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Pubs Code

Volume 652: debated on Tuesday 8 January 2019

3. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the pubs code and the Pubs Code Adjudicator. (908430)

We will be undertaking a statutory review of the effectiveness of the pubs code and the Pubs Code Adjudicator. I welcome the recent publication by the adjudicator of arbitration decisions, which will increase transparency in relation to how the code is working in practice.

At a recent meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on pubs, we heard from many tenants who had attempted to avail themselves of the “market rent only” option under the pubs code, but whose attempts had been frustrated. Will the review to which the Minister has referred involve a full and open consultation to which members of the public will be able to contribute, and which we will all be able to read afterwards?

I recognise the hon. Gentleman’s commitment to this issue. We are currently working out how we will carry out the review, and, under statutory regulation, we need to do that until the end of March. Of course we understand some of the concerns that have been raised by people who have been affected; we will take account of their views, and I will ensure that those views are heard.

As the Minister will know, in the case of tenanted pubs the rent is partly set according to the volume of beer sold. However, there is a long-standing grievance about a discrepancy between the amount of drinkable beer in a cask and the volume of the cask itself. Will the Minister meet me—and some of my constituents, who are deeply concerned about the issue—to discuss the “72 pints” campaign?

We recognise that a number of issues affect the pubs community. The Government have taken some important measures relating to beer duty and business rates to help pubs, but I should be happy to meet the hon. Lady and her constituents to discuss the position.

Between April and September 2018, 33 pubs a week closed and were either demolished or converted to homes or offices. The pub industry is in free fall, and communities are suffering as they see their vital community hubs diminished. What strategy, if any, have the Government to secure a long-term sustainable future for the industry?

The Government have taken action to secure the future of pubs. We have frozen beer duty, with the result that a regular pint of beer is 2p cheaper than it would have been if we had increased the duty in line with inflation. We have offered the business rate discount to retail properties, and we estimate that 75% of pubs will be eligible for it. That has cut pubs’ bills by a third for two years. We recognise the importance of pubs to our local communities, and we are taking action. For instance, as I have said, we will be reviewing the pubs code and the success of the Pubs Code Adjudicator.