The Forum of Private Business is calling for a full public consultation ahead of what could be the final chance to convince the Government to rethink. Next Tuesday, Employment Minister Edward Davey will appear before the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) committee to explain the Government’s decision to allow even more self-regulation in the pub industry via a ‘strengthened’ framework code of practice.
Blood, sweat and tears
“This is a travesty,” said the Forum’s senior policy advisor Phil McCabe. “The only way to rectify the situation is a full public consultation into the pub industry so they can clearly communicate their wishes to the Government.
“It is British publicans who are the most important people in this industry. Every day they shed blood, sweat and tears to try to make their businesses work, often in the face of serious, restrictive treatment at the hands of pub companies - and yet their voices have largely gone unheard.
“There is no point in passing any code of conduct into law unless it is what publicans want and it affords them proper protection.”
Fair Pint Action Group and Camra
The Forum is supported in its views by other bodies in the pub industry including the BBPA, the Fair Pint Action Group and the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).
“It seems incredible that in a dispute between parties only one is consulted,” said the Fair Pint Action Group. “This could so easily have been resolved by the introduction of a free of tie option with an open market rent forcing tied agreements to be competitive instead of weapons of mass destruction.”
Earlier in the week Camra was also critical of the Government’s decision. The group’s chief executive Mike Benner said: “The Government has been cavalier in rejecting the recommendations of the Business Select Committee and instead putting its faith in the ability of the very pub companies accused of malpractice to finally put their house in order.
“The lack of any formal public consultation on this package of measures is truly remarkable and suggests a failure of Government to listen to all interested parties including the consumer.
The final chance
The BIS committee’s oral evidence session is the conclusion of the fourth select committee inquiry into the industry in seven years, all of which have all uncovered serious imbalances in the risks and rewards of becoming a publican. Yet despite repeated failures, the Government is again allowing the industry to police itself.
The session takes place on Tuesday 6 December at 10.30am. Watch this space.