The Home Office has confirmed there is still no timetable for the rollout of ID card readers, without which carrying out effective ID checks is impossible.
So even though the government is continuing to foist the cards on foreigners, airside workers at City of London and Manchester airports and pilots, there is no way to check the cards are genuine. Official advice is to flick the cards with a fingernail because they make a distinctive noise.
Home Office minister Phil Woolas told the House of Commons yesterday that there was no schedule for the distribution of ID card readers to police stations, border entry points, job centres or local authorities.
He said: "In time, card readers will be made available so that the cardholder’s biometric and biographical features can be checked against the card, although a timetable for their introduction has not been established."
The cards are already being handed to foreign nationals with leave to stay, and the lucky people of Manchester will get the chance to hand over £60 to get their hands on a card from later this year. Wacky Jacqui Smith has previously claimed that people can't wait for ID cards.
The point of the cards was to provide biometric checks of identity. That information is held on a chip within the card - without a reader there is no way to access this information.
Anyone using the card to identify someone is advised to flick the card to check how it sounds. If they still have concerns there is a phoneline with further advice.
It emerged in February that the government was pushing ahead with issuing cards despite the lack of readers.Tory leader David Cameron has promised to scrap the scheme if elected.