I think Phillip Johnston might have nailed it here.
A valedictory report on the project said: "The National Identity Register proposed as part of the Home Office Identity Cards Programme will deliver many of the CIP benefits… by effectively acting as the UK adult population register."
Shorn of much of its security paraphernalia, that is what the ID scheme now is. It will fulfil an aim of British public policy since the 16th century. The Tudors wanted to set up a population register, and another failed attempt was made in 1753, when it was proposed to take an annual local count of population, and a record of all marriages, births and deaths. The idea was never pursued and Britain instead moved to a census as a way of counting the population.
But the population register concept was picked up in countries like Sweden, where everyone has a unique personal number (UPN) allocated at birth. For instance, 454010-1488 is a woman born on April 10, 1945 with the individual number 148 (an even number denotes a woman) and an anti-fraud check digit 8. All administrative records relating to this person carry the UPN from birth until death.
Politically, it seems peculiar that the Government did not define this whole exercise in the context of a population register from the start, rather than as the imposition of an identity card with all the attendant civil liberties connotations.
It would have sounded less sinister than an ID database and would have been far cheaper. A feasibility study for the CIP estimated it would cost £13 million to develop a register, £240 million to implement it and £25 million a year to run.
Given the gradual removal of the security walls around the proposed ID database, it is clear that this scheme has nothing to do with protecting our identities. It is about setting up a glorified population register to keep track of us.
Those who think the Government will scrap the ID cards are mistaken, since its main purpose is to establish a population database. This is also why it will eventually be compulsory to join in. You should start working out your UPN now.
If that\’s what they actually wanted (in reality, a national insurance number database that is accurate) why didn\’t they just do that in the first place?