18 January 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor
Plans for a UK identity card scheme suffered a further setback this week after the House of Lords refused to agree the plans unless an independent report into its costs is carried out.
On Monday Labour peers were outvoted by 237 to 156, as the upper house backed opposition to the Bill. It means the government will have to amend it before it returns to the House of Commons next month.
The government estimates the cards will cost £30 each or £93 for a combined passport and ID card application. It said audit, tax and advisory services firm KPMG independently verified the figures in November.
But academics at the London School of Economics said the cost of the cards complete with biometric technology could be three times higher than the £5.8 billion the government has budgeted and peers in the Lords said they wanted the National Audit Office to review the figures.
But the government claimed such a move would reveal commercially sensitive information and make it difficult to achieve value for money from suppliers if they gave an estimated breakdown of what had been set aside for each item.
As reported in SM
, (News, 3 November 2005) experts have begun to question the technical feasibility of the scheme.
The doubts were raised as the Home Office circulated procurement plans in Identity Cards Programme Procurement Strategy Market Soundings
, which was said to be the most detailed document of its kind from the public sector.
Sixty-seven technology suppliers submitted their views on the market's capability and capacity to run such a programme.