Blunkett admits split on ID cards

Home Secretary David Blunkett confirmed he has yet to convince his Cabinet colleagues that the Government should push ahead with his proposals for an ID card scheme.

But he said he had not given up hope of persuading them that a Bill to introduce the cards should be included in the Queen's Speech, expected next month.

Mr Blunkett's £3 billion plans for a nationwide "entitlement card" were boosted by support from Prime Minister Tony Blair in his keynote speech to Labour's annual conference earlier this month.

But they are reported to be facing stiff opposition from senior ministers, including Chancellor Gordon Brown and Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt, and they failed to win Cabinet approval at a meeting in September.

Mr Blunkett indicated that discussion of the plans was continuing in a Cabinet committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in a bid to allay concerns.

He will bring the issue back to the Cabinet within the next few weeks to seek the approval of the Prime Minister for a Bill in the next session of Parliament.

Mr Blunkett told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Cabinet opponents of the scheme were "entitled" to their views.

"I hope we will conduct, as we have over the past 18-20 months, an open and honest internal debate with each other," he said. "If I can't satisfy their concerns then we won't go ahead. I hope I will be able to.

"If I didn't think it were possible, I wouldn't be having the continuing discussions through the domestic affairs committee under the chairmanship of the Deputy Prime Minister and I wouldn't be bringing it back to Cabinet later in the autumn. But it will be the Prime Minister in Cabinet who makes the decisions on the Queen's Speech, not me."

Mr Blunkett acknowledged he would always face vehement opposition from an articulate and prominent section of the public to the whole idea of ID cards. But he said: "Believe me, people have come up to me again and again and said, 'Stick to your guns. We know that if we are going to sort out clandestine entry, clandestine working, illegal use of our services, we need some form of identity card, a modern biometric card that can't be forged'. I believe it is important that I persuade colleagues that it is both practical and feasible."

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