PCA appointment rethink backed by Parliament

By Liam Coleman contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pressure: parliament backs motion on rethink in the PCA appointment process
Pressure: parliament backs motion on rethink in the PCA appointment process

Related tags: British pub confederation, House of lords, Parliament of the united kingdom, Member of parliament

Parliament has delivered a further blow to Paul Newby by backing a motion calling on the Government to "reopen the appointment process for the PCA (pubs code adjudicator)".

The motion, tabled by chair of the British Pub Confederation Greg Mulholland and MPs Iain Wright and Chris White, was ultimately backed by fellow MPs at the end of a 100-minute review of what has been seen in the six months since the pubs code became law.

As well as calling on the Government to reconsider the appointment of Newby as PCA, the 248-word motion stated that the House of Commons "is dismayed that pub companies are thwarting the code" because pubcos are "refusing to allow deeds of variation to leases, forcing tenants wanting to pursue the market-rent-only (MRO) option to agree a new lease on unfavourable terms".

Government minister for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Margot James admitted that she felt that pubcos were "flouting the code".

"We have heard allegations of ongoing abuse by pub companies during this debate. Tenants seeking the MRO option are being undermined by tactics being deployed by the pub companies, which threaten to make the pursuit of MRO unviable – in direct contravention to the code.

"There are clearly, I would suggest, instances of flouting the code going on and honourable members are quite right to bring them forward to the house. They are what the code is designed to root out and I would advise honourable members to the PCA," she told parliament.

Government backing

However, James, the Conservative MP for Stourbridge, ultimately reiterated the Government's line backing Newby as pubs code adjudicator. "We believe that he is the right person to ensure the pubs code delivers its statutory objectives and we think he has got off to a good start in the course of his responsibilities.

"As the secretary of state explained to the BEIS select committee on 14 December, the appointment process was run in full accordance with the code of practice for ministerial appointments to public bodies. It was a proper and rigorously followed process and the panel concluded that Mr Newby had no conflicts of interest that would call into question his ability to do the job."

Duck comparison

Regardless of the Government backing for Newby, the MPs taking part in the debate backed the motion calling for his appointment to be reconsidered.

Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland, who brought the motion before parliament in the first instance, concluded the debate, saying: "You have heard today that the position of Mr Paul Newby is untenable. He cannot perform this role and simply will never have the confidence of tenants.

"If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it is a duck. Well frankly he's a dead duck but he's worse than that. He is a duck that is in real danger of compromising, skewing and watering down everything the Government tried to do in the pubs code and what the pubs code stood for.

"All the people that the British Pub Confederation is representing in cases oppose Mr Newby, have no confidence in him and he will have to go. It will happen; it depends on if we see leadership from the Government or whether this has to drag on for another six months or a year, but this will not go away."

Related topics: Legislation

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