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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jack Hibberd

The introduction of the national ID card, announced in last week's Queen's Speech, is not necessarily' a victory for the drinks retail sector, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC). David Southwell, director of communications at the BRC, said that the card in the proposed format doesn't deal with age-related sale issues that we have', and may even be counterproductive. What we would like to see is a national proof of age card scheme backed by the Government.' Southwell said carriers of this type of card - with bio-metric and personal details stored on a PIN - may be reluctant to produce it in a retail environment' and that there may even be legislation passed that means only the police and certain other Government agencies can demand its production.' The Government specifically said that people will not have to carry it at all times, while the cost of a replacement, rumoured to be higher than 20, would discourage people from taking it out of the house. Southwell added: A national ID card is very different from a national proof of age card, which is what our members really want, and it is very unlikely the Government would be prepared to legislate for two separate card schemes in the life of one Parliament.' Other members of the drinks trade welcomed the card. Quentin Rappoport, director of the the Wine and Spirit Association, said: We are delighted that the Home Office has decided to go ahead with national ID cards, and we look forward to working with the Government to enforce a "No ID, No Sale" campaign, which will virtually stamp out underage drinking.' The Portman Group gave it a more cautious welcome: We'd have to see the final proposals before we comment, but the card's compulsory introduction is still at least six years away. We are still backing the PASS scheme, of which our "Prove It" card is a part.' The Association of Convenience Stores also said that it was imperative that retailers continue to get behind the PASS scheme.