Identity cards will not make Britain any safer from terrorists, former Director Deneral of MI5 Dame Stella Rimington has said.
All other personal documents such as passports are easy to fake and if ID cards could also be forged they will be ?absolutely useless?, she told a conference in Birmingham yesterday.
Speaking to the Association of Colleges annual conference at the ICC, she said: ?ID cards have possibly some purpose.
?But I don?t think that anybody in the intelligence services, particularly in my former service, would be pressing for ID cards.
?My angle on ID cards is that they may be of some use but only if they can be made unforgeable - and all our other documentation is quite easy to forge.
?If we have ID cards at vast and people can go into a back room and forge them they are going to be absolutely useless. ?ID cards may be helpful in all kinds of things but I don?t think they are necessarily going to make us any safer.?
Dame Stella?s remarks came as Ministers suffered a defeat in the House of Lords on their controversial ID card legislation.
Peers backed a Tory amendment to ensure that only those who reasonably require proof should be entitled to ask for verification of identity.
She said she did not know whether MPs were right or wrong to reject Tony Blair?s plans to give police new powers to detain terror suspects for 90 days.
Dame Stella told the conference she had ?a certain amount of sympathy? with the police who were asking for more time.
She continued: ?I don?t know whether 28 days is adequate or not. There is information of all kinds to be analysed and assessed,? she said.