17 June 2009 | Jake Kanter
The Conservative Party has called on suppliers to boycott the government's controversial £1.2 billion identity card scheme.
Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme this morning, shadow home secretary Chris Grayling (pictured) said a Tory government would scrap the project. The party has also written to the five preferred bidders urging them "not to be a part" of it.
The Home Office responded that it was "normal and fully within government guidelines to include break clauses in contracts of this kind".
"It is a decision for the government of the day to determine whether to invoke such clauses but equally it would be wholly inappropriate to do so on the basis of opposition policy," a spokesman said.
The ID card scheme was launched in 2006 and the first cards will be issued to British citizens this year. Each card will combine the holder's biometric data with their checked and confirmed identity details.
Grayling argued the Home Office was inserting penalty clauses into contracts, making any decision to drop the project costly and difficult for a future administration.
"As more contracts are signed, the danger that the government will build poison pills into the contracts will simply make it more difficult for a future government to scrap the scheme. My message to the contractors is 'do not be part of that'," he said.
"I want them (suppliers) to recognise the danger that if they invest vast amounts of money in preparing for this business it may not happen."
In January, Bill Crothers, commercial director of the Identity and Passport Service - the body responsible for issuing the ID cards - told SM suppliers would be fired for bad behaviour, as well as poor performance (News, 22 January 2009).