By Max Clarke

Home Office Minister Damian Green visited an industrial site in Essex today to shred the last of 500 hard disk drives and end the National Identity Scheme.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, said:

"I have always called in the strongest terms for the National Identity Register to be scrapped, and it was one of the first things the Coalition pledged to do. I am delighted that Damian has today laid it to rest once and for all.

"The ID cards scheme was a direct assault on our liberty, something too precious to be tossed aside, and something which this government is determined to restore. The government is committed to rolling back as much state interference as humanly possible, and the destruction of the register is only the beginning."

Home Office Minister Damian Green said:

"Laying ID cards to rest demonstrates the government's commitment to scale back the power of the state and restore civil liberties.

"This is about people having trust in the government to know when it is necessary and appropriate for the state to hold and use personal data, and it is about the government placing their trust in the common-sense and responsible attitude of people.

"This is just the first step in the process of restoring and maintaining our freedoms."

The destruction of the NIR has been carried out within two months of Royal Assent of the Identity Documents Bill.

Around 500 hard disk drives and 100 back-up tapes containing the details of 15,000 holders have been magnetically wiped and shredded in line with Cabinet Office rules and will soon be incinerated.

ID cards can no longer be used by holders as a valid legal proof of identity or as a travel document in Europe

The National Identity Register (NIR), which was built to hold the fingerprints and personal details of millions of ID card holders, has been publicly destroyed.