07 February 2007 | Antony Barton
The Conservative Party has formally announced it will scrap the ID card scheme if it comes to power.
Shadow home secretary David Davis wrote to Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, on Monday declaring the party's intentions. He warned of the financial dangers of signing contracts to set up a scheme that could be cancelled. An estimated £58 million has already been spent on the project. Ministers say the scheme will cost £5.4 billion over 10 years, but the Conservative Party say it is likely to cost nearer £20 billion.
The letter was sent to coincide with the Conservative's launch of a web and print-based campaign against Labour's ID card proposals. Davis asked what provision has been made to protect public funds against the costs that would be incurred as a result of early cancellation of the scheme, which is due to launch later this year.
He adds: "As a matter of financial prudence, it is incumbent upon you to ensure that public money is not wasted, and contractual obligations are not incurred, investing in a scheme with such a high risk of not being implemented."
Davis sent a similar letter to likely major contractors to warn them of the party's intentions.
In his response, John Reid, the home secretary, did not address the financial concerns set out in Davis' letter. Instead, he said ID cards were necessary to secure the UK's borders, combat people trafficking and protect the country against terrorism.
He added: "The Tories' ill-considered opposition highlights their lack of leadership on security issues - they can't be trusted with Britain's safety."