The National Identity Card scheme has been extended to London after trials in the North-West of England.

From February 8, Londoners aged between 16 and 24 will be able to apply for the £30 cards.

Home Office Minister Meg Hillier said: "With tough new legislation to clamp down on underage drinking, it will be more important than ever for young people to have access to a universally accepted proof of age."

National Federation of Retail Newsagents' national president Suleman Khonat added: "Any initiative that helps to prevent sales to those underage is to be welcomed."

However, the cards were labelled "pointless" by Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green, who said a Conservative government would scrap the scheme should it come to power.

A survey by pos software company Clarity Commerce, also published this week, suggested that one in five young people had bought fake ID cards online, while 20% of over-18s questioned admitted lending their ID card to their younger friends to buy alcohol.

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