Two senior Government ministers have called on the pub industry to help struggling licensees by examining how the beer tie works.
Licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe and Treasury minister Angela Eagle made the comments to trade leaders, MPs and others at a packed meeting in Parliament this evening to discuss the current pub crisis.
Senior pubco figures, including Punch boss Giles Thorley, were among those in the audience.
Sutcliffe said: "There are measures that Government can take, certainly, but there is action the industry can take. The issue around the tie needs to be looked at."
He pointed to previous competition inquiries about the tie and said: "Perhaps we need to look at that again."
Eagle, who recently met members of the anti-pubco Fair Pint campaign, said: "There are issues about the pub ownership structure that impact on some of this [the issues affecting pubs]."
She said the tie is "something perhaps people working here can think about how to approach. Those business models do have an impact."
Earlier other MPs had flagged up concerns about the impact of the tie.
Greg Mulholland, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, said tied licensees pay 50p more per pint for beer. "The operation of the tie is completely skewed in favour of pub companies."
John Pugh, MP for Southport, said licensees in his constituency have flagged up problems like business rates and cheap supermarket alcohol. "But when you look at what they said in the round the concern is the tie.
"You can't expect the Government to do something about this problem if [the industry] doesn't address this as well."
Read more on the meeting...