Page last updated at 17:40 GMT, Thursday, 12 January 2012

MPs call for urgent action to tackle pub closures

MPs have urged the government to tackle the closure of pubs around the country by introducing a statutory code of practice for the pub industry.

Members from all sides of the chamber used a backbench business debate on 12 January 2012 to put pressure on ministers to change the way pubs are run.

Opening the debate, Adrian Bailey said that there was "something profoundly wrong within the industry".

The chair of the business, innovation and skills committee cited the relationship between pub licensees and the companies that own the establishments.

The current, voluntary, code of practice that governed the relationship between them was, he said, "heavily weighted in favour of the pub company".

Mr Bailey said a statutory code would allow the "liberation of licensees" and allow them to "demonstrate their talents" as small business owners.

Conservative Brian Binley criticised the government's proposals for a legally binding voluntary code and spoke against the "unsustainable financial structures" of large pub companies.

"If we want a virile and vibrant pub industry, we need to deal with the cancer which is undermining it and bringing its very existence into threat," Mr Binley said.

Labour's Ian Lucas told MPs that "beer ties" - when landlords are forced to buy beer from pub owners - were part of the problem and said that ministers had the power to make "a real impact" on Britain's high streets".

Tofaen MP Paul Murphy agreed, asserting that pubs played "a tremendous part" in pubic life.

But the Burton on Trent MP Andrew Griffiths, who chairs the all party parliamentary beer group, said introducing a statutory code would not stop the closure of pubs.

"Don't for one minute think that if today this motion is passed and the government introduced the statutory code, that it would solve the industry's problems because it blatantly wouldn't," he told the chamber.

Edward Davey, responding for the government, told MPs that ministers' action on pubs was "appropriate and effective".

The business minister said the government had not drawn up legislation because it wanted to act "now, not in two or three years' time".

"What we've delivered instead is a self-regulatory regime that's so much stronger than in the past," he told MPs.

The motion was approved by MPs without a vote.

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