The British Entertainment and Discotheque Association (BEDA) is lobbying ministers to make pubs subject to the same strict health and safety regulations on noise, capacity and wiring with tough rules on use of doorstaff and other measures to curb drug abuse and underage drinking.
BEDA's campaign comes in the face of licensing reform proposals that will give pubs more freedom. Trade leaders claim the nightclub owners are worried about the extra competition from late-night bars and pubs.
Bill Sharp, chairman of the National Parliamentary Committee of Licensees, said: "Obviously they have an axe to grind over this. I am surprised at BEDA's attitude - we have always worked with the club industry."
However, Steve Thomas, chief executive of the nightclub operator Luminar Leisure and chairman of BEDA, denied that BEDA was only concerned with its own financial position.
He said: "This is about standards of safety within the pub industry. There should be a social charter to protect customers. The nightclub industry has moved on a long way in the last few years and we feel it is time for the pub industry to look at its responsibilities."