Government’s response to pub companies report is incoherent
I spoke in a backbench debate in the House of Commons today on pub companies.
Following repeat investigations over several years, the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee have found that tenants are still getting a poor deal from Pub Companies, being overcharged for beer but, due to the ‘beer tie’, not being allowed to buy from other suppliers.
I argued that the Government’s response to the Committee’s report was intellectually incoherent. I quoted one York publican who responded to my survey of 160 pubs and clubs in York by saying “it’s a bit like me renting you a house for a market rent but telling you that you can only do your food shop in Harrods i.e. top prices.”
In Government, Labour gave the industry a year to reform itself and put into place a voluntary code of practice that would ensure a fairer deal for tied publicans. Only 7 of the 32 largest pub companies had an accredited code by the 30th June 2010 deadline. Although late, almost all pub companies do now have a voluntary code. One key recommendation was that all pubs should offer both a tied and non tied option, however most of the pub companies failed to commit to this and it is not required by the new government’s self regulatory code.
Pubs are an essential part of York’s heritage. They are enjoyed by local people and they attract thousands of tourists’ to the city and contribute to the local economy.
I conducted a survey of 160 pubs and clubs in York and over 40% said that the decline in their business was due to Pub Companies increasing prices disproportionately. Pubs are closing because of the stranglehold Pub Companies have over them and it needs to be sorted out.
I fully support the recommendations made by the Select Committee and I am very disappointed that the government is not backing them. My speech can be read here.