Pub tenants and small brewers celebrate as Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill passed

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The British Pub Confederation and Confederation members the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, the Campaign for Pubs, the Pubs Advisory Service and the GMB Scotland welcomed the passing of the Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill on 23rd March.

The Tied Pubs Bill gives 700 Scottish tied pub tenants the right to go free of tie, if they are unhappy with the tied arrangement offered by their pub-owning company.

The Bill, introduced and taken through the Scottish Parliament, by pro-pub MSP Neil Bibby, a Labour MSP for the West Scotland Region, gives Scottish tenants similar rights to those in England and Wales, but with a much simpler, stronger right to pursue the Market Rent Only option and go free of tie on a market rent, not one dictated by the pubco.

The Bill will now lead to the drafting and publication of a statutory Pubs Code and appointment of a Pubs Code Adjudicator. This follows a long campaign to achieve rights for those Scottish publicans who are tied, to pubcos and breweries and who have to pay well above market prices for beer and other products.

The Tied Pubs Bill will also allow Scotland’s small brewers, who at the moment are restricted from access to pubs owned by the big brewers and pubcos operating the tie, access to a larger market.

The British Pub Confederation and the Fair Deal for Your Local campaign have been campaigning for a fair deal for Scottish tenants, as well as for English and Welsh tenants, since the Fair Deal for Your Local campaign was formed in 2013 and it will continue to campaign for the Scottish Pubs Code to deliver the clear rights envisaged by the Scottish Parliament.

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”.

Chris Wright, Pubs Advisory Service and a Steering Group member of the British Pub Confederation said, “The Pubs Advisory Service is delighted to say it has prevailed once again and we wholeheartedly thank the Scottish government for listening to us and tied tenants. This Bill avoids the pitfalls of the English and Welsh code, it benchmarks the code in England and Wales.

“Tied tenants in Scotland can look forward to a profitable future under their new code”.

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