National ID cards: First two airports sign up

Manchester and London City airports will be the first to sign up for the government's National ID card scheme.

The Home Office has confirmed that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will announce that the workers at the airports will be the first to be issued biometric cards containing fingerprint data in the trials that will test them during an 18-month period.

The spokesman denied that this was a scaling back of plans earlier this year for up to 200,000 airport workers to carry the cards from the middle of next year, with the Home Office telling the BBC that it was on track to meet the commitment.

However, the government did say they will waive the 300 per person fee as a concession to the airline industry, with the scheme now estimated to cost 4.7 billion over 10 years.

The British Air Transport Association (BATA) said it did not see any economic benefit from the ID card scheme, with airside workers already the subject of vigorous checks.

BATA Secretary General Roger Wiltshire told Reuters: "We won't be volunteering for ourselves until we see some real benefits from going along with it."

Foreign nationals from outside the first 30 countries of the European Economic Area will be the first to be issued the cards on November 25, with the Home Office expecting that 40,000 cards will be in circulation by April of 2009.

Both opposition parties say they will ditch cards for British nationals if they win power.