Speaking at the Business in Sport & Leisure Annual Conference in London last week, Toby Perkins was asked to predict what the Government will do when it makes an announcement on the issue, expected later this year.
Perkins said the Government “is increasingly seeing itself as the Government of big business”, as the “defender of the big six energy companies” and failing to take sufficient action on bankers’ bonuses.
Statutory code will fall short
Regarding pubcos, he said: “What I suspect is, the Government will introduce a code of some sort, underpinned by statute, and I think there will be steps forward in terms of the adjudicator.
“I think it’ll fall short of what many people in the industry think is required, which is a genuine free market where publicans are able to decide where they buy their beer and who they buy it from [and] hopefully making sure every tenant has the opportunity to have a market rent-only option. I suspect it will go so far, but no further.”
The MP for Chesterfield reiterated his criticism of what he called the “broken pubco model”, and said reform was “key”.
“I hope the Government keeps its promise and actually delivers the change that licensees need and deserve: a non-tied option for publicans was one of the key changes the [Business, Innovation & Skills Select Committee] called for. We need to make sure that the changes necessary go through.”
However, he said that Labour has “no plan to outlaw the beer tie”.
Perkins also said there was a need to “review the balance of taxation”, and “further steps to reduce the gap between the on-trade and the off-trade need to be considered”.
He said the recent cut in beer duty did not compensate for the coalition’s move to raise VAT to 20%.
Separately, Perkins has outlined '3 ways Labour could help pubs' in an article for the LabourList blog