Liberal Democrat anti-pubco campaigners are calling for an emergency debate on the beer tie at the party's upcoming national conference.
MP Greg Mulholland has co-authored a motion for debate with Gareth Epps, a Reading councillor. Epps has published a damning survey of the impact of pubcos in Reading, and has passed it to the Office of Fair Trading for its new probe into the beer tie.
The motion criticises pubcos for their market dominance, high rents and for failing to pass on discounts. It calls for:
* limiting the size of pubco estates
* tenants to get to choose between tied and rental tenancies
* action against "inflated prices" charged by pubcos
* a mandatory code of practice promoting greater transparency
* restrictive covenants to be outlawed
* lessees offered right-to-buy
* a separate planning use class for pubs
Epps' survey shows three-quarters of licensees, mainly tied, have an annual income below £15,000 a year and half think they won't be running a pub in five years' time.
He said: "While increased taxation by the Labour Government, cut price supermarket booze and the smoking ban haven't helped, it's the pubcos that twist the knife."
The Lib Dem's Bournemouth conference runs from 19 to 23 September.