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British government drops ID cards bill

UPI | April 6, 2005

London, England -- Controversial plans to introduce national identity cards across Britain have been dropped by the government, Home Secretary Charles Clarke has confirmed.

Clarke told the BBC Tuesday night the Conservatives had decided to "kill the bill" by abstaining from voting, because of splits within the party.

If Labor won the coming election, it would be reintroduced at the earliest opportunity, he said.

A Conservative spokesman said it would be "quite wrong" to blame them for any failure to pass a law before an election.

"It is the government that decides the date of the election and the government who decided to pack the Queen's speech with too much legislation," the spokesman said.

Under the estimated $5.6 billion plan, each citizen would be issued a biometric card bearing fingerprints and other personal details which also would be stored on a national database.

The Liberal Democrats oppose identity cards on civil liberties grounds.

Ministers insist the cards will help in the fight against illegal immigration, organized crime and terrorist groups.

The government faces a race to push through other outstanding legislation before Parliament is dissolved Monday ahead of the May 5 election, and may be forced to drop several bills.

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