Campaign for Pubs

The Campaign for Pubs toasts the unanimous passing of the Tied Pubs Bill to herald in a new era of fairness for Scotland’s tied pub tenants

The Campaign for Pubs, the grassroots campaign group representing pubs, publicans and pub-goers has toasted the unanimous passing, by the Scottish Parliament, of the Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill which will bring in a statutory Pubs Code and the right to a Market Rent Only (free-of-tie) option for tied Scottish pub tenants.

The Bill, introduced and taken through the Scottish Parliament, by pro-pub MSP Neil Bibby, a Labour MSP for the West Scotland Region, will at last give Scottish tenants similar rights to those in England and Wales, but with a much simpler, stronger right to pursue the Market Rent Only option. The Campaign for Pubs, as part of a coalition of supportive organisations backing the Bill, wrote to all MSPs calling on them to support the Bill and herald in a new era of fairness for Scotland’s pub tenants.

The unanimous passing of the Bill follows a long campaign, which began in earnest in October 2013, when Campaign for Pubs Campaign Director Greg Mulholland led a Fair Deal for Your Local campaign visit to the Scottish Parliament and met with supportive MSPs and met the then Minister, Fergus Ewing MSP calling for the changes.

The tied model, as operated by the large pub-owning companies who own over 700 Scottish pubs, means tenants being charged hugely above market prices for beer, on top of rent, meaning that many tied publicans aren’t able to take a fair share from their pubs profit, often leading to publicans earning less than minimum wage. The Tied Pubs Bill will allow tenants to opt-out of tied deals that aren’t working to allow them to make a fair living from their pub. It will also give publicans more choice over the drinks they stock, which will also be very positive for Scotland’s small brewers, who at the moment are restricted from access to pubs owned by the big brewers and pubcos operating the tie.

The Bill will now lead to the drafting and publication of a statutory Pubs Code for Scotland and appointment of a Scottish pubs code adjudicator. The Campaign for Pubs and the British Pub Confederation will continue to campaign for the Scottish Pubs Code to deliver the clear rights envisaged by the Scottish Parliament, something that didn’t happen with the Pubs code for England and Wales, which was watered down behind closed doors. The organisations will also continue to campaign for a genuinely independent Scottish Pubs Code Adjudicator, again, something that didn’t happen with the England and Wales PCA.

Morag Douglas, Campaign for Pubs Spokesperson for Scotland and the licensee of the Star Pub in Burntisland, Fife said:

“It’s excellent news that the Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill has been passed in the Scottish Parliament, to give tied tenants protection from unfair tied beer prices charged by pubcos and big breweries. It’s hard enough for many pubs to make a profit when buying beer on the open market, never mind being forced to pay sky high tied prices, so this is a simple but important step forward for Scotland’s tied pubs.

“The Campaign for Pubs want to see more pubs in the hands of those who run them, as well as Scotland’s excellent small brewers and Scottish communities.  Following this important decision in the Scottish Parliament, we need to see similarly sensible decisions and measures for all pubs, to all pubs to re-open properly as soon as they can, to ensure that the Scotland’s pubs can survive the pandemic and be around to serve their communities for years to come”.

Commenting, Greg Mulholland, Campaign Director of the Campaign for Pubs and Chair of the British Pub Confederation said:

“It’s great news for Scottish tenants and small brewers that the Scottish Parliament has backed the Tied Pubs Bill to give Scottish pub tenants statutory protection from exploitation and the right to go free-of-tie, if their pub-owning company’s tied model isn’t fair.

“We commend Neil for his leadership on this issue and his passion and determination to get this into law in Scotland. Ever since the Pubs Code and a Market Rent Only option were introduced in England and Wales, there has been a need for action to protect Scottish tenants, but what is very pleasing is that the Tied Pubs Bill has learnt from some of the failures of the legislation in England and has looked at introducing a much simpler and clearer right to the all-important Market Rent Only option, the simple right to go free of tie, if tied arrangements and prices are not fair and reasonable”.

“The Campaign for Pubs and British Pub Confederation have been delighted to support Neil and his office and to work with the SLTA, the Pubs Advisory Service, CAMRA, the GMB and the Scottish Cooperative Party, as well as supportive MSPs from different parties. This has been a victory for publicans, pro-pub campaigners and people power”.