Re: ID Card
" A better question would be why opening a bank account requires proof of residence at all. Proof of identity, sure. But an address is a pointless exercise now that you are no longer associated with a specific branch for your services. Not to mention the trap it puts on poor people, who often have no fixed abode, but can't get one because they can't get bank accounts, et cetera."
You try opening an account in most high street banks without providing proof of address and 9 times out of ten you'll be left standing out in the rain counting your pennies back into your trouser pocket. Right or wrong, that just how life is here in the UK and is not just limited to opening a bank account either. My central point is that ID cards commonly issued on the continent of Europe, don't show residential address and as such are not the all in one master identity document they are frequently trumped up to be. As far as I can see, an ID card does nothing that an ordinary Passport cannot do. I suppose you can easily slip an ID card into your wallet after you've finished using it, but a Passport allows you to travel the world over and is not just limited to travel in EU countries.
I do take your point about issuing a common unique identifier, perhaps a long number that could cross-reference all the other government service account numbers. Whether there is the political will, expertise or money to undertake such a project is another question though. But if that process is linked to the universal roll out of ID cards across the whole nation, I doubt if it will ever come to pass.