from Philip Horsfield, commercial manager, Leathley’s Quality Fare

Sir; It was with considerable relief that I heard the Home Office is at last grasping the nettle of ID cards.

For too long now, weak politicians and civil liberties activists have ensured we have no way of uniformly ascertaining the age of customers purchasing alcohol and tobacco.

Combine with this the zeal with which some local authorities enforce the laws on age-related sales, and you have an industry under siege.

Can you imagine the outcry that would accompany any attempt to frame a new piece of legislation under which ordinary hard-working people would have to guess people’s ages in order to avoid prosecution, but were denied a
tool to do it by the government? We’ve lived with this for years, and it is an obscenity.

The advent of ID cards could change this forever. Dates of birth would be stored on chips in these cards.

EPoS systems could be programmed so that when a customer purchased an age-related product, they would have to produce an ID card. The checkout operator would check the photo for a match and then insert the card into the reader. The reader would verify the age, and allow the transaction to proceed. It would be as cut and dried as that.

As an incentive to businesses to invest in this change, I would propose the following changes.

Firstly, it should be made illegal to attempt to purchase any age-related product without a valid ID card, and, secondly, should a store install this safeguard, then it should be made totally immune from prosecution.

Any action taken for underage sale should only be against the individual checkout operator, as it would be that person alone who, by failing to follow a simple procedure, had allowed an illegal sale.