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Ex-MI5 boss, House of Lords give ID cards thumbs down

Not a good day for the database builders

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The House of Lords voted to reject the ID cards bill yesterday. The second house wants the draft legislation amended so that restrictions are placed on who would be allowed to use the cards to check a person's identity.

Peers were also unhappy that Home Office ministers said that they could not reveal the full cost of the plans. Baroness Scotland did reveal that the scheme will cost the Home Office £584m a year.

The defeat came as ex-MI5 chief Stella Rimington said that ID cards will be of no use in the fight against terror.

Speaking at the Association of Colleges annual conference in Birmingham, she said ID cards would not make us any safer:

"ID cards have possibly some purpose," the BBC quotes her as saying. "But I don't think that anybody in the intelligence services, particularly in my former service, would be pressing for ID cards.

"My angle on ID cards is that they may be of some use but only if they can be made unforgeable - and all our other documentation is quite easy to forge. If we have ID cards at vast expense and people can go into a back room and forge them they are going to be absolutely useless."

Downing street has said Rimington is entitled to her views. Meanwhile the Lib Dems took advantage of her remarks to call again for the plans to be abandoned, and the Conservatives cautioned that the cards could be counterproductive. ®

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