ID cards delayed by a year

Home Office says it's parliament's fault...

Home Office says it's parliament's fault...

The first ID cards to be issued in the UK could be delayed by a year, as the parliamentary process has slowed the plan down, officials have admitted.

The Home Office yesterday confirmed that debates over the controversial ID cards scheme, which was given a green light by parliament on Monday, had caused delays.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: "We expect the first ID cards to be issued in 2008 or 2009. It will be later than anticipated because of parliamentary issues."

The Home Office admitted it was unaware of a Financial Times report in which Home Office minister Andy Burnham said the "timetable had slipped" because the parliamentary process took longer than expected.

MPs voted in favour of biometric ID cards on Monday, which means UK citizens will be forced to register for them when applying for a new passport.

MPs also voted not to put the costs of the ID cards scheme under independent scrutiny.

ID cards will contain iris and fingerprint biometric data stored on a chip.

In an attempt to gain support for the scheme, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said on Monday that the UK will use biometrics on a national scale for cross-border control, for anti-terrorist measures and to combat identity theft.

Brown, who has in the past been silent over such issues, said supermarkets and banks will use biometrics in the future and the government would follow them.