EASTBOURNE MP Stephen Lloyd MP has spoken out against the government’s plan to reform the pub industry.
A settlement agreed in December between the government and the large pub chain trade bodies, aimed at encouraging legally binding self-regulation in the sector, has been widely criticised.
After a debate in the House of Commons last Thursday, MPs forced the government to rethink their plans and set up an independent inquiry into the regulation of large pub companies – ‘pubcos’ – in a bid to curb pressure on struggling publicans.
MPs also called for an industry-wide statutory code of practice with an option for publicans to be free of being tied to ‘pubcos’ alongside an open market review of rent, all overseen by an independent body.
Mr Lloyd opened his speech by saying, “In Eastbourne, when people ask where I live, I say, ‘Just up the road from The Lamb’, and everyone knows where I mean.
“That is just a small way of illustrating how valuable pubs are across the UK.”
Mr Lloyd went on to call for better regulation in the industry.
He said, “Thousands of publicans across Britain are being put under significant financial pressure by the ‘beer tie’ which is an agreement by which the publican buys beer, and sometimes other products, from the owner of the pub, usually above the market rate, and pays cheaper rent in return.
“The theory being it provides a cheaper way of entering the market for someone who wants to open a pub.
“However, because some of those absolutely deplorable conglomerates got themselves into such a mess financially, because they were so heavily in debt, they then lean on their tenants to a quite disgraceful degree, and lift the rents hugely.
“I’m not talking about the family brewers who have a superb reputation with their pubs, like our own Harvey’s in Sussex, but the huge ‘pubcos’ who own literally thousands of pubs across the UK.
“It’s time we forced them to play fair with their tenants so the industry can have a viable future.”