MPs to debate the UK pub industry7th January, 2013 by Andy Young
The Labour party are planning an opposition day debate to push for a statutory code of practice for pub companies, also known as “pubcos”.
Shadow pubs minister, Toby Perkins, will use Wednesday’s debate to push for the government to introduce a new code of conduct on pubcos. Currently nearly 29,000 of the 55,000 pubs in Britain are “tied” between pubcos and tenants.
The motion is sponsored by Labour leader Ed Miliband, deputy leader Harriet Harman as well as Labour’s business secretary Chuka Umunna, who has accused David Cameron of “not doing enough” to protect pubs.
The Sunday Mirror reported that the prime minister is facing a Commons revolt in the debate, and the newspaper also claims that pubco agreements with tenants can mean, “spiralling rents and high charges for drinks”, a claim rejected by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).
A spokesman for the BBPA told the drinks business: “While trading conditions are difficult for pubs – not least because of the huge tax rises that governments of all colours have imposed on beer – brewers and pub companies provide strong support for tenants, through rent reductions and other measures.
“The fact that independent pubs are closing at a faster rate than tenanted pubs reflects this, and shows that the tied model is not itself the cause.”
The BBPA also said that it did not believe that government legislation would be the right way to proceed.
The spokesman added: “We all want to see a thriving pub trade, but more costly red tape and government intervention is not the answer. We have already made very good progress on self-regulation. We have new codes of practice in place, with discussions on further code reforms, which deal with many commercial issues, at an advanced stage.
“We now have much greater transparency in the sector, and low-cost arbitration services for tenants and lessees.”
The debate will take place in the House of Commons on Wednesday, following prime minister’s questions.