23 May 2008

For immediate release

Press Release

Today’s announcement of the companies that will make up the Strategic Supplier Group responsible for implementing identity cards provides an opportunity to reflect on the likely next stages for the implementation of the Scheme. If we continue down the path set out by the Home Office the Scheme may well end up stillborn, either because of political dynamics or because of the technological complexity of trying to implement it. One alternative is that the Home Office can finally start listening and adhere to the guidelines set by HM Treasury developed in consultation across government and the private sector resulting from the world-leading work of the Crosby Review.

The Home Office Scheme remains driven by the visions of ministers. They continue to play politics by renewing claims about the role that identity cards will play in relation to National Security and terrorism. They are rushing the deployment of cards for foreign nationals in an attempt to appeal to xenophobic attitudes and to somehow implement the parts of the Scheme before the next election. At the same time key details about the implementation, oversight and buy–in to the Scheme remain vague. Indeed, the IPS is performing yet another ‘consultation’ about elements of the Scheme that must surely have been resolved by now.

Dr Edgar A. Whitley of the LSE Identity Project says "The government has been given every possible opportunity over the past five years to listen, learn and reconsider. Expertise has been offered from all sectors of society, from across government, the private sector and civil society. The Treasury proposals are intended to meet the identity assurance needs of the rest of government and industry but this advice has been almost entirely ignored and the very usefulness of a national scheme has been all but eradicated. The little advice that has been taken from Crosby’s review has resulted in drastically different scheme to the one promised to Parliament".

Dr Gus Hosein, of the LSE Identity Project says "We are now beyond the point of recommending a radical rethink because that was exactly the opportunity presented to the Home Office by HM Treasury. We are sorry to conclude that not even a miracle can save this Scheme."

For LSE research and reports on the Identity Cards Scheme, including a detailed analysis of the implications of the most recent s37 cost report please see http://identityproject.lse.ac.uk