Identity cards will now be voluntary

City A.M. Reporter
THE government has dropped plans to bring in compulsory biometric identity cards for airport workers and revealed the multi-billion pound scheme will be voluntary for all Britons.<br /><br />Home Secretary Alan Johnson said the government now planned to go ahead with the introduction of the &pound;30 cards, which contain personal details, fingerprints and a facial image, but ruled out making them compulsory.<br /><br />Civil rights campaigners and opposition politicians have long opposed the project, saying it was unnecessary, expensive and an intrusion into private life.<br /><br />The Conservative Party, ahead in the polls and tipped to win the next election due by mid-2010, has pledged to scrap the scheme as part of public spending cuts to help deal with Britain&rsquo;s spiralling debt.<br /><br />&ldquo;Holding an identity card should be a personal choice for British citizen &ndash; just as it is now to obtain a passport,&rdquo; Johnson said in a written parliamentary statement.<br /><br />Under the government&rsquo;s original plans, the cards were to be issued this year to airside staff at Manchester and London City airports, to the ire of unions, before the project was rolled out across Britain by 2012.