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4 I LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS

Passion Islam I June 2010

The eight-year-old identity card scheme will be scrapped within 100 days under the first piece of legislation introduced by the coalition Government. Theresa May, the Home

Secretary, said that abolishing the scheme would save Britain £1 billion over ten years but she refused to give full details of the costs of cancelling contracts for the production of the cards.

The Home Secretary confirmed that there would be no refunds to 15,000 people who paid £30 to purchase the card. Ms May told a press conference at the Home Office they would at least have a souvenir of the scheme.

Mrs May said that the

Government intended to have the Bill passed and enacted before the August parliamentary recess. “With swift parliamentary approval we aim to consign identity cards and the intrusive ID card scheme to history within 100 days.” The Government said that scrapping the identity card scheme would save £86 million over four years and avoid £800 million in costs that would have been paid by

the public purchasing the cards. A further £134 million will be saved by the decision to end moves towards a new generation of passports containing digital fingerprints as well as photographs.

The biometric resident permit will continue to be issued to foreign nationals living in the UK. The Bill will scrap identity cards and the national identity register, the database that was to hold biographical and biometric details of people applying for the card. All identity cards will be cancelled within a month of the Identity Documents Bill receiving Royal

Assent this summer.

The previous Government spent more than £257 million preparing for the scheme, which was estimated to cost £4.5 billion over ten years. Shami Chakrabarti, of the human rights group Liberty, said: “Liberty thanks the Government for the bonfire of the ID cards and the junking of the National Identity Register. We have spent many years arguing that this grand folly would cost our freedom, privacy and race relations dearly and the public agreed. We hope that scrapping ID cards for foreign nationals will soon follow.”

Zero-notice removal challenged

A high court judge has ordered the Home Office to halt the deportation of foreign nationals with almost no warning after a legal challenge argued the process denies people access to justice before they are removed.

Immigration lawyers say officials have used the policy, introduced in 2007, to swoop late at night and escort people to flights leaving only a few hours later, meaning they cannot speak to a lawyer and challenge the order.

In one recent case, a seriously ill Cameroon national was arrested at 10.30pm scheduled to be put on board a charter flight leaving at 6.30am. A friend managed to call

the man’s solicitor, who in turn found a barrister to apply to a duty judge. The judge – roused from his bed – granted an injunction at 1.30am, calling the manner of the deportation “completely unconscionable”. “It was pure chance that I was up late working on another case and received the call,” said the solicitor, Hani Zubeidi. “Otherwise I’d have got to the office the next day to find my client had already left the UK without me knowing about it.” UK Border Agency regulations guarantee those facing deportation a minimum 72-hour notice. But in March 2007 officials were allowed to waive this for unaccompanied children – who cannot be detained

before removal and were thus seen as likely to abscond – or those viewed at risk of self-harm or suicide. In January this year three other exceptions were added: people seen as being a threat to others, who might cause serious disruption or who have given permission for their own deportation.

The so-called zero-notice removal policy was challenged in the high court by the campaign group Medical Justice. Mr Justice Cranston ordered the Home Office to halt it before a full hearing next month. A Home Office spokesman said:

“We will implement the court’s order with immediate effect.”

The Guardian

Identity card scheme to be scrapped

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