By Kirsty Walker
Bus passes for over-60s could be axed and replaced with ID cards.
Home Office Minister Meg Hillier suggested millions of elderly people could be asked to carry the controversial cards to prove their age when they travel.
But civil liberty campaigners have accused the Government of targeting vulnerable people to widen the unpopular scheme.
Around 11 million people over 60 enjoy the use of bus passes for free travel around the country.
But Miss Hillier said councils and transport groups want ministers to swap them for ID cards. These contain a microchip that stores details such as name, date of birth, a facial scan and fingerprints.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson is considering plans to give free ID cards to over-75s. But in an interview, Miss Hillier hinted this could be extended to over-60s.
Ministers were last year forced to drop plans to make the ID cards compulsory following cost fears and widespread opposition.
Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This is another sneaky, underhand suggestion from the Government to force people to carry ID cards, which are far more intrusive than bus passes have ever been.
‘Many people affected by this measure will remember being coerced to carry their ID card during the War and will be dismayed to see that this bullying surveillance is coming back into fashion.
‘Some will resent this idea so much that to avoid carrying an ID card they will stop taking the bus altogether – perhaps that’s exactly the sort of budget-saving Meg Hillier wants.’
A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘We have always been clear that ID cards are not compulsory and there are no plans to make them compulsory.’