Last week in the Scottish Parliament I asked why tied pub regulation should be stronger in England than in Scotland and why consumer choice would be less in Scotland than in England.

This is an issue that many organisations including the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, the Campaign for Real Ale, the Society of Independent Brewers, the Campaign for Pubs, the Pubs Advisory Service, GMB Scotland and the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland as well as many of Scotland’s publicans want to see statutory protection for tied pubs in Scotland. Many of them are asking me why the majority of MSPs on the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee oppose the same legal protections for tied pubs in Scotland, their Westminster colleagues voted for in England and Wales. They cannot understand why only a minority of MSPs have chosen to follow the weight of the Committee evidence, which clearly shows there is broad support for statutory intervention in the sector.

This Bill will give tied pub tenants much-needed protections in law to help stop large pub-owning businesses from taking more than is fair or sustainable from their profits.

Similar laws to give these protections to publicans in England and Wales were passed at Westminster with cross-party support from Scotland’s MPs. It does not seem right that our publicans do not have any protections in law here.

Passing the Tied Pubs Bill would:

– Ensure tied pub tenants here have better protections than those south of the border, when currently they have none

– Improve consumer choice by giving all pubs a chance to sell more beers from small, local, and independent breweries across the country

– Help publicans in tied pubs to rebuild their businesses from the Covid-19 crisis

Just a few weeks ago Heineken’s pub arm, Star Pubs and Bars, were fined £2million by England and Wales’ Pubs Code Adjudicator for serious and repeated breaches of the pubs code. But despite being headquartered in Edinburgh, their Scottish tenants do not have similar protections in law because we don’t have a Scottish Pubs Code and an Adjudicator to enforce it and stand up for publicans in the tied pubs sector.

As a co-operator the rights of the consumer are important to me.  I want consumers to get their choice of drink in Scotland’s pubs and I hope that MSPs will support this on Thursday.