STALYBRIDGE and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds has backed measures that should deliver a fairer deal for pubs.
Under the current system landlords sign a deal with pub owning companies – so-called ‘pubcos’ - which can compel them to pay rent and to buy supplies from them, as well as purchase financial and other services too.
There have been claims that the prices charged for goods and services by some pubcos can be disproportionately high, with data suggesting that 57% of landlords who are tied to a large pubco earn less than £10,000 a year.
And the practice has been largely blamed for the significant number of pubs that close every week.
However the amended Small Business Bill – which was debated by Parliament on November 18 - gives licensees the option of going free of tie.
And it is expected that this measure would have a significant impact on the viability of pubs nationwide.
“Pubs continue to be at the heart of our communities – but across the country there are 27 are closing every week,” said Mr Reynolds, who conducted his own survey of local pub landlords last year.
“Clearly one of the biggest pressures facing landlords is the unbalanced nature of the relationship they have with pubcos.
“So, I was pleased to be able to support the new clause to the Small Business Bill, which gives licensees the option of going free of tie.
“I believe that giving landlords this greater independence will mean the large pubcos will offer fairer terms to their licensees, which will safeguard the future of more of our pubs.”
The Labour Party has been calling for greater protection for pubs and for an end to the restrictive practices by pubcos since the publication of a report into the industry by the BIS Select Committee in 2010.
Members have campaigned alongside a broad coalition of groups in the industry including the Federation of Small Businesses, the Forum of Private Business, CAMRA, FairPint, the GMB and UNITE.
And they are delighted that – despite government opposition – the new clause to the Small Business Bill was accepted, by 284 votes to 269.
Following the parliamentary debate, Labour’s Shadow Pubs Minister Toby Perkins said: “Labour has led calls for a proper statutory code with teeth on pub companies, giving tenants the protection they need and putting an end to the unfair treatment they’ve received from large pub companies.
“Our plans have won support from a broad coalition of campaigners including CAMRA, the Federation of Small Business, trade unions and the cross-party BIS Select Committee.
“Ministers must now act immediately to ensure there is a proper statutory code with a free-of-tie option to protect local pubs, and must not ignore the will of the House of Commons, after their desperate and shambolic attempts to stave off defeat have failed.”