Heineken fine shows urgent need to give Scotland’s publicans protections in law
The decision by the Pubs Code Adjudicator for England Wales to fine Edinburgh-based Heineken UK’s pub arm, Star Pubs and Bars, £2 million for serious and repeated breaches of the Pubs Code should be a wake–up call for the Scottish Government.
That’s the message from CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, which is calling on the Scottish Government and all parties in the Scottish Parliament to give their backing to the Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill being put forward by Neil Bibby MSP.
Licensees in Scotland are currently exempt from regulations that are in place across the rest of Great Britain which stop large pub companies from taking more than is fair or sustainable from pub profits by forcing licensees to buy their beer from them rather than on the open market.
It means whilst Heineken’s pubs arm Star Pubs and Bars were found to be making pub tenants sell “unreasonable levels” of the company’s beer and cider brands, the Pubs Code Adjudicator can only stand up for publicans and fine pub companies for unfair practices south of the border because no legislation exists in Scotland.
The proposed Scottish Tied Pubs legislation is due to be debated and voted on by MSPs next month and would give tied pub tenants protections in law from unfair practices from pub-owning businesses.
Commenting, CAMRA Chief Executive Tom Stainer said:
“This announcement from the Pubs Code Adjudicator is a good and deserved outcome for Star’s tied pub tenants – but disappointingly only for those in England and Wales.
“It isn’t fair that Star’s tenants in Scotland don’t have the same protections in law from any unfair practices like pub companies taking more than is fair or sustainable from tied licensees’ profits – or making it harder to sell a range of locally-brewed products.
“The fact that the Adjudicator for England and Wales has felt the need to use their financial penalty powers clearly shows that pub companies need to be regulated, in law. We are appealing to MSPs from all parties to support Neil Bibby’s Pubs Code Bill, which calls for a powerful pubs code to govern the relationship between pub companies and their tenants to ensure licensees are treated fairly.
“The pub sector as we know it is currently under threat due to the ongoing Coronavirus crisis. Pub companies operating across Scotland need to be supporting their tied tenants through this, treating them fairly and making sure they can earn a decent living. One way the Scottish Parliament can help is by voting in favour of the Tied Pubs Bill when next month.”