All-Party Parliamentary Save The Pub Group
Date: 14th March 2014
Mulholland demands Treasury come clean on pubco meetings
Greg Mulholland MP, Chair of the parliamentary Save The Pub group, has demanded the Treasury come clean over what meetings and discussions it had with large pub companies and their representatives. The Treasury have refused to comply with a Freedom of Information (FoI) request and Mulholland has requested an official review of the decision.
This comes following a consultation led by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) on introducing a statutory code for large pub-owning companies. Mulholland recently also called on Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, to use next week’s budget statement to introduce a market rent-only option for leased pubs, which would help to scrap the pubco price escalator..
The Save the Pub Group were at the forefront of the successful campaign to scrap the hated beer duty escalator in 2013 and deliver the first cut in beer duty since 1959 and are backing the campaign for a freeze in beer duty in the 2014 budget. The large leased pubcos operate their own escalator, the ‘pubco price escalator’, which is responsible for much larger and above inflation rises in beer prices each year, most recently in February 2014.
Mulholland submitted a FoI request last month, on 6th February, demanding to know what discussions government officials, from BIS, the Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government, had had about the pub company business model. The FoI request also asked for a disclosure of what correspondence there had been between the Treasury, the British Beer and Pub Association and the Independent Family Brewers of Britain.
Mulholland also asked what correspondence there had been internally that suggested the need for the eventually BIS-commissioned report, undertaken by London Economics and published in December 2013, entitled “Modelling the impact of proposed policies on pubs and the pub sector”. The report, which cost £39,000 is highly controversial after its many significant flaws were recently exposed by the parliamentary ‘Save the Pub’ group.
Commenting, Greg Mulholland MP said:
“Hardworking publicans around the country, as well as the public as a whole, have a right to know how the Treasury is being influenced. This is a matter of transparency and accountability, especially with the Chancellor due to deliver his Budget statement next week.
“Following the highly flawed London Economics report, it is clear that there is a suspicious bias within BIS in favour of the large leased pubcos and their lobbyists. The public’s faith in politicians will continue to be rattled as long as the Treasury make decisions such as refusing to disclose what discussions they have had, with whom, and what lobbyists are telling them.
“I have requested an official review of the decision not to comply with the FoI request and am fully prepared to take it further if needed and appeal to the Information Commissioner.”
1. For more information, please contact Mo Saqib (Parliamentary Researcher to Greg Mulholland MP) on saqibm@parliament..uk or 0207 219 3833.
2. The Treasury’s response to the FoI request is as attached.
3. Greg Mulholland MP has also submitted Early Day Motions about the pubco price escalator and the London Economics report: