Next year, the House of Lords is set to pass what will be transformational legislation in England and Wales – an end to the tied pub model.
This change will not only free up the market for smaller businesses like ourselves to sell our products more openly, it will also give pub operators the opportunity to compete more directly and more fairly with larger pub chains.
The public are often frustrated when unable to get the beer of their choice in their local pub. They don’t understand that the landlords’ hands are very often tied. The legislative move is of crucial importance to the future of British pubs – but it will not automatically apply to Scotland. We need to change that.
A similar change in Scotland would give tenancies the freedom to buy their products at competitive prices and run their businesses far more efficiently than at present. Through time, this will allow them to provide a much better service to their customers, thereby safeguarding jobs and investment.
We urgently call on the Scottish Government to allow for a legislative consent motion, in order that Scottish pubs are not unfairly disadvantaged compared with the rest of the UK.
We are also seeking a change to Westminster’s proposal. Currently, with regards to what tenants in England and Wales can buy outside the tie, there is reference only to “guest ale”. We ask that this is changed to “guest beer”, which would allow beer, ale and lager to be included.
The brewing industry in this country is enjoying a renaissance and it seems entirely absurd that legislation in 2014 does not give the same protection to lager and beer as that offered to the ale breweries.
Across the industry, our immediate concern is safeguarding the competitiveness of produce created by Scottish producers, plus ensuring that our pub scene is as healthy – and as attractive to the public – as possible. However, in order for this to happen, we need immediate dialogue between the Scottish Government and Westminster. Scotland’s licensed industry is crying out for change, allowing quality, locally produced beer to gain a foothold in regional markets, which we are currently excluded from due to major distributor stocking policies.
This will result in a far more interesting and profitable line-up of beers for entrepreneurial leaseholders – a good thing for producers, publicans and, ultimately, the public.
Tennent Caledonian Breweries
Harviestoun Craft Beers
Petra M Wetzel
Scottish Licensed Trade Association