The Liberal Democrats, unlike the Conservatives, did manage to question the Government on their controversial Identity Card and Centralised Biometric Database plans during Prime Minister's Question Time Wesnesday 15th December 2004
"Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye and Inverness, West) (LD): On the Government's proposed identity card system, two weeks ago, when I asked him, the Prime Minister failed to rule out of consideration for the running of that system any company that had been previously associated with earlier computer fiascos, such as those involved with the Child Support Agency or tax credits. To put people's minds at rest, will he give us that assurance today?
The Prime Minister: No, I have simply got to say that the tendering procedures will be done in the normal and proper way. I cannot give undertakings about that now. We have simply got to ensure that we get the most cost-effective way of delivering the system. I really do not think that this is about the contracts for the system; what it is about is whether hon. Members support the idea of identity cards as being of some use in the fight against illegal immigration, terrorism and the abuse of public services. I happen to believe that, in this day and age, particularly because we are moving towards biometric passports, it sensible to have identity cards.
Mr. Kennedy: On the latter point, is that not one of the problems particularly associated with compulsory identity cards for people living in outlying areas—for example, pensioners or disabled people—who will face long and expensive journeys into cities to go to the secure centres where they will have their iris scans or their fingerprints taken to get the ID card. That leads many of us to ask this question: have the Government actually thought through the practical implications for people of the scheme that they propose?
The Prime Minister: First, as we know in the House, this issue has been debated over many years, and compulsory ID cards will not come in for several years in any event. So there is a long period in which we can get this right—it is obviously important that we do. The point that I would make is that what has changed my mind on identity cards is that we now have the technology and, indeed, will effectively be obliged to use it for passports, which represents the bulk of the cost—£70 out of the £85 is for the passport, which we will have to introduce in any event. It makes sense in my judgment, when we have this biometric technology and when it really can make a difference on some of these issues—this is a common consensus certainly among the police and enforcement services—that we make it clear that ID cards will be introduced. The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right, however, to raise a series of practical difficulties and objections. It is exactly those that we need to iron out over the next few years."
The price of £70 for a biometric chipped passport is astonishingly high. This is more than what you would expect to pay for, say a hand held computer game, or even a mobile phone, despite being so much less complicated electronically.
We have already been paying for allegedly higher security features, e.g. "secure" passport delivery and digitisation of the central database of photographs. The price went up to £42 from £33 in October 2002 an increase in 21 per cent
To be fair, the Conservatives did manage a written question about Identity Cards and the National Heath Service.
N.B. the use of the proposed ID Card in the NHS is not permitted as the Identity Cards Bill stands, but could easily be allowed through secondary legislation, which is not really a proper democratic check on the powers of the Executive.
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the likely effects on health tourism of the introduction of identity cards; 
(2) whether he expects the NHS to make savings following the introduction of identity cards. 
Mr. Hutton: The Department is currently investigating the benefits that identity cards would bring for the national health service and for patients. We anticipate that ID cards will make the existing eligibility checks easier for staff and more robust. We therefore expect extra income from charging chargeable patients, reduced inappropriate use of free NHS services and efficiency gains from quicker processing of patients, This will also bring benefits to patients, as they will be able to demonstrate their eligibility speedily through showing their identity card. An additional benefit would come from identifying patients who might be unconscious and confused. Our preliminary view is therefore that identity cards will deliver significant benefits to the NHS.
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the identity card will replace the proposed European health card due to be introduced by 31 December 2005. 
Mr. Hutton: No. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which replaces the E111, serves an entirely different function from the ID card. The EHIC is used when travelling in other European Economic Area member states to access free or reduced cost healthcare, the need for which becomes medically necessary during the trip, on the same basis as residents of that country. The EHIC will be voluntary and people who do not travel outside the United Kingdom will not need one. The ID card will have a range of domestic uses.
14 Dec 2004 : Column 1076W"