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Responsibility: military ID and this week's Home Office discussion

On 01/07/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

In 2011 for the first time, the Government announced that armed forces personnel could use their military identification as proof of age, which had not previously been allowed. The Ministry of Defence subsequently wrote to the BBPA asking for our support for Military ID to be accepted in pubs. The only rub in the ointment was the suggestion that we could not show licensees what the ID looked like as this might be a breach of military security. This seemed like an oxymoron to me – how could licensees know what military ID looked like if we could not publicise it! I visited the Ministry of Defence, but not much progress was made. At the Conservative Party spring conference last year I had a useful discussion with Liam Fox, the Secretary of State, but he was almost immediately re-shuffled and I had to wait until I met the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Andrew Robathan MP, at the Hanover Summer Party. Andrew Robathan completely understood our dilemma and when the revised Home Office False ID Guidance was published in July last year it contained sample images of Military ID allowing licensees to recognise what it looked like.

It was therefore with great pleasure that I visited the Westminster Arms last week and was joined by Andrew Robathan, now promoted to the Minister for the Armed Forces, (suitably surrounded by Spitfire beer!) to launch the new BBPA Challenge 21 posters in time for Armed Forces Day on Saturday.

The new posters include military ID as proof of age and can be either ordered or downloaded from our website. There is no doubt that pubs are hugely supportive of our armed forces and allowing soldier to use their military cards to prove that they are legally allowed to purchase alcohol, seems sensible and something we can all support. BBPA Challenge 21 posters now been around since 2006 and are a reminder to customers that if they look under 21 they may be asked to prove that they are over 18. They are widely used and recognised and the re-launched poster will therefore help to spread the message that military ID should be accepted.

This week I have been summoned to see the Home Secretary; the Rt. Hon Theresa May MP. The conversation will no doubt be about the forthcoming Government response to the Alcohol Strategy.

The Responsibility Deal will also be high on the agenda and I think the BBPA and our members have a good story to tell and not only about Challenge 21 preventing under-aged sales. I have no doubt that as a sector we will achieve the 80% required by the end of this year for packaging to display unit content, the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines for lower risk consumption and warning on drinking whilst pregnant. The BBPA customer unit awareness initiative, developed with Drinkaware has been boosted recently with promotion from Sky and distribution to the 23,000 licensees who receive Sky Preview magazine. The billion unit reduction pledge and our support for partnership schemes at a local level are all very important too.

We expect the Government’s response to be announced before the summer recess on 18th July. Our theme is about partnership working and deregulation. We will, I expect, have a consultation on licensing fees, but even if local authorities are given more scope for setting their own fees, we would argue in favour of a national cap and an increase of no more than 10%. For many pubs outside town and city centres, what are you paying for to justify an annual fee? As ever we seek to reduce red tape and regulation allowing our pubs to invest and create more jobs.


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