MPs to re-open pubco inquiry

By The PMA Team

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pub companies, Pub association chief, Independent pub confederation, Renting

Pubcos: will be back under the spotlight
Pubcos: will be back under the spotlight
The BISC investigating pubco power is set to meet again on 28 June and 5 July, the PMA has learnt.

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee investigating pubco power has written to key players named by the Publican's Morning Advertiser (PMA) this morning as those set to be called to give evidence at its next hearing to apologise for any confusion caused.

BISC wrote to those named to apologise and insisted it had yet to decide on terms of refernce, dates and witnesses. It claimed that "nothing has been confirmed" and that those called to give evidence would be contacted personally.

However, the PMA has seen a letter circulating among MPs, setting out the terms of reference. The letter also includes the terms of reference while a list of people due to be called and dates — 28 June and 6 July — is believed to have been widely discussed and largely settled on amongst the group.

The first hearing is expected to accept oral evidence from Marston's tenanted boss Alastair Darby, Punch leased boss Roger Whiteside, Enterprise boss Ted Tuppen, and British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds in the morning.

In the afternoon, it's expected to hear evidence from BII chief executive Neil Robertson and industry expert Phil Dixon.

The second hearing on 5 July will listen to evidence from RICS director of valuation professional group David Rusholme, Enterprise national rent controller Rob May and independent rent expert Garry Mallen in the morning.

In the afternoon, it will hear from secretary of the Independent Pub Confederation Kate Nicholls, Fair Pint member Simon Clarke and Clive Davenport, trade and industry chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses.

The inquiry is expected to examine whether recommendations by its predecessor committee in March 2010 have been adopted.

A source said: "Of particular interest to us is whether the problems raised in the Parliamentary inquiries of 2004, 2009 and 2010 have been resolved or whether statutory regulation is required."

The letter says the inquiry will examine whether:

• If the BBPA and IPC are now in dialogue and if so how this is progressing

• Whether the pub companies' individual Codes of Practice are robust enough and whether the major pub companies have built upon the de-minimus requirements of the BBPA's Framework Code

• If the Codes of Practice are being complied with

• How the BII is policing the codes and whether this is effective

• The enforceability of the codes

• If AWP machines are now being treated more fairly and tenants are being given a genuinely free of tie option

• The treatment of flow monitoring equipment

• The advice being provided by BBPA to prospective publicans

• The effectiveness of the new RICS guidance on pub rental valuations and whether it provides clarity on the principle that a tied tenant should be no worse off than a free of tie tenant by defining what constitutes a countervailing benefit

• The creation of an industry benchmarking survey

• The availability and effectiveness of complaints procedures and an independent disputes mechanism

• The availability of genuine free of tie options ie an open market rent review under RICS new guidelines, ability to buy beer from any source

• The guidance from BII on the type of pub leases available and what the options mean in reality to prospective lessees. This includes free of tie, tied pricing and discounts as well as the business support countervailing benefits available.

In the letter seen by the PMA, Adrian Bailey MP, chairman of the Business Innovation and Skills Committee, said: "Our predecessor Committee made clear that this was the last chance for the pub companies to 'get their house in order'. Our inquiry intends to find out if they have. "

"The British pub is an important institution which not only provides a social meeting place but also plays an important cohesive function in many communities.

"We do not want to see any more pubs closing unnecessarily."

Related topics: Legislation

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