Pubs code Bill is introduced

Consultation underway on proposal from Labour MSP

• Top billing: Waterson, Bibby and CAMRA’s Ray Turpie at the launch of the proposed Bill.

LABOUR MSP Neil Bibby is attempting to bring a Scottish pubs code a step closer with the proposal of a new draft Member’s Bill.
The proposed Tied Pubs (Code and Adjudicator) (Scotland) Bill would aim to offer pub company tenants similar measures to those provided by the pubs code in England and Wales, including scope to opt out of the beer tie.
A consultation on the proposed Bill launched last week.

“This proposal is about fairness, choice and jobs,” said Bibby.
“Fairness for Scotland’s publicans, greater choice for pub customers, and an opportunity to protect and create jobs in Scotland’s pub and brewing industry.
“Scottish pub tenants should have the ability to opt out of the tied arrangements if they wish.
“Access to a fair and reasonable market rent for premises, without strings attached, should be a right for Scottish publicans.

“They will then be free to source and purchase products as they see fit, on the same basis as other pubs in Scotland, and pubs in England and Wales.”
The proposal has been backed by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) and CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) as well as workers’ union, the GMB.
SLTA chief executive Paul Waterson said it’s “crucial the government takes action to protect tenants”.
“The SLTA and many others from within the brewing industry have been campaigning for the government to legislate progressively on this issue for a number of years, and we hope that Neil’s Bill will add further weight to our collective position on the matter,” said Waterson.

CAMRA national chairman Colin Valentine added that he expects the consultation “will paint a picture of pubs struggling to survive across Scotland”.
He added that the Scottish Government’s “inaction on this issue is letting the pubs sector down”.
The proposed Bill comes after the first stage of a Scottish Government study into the tied pubs market in Scotland, released late last year, reported that tied pubs in Scotland are not significantly disadvantaged compared to independent operators.

Both the SLTA and CAMRA have taken issue with the study.