Pubs are once again set to come under Government scrutiny, as the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee announced that its next inquiry would be on pub companies.
The inquiry will examine the recommendations made by the predecessor Committee in March 2010.
The Committee said it would focus on the question of whether the problems raised in the Parliamentary inquiries of 2004, 2009 and 2010 have been resolved or whether statutory regulation is required.
Topics to be considered include:
• If the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and Independent Pub Confederation (IPC) are now in dialogue and if so how this is progressing
• Whether the pub companies' individual Codes of Practice are robust enough and whether the major pub companies have built upon the de-minimus requirements of the BBPA's Framework Code
• If the Codes of Practice are being complied with
• How the BII is policing the codes and whether this is effective
• The enforceability of the codes
• If AWP machines are now being treated more fairly and tenants are being given a genuinely free of tie option
• The treatment of flow monitoring equipment
• The advice being provided by BBPA to prospective publicans
• The effectiveness of the new RICS guidance on pub rental valuations and whether it provides clarity on the principle that a tied tenant should be no worse off than a free of tie tenant by defining what constitutes a countervailing benefit
• The creation of an industry benchmarking survey
• The availability and effectiveness of complaints procedures and an independent disputes mechanism
• The availability of genuine free of tie options - ie, an open market rent review under RICS new guidelines, ability to buy beer from any source
• The guidance from BII on the type of pub leases available and what the options mean in reality to prospective lessees. This includes free of tie, tied pricing and discounts as well as the business support countervailing benefits available.
Adrian Bailey MP, chair of the Business Innovation and Skills Committee, said: "Our predecessor Committee made clear that this was the last chance for the pub companies to 'get their house in order'. Our inquiry intends to find out if they have."
"The British pub is an important institution, which not only provides a social meeting place but also plays an important cohesive function in many communities. We do not want to see any more pubs closing unnecessarily."
The Committee called for written evidence in connection with the inquiry to be sent in by Monday 20 June 2011. Submissions in MS Word or rich text format of no more than 2,000 words should be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Neil Gerrard
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