Further twist in the beer tie debate

By Gillian McKenzie

ITS removal has been the end-goal for pubco reform campaigners for many years.
Pub companies, on the other hand, say scrapping it will hamper investment and damage pubs.
The beer tie has certainly divided opinion.
And there was a further twist in the debate last week when it emerged that it is unlikely proposed Westminster legislation, which would effectively free up the tie for pub tenants in England and Wales, would be implemented north of the border. The Scottish Government said it understood that Westminster’s department of Business Innovation and Skills “has no intention of seeking a legislative consent motion”, which would have extended the legislation to Scotland.
It’s not the outcome many Scottish tenants were expecting. They have been lobbying the Scottish Government on the issue since May 2013 when a proposed statutory code of practice for large pubcos was drafted and it became clear the measures would only apply to premises in England and Wales; their campaign intensified late last year when MPs backed the introduction of a ‘market rent only’ option to the Bill, effectively freeing up the tie.
News that the Westminster legislation is unlikely to be implemented here means the Scottish Government could now draft its own legislation – a situation it may prefer given the desire for greater powers.
But the legislative process takes time.
For now, it seems the beer tie debate is far from over.