Fury over ID card 'cover-up'

The UK government has been accused of hiding details of its plans to bring in ID cards, by opponents who claim the scheme will be a disaster

The government has been attacked for refusing to publish information about the progress of its controversial ID cards project.

The 'Gateway Review' process checks government projects at critical stages in their development with the aim of cutting the level of failure in public sector IT projects.

In October, Home Office minister Tony McNulty said the government would "provide that gateway information to the extent that we are able".

But now, in a written parliamentary answer, McNulty has apparently backtracked: "The government have no plans for publishing Gateway Reviews.

Publishing the traffic light status awarded by these reviews or their recommendations would be likely to prejudice both the ability of the Office of Government Commerce to examine the effectiveness, efficiency and economy with which other government departments exercise their functions and also the formulation and development of government policy."

But he did say that "the most recent review covering business justification did confirm that the programme was ready to proceed to the next phase".

Liberal Democrat MP Julia Goldsworthy, who tabled the question, said the government seems determined only to publish information which is supportive of the scheme.

She said in a statement: "We have long suspected that the ID card scheme would cost more than the government have told us and that it would be an administrative disaster. The suspicion must be that there is growing evidence that ID cards are impractical but that the government can't afford the political embarrassment of retreating at this stage."

She added: "Before they proceed any further down this route, the public and parliament need to know the truth."