Manchester ID card registration date announced

People with a home or work address in Greater Manchester can register for an ID card later this month, the government has said

Residents of Greater Manchester can apply for an ID card from the end of the month, the government has said.

People with a home or work address in Greater Manchester, which is piloting the government's ID card scheme, will be able to make an appointment to register for a card from Monday, the Identity and Passport Service said in a statement. The first registration appointments will be on 30 November.

"Today's announcement is the final step towards issuing secure identity cards to the residents of Greater Manchester," said identity minister Meg Hillier in the statement on Monday. "Identity cards will prove themselves extremely useful in daily life, from opening a bank account to entering a nightclub, and for travel to Europe."

Home Office minister Phil Woolas enrolled for an ID card at the Identity and Passport Service office in central Manchester on Monday.

"Today marks a major milestone for the launch of identity cards," said Woolas in a statement, adding that the enrolment process had taken him approximately 15 minutes.

Up to and including 2 November, the number of people registering an interest with the Home Office to receive information about ID cards was almost 12,000, Hillier said in a written parliamentary answer on 11 November last week.

Seventeen percent, or approximately 2,040 of those people, were from Greater Manchester, said Hillier. The population of Greater Manchester, using the latest available government census statistics from 2001, is approximately 2.5 million, meaning less than 0.1 percent of the area's population had registered an interest in identity cards by 2 November.

The government has consistently said that ID cards will cost £30 per person. Privacy campaigner Guy Herbert, who is general secretary of campaign group No2ID, told ZDNet UK on Monday that the Identity and Passport's projected figure of £30 per card was not likely to be correct, given the lack of registered interest in the scheme.

"The government has spent well over £100m on ID cards alone to get us this point," said Herbert. "If even 0.1 percent of the population is interested, the cards have cost taxpayers thousands of pounds apiece."

Herbert said he doubted 0.1 percent of the UK population would decide to sign up for ID cards, once they realised they would be fined if they forgot to update their details.

"You must change details like your address when those details change," said Herbert."The penalty regime for non-compliance can blow up to thousands of pounds."

Herbert noted that the Conservatives have pledged to scrap the cards if they win the next general election.

The figure of £30 per card was disputed by the Conservatives in October, who said that 28 million people would need to sign up to the scheme for it to break even.