Today proponents of the ID cards project took time out from trampling on a signed copy of the Magna Carta to empty the pockets of the British taxpayer - to the tune of £5bn.

Yes, that's how much it turns out to cost to have the state poke its bureaucratic nose into every facet of your personal life, in the world's most popular piece of legislation.

The modified figures emerge via a startling coincidence on the very day that Tony Blair announces the day of his departure from office. This is what is known in the trade as "burying bad news", a practice made famous by Labour aide Jo Moore, who suggested revealing councillors' expenses on the day of the World Trade Center attacks. The BBC reports that members of the opposition parties have actually claimed that the Home Office broke the law by delaying its announcement of the inflated costs.

We do so hate to bang on about this, but it bears repeating: New Labour's record on digitising the NHS makes us very, very nervous about handing it control of a massive, hacker-friendly computer database of British citizens' details.

Still, what's the worst that could happen?