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Thales wins first UK ID card contract

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French defence provider Thales SA has won the first contract for the UK national ID card project.

The Identity and Passport Service is paying Thales £18m over four years to design, build and test a National Identity Register to support the cards. The total cost of the project is disputed, but will run to several billion pounds.

Last month the Home Office announced a short list of five possible suppliers for other parts of the project including making the actual cards. This leaves IBM, Fujitsu and EDS still waiting to hear what business, if any, they have secured.

Thales' £18m is just a drop in the ocean of the billions of pounds the government is predicted to spend on the ID card plan. The government's own estimates are that the scheme will cost around £5.6bn, but independent estimates reckon £19bn is nearer the mark. Either way, Thales et al still have plenty of pork to get their teeth into down the line.

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