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Parliament pubco debate: Vince Cable has “open-mind” on free-of-tie option

By Adam Pescod , 09-Jan-2013
Last updated on 09-Jan-2013 at 16:57 GMT2013-01-09T16:57:25Z

Cable:

Cable: "Disappointed” that the self-regulation agreement has not worked

Business secretary Vince Cable said today he has an “open-mind” about a free-of-tie option for licensees being included in the new statutory code of practice for the pub industry, which he announced yesterday.

Speaking during the Opposition Day Debate on the relationship between pub companies and their tenants, Cable assured MPs that a free of tie option had not been ruled out and that it was something he is keen to hear views on in the forthcoming consultation on the new code and independent adjudicator.

In the debate, shadow small business minister Toby Perkins queried why the initial press release issued yesterday by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) had included a note saying that “The Code will not mandate a ‘free of tie option with open market rent review’, and was then removed in a later release.

A BIS official has informed the Publican’s Morning Advertiser that this note was later omitted to reflect the language used by Cable in the letter he sent to the chairman of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee (BISC) Adrian Bailey.

In the letter, Cable said “I would also like to be clear that I am not proposing to abolish the beer tie”, but did not mention the ‘free-of-tie’ option.

“I haven’t come to a final view on that (free of tie option), Cable said today. “It is a perfectly good question with strong arguments on both sides and I want the consultation to provide us with the answer”.

Cable added that he was “disappointed” that the self-regulation agreement had not worked and criticised the behaviour of some pub companies who he said were “trying to retrieve their own financial situation at the expense of their tenants.”

He also clarified that the proposed code and adjudicator would affect six companies in total, and said he would endeavour to bring in legislation introducing the measures as soon as possible, with the consultation set for the spring.