A national proof-of-age card could be approved by the end of the year after trade leaders and retail industry representatives decided to form an alliance and push the issue forward.
At a meeting organised by the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group and the All Party Retail Industry Group, representatives from both trades discussed what they wanted the card to be.
John Grogan MP, panel chairman for the beer group, said: "We're inviting them to go away and form a joint-industry steering group and over the summer months to design an industry standard proof-of-age card."
The design, which will include features such as date of birth and a photograph, will then be presented to the Government early in the new session of parliament.
"When we have got a standard that's agreed we will then seek meetings with ministers and Government backing," Mr Grogan explained. "We're very keen to move the debate forward."
There are different options available to the Government ranging from endorsing the cards as a standard through to sponsoring or licensing the scheme.
Mr Grogan said: "At the same time as the card is being designed we're also going to have discussions about what we're going to ask the Government to do with it."The move forward has been well received by the trade.
Mary Curnock Cook, director of the British Institute of Innkeeping, said: "Our members have identified this as being very high on their agenda and, with the Criminal Justice and Police Act being introduced around October, it's really getting urgent.
"The key to making it work is getting a consistency between what we're all planning and that's why the steering group is important. If we get this standard getting a proof-of-age card will no longer rest fully on legislation. We fully support this."
Trade takes proof-of-age card scheme into own hands (18 July 2001)
Age card confirmed in writing (07 June 2001)
Government to trial age cards (31 May 2001)