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Entire UK will be on ID database sometime in next 3 millennia

If it was down to them, that is

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Applications to join the ID card register are running at 50 a day, meaning the Labour government will achieve its aim of chipping the entire population of these islands in somewhere between 136 and 3,342 years.

Or never, if the Tories live up to their promises and kill the scheme should they get into power.

In a series of Commons answers yesterday, ID minister Meg Hillier and Alan Johnson, outlined progress on the scheme in perfect harmony.

In one answer, Alan Johnson said that between October 20 and January 16, over 3,700 applicants had enrolled or made an appointment for an ID card.

In another answer, Hillier said that between October 20 and January 18, over 3,800 applicants had enrolled or made an appointment.

That's a jump of 100 applicants in just two days, suggesting a run rate of 50 per day. A few quick sums, and that leads to the magical figure of 3,342 years to register the current 61 million odd Britons.

Other nuggets from Hillier and Johnson included the news that so far, 2,700 ID cards had actually been issued to applicants up to January 18. Last week, Hillier revealed that up to January 14, 1,300 people in Manchester has applied for cards.

It should be noted this doesn't take into account leap years, population changes, or the chances of humanity being wiped out by an unexpected asteroid. Neither does it take into account the fact that at least some of the lucky so-and-sos who've applied for cards to date are journalists looking to produce a quick first person story on "My quest to be the first to file a story about my ID card applications."

Of course, the government could argue that the 50 a day run rate should only be seen in relation to the population of Manchester, as that is where the pilot scheme is currently running. Taking the population of Greater Manchester as the base, we get a figure of 136 years before the population is recorded in the ID register.

This is much sooner than three and a half millennia, obviously, but still probably a little longer than the government was hoping for.

The ace up the government's sleeve is that if you don't want an ID card, you'll still end up in the ID database if you renew your passport. Hillier said that at present, around 80 per cent of the UK population apply for a passport over a ten year period. Which still raises the question of how the government will get the other 20 per cent - 12 million people - registered.

Hillier added that as of 2012 the government will require people applying for a passport or ID card to submit ten fingerprints for recording in the National ID database. However, she said that "Where an individual is unable to record a full set of ten fingerprints (eg due to an amputation), they will be able to register as many fingerprints as it is possible for them to record". Excellent news. ®

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