Posted: 1 May, 2013 at 10:07 am
John Healey has backed a crackdown on pub companies by signing a Parliamentary motion.
He has also written to Business Secretary Vince Cable urging him to stop delaying and take immediate action against high rents and product prices.
He said in the letter: “Major reform is needed. As many as 16 pubs close every week, and there is widespread acceptance that the industry is too skewed towards the big pub companies and away from pub goers, tenants and lessees.”
Until now the government have said they wanted regulation to remain voluntary.
Mr Healey said the move was welcome but “long overdue” and called on Dr Cable to act quickly.
“There has been enough talk about the damage unscrupulous pub companies are doing to our pubs, now the time has come to act and I hope you will do so,” he went on.
The former minister for pubs has long campaigned for the government to bring in new laws to make the relationship between pub companies and tenants more flexible.
He spoke during a Parliamentary debate in January 2012 that concluded the government’s proposals for pub industry reform were too weak and a statutory code of practice was necessary to help “tied” pubs.
Mr Healey told the House of Commons: “The government have just swallowed the pub companies’ argument and turned their backs on tenants who often get such a bad deal that it is almost impossible for them to make a decent living.”
He said Rotherham landlord Ian Wild, who runs the Robin Hood pub in Aughton, was finding his business being “throttled” by the terms of his tenancy with Enterprise Inns.
He told MPs: “He tried to arrange with Enterprise Inns to buy his cask ales free of tie. He was told it would be £10,000 to £15,000 negotiable but was then told, three days later, it would be £20,000 non-negotiable. He asked for that to be put in writing but was refused. He was then told that the agreement would be for one of his cask ales, not all five, and that it would be not a one-off payment but an annual payment.”
The brewing and pubs industry employs more than 1,300 people in the Wentworth & Dearne constituency and adds £22m to the local economy.