Plans to phase in biometric ID cards from 2008 are not “even remotely feasible”, according to David Foord, the ID cards project director at the Office of Government Commerce.

In email conversations with acting commercial director at the Identity and Passport Service Peter Smith, he added:

“We are setting ourselves up to fail.”

It seems that Home Office ministers agree and are currently in a period of rethink, trying to come up with a “face saving compromise”.

I have to admit that I’ve never become particularly fired up by the ID card debate; indeed I was once of the opinion that they wouldn’t be at all a bad thing, since I’ve often encountered problems with proving my identity for simple purposes like joining a library, for example, or opening a bank account.

I don’t drive, you see, and therefore have no driving licence; a passport is generally unacceptable because it doesn’t show a current address; I have had no choice on a number of occasions but to resort to showing recent utilities bills or my TV licence, which is inconvenient.

However, when civil servants start talking about “face saving compromises” I get nervous.

It sounds to my ears like too obvious a cue for some serious bureaucratic bungling with, in the light of the importance of identity and its potential for becoming stolen property, all too serious consequences for all concerned.

Here’s an intelligent argument against by the philosopher AC Grayling, first published in the Times last year.