London, June 9 : The UK Government's controversial National Identity Card Scheme could be used to mount surveillance operations on members of the public, a powerful committee of MPs has warned.
The Home Affairs Select Committee has voiced fears that the way the authorities use sensitive data gathered in the multi-billion-pound programme could "creep" to include spying.
The all-party committee also asked ministers to deal with the theft of personal details from the National Identity Scheme, which will build a massive database on every person over 16 years of age in Britain.
The committee accepted ministers' assurances that surveillance was not part of the plans, but asked for a guarantee that no expansion would take place without MPs' approval, News.scotsman.com reported.
"We are concerned ... about the potential for 'function creep' in terms of the surveillance potential of the National Identity Scheme," the report said.
"Any ambiguity about the objectives of the scheme puts in jeopardy the public's trust in the scheme itself and in the Government's ability to run it," the report added.
Under the scheme, everyone over the age of 16 who applies for a passport will have their personal details, including fingerprints and facial scans, added to a national identity register from 2011-12.
If Labour wins the next election, it will introduce legislation making it compulsory for every adult in the UK to have an identity card.
But public support for ID cards has been hit by last year's loss of 25 million personal details by HM Revenue and Customs.
Following that and other data loss scandals, the committee called on government to minimise the amount of information it collects on citizens.
Keith Vaz, the committee chairman, said there could be "potentially disastrous consequences" if data was mishandled.