Not a proper post, but a factlet for those who may be confused by the government's claims about biometric passports, and specifically that much of the cost of their ID cards programme would have to be spent anyway on biometric passports.
The ICAO biometric passport programme requires only that passports be equipped with a `smart-card' style chip containing information about the bearer (the same stuff that's printed in the machine-readable zone on the bottom of the back page of your passport in and angular OCR font), plus a digitised photograph and a cryptographic signature.
- in Germany, the cost of a passport will increase by 36 Euros, or about £23;
- in Australia, the cost will go up by A$19, or about £8;
- whereas here in Britain the government plans to charge everyone an additional £51 on the current £42 fee for a new passport.
What's actually going on here is a fairly simple scam. The idea is to add lots of bits of the ID cards programme (like the database that records every transaction you have with the public sector) into the cost of passports to make the cost of ID cards seem more reasonable, and then lie that these expenses are actually necessary under our international obligations. Fuck that, frankly.