The Government is to pilot the technology needed for use in a national ID card, according to a newspaper report today.
The Guardian newspaper has highlighted plans to pilot a new form of passport, suggesting that it is an attempt to trial identity cards without introducing the new legislation that this would require.
One small market town with a population of about 10,000 is expected to be used for the trial of the new card style passport, which will carry biometric data such as fingerprints or a retinal scan. It is believed that it is this technology that would be used in any ID card in the future.
Plans for an ID card have been revealed by the Home Office in recent months though it would not be bought in until after the next election as new legislation would be required to enable the government to make their use compulsory.
However, the newspaper reports that the Home Office expects the results of the pilot to filter into the debate on ID cards.
Opponents to the introduction of ID cards, which were last seen in the UK as a result of World War Two, have previously expressed fears that the Government is attempting to bring in an unproven product so as to be seen to be doing something in the fight against terrorism and bogus asylum claims.
Shami Chakrabarti, of the civil liberties campaign group 'Liberty' has also raised questions over the proposed benefits.
Although ID cards are proposed as a tool for combating illegal employment, immigration and crime, Shami Chakrabarti commented: 'The supposed benefits of ID cards remain wholly unproven, whereas the costs are measurable and substantial.'
There are also concerns that the ID cards could lead to a new crime industry growing to create forged cards for those that want to steal somebody's identity, or to create a false one.
Although David Blunkett is believed to be enthusiastic for the scheme, the Guardian notes the caution of the Prime Minister, who has raised the issue of logistics and cost, as well as only recognising the 'principle' of the case for bring in ID cards.