The government’s proposed ID cards could be used to prove identity with chip-and-pin technology, the government has said.
The suggestion comes in response to a report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee on the introduction of e-passports, which include a chip carrying the passport-holder’s details. The report praised the e-passport implementation project, but questioned why individuals would be required to have an ID card as well as a new generation passport with a chip.
A spokesperson for the Identity and Passport Service welcomed the MPs’ report, but said the ID card scheme would cover all adults in the UK, including foreign nationals who were not entitled to a British passport.
"Additionally, the ID card will enable you to confirm your identity in a secure, convenient way in a range of transactions with public and private sector organisations that you cannot with an e-passport," he said.
The spokesperson added: "Unlike the e-passport's chip - the design of which is constrained by international standards - the chip on the ID card could facilitate other ways of proving identity such as by using chip-and-PIN technology.”
The ID cards scheme would be built on existing programmes, including the introduction of biometric passports, the spokesperson said. “By developing common systems and common application processes to support both second biometric passports and ID cards we are ensuring best value for money. Indeed we are procuring a common biometric database for immigration, passport and identity purposes.”
The procurement process for the ID card scheme was launched – after delays – during the parliamentary recess.
The MPs also drew attention to concerns about the two-year warranty on the chips for the e-passport, which is supposed to be valid for 10 years.
Speaking earlier this year, IPS chief executive James Hall said he was “confident that the chip will last ten years”, describing the decision to accept a two-year warranty as “purely economic” and offered better value to passport applicants than a longer warranty, which would have been more expensive.
Hall has stated that the e-passport would remain a valid travel document even if there was a failure in the chip technology.