Identity cards are to be issued in Birmingham, the Home Office has announced.

Residents will be invited to pay £30 to buy a card with a computer chip containing their fingerprints, which will also be stored in a national database.

It’s the latest phase in the Government’s controversial ID card scheme, which is set to cost the Treasury £4.5 billion.

The cards are optional, and Ministers say they can be used instead of passports when travelling in Europe, or as proof of age when young people buy alcohol or tobacco.

However, Labour’s 2005 election manifesto said the scheme would “initially” be voluntary, suggesting cards would eventually become compulsory.

The party pledged to “introduce ID cards, including biometric data like fingerprints, backed up by a national register and rolling out initially on a voluntary basis as people renew their passports.”

Trials have already been held in Manchester, where more than 3,500 people signed up.

The Government also launched a pilot scheme in London aimed specifically at young people last month, highlighting the benefits of being able to prove their age when they go to a bar.

Birmingham. Warwick and Stoke will be included in the new pilot, along with Leicester and Derby, and cities in the North-east.

Ministers have admitted spending £1.3 million on an advertising campaign to persuade people to pick up ID cards in pilot areas.

Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, has predicted the Government will issue 17 million ID cards by 2017.