Speaking exclusively at the Tenanted Pub Company Summit, Bailey made it clear that the issue would not go away as there is still enormous cross-party concern, and warned that the feeling among MPs is so strong that the whole pubco debate could become a general election issue.
However, he said: “I have no personal objection if self-regulation is demonstrated to work. If the industry can make it work and if my committee is satisfied that it is working it will not recommend any further action.
“But the ball is firmly in the industry’s court to demonstrate to Parliament that it can deliver.”
The BISC recommended that there should be statutory legislation and an adjudicator to manage the pubco-tenant relationship, after a robust investigation at the end of last year.
However, the Government agreed a deal with the British Beer & Pub Association for a self-regulation route, which included the strengthening of the Industry Framework Code, the formation of the Pubs Independent Conciliation & Arbitration Service, to adjudicate on non-rental disputes between pubcos and tenants, and the formation of a Pubs Advisory Service to aid new entrants to the trade.
Bailey warned: “While the industry has been given time to sort itself out, Parliament is watching and will not hesitate to take up the issue again. The committee has not held four inquiries and sat for days with witnesses making recommendations and responding to the Government over the years for nothing. We want to see the problems within the industry solved.”
He said that if the Grocery Adjudicator Bill, which is passing though Parliament, proves successful, then this could provide a potential model to be used as a solution for the pub trade.
Bailey said he regretted that the Parliamentary debate that took place in January, which received unanimous support for statutory regulation from MPs, was re-jected by the Government.
However, this could give the Government a “bloody nose” he predicted.
“The Government’s high-handed approach has actually reinforced some of the strong opinion in Parliament about the way the Government has dealt with this.”
He went on to accuse the Government of acting in a “cavalier manner”.