Tuesday, January 17, 2012

IPC press statement 17.01.12



The Independent Pub Confederation (IPC) – an important umbrella organisation for publicans, consumers and small brewers – today warned Ministers not to deviate from the action plan laid out by MPs in a debate on pub companies in the House of Commons last week, if they wanted to secure the future of thousands of individual small businesses.

After 7 years and 4 Inquiries into the imbalance of power between pub companies and their lessees, the Select Committee rightly recommended that the Government fulfil its promise to consult on the content and legal status of a Code of Practice, and recommended this include anoption for tenants to be freed from the beer tie and introduce an independent adjudicator.

This was rejected by the Government, which instead accepted alternative proposals for self-regulation presented by the pub companies. These proposals were not endorsed by any member of the IPC and had not been shared in full with key stakeholders responsible for delivering them. A Freedom of Information Act request by LibDem MP and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, Greg Mulholland revealed that the Government’s response to the Select Committee’s recommendations had been to cut and paste – including typographical errors – from a report by the BBPA.

This dismissal out of hand of the authoritative, exhaustive and well thought through report by the Select Committee was roundly condemned by MPs from all sides in last week’s debate. MPs unanimously agreed a motion calling on the Government to continue to monitor the behaviour of pub companies and to review progress to deliver a robust self regulatory framework by autumn 2012.

In a separate letter to all stakeholders, Ed Davey MP, Minister for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs, makes clear that he expects the BBPA to enter into meaningful dialogue to address the issues of concern to lessees, including rent setting, AWP machines and exclusive purchase agreements. The IPC wrote to the BBPA offering to meet to discuss its agenda for reform in September 2011 – a reply has yet to be received.

Bill Sharp, Chairman of the IPC, said:

“All of our members – and the public at large – have a right to be very angry at the approach taken by Mr Davey. The Select Committee’s recommendations were not taken lightly and were the result of a very thorough investigation. They would – if adopted – lead the way to much needed change in pub sector and to the survival of many more of our local pubs.

“The IPC has always said it stands ready to engage constructively with all parties to deliver a final, lasting solution to the problems which have bedevilled our sector for so long. Unfortunately, our experience is that nothing will happen unless there is political pressure to deliver it and that is why the Parliament-backed review in Autumn 2012 is so vital. What we need now is a clear statement from the Minister setting out how he intends to work with the Select Committee to commission that review, its remit and timetable for action. Only then will individual lessees know that Ed Davey MP is concerned about their position too.”

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