I heard on the radio today (in the car, so I don't have exact quote) that the decision to include fingerprint details in passports was not 'ID cards by stealth', and in fact the passports have nothing to do with ID cards. I beg to differ, having received a letter from the Home Office which has this quote:
The decision to introduce biometrics into existing identity documents has therefore already been made. What we gain with the ID card and the added requirements for these, over and above just adding biometrics to existing documents, are the benefits of secure identification and a register to hold the information.
ID cards a seperate issue? I think not.
As an aside, including the details in a chip on the passport only might be one thing, a centralised database is a big temptation for abuse by those in power.
This is irrelevant, because as The Register points out:
David Blunkett's Home Office peddled the fiction that international biometric passport requirements meant that most of the expense of the ID card scheme would have to be undertaken anyway, thus making the ID card itself a fairly small additional hurdle to cross. Neither of these claims is true. ICAO only requires a facial biometric on the passport (in mere mortalspeak, a digitised version of a normal passport photo is all we're talking about here). The EU intends to require fingerprints in addition to digitised mugshot, but because of its Schengen opt-out the UK isn't obliged to follow suit. So nobody's forcing us to have fingerprints on passports, and parliament has not yet approved any ID scheme that the fingerprints to be collected would be used for.