Friday, 13 January 2012

Public Houses: lobbying group coup outrage

Greg Mulholland, Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, reacted angrily to the revelation that the Department of Business's response to a critical Select Committee report on pub ownership was largely "cut-and-pasted" from a paper provided by BBPA, the body representing the pub companies. He said:

"The Freedom of Information request put in by the Save the Pub Group has been extremely revealing, not least in confirming our concerns that the Government's response stemmed from secret negotiations with the pubcos representative organisation, the British Beer and Pub Association and the pub companies themselves.
"However, much more seriously, it is now become apparent that the Government response is basically British Beer & Pub Association's (BBPA) own report, with some passages and so called commitments cut and pasted word for word. So, in reality, the so called Government response in actually the pubcos response, which is appalling.
"There are also serious questions about the way BIS officials have worked with the BBPA. The fact that BIS officials were assisting the BBPA in writing their press release on the 31st October, just five weeks after the Select Committee report and three weeks ahead of the Government's response, really demonstrates the way in which so called 'Government solution' was put together".
"The claim that this is an industry agreed solution is nonsense; it has become clear that despite the claims of the BBPA that the report had been agreed by partners, including the GMV and the ALMR, this was not the case. The Save the Pub Group have had confirmation from both the GMV and the ALMR that they never approved a final report. The BBPA therefore appear to have sought to mislead the Minister then BIS officials have not even checked this, merely included it in their report. That is a shoddy way of working."

Greg was joined in his condemnation by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Labour's Kate Hoey. He concluded:
"The Save the Pub Group still believe that the only solution that will deal with the fundamental imbalance between pubco and licensee is a genuine free of tie option with open market rent review. Only this would stop the pubcos taking more than is fair or sustainable from pubs. Without this licensees will continue to fail and pubs that need not close will close. Sadly the Government's BBPA inspired response will do nothing to address that"

The House of Commons sided with the Save The Pub group in a lively debate yesterday. CAMRA gave a running commentary on the debate here.

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