A number of constituents wrote to me seeking changes to the law to make life easier for pub tenants. The government Bill this week did take some steps to help, and I supported the government. The Commons decided it did not go far enough and put through a further amendment based on some of the points many of us had put to the government on behalf of constituents. Following that the government has sent me the following changes it now intends to put through to reflect the views expressed inside and out side Parliament:
“Colleagues with an interest in pubs may be interested to know that, following discussions, the Government will be amending its approach to Part 4 of the Small Business Bill on the Pubs Code.
Concerns had been raised that the measures in the Bill inadvertently bring small family brewers into statutory regulation, when they are not the cause of difficulties tenants face. Other concerns had also been raised that we were not giving tenants of large pub companies the ability to get a fair deal by running their pub without the tie.
We are therefore proposing the following.
First, all pub companies with fewer than 350 tied pubs will now be excluded from the Statutory Code altogether. This means almost all the family Brewers, except for the biggest, will not be subject to the Statutory Code and only three further Brewers would be brought in.
Secondly, for the eight large pub companies with over 350 tied pubs, we will take a power to introduce a Market Rent only option. A Market Rent only option would allow tenants to choose to go free of tie. This power would only be permitted after 2 years if, after a review, the measures already in the Bill are found to be ineffective. Any exercise of this power would be by affirmative resolution of the House.
The result of the second change is that large pub companies would need to act on all the other measures in the Bill. If they don’t act to tackle the widely reported problems in two years, then the Government can bring in a full Market Rent only option.