Manchester may trial large-scale ID card rollout

The city is one of several areas under consideration as a test bed for the scheme, in which people will be able to volunteer and get a card from November
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

Manchester is one of several areas being considered in the UK to act as a test bed for the rollout of ID cards to UK citizens.

Thousands of people living in the pilot areas, likely to be major UK cities, will be able to get ID cards from November this year.

The Home Office will lobby banks, retailers, councils and universities in these "beacon areas" to allow the cards to be used with their services, such as opening a bank account or proving age when buying alcohol.

Volunteers for the ID card pilot will get their cards ahead of the wider UK population, who will be able to apply for ID cards from 2011.

Speaking today at a conference hosted by the BCS Security Forum, identity minister Meg Hillier said: "We need heavy penetration in order to get the cards to work.

"They won't work if nobody has any idea what they are. We need everyone to recognise the cards, from workers in the Co-op, to bank staff."

Hillier said the price of the cards will be fixed at £30 until 2011 and that talks are continuing with high-street businesses to host the machines needed to take the fingerprint and facial scans stored on the cards and the National Identity Register.

The government hopes the cards will become a single form of ID allowing individuals to do everything from opening a bank account to buying parking permits.

However, Hillier added that the government cannot make it compulsory for people to have an ID card to access public services, as that would require new legislation.

According to Hillier, the public wants the biometric cards, adding that home secretary Jacqui Smith is already being asked: "When can I get my ID card?".

A website where people can register their interest in getting a ID card will be launched in the spring.

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