It's time the government stood up for pubs

By Toby Perkins MP

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Big pub companies Labour party

Perkins: time for government to act
Perkins: time for government to act
I am delighted to be the Labour Party spokesperson for pubs; I am committed to helping protect our pubs and see the industry thrive.  Pubs stimulate local economic growth and provide flexible employment opportunities for thousands of workers around the UK, and of course, provide that crucial hub and heart of a community in so many towns across Britain.

However, the British pub has had to contend with a raft of challenges in the past decade that have tested the fortitude of the hardiest of publicans.

A number of problems have contributed: the recession and its impact on disposable income,  changes in lifestyles and behaviours, the cost in comparison to the off-trade and the smoking ban have all had implications for pubs.

However, there is another key challenge for many publicans that Government should have acted on before now: the impact on the industry of the big pub companies and their relationship with lessees.

In the past decade the issue of pubcos and the beer tie has moved right up the public and political agenda. The most recent Select Committee report called on Government to introduce a statutory code to regulate the relationship between pubcos and their lessees — a demand that it rejected, to the disappointment of a wide range of organisations across the industry.

Subsequently a ‘compromise’ motion was debated in Parliament, calling for an independent review of the performance of self-regulation, which was unanimously supported by members of all parties.

But the new pubs minister Norman Lamb has reneged on that miniscule commitment and caved in to the big pubco interest completely, writing in answer to a Parliamentary question that ‘it would not be appropriate to commission an independent review’.

Evidence from the Federation of Small Businesses and the IPPR think tank has backed up the Select Committee view of how badly self-regulation has worked for lessees in the past, with tied landlords earning less, [becoming] less optimistic about their future and more likely to close than freehouse landlords.

This week I have written to Norman Lamb MP, urging him to reconsider the Government’s position on pubcos. The challenge I set him is to listen to the overwhelming evidence demonstrating that the big vested interest of the pubcos is against the national interest.

This Government should be willing to stand up for the little guy, the local community and this great British institution. So far Mr Lamb and his cohorts have ducked that challenge. It will be to his and this country’s bitter regret if he doesn’t change his mind and start standing up for the British pub.

  • Toby Perkins is Labour MP for Chesterfield and Shadow Minister for Business, Innovation & Skills

Related topics Legislation

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