MPs call for pubco reform

By Andrew Pring

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Licensees, House of lords

MPs called for reform at Westminster debate
MPs called for reform at Westminster debate
A House of Commons debate on pub ownership today heard calls for reform of the tied system from MPs in all three main parties. "Licensees are being...

A House of Commons debate on pub ownership today heard calls for reform of the tied system from MPs in all three main parties.

"Licensees are being hog tied by restrictive covenants and exorbitant wholesale prices," said Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh, who called the debate.

"Private equity does not care about the village pub — it only cares about the bottom line. "That is why Government must act now and regulate."

The MP for Southport added: "The tie should have gone out with the Corn Laws of the 1840s."

Tory MP for North West Hampshire, Sir George Young, also called for reform of the tie, though not its abolition.

"Many licensees I have met are unable to compete in the market because of the drinks prices they pay, which seems a very significant restraint of trade. There are too many licensees who cannot make a go of it, and that is not good for the community."

Sir George referred to pubco contracts containing "small print that greatly disadvantages licensees".

Lib Dem Greg Mullholland said figures on pub closures circulated by the pubcos are "fictitious" and that they concealed "stories of human misery and even tragedy".

He said pubcos were "property owners who have little interest in their pubs and impose outrageous contracts on their licensees".

He called for a mandatory code of practice, which amongst other things, would impose clear and transparent rents.

Labour MP John Grogan, All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group chairman, said the long-term lease does need to be looked at. But he defended the tie itself because it allows low-cost entry into the trade.

Related topics: Legislation

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