Greg Mulholland, the Lib Dem MP who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, has slammed the sector's leading trade body for refusing to debate the future of the pub industry.
During a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group yesterday, Mulholland challenged the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the Independent Pub Confederation (IPC) to discuss how to progress the industry at a later date, and that while the IPC agreed, he said the BBPA had refused.
The MP slammed the BBPA for agreeing to take part in yesterday's meeting on the proviso that IPC members were not present when it presented its case and that the meeting be closed to members of the press.
"It was disappointing that the BBPA won't come before MPs and actually debate with the IPC how best the industry can move forward," he said.
"It was notable that they insisted on IPC representatives not even being allowed to sit and listen to their presentation and on press not being allowed in the meeting.
"That is a strange way to convince both MPs and the public that they have serious proposals for where the trade should go from here," he added.
Mulholland claimed it was "clear" the BBPA had no idea of how to take the pub industry forward, arguing that while the BPPA was talking about an industry-wide code "it hasn't yet published one - and it doesn't have the support of the industry with the majority of pub organisations not in favour of this approach".
The MP said "it wasn't sensible to come to tell MPs about it when they couldn't even give us their proposal and when they are increasingly out on a limb".
Mark Hastings, director of communications at the BBPA, refuted the suggestion his organisation was not willing to participate in any debate concerning the industry's future.
"We are actively and openly engaging with this process. We have published the headline elements of our code and gave a presentation to the Beer Group last night, at which Mr Mulholland was present.
"We will be presenting the code, which proposes significant changes to the way the tied model will operate, to the BISC hearing on December 8, where it can be fully scrutinised by the committee's MPs," he added.