ID card scheme will be scrapped in UK with no refund to holders
The Government will refuse to refund money to thousands of people who have already paid for a National Identity Card when the scheme is scrapped in the Queen's Speech tomorrow.
By By Andrew Porter and James Kirkup
Published: 6:38AM BST 24 May 2010
Legislation abolishing Labour's ID card scheme will be among more than 20 Bills to be announced.
There will also be legislation to allow for a referendum on changing the voting system and to sharply reduce the number of MPs. The Parliamentary Reform Bill will be a fusion of Liberal Democrat and Conservative plans for constitutional reform.
The Lib Dems will get a referendum on adopting the Alternative Vote system for Westminster elections.
The Conservatives will get a boundaries commission to oversee a 10 per cent cut in the number of MPs, plus a move to ensure all constituencies have the same number of voters.
The Bill could see the first major Commons rebellion against the coalition. Some Conservative MPs have pledged to oppose a measure contained within it that would raise the threshold for a Commons vote to dissolve Parliament for a general election to 55 per cent, instead of a simple majority.
A Freedom Bill will enact many Lib Dem promises to curb the power of the state, including limiting the use of CCTV and of DNA databases and other identity registers.
Both the coalition parties campaigned on a pledge to scrap Labour's ID card scheme. That promise will be delivered by an Identity Documents Bill.
Approximately 13,000 people have already bought ID cards, which were introduced on a voluntary basis last year.
The cards – which can currently be used to travel in Europe without a passport – will be invalidated and individuals who paid £30 for them will be forced to purchase a passport instead.
Chris Grayling, the former shadow home secretary, had signalled that there would be refunds for cancelled cards. But he was denied the post of Home Secretary, which went instead to Theresa May.
The Government will now say that it cannot afford the estimated £500,000 cost of making and administering the refunds at a time when it is announcing £6 billion of cuts.
David Cameron has regularly referred to the scrapping of ID cards as one of the biggest cuts that can be made to public spending.
However, officials now admit that a net saving of only £86 million will be made over the next four years from scrapping the cards, as the bulk of the scheme's costs were set to have been recouped through the £30 charge.
Few of the measures in the Queen's Speech will directly address the public sector deficit, but the Financial Services Regulation Bill, to be drawn up by the Treasury, could pave the way to a new multi-billion pound levy on the banking sector.
It will also establish legal curbs on "irresponsible" bonus schemes for bankers.
A draft of the speech, leaked to The Sunday Telegraph, showed that the Government will pledge to turn Britain into a "strong and fair society".
Key public service reforms will include an Education and Children's Bill to allow parents and others to set up "free schools" within the state sector but independent of local authorities.
A Police Reform Bill will deliver Conservative pledges to make chief constables accountable to directly elected commissioners, a plan which is opposed by many police chiefs.
A Welfare Reform bill will pave the way for tougher penalties on benefits claimants who refuse offers of work.