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UK bill would make ID cards mandatory

Reports on cost of plan required too

The government's plan for a national ID card survived another legislative round yesterday, with House of Commons lawmakers amending the bill to make an ID card mandatory when people apply for a passport.

The amendment was welcomed by the government, which has pushed for a mandatory ID card to cut down on long-standing problems with benefit- and banking fraud. A further law will have to be passed to make the mandatory measure stick, however.

Another amendment passed requires passport applicants to be entered in the national ID card register. MPs debated whether the two systems - one for biometric passports and the other for national ID cards, which could also contain biometric data - should co-exist given the similar information that will be stored in both.

Lawmakers also passed an amendment requiring a report every six months on the cost of the ID card plan, striking down a previous change in the House of Lords that would have required only an initial report on its costs.

The government had said the annual operating costs for issuing ID cards and passports would be £584m. It estimates it will cost £30 for an ID card that will last 10 years and £63 for a new passport.

The Identity Cards Bill will now move back to the House of Lords for further debate, although no date has been set.

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