MPs will debate the merits of introducing a statutory code of practice to govern the relationship between pubcos and their tenants in the House of Commons today.
The debate will centre on a motion lodged by Adrian Bailey MP, chair of Westminster’s Business, Innovations and Skills select committee, which contends that the government’s response to its latest report on pubcos “will not resolve the contractual problems between pub companies and their lessees”.
The government angered tenant lobbyists late last year when it resisted calls by the BIS committee for the code to be made statutory and for an end to the beer tie. Instead the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills committed to a range of reforms, including a move to make the code legally binding and the creation of a Pub Independent Conciliation and Arbitration Service.
Today’s debate comes after business minister Ed Davey was criticised for his appearance before the BIS committee to discuss the government’s response on December 6, during which he is said to have disclosed that the pubcos had been involved in shaping the recommendations while tenant groups had been excluded.
Lynn Adams, the tenant of the George Bar in Hamilton who has been leading calls in Scotland for pubco reform, said Davey had been “caught with his trousers down” over the issue. “He hasn’t taken legal advice independently – he’s just listened to the BBPA (British Beer and Pub Association), which is really just the union for the pubcos, as people see it.”
Ann McKechin, Labour MP for Glasgow North and a member of the BIS committee, also claimed that the government had failed in its obligation to consult Scotland Office lawyers over how its recommendations would affect tenants north of the border.