The Home Office tentacle, the Identity and Passport Service, has published the latest 10 Year Cost guesstimate Report for their increasingly hated Identity Cards and centralised biometric database National Identity Register scheme.
This is not a fair and accurate summary of the progress of the controversial scheme.
Illegal delay in publishing the Report - yet again
They have to go through the motions, by law, and publish this report, introduced as a weak compromise by the former Labour Minister Frank Dobson, to sabotage any proper detailed Cost / Benefit analysis of the entire scheme.
Publishing this Report is a Statutory Duty of the Secretary of State to be produced every six months,
The Identity Cards Act 2006 Section 37 clearly states, with no room for misinterpretation:
37 Report to Parliament about likely costs of ID cards scheme
(1) Before the end of the six months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed, the Secretary of State must prepare and lay before Parliament a report setting out his estimate of the public expenditure likely to be incurred on the ID cards scheme during the ten years beginning with the laying of the report.
(2) Before the end of every six months beginning with the laying of a report under this section, the Secretary of State must prepare and lay before Parliament a further report setting out his estimate of the public expenditure likely to be incurred on the ID cards scheme during the ten years beginning with the end of those six months.
This latest report, is again, 2 months late, since the Act came into force in early March 2006. There is no excuse whatsoever for the previously delayed reports, and it is scandalous that the Home Office have not even bothered to give a feeble excuse as to why this latest "back of a fag packet" report is so late. Their next report should be a an interim report covering the next three and a bit months, and should be published on time, every 6 months thereafter.
Somehow we do not believe that the Government would waive any fines imposed on the public, if they chose to register under the NIS two months late.
This really does show the contempt for transparency and for Parliament and the general public, which the Labour Ministers and their apparatchiki display. If the Labour Government so blatantly ignores Section 37 of their own Identity Cards Act, for their own bureaucratic and political advantage, then how can they be trusted not to ignore the "safeguards" regarding your very personal data, built into the rest of the Act ?
Creative Accounting i.e. lies. damned lie and statistics
The headline figure touted by this Report is a mythical "saving" of £975 million .
This is achieved simply by delaying the rollout of the scheme, so that it will take a much longer, time to complete. , thereby pushing the real costs of the scheme out beyond the arbitrary 10 year reporting window which are the terms of reference of this deliberately weak Report
See John Leyden's analysis in The Register, of how the promises of supposedly "gold standard" identity scheme, with a new "clean " national database, and rigorous , face to face registration and enrollment requirements for stealing your biometrics promised when the scheme was launched, seem to have been broken or delayed temporarily, without being dropped entirely.
The report claims a cost decrease of £975 million over the life of the scheme to 2017, but IPS has achieved this by creative accounting and merrily chucking biometrics off into the middle distance in the hope that somebody will catch.
Another phoney "Consultation" ?
Even though the IPS already has one phoney public consultation exercise running (see How will Labour "listen to the electorate" - even more snooping ?) this Report now hints at a further one, for some unspecified date later this year
This time it will be vague Questions, without any detailed supporting or opposing evidence, on the Fees and Charges they hope to sting the public with financially.
Why are they pre-announcing this consultation now ? Why did they not add these Questions into the existing one ?
You have to read right through this Report to Appendix 2, to discover controversial weasel words like:
Questions for consultation
We will undertake a formal consultation on fees and charges later in 2008. The specific areas that will be included in
the consultation with respect to fees and charges will include (but not be limited to):
Should IPS charge a fee for the amendment of data on the NIR such as change of name or change of address?
The obvious answer to this Question should be an emphatic NO !!, especially since the Home Office has now taken over the General Registrar Office from the Treasury, and will be running the official registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths.
The prospect of Home Office incompetence with statistics and accounting procedures being applied to the number of bastard children and to the "living dead" i.e. people who are, falsely declared to be legally dead "unpersons" by computer system cockups or by corrupt bureaucrats (like in the poorer states of India), is yet another reason to be extremely worried.
Presumably IPS/GRO are hoping to charge two fees as a result of any change of maiden name to married name on the majority of Marriage Certificates.
This Question about Address Re-Registration Fees, should be a reminder to all students and people who move address several times a year, just how disproportionately the ID Card system is going to discriminate against them - remember there is a £1000 fine for failing to keep your address details up to date. If you have to present yourself in person to an Interrogation Centre every time you change address, then that is even more expense and disruption for no tangible benefit to yourself.