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Home Office ditches compulsory ID card trial

Dead project still dying

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The Home Office has abandoned attempts to force workers at Manchester and London City airports to carry ID cards, opting to make the trial voluntary.

The trial was strongly opposed by pilots groups and unions. The Home Office had already scaled back its original plans and made the cards compulsory only for new workers.

We asked the Home Office how many new workers it expected to volunteer to carry the cards but they wouldn't play.

The British Airlines Pilots' Association welcomed the change and said: "We have never seen the national ID card as an improvement to security and we are glad that the new Home Secretary has listened to BALPA."

But Home Secretary Alan Johnson said he wanted other aspects of the project speeded up. He wants the UK Border Agency to review its rollout of compulsory cards for foreign nationals in the UK - 50,000 have now been issued. Within three years every non-European national visiting the UK for more than six months will have to have a card.

Johnson said people living in the north-west would be able to get cards from early next year.

He also breathed life into the idea of using the ID card as a drinking licence. The government sees young people as less immediately opposed to carrying such a card.

Johnson said: "These cards will benefit young people who, on average, have to prove their age more than twice as often as adults and I want to make that process simple and secure.”

Cards will be available to everyone in the UK from 2011/2012.

The Tory Party has already said it will scrap much of the £4.9bn project if it wins the next election. The Home Office recently delayed a core contract - making the actual cards for UK citizens. ®

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