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Key talks on ID cards for everyone
(Filed: 11/12/2002)

A major public meeting is being staged to discuss the Government's plans to introduce "1984"-style identity cards for everyone in Britain.

Under proposals issued by Home Secretary David Blunkett people would be unable to use services like the NHS, schools or libraries without the "entitlement cards".

Ministers believe the scheme will help deter illegal immigrants from coming to the UK and tackle identity fraud, which costs £1.3 billion a year. Speakers at the event in central London include Lord Falconer, Home Office minister, Conservative MP Peter Lilley, Simon Hughes MP, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, and Charles Moore, editor of the Daily Telegraph .

Civil rights campaign group Liberty has described the ID card proposal as "an Orwellian plan to monitor and check up on us for reasons which have yet to be properly explained by the Government". Although ministers launched its public consultation months ago, the event is the first major public meeting to consider the issue, said Liberty.

The Home Office claims that public support for entitlement cards is growing. There was a two-to-one split in favour of the cards, Lord Falconer said. He said 81 per cent of 450 volunteers who experienced iris recognition technology said they would be in favour.

And 64 per cent said they supported a scheme where everyone had to have a card to access Government services, such as the NHS, education or libraries.