|British citizens will not be forced to obtain an identity card until at least two years later than planned, the Conservatives have claimed.
The Opposition said a leaked Home Office document showed the mass rollout of ID cards to anyone renewing their passport had been put off until 2012.
According to the Government's 2006 action plan, it was expecting to "issue significant volumes of ID cards alongside British passports by 2010".
The report however, prepared for senior Whitehall managers last month and titled NIS (National Identity Scheme) Delivery Strategy, appeared to show that aim had been softened.
It showed "Borders phase II (UK Citizens) beginning in 2012, with earlier priority given to those in "trusted relationships"" - where identity assurance was "critical" to their jobs.
The Home Office said on Tuesday night that "a date has not been fixed" for a full rollout alongside passports and that there was "always a degree of caveating" in the dates given.
Although it refused to comment directly on the leaked report, a spokesman for the Identity and Passport Service said "We have always said that the scheme will be rolled out incrementally.
"The Framework procurement for the Scheme is currently underway: we will make further announcements about the rollout of ID cards in due course."
The biometric cards are due to be introduced for foreign nationals later this year, and the first ID cards are expected to be issued to UK citizens on a voluntary basis from 2009.
Under the terms of an Act passed in 2006, any move to a compulsory card for British nationals would come only after a positive vote of both Houses of Parliament.