Trade supports ID card u-turn

Related tags Secretary jack straw Passport Home secretary Identity document Home office

The trade has welcomed an apparent u-turn by ministers over the introduction of national ID cards.Former Home Secretary Jack Straw said last year...

The trade has welcomed an apparent u-turn by ministers over the introduction of national ID cards.

Former Home Secretary Jack Straw said last year that plans for a Government-backed card would not be taken forward but the Home Office, now under the leadership of current Home Secretary David Blunkett, last week announced a consultation on proposals for such a card.

The news was welcomed by licensees, many of whom have been campaigning for a card to end inconsistency and confusion over existing proof-of-age schemes.

Tony Payne, chief executive of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations, said: "We very strongly support these proposals and I will be making a submission to the Home Office on the issue.

"We wrote to David Blunkett when he was first appointed giving our views on ID cards. They are important not just for pubs but for the country as whole."

Mr Payne dismissed opposition to the cards from civil liberties campaigners. "What are they frightened of?" he added.

Although the proposed card is not aimed primarily at pubs, a spokesman for the Home Office confirmed last week that if it goes ahead it will be suitable for use as a proof-of-age card.

"Certainly that is something you could use it for," he said.

The proposed card would include a photograph, date of birth and a microchip enabling it to be used as a cash card, phone card, driving licence and passport.

While it would be issued to everyone, it would not be compulsory to carry the card. Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said "We very much welcome the Government's sensitive approach to this issue.

"The questions surrounding these cards are far wider than simple proof of identity but this could play a positive role in helping retailers police proof-of-age."

Licensees have expressed concern in the past over the number of proof-of-age card schemes in the UK, which can make it difficult to spot fake cards. They hope a definitive Government-backed card will help them spot underage drinkers.

Dick Dickinson, chairman of Bridlington Licensed Victuallers Association, said: "I would support a national card. The number of schemes that there are now means they have lost all credibility. Government backing would give a card some clout."

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