Skip to main content

Community Pubs

Volume 555: debated on Monday 17 December 2012

Within the past fortnight I have been pleased to announce £150,000 of extra funding for Pub is The Hub, which helps preserve and expand traditional rural services for pubs and helps them innovate and remain sustainable. Other support measures include the new community right to bid, the national planning policy framework and the doubling of business rate relief until 2014.

I draw the Minister’s attention to Amber Taverns, based in my constituency, which has turned around literally dozens of inner-city urban pubs facing hard times by focusing on a competitive beer price, free sport and a good environment that attracts local people. Does not that show that the pub can and does have a future?

Absolutely. I congratulate Amber Taverns on the work it is doing to support the development and enhancement of community pubs in the north of England. Such companies—there are others across the country—are clearly demonstrating that, through innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, pubs absolutely can and should continue to thrive, and indeed are thriving, in the heart of our communities. I look forward to meeting representatives of Amber Taverns and seeing their work at first hand in the near future.

Urban community pubs are also of great importance. What cross-departmental work is the Minister doing to ensure that supermarkets do not use alcohol as a loss leader?

The Prime Minister has already announced the consultation on minimum pricing for alcohol, and I am sure that he will report back on that in due course.

Talking of supermarkets, the Minister will be aware that supermarkets are deliberately targeting pubs, often sold to them by indebted pub companies, without the community having any say whatsoever. As someone who believes in the pub and in localism, he cannot accept that. Will he meet the all–party save the pub group to tell us how he plans to change that?

Surely the Minister must agree that the Government’s counter-productive austerity measures are only making matters worse. They have sucked demand out of the economy by cutting too far and too fast, exacerbating the decline of the pub trade. To make matters worse, his predecessor scrapped the community pubs initiative, which was worth £3.5 million. Does he not understand that the public want real action, not warm words and crocodile tears, from Ministers, who have abdicated their responsibility to the local communities they are supposed to serve?

I was waiting for the hon. Gentleman to talk up the great British pub, which is a superb facility for local communities, but clearly he does not share that view. When he stands up to talks about cuts, he might want to think about outlining the £52 billion of cuts Labour projected it would make in the Department, even though it is yet to support a single thing the Department has done to reduce the deficit.