Westminster legislation unlikely to be implemented north of border
By Gillian McKenzie
PUBCO reform campaigners have called on the Scottish Government to draft its own pubs code legislation after it emerged as unlikely that Westminster measures would be implemented north of the border.
Scottish pub tenants, trade groups and brewers such as Tennent’s have been lobbying the Scottish Government to ensure measures outlined in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill – including that pubcos with more than 500 outlets would have to offer a market rent only option, effectively ‘breaking’ the beer tie – apply to tied pub tenants in Scotland. The Bill currently covers premises licensed under the 2003 Licensing Act (England and Wales).
However, last week it emerged as unlikely that the measures would be brought to Scotland.
The Scottish Government said it understood that the UK government’s department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) “has no intention of seeking a legislative consent motion” – a measure which would extend the Westminster legislation to Scotland.
BIS said: “We understand that the Scottish Government is considering whether there is evidence for it to make similar intervention in Scotland.”
Campaigners have now called on the Scottish Government to draft its own pubs code legislation.
Ray Turpie, CAMRA Scottish director, said: “It is vital that the Scottish Government now presses ahead with developing its own plans to ensure that tied tenants in Scotland are afforded protection from excessive rents and beer prices charged by pub companies.”
Lynn Adams, who runs the George bar in Hamilton and is a long-standing campaigner for pubco reform, said: “Although a legislative consent motion now looks unlikely, the door is not closed.
“There is a route for us to get our own legislation separate to England and Wales; similar but tailored to fit Scottish tenants. The only down side is the length of time it might take.”
Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), said: “I think this gives the option to do something tailored to suit the Scottish market.
“We’ve got to make sure Scottish tenants have the same protection those in England will have.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “The government has met with the SLTA and CAMRA and has encouraged them to provide evidence of the need for a statutory code and pub adjudicator.
“The Westminster legislation continues to change substantially and we continue to monitor it closely for any impacts on Scotland.”