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Statutory code: Community pubs minister Brandon Lewis will contribute to pubco-tenant regulation plans

By Michelle Perrett , 31-Jan-2013
Last updated on 31-Jan-2013 at 14:34 GMT2013-01-31T14:34:30Z

Statutory code: Community pubs minister Brandon Lewis will contribute to pubco-tenant regulation plans

Community pubs minister Brandon Lewis will be involved in the Government’s plans to introduce a statutory code of conduct and an adjudicator for the pubco-tenant relationship.

The minister has revealed exclusively to the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, during a tour of the Shepherd Neame brewery last week, that he has had discussions with the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) about the implementation of the regulation.

Lewis will be sitting on round-table discussions with other BIS ministers to meet the trade about the implementation.

He said: “The Department for Communities & Local Government will be involved and I will be involved.”

During the tour the minister spoke to Shepherd Neame chairman Jonathan Neame about issues affecting the pub industry including the statutory code, beer tax, business rates and a single date for licence renewals.

Neame said: “There is a hell of a lot to be proud and positive about, and those messages are not getting through in a co-ordinated way. That is the key challenge for the industry.

“I think the minister is very well-informed and acutely aware of all of the issues relevant to pubs. The issues of beer and pubs is higher up the political agenda than they have ever been and I just wonder whether there is a joining of the dots here.  

"I would like to think that, a year from now, we can look back on the beer-duty escalator being cancelled and a statutory code that meets everyone’s satisfaction.”

Neame added that pub companies and brewers still believe that the code of practice is legally binding.

“I know that is disputed but that is our view. There is a framework that can act for below whatever the threshold is and above that there will be a statutory code and an adjudicator.

“But what BIS is looking to do is ensure the tie is not being abused. The secretary of state has been very clear that the tie is fundamentally a good thing if it is operated in the right way.

“The point about the tie is that it’s a sharing of risk between the landlord and tenant and that risk is shared differently whether it is a lease or a tenancy.”