THE government has stated that the idea of identity cards is popular with the public.

Ministers have, however, omitted to explain that behind the identity cards will be the most intrusive database this country has ever seen.

It will change the relationship between the citizen and the state, with the balance of power being further shifted away from the citizen.

The government has not produced evidence to show that identity cards will stop terrorism, nor that the cards will reduce benefit fraud - the great majority of benefit fraud is lying about circumstances, not about who you are.

Nor can the government produce evidence to show that it will control illegal immigration.

A new set of criminal offences will come into force with swingeing fines and imprisonment for failing to notify the authorities of changes in one's personal life.

The government admits the minimum cost is already £5.8bn - something that will undoubtedly rise.

There are those who say that, if one is innocent, there is nothing to fear from ID cards.

I suspect that the 2,700 citizens wrongly labelled as criminals by the Criminal Records Bureau would not agree with that.

Surely ID cards would mean that the government would be empowered to add information to the citizens' database without their knowledge.

Most concerning of all, however, is the fact that the database would be in the charge of the Home Office!

Not a very reassuring thought.

GEOFFREY G BROOKING, People Against National Identity Cards (PANIC), Lincoln.