ID cards scrapped as Bill finally puts an end to scheme

Identity cards to be cancelled within a month

Identity cards to be cancelled within a month

The UK National Identity Card Scheme has been scrapped following the passing of the Identity Documents Bill yesterday.

The coalition government announced it intended to scrap ID cards for British citizens in May when incoming Home Secretary Theresa May said legislation would be passed to end the scheme within 100 days.

The Bill has now received Royal Assent, repealing the Identity Cards Act 2006 which introduced the scheme. All ID cards will be cancelled within a month, so cardholders will no longer be able to use their ID cards as proof of identity or as travel documents in Europe.

All cardholders will be informed in writing of the changes and there will be no refunds for cards that have been issued.

ID cards have been scrapped by the coalition government

ID cards have been scrapped by the coalition government following Royal Assent of the Identity Documents Bill
(Image credit: Home Office)

A counter display will now be placed on the Identity and Passport Service website to count down to the time when the cards become void. The Office of Identity Commissioner has also been closed as a result of the Bill.

In addition, the database holding the biographic information and biometric fingerprint data of cardholders, known as the National Identity Register, will be physically destroyed within two months.

The Identity Card Scheme and associated biometrics work has cost £292m so far according to the Home Office and ending the scheme will save £835m in planned investment.

Home Office minister Damian Green described the scheme as representing "the worst of government".

"It was intrusive, bullying, ineffective and expensive," he said in a statement.

Just 13,200 ID cards were distributed, with most of them being issued in Greater Manchester, which was the focus of the first rollout. Other recipients of ID cards included foreign nationals and Home Office civil servants.

As recently as March 2010, the Labour government, which announced the National Identity Card scheme in 2002, was considering the introduction of a new generation of ID cards from 2012, when ID cards were due to become available for all UK citizens.

The second generation of card could potentially have included the EMV technology standard that underpins chip and PIN transactions in UK credit and debit cards or a digital encryption and signature capability.