The Government is considering a plan to use advertising to help
fund the cost of issuing identity cards to everyone in Britain.
The Home Office has launched a feasibility study into whether including
ads on the cards could reduce the estimated £1 billion cost of
introducing them. The move comes after the Treasury opposed plans for ID
cards by David Blunkett, the home secretary, on the grounds that they
would be too costly.
Blunkett has been forced to rethink his plans after they were seen as
part of the Government's clampdown on terrorism in the wake of the 11
September attacks in the United States.
The home secretary wants to introduce a "citizenship card" which would
entitle people to social security and other state benefits and might
also be used as a photocard passport. He had announced plans to bring in
ID cards for asylum-seekers, but extending them to the whole of the
population remains a controversial issue and is opposed by civil
Downing Street has yet to be convinced that the Government should go
"We are still at an early stage," a Government source said. "But we are
looking at ways of reducing the cost of a scheme and advertising could
play a part in that."
The Passport Agency has carried out successful trials of a card with
fingerprint and face-imaging technology that bears encoded information
about the holder. Although the feasibility study was about a new travel
document, it is seen as a prototype for a new ID card.