Local government must keep working on identity card projects despite government proposals for a universal entitlement card, a Home Office minister has stated.
Speaking at a conference organised by IT supplier body Intellect, Lord Falconer suggested that, because entitlement cards might not in the end be rolled out, local initiatives should not be held back.
"These projects should not be put on hold or suffer planning blight. Its very important that we have other projects such as those in local government so that we can learn from them," he said.
The minister insisted that the entitlement card debate should not hinder the development of other ways of identifying or authenticating the users of services.
"The reason we want them to continue is that we might not go ahead, and even if we do, the universal coverage would not be there for some years to come. That possibility should not inhibit other work," he said.
Earlier this month research commissioned by the Information Commissioner indicated that the entitlement card cost estimates developed by the government failed to take into account the cost that local authorities, the NHS and police would incur by integrating their systems with the new card system. The government is now looking at these figures again.
The government's proposals include developing a database that holds the name, address and biometric information (probably an iris scan or fingerprint) of everyone in the country.
Other information will only be available to the government department that needs it, Lord Falconer said. "We are not proposing a large database that will hold all the information that the government holds on everyone."
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