Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Pub adjudication still not right

Among the several debates ignored by the broadcast media in favour of the anti-Trump bandwagon was one on the progress (or lack of it) on the Pubs Code. It was noticeable that no back bencher spoke against the motion tabled last Thursday by Greg Mulholland and that Margot James, the minister who replied to the debate, was defensive. The motion was passed without dissent.

Question put and agreed to.
That this House welcomes the Pubs Code established in July 2016 to deliver a fairer relationship between large tied pub companies and their licensees and to deliver the principle that the tied licensee should be no worse off than a free-of-tie licensee, introducing a Market Rent Only option for tenants, the right in certain circumstances to have an independent free-of-tie rent assessment and to pay only that sum; is dismayed that pub companies are thwarting the Code and are routinely flouting Regulation 50 that tenants who exercise, or attempt to exercise, their rights under the Code should not suffer any detriment; notes that this includes refusing to allow deeds of variation to leases, forcing tenants wanting to pursue the Market Rent Only option to agree a new lease on unfavourable terms; believes that fees being proposed for independent assessors are wholly unreasonable and that unfair additional charges are being demanded which make it unviable to pursue the Market Rent Only option; expresses strong concern that the Pubs Code Adjudicator (PCA), Paul Newby, who holds shares in, and has loans to Fleurets, which derives substantial income from the regulated pubcos, is failing to stop these practices or uphold the Code; calls on the Government to ensure that the Code works as intended and to accept the recommendation of the former Business, Innovation and Skills Committee to reopen the appointment process for the PCA; further notes that the Code does not apply in Scotland; and urges parity for Scottish tenants.

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