Eventually, all applicants would attend a local centre where digital photographs would be taken and documents examined. Iris scans and fingerprints and, perhaps DNA samples, could also be taken.

There should be no charge; indeed a "bounty" of perhaps £50 per head might be paid since there would be huge savings to the state in the
long-term.

Once registered, each citizen would have his or her unique "code"
(which would usually be just their name and a short number). An authorised person could then type the code onto a computer, which could be hand-held, and bring up a photograph for comparison with the person concerned. There would be no point in forging a card since the computer photograph would instantly reveal this.

There would be a rolling programme of implementation, starting with those claiming benefits for the first time - such as asylum seekers and then covering the rest, perhaps alphabetically.

A major issue would be how to deal with those now illegally in this country. Whatever political solution is decided upon, having a unique
and verifiable identification for each person is a pre-requisite to its effective management.

The programme would take eight years to implement at a cost of £7 billion and a further £3 billion if a bounty of £50 was paid.

Said Sir Andrew: ' This scheme deals with the three main objections to
ID cards.  They need not be carried, there is no point in forging them and there is no compulsion.  People will only need to apply for them if they wish to receive benefits from the state.  That, surely, is common sense.'

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