The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) is calling on the trade to show support for the national ID card scheme, despite reports that the Cabinet has rejected the plan.
Home secretary David Blunkett is looking to introduce the scheme, which would see the introduction of a compulsory ID card for everyone in the UK aged over 16. This will effectively give the pub industry the single proof-of-age card that many licensees and pub operators have been calling for.
Reports this week suggest that Mr Blunkett's project has failed to gain full Cabinet support and that the plans have been referred back to a government sub-committee, a sign that there are serious doubts.
However, Caroline Nodder, spokesperson for the BII, said most of its members fully back the scheme.
"Given the number of local proof-of-age schemes it is hard for licensees to spot fake IDs. So we strongly support plans for a single, national ID card.
"We need to keep pushing this because from the trade's perspective it is a very good idea," she said.
The Publican Market Report 2003 showed that 84 per cent of licensees are in favour of the introduction of ID cards, with support being particularly strong in the managed house sector.
Ms Nodder also said the very fact that ministers were sitting down and discussing a concrete plan represented a huge degree of progress. She said: "Up until 18 months ago, ministers made it clear they wouldn't even talk about an ID card scheme. We hope good sense will prevail. The introduction of ID cards will be a significant way forward for the government because it will help crack down on under-age drinking and has made it clear that is a key priority."
Mr Blunkett is reported to have rejected proposals for voluntary entitlement cards in favour of a full-blown compulsory scheme. The cards would cost £39 and would replace passports and driving licenses as well as proving entitlement to state benefits.
With the cards also featuring holders' date of birth, they would also replace the various local and national proof-of-age card schemes that currently operate.
Civil liberties groups have opposed compulsory ID cards, but Mr Blunkett believes Home Office research proves that concern over issues such as terrorism has generated widespread public support.
The Home Office told The Publican that a final decision had not been taken and that the government was still looking into the scheme.