ID cards 'very much on the political agenda'

ID cards seem to be back on the fast track as Tony Blair says there are 'no longer' civil liberties issues

The terrorist threat to the UK will lead to ID cards being introduced "more quickly than even we anticipated", according to the prime minister, Tony Blair.

Blair's comments at his monthly briefing to journalists follow on from the "route map" to ID cards unveiled by the UK Passport Service earlier this week.

"I think that the whole issue of identity cards that a few years ago were not on anyone's agenda are very much on the political agenda here, probably more quickly even than we anticipated, and that is because we are living in a new world and with a new threat that we have to take account of," he said.

It means the Cabinet's deal to delay the introduction of ID cards seems to have been thrown out of the window and that Blunkett will be given the go-ahead to fast-track the project. Blair also claimed the current climate had lessened privacy concerns and that there "is no longer a civil liberties objection".

That seems at odds with the civil liberties groups themselves, who this week formed a global alliance to protest at the worldwide introduction of biometric ID cards, a national 'identity register' and RFID tags.

Blair said that the biggest ID card issue needing to be addressed is the logistics -- part of which is being examined in trials by the UKPS.

"There is a series of logistical questions, of practical questions, those need to be resolved, but that in my judgment now, the logistics is the only time delay in it, otherwise I think it needs to move forward," he said.