Last updated at 21:45pm on 7th April 2007
The Government faces damaging claims of misleading voters over ID cards after documents revealed it always planned to make the controversial scheme compulsory.
Whitehall papers, which the Government has fought for two years to suppress, disclose that Labour intended to force the public to sign up to the programme.
They appear to contradict commitments given by Labour in its 2005 Election manifesto, which pledged that the cards, and the national identity register containing people's names, addresses, fingerprints and other information, would be 'on a voluntary basis'.
The briefing notes, released under the Freedom Of Information Act, show that civil servants had already been told ID cards would be compulsory for everyone by 2014.
Opposition MPs said the papers proved the Government had 'purposely set out to mislead the public and politicians about their plans'.
The Department For Work And Pension's (DWP) 'ID Fraud Benefit Profile' was produced in October 2004 and was designed to show how the project would cut benefit fraud.
In a table illustrating the predicted yearly savings expected by the department it states that from 2014 - Year 7 of the project - 'The identity card scheme is now compulsory'.
But 18 months later, the then Home Secretary Charles Clarke insisted the scheme was voluntary. He told MPs: "In accordance with the Labour party's Election manifesto...we will introduce ID cards...initially on a voluntary basis."
The papers also undermine claims by Ministers that the scheme would halve the £50million lost to benefit cheats. The internal briefing reveals that the much-quoted savings were purely guesswork by officials.
It says: "NOTE: DWP perceive losses to identity fraud to be between £25-£50million per annum, due to the nature of our business processes and recording of monetary value of fraud and error the figures are unreliable therefore DWP can only sign up to a maximum saving in the area of £25million per annum."
The first ID cards are due to be issued in 2009 to anybody who applies for a passport. Britons will be required to give fingerprints, biometric details such as a facial scan and a wealth of personal details - including second homes, driving licence and insurance numbers.
While the ID Cards Bill was going through Parliament, peers and Ministers agreed an 'opt-out' for people who needed a passport but did not want to join the ID cards scheme. But to get a passport, ID card objectors will now still have to hand over all personal details to the ID cards register.
Former Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten, who successfully fought to get the internal documents published, said: "They show Ministers had no basis to claim the cards would combat benefit fraud, that from the very beginning the cards were going to be compulsory and that Ministers were consistently not telling the truth about their true intentions."
The DWP said the details in the papers 'are no longer valid'.
A Home Office spokesman said the documents were 'incredibly out of date'.