MSP Neil Bibby’s draft proposal, lodged on 16 February 2017, is for a bill to establish a pubs code in Scotland to govern the relationship between tenants of tied pubs and their owners, and an adjudicator to enforce the code.
Yesterday, (8 February) the party said it had hit a "major milestone" after securing cross-party support for the bill - which is intended to give tied pub tenants in Scotland "statutory protection, with restrictions eased on the range of drinks they can stock".
According to the party, the bill is backed by a broad coalition including the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, the Campaign for Real Ale, GMB Scotland, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Scottish Tourism Alliance, the Pubs Advisory Service and many small brewers.
However, in response, Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “This proposed bill seeks to replicate legislation in England & Wales which is completely unsuitable and financially unfeasible for Scotland, seeking a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
“Only 17% of pubs are under a leased and tenanted arrangement here in Scotland, compared to 40% across the rest of the UK.
"It simply doesn’t work to compare like-for-like in this case, especially considering that the financial burden of this costly legislation would be met by a levy on a tiny minority of pubs. Furthermore, there is already in place a system of self-regulation in Scotland which safeguards tenants right and came into force less than two years ago."
Last year a comprehensive independent report by the Scottish Government found that no part of the pub sector in Scotland was unfairly disadvantaged over another.
"Any reform should be evidence-based, and evidence to back these proposed changes is noticeably absent," continued Simmonds.
"If the bill is passed, all the evidence shows that it will cost jobs, hurt small business owners, reduce entrepreneurship opportunities and see Scotland’s pubs lose-out on much needed investment.
“We are strongly urging Neil Bibby to rethink this proposal and instead focus on helping to secure meaningful support for all 4,900 pubs in Scotland, not just the 17% that the current bill is unfairly aimed at.
“We believe further dialogue between trade bodies, Government and other interested parties is now needed. We look forward to the forthcoming stakeholder meeting convened by the Scottish Government Minister to discuss these bill proposals in the round with other areas of real interest and concern to the industry at this time.”