Mulholland ‘baffled’ by Government response to BIS Select Committee Report
Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, Greg Mulholland, has today labelled the Governments response to the Business Innovation and Skills Select Committee, baffling and illegitimate.
The Government committed to stick to the plans put in place by the BIS Select Committee in March 2010.
Given that the Government have come forward with a solution agreed only with the Pub Companies and their representative organisations, Greg has labelled the reforms ‘illegitimate’ as well as criticising the creation of a Pub Company funded mediation service, which is clearly not then independent.
“This is a quite baffling response from the Government, considering that Ministers clearly signed up to the plan put in place by BIS in March 2010, which was to legislate and rebalance the industry if the pubcos failed to reform.
“There are clear questions of ethics here. Effectively Ministers have been negotiating with one side of this long standing dispute, without the other side even knowing about it and haven’t even consulted with the majority of industry organisations about what should be in the codes of practice.
“Quite simply, coming up with a solution agreed only with the pubcos and their representative organisation makes the reforms illegitimate and the fact that the new mediation service will be pubco funded is farcical. I suspect it will not even be used by the vast majority of tenants who will see it as yet another pubco stitch-up.
“Ministers and officials have either taken the easy way out or have had the wool pulled over their eyes by the very people so criticised by the Select Committee. The response does nothing to address the fundamental point about the unfair share of turnover pubcos take from pubs, which makes it impossible for many tenants to make a living, even when their takings are at a decent level.
“Ministers have either misunderstood the problem or hoped it will go away, they are wrong. The Save the Pub Group will campaign for reform and will of course continue to push for real change and we will use all means at our disposal to do this”.
ALMR Press Notice
Championing Pubs & Bars – the Voice of the Operator
24th November – immediate
Government warned reforms are a starting point only – not the whole answer
Consultation must be driven by tenant-led approach says leading operator trade body
The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has today expressed disappointment at the news that the Government has decided not to consult on the introduction of a Statutory Code of Practice to regulate the behaviour of the major pub companies. The decision came in a formal response by the Business Secretary to the Business Innovation and Skills Select Committee Report on Pub Companies.
Kate Nicholls, ALMR Strategic Affairs Director said:
“We are obviously deeply disappointed that the Government has chosen not to follow the Select Committee’s route map to lasting, meaningful reform. We still believe that the options laid down by the Committee represent the best means to deliver that and today’s announcement can only be a partial solution.
Ministers have mapped out an alternative route but hand discussion over the content of the Code back to the industry. This is critical and it must be rapidly and significantly strengthened and enhanced if it is to become a genuine industry document. It is also key that we clarify as a matter of urgency how Company Codes – as distinct from the Industry Code – are to be monitored and enforced. Failure to do so will mean there is a very real danger that the major pub companies will face less onerous obligations than they do at present”
The Government has negotiated with the BBPA to enshrine the Industry Framework Code of Practice in law and provide low cost mediation to tied pub operators. Two new services will be set up to provide free advice to perspective lessees and a Conciliation Service for current lessees.
Kate Nicholls concluded:
“Today’s announcement can only be a starting point and – as we have consistently stated – we stand ready to work constructively with any and all parties to ensure it addresses the outstanding and substantive concerns of existing lessees which are not addressed in today’s proposals. ALMR intends to lead a debate on a tenant-driven agenda to secure what tenants want and need from a Code and an enforcement and compliance regime.
More can and needs to be done at an industry level to complete the package of reform – without that, the industry will not be able to draw a line under this most intractable of disputes and provide the much needed certainty and stability lessees need to invest, thrive and deliver the best consumer experience.”
FAIR PINT MEMBERS GUTTED AT DISGRACEFUL GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
“The Governments response today puts the final nail in the coffin for thousands of tied publicans who have been clinging on to their businesses for the last few years. The light at the end of the tunnel has been extinguished and the industry thrown back into darkness with no material changes being offered to resolve the issues suffered by the pub industry.
The Government policy to help small business is a distant memory, greed of big business prevails and once again, their executives arrogance and complaisant attitude to due process being rewarded and the small businesses and consumers having their faith in democracy shattered. The BBPA have managed to pull the wool over the Governments eyes in a last ditch effort to keep the gravy train on the tracks a little longer. Despite several urgent requests for a meeting by the Independent Pub Confederation, the Government failed to meet any of the industry or campaign groups representing tenants before cooking up their desperately inadequate response with the BBPA which is demonstrated by its one sided nature, failing to address any material issues.
It seems the Business Ministers, Vince Cable and Ed Davy, have missed the point entirely, paid lip service to the select committees recommendations, and their own promises, and effectively demonstrated that the last seven years of inquiry was a pointless and time consuming exercise. The select committee undertook an in depth detailed examination of the industry. The Government promised they would rely and act upon the committee recommendations. Today’s ineffective response amounts to a U turn on their commitments and policies. If Messrs Cable and Davy are going to make their own decisions on behalf of Government, with no inquiry of their own, regardless of the select committees recommendations, then they have demonstrated that the process of All Party Parliamentary Inquires is a waste of taxpayers money and MP’s time.
Rather than resolve the industries issues the response has merely fueled the fire of discontent, the war rages on in an industry that desperately needs material reform before it can begin to unify and rebuild once again. The future of the Great British pub remains bleak.
The prisoners are to write their own penal code, again, and have now managed to convince Government that they should be judge and jury of its implementation ! The suggestion of the BII as any kind of industry umpire will be laughable to many publicans given past performance and only supported by the parties pulling their strings. Many of those remaining Fair Pint Campaign steering group members with BII membership will be relinquishing their membership and concentrating their efforts on evolving into an effective tenant advisory service, “Fair Pint 2”, in collaboration with enlightened MP’s, like Greg Mulholland, and unconflicted industry organisations, experts and lawyers, an organisation truly independent of the pub companies and continuing the fight until the tied publicans of Great Britain are treated fairly.
All publicans should be forever grateful to the MP’s and Ministers who took the time to fully consider the naked truth of the industries problems, sadly the democratic process has severely let the pub industry down today. The Government response appears to fly in the face of select committee recommendations and undermines their very purpose which must be a huge disappointment to those members who worked so hard over the past years to come up with a sensible solutions.
The recently announced Back Bench Business Committee debate on the 6th December 2011 will be even more important now and we urge all publicans to write to the local MP’s as a matter of urgency encouraging them to condemn the Governments recent response and vote at that debate in favour of significant and material reforms that will truly make a difference to tied publicans and offer a fair and free future to the Great British pub.”