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More debate over ID cards

Further consultation needed says civil liberties group

Civil liberties group Privacy International today slammed the government's consultation on 'entitlement cards', claiming that it breaches the code of practice.

Group director Simon Davies has lodged a complaint of maladministration with government minister Glenda Jackson and Prime Minister Tony Blair, insisting that the consultation, which officially closes today, has breached four areas of the code of practice including the requirement for even-handedness, specificity, impact assessment and declaration of the relevant companies procedure.

"The Home Office has been guilty of maladministration throughout the entire consultation process. It should accept that an extension of the consultation period is squarely in the public interest," said Davies.

"A proposal to establish a national identity card raises substantial civil liberties and privacy issues. The government should have been more meticulous in the way it prepared and managed the consultation," he added.

Section two of the code of practice states: "A document should so far as possible include an assessment of the impact of the proposals on groups likely to be particularly affected, and every effort should be made to ensure that views are received from all groups. Departments should consider whether there is a particular impact by gender, age, ethnicity or disability."

But according to Davies, no such impact assessment was included in the document, nor was any reference made to the risk of social exclusion. "Identity cards might have a particular negative impact on the elderly, mentally ill and the homeless," said Davies.

This is just one of the complaints brought forward by the group, which is asking for a six-month extension to the consultation document.

No one at the Home Office was available for comment.

The cabinet office code of practice can be viewed here.

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