Speaking at the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) annual Parliamentary Reception last night, Lewis praised the organisation for hitting its target of getting 300 pubs ACV-listed and urged his colleagues in Parliament to keep the “absolutely exemplary” campaign going.
“I give [CAMRA] huge credit and congratulations on getting to the milestone of 300. The target by the end of the year is to see that not just eclipse but completely dwarf,” he said.
“I will continue to remind local authorities that there are powers that they can use to protect these very important local assets. Getting pubs listed is easy – it needs just 21 people - and we should be encouraging areas to do it.”
Addressing the fellow MPs in attendance, he added: “We can also play our part as Members of Parliament by encouraging local communities to get those pubs of value listed. It’s just that extra bit of protection and confidence that that pub can be there and remain as a community asset.”
'Heartbeat of the community'
He reminded attendees that each pub is worth £100,000, on average, to its local community and the industry as a whole employs around one million people.
“They are the absolute heartbeat of the community,” he said.
Host Greg Mulholland, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, also voiced his support for the ACV initiative but said the Government can still do more for pubs and British beer in the remaining time it has left before the next general election in May 2015.
“We must hold this Government to its clear promise – and it was a promise made in January 2013 - that it would legislate to introduce a statutory code of practice for the large pub companies who have 500 or more pubs,” he said.
He also asked ministers in the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to close planning loopholes that allow pubs to be sold to supermarkets “behind the backs of a community” and urged the Chancellor for another beer duty freeze in this year’s Budget.