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The Home Office has introduced a dozen identity card readers as part of a pilot scheme, having had none earlier this year.

In a written parliamentary answer, Home Office minister Phil Woolas said that as of 1 October, the Home Office had issued 12 card readers to its staff for use at major ports and enforcement operations.

"These readers have been issued as part of a pilot to allow more sophisticated card reading checks," said Woolas.

UK ID cards can also be read at border controls at all "significant" entry points, in the same way as machine readable passports, he said.

In February a Freedom of Information enquiry from Silicon.com led to the Identity and Passport Service revealing that no police stations, border entry points or job centres were equipped to read identity cards.

In a separate written answer, Home Office minister Meg Hillier said that about 2,000 people from the Greater Manchester area have applied for an identity card.

The minister was responding to a question from Manchester Withington MP John Leech about the overall number of applications for cards and the proportion from Manchester, where the scheme is being introduced initially.

Hillier said that by 2 November 2009 "almost 12,000" people had registered their interest in the scheme and that 17 per cent of those were from Greater Manchester.

In October, the government said that civil servants working at the Home Office, the Identity and Passport Service and others working on the identity card scheme would be able to apply for cards from 20 October.

Hillier said that by 2019 the Home Office expects to have issued 88m ID cards or replacements for lost cards. However, the Conservative Party has pledged to abolish the scheme if elected to government, with a general election due by June 2010.

This article was originally published at Kable.

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