Identity card trials to take place at UK airports

The government will unveil plans later today to make its much maligned identity cards compulsory for airport workers.

According to a report in the FT, the Home Office plans to begin identity card trials using airport workers.

Home secretary, Jacqui Smith, will announce proposals for the long-delayed roll-out to MPs tomorrow, starting with 100,000 airside staff, according to a spokesperson at the Home Office.

A spokesperson at airport operator BAA, said: “BAA has had some exploratory talks with the government on this proposal and is prepared to have further talks with the government, airlines and other interested parties to further understand the implications of such a scheme.”

Employers are likely to use ID cards to check the identity of new employees against the central population register to ensure they are entitled to work, the Home Office said.

Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis claimed that Smith was likely to postpone a full roll-out until 2012, but would make them compulsory for sensitive and/or security-related roles earlier than that.

“It is inconceivable that these workers would not already have full ID verification,” Davis said. “Therefore, the question has to be: Will this add to airport security or is it a way of getting the British public used to an ID card by stealth, despite an explicit promise from a former home secretary that this programme would not be rolled out in a compulsory fashion without a vote in the Commons.”.

Unions have in the past been critical of ID cards and the potential to discriminate against existing or new employees. They have also questioned how the £100-a-time biometric cards would be paid for.

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