ID cards bill finally passed

ID cards bill finally passed

Compromise reached on issue of when cards automatically issued

The government's controversial identity cards legislation has become law in a face-saving compromise between the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Plans for passport renewals to be automatically issued with an ID card from 2008 have now been shelved until after the next general election.

Under the compromise, labeled 'sensible and acceptable' by Home Secretary Charles Clarke, those applying for a passport before January 2010 will be able to opt out of having a card, although their details will be entered into the new national database.

The deal ended a marathon 'ping-pong' session in which the Labour dominated Commons repeatedly pushed proposals forward only to see them rejected by a coalition of rebel Labour peers and Tory, Liberal Democrat and independent Lords.

But Clarke said later those who opted out would be 'foolish' because he did not expect they would be offered a lower charge.

Crossbencher Lord Armstrong of Illminster said he regretted the government were not willing to break the link between issuing a passport and registering on the database as well and said he would have preferred a later deadline.

Once the bill receives Royal Assent the technology procurement for the scheme will start.