Licensed Trade (Tenants)

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th May 1989.

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Photo of Mr Michael Colvin Mr Michael Colvin , Romsey and Waterside 12:00 am, 25th May 1989

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he proposes to take any action in response to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission's recommendation on licensed trade tenants' security contained in its report on the supply of beer.

Photo of Mr Richard Ryder Mr Richard Ryder , Mid Norfolk

Government decisions on the recommendations of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission are for my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. He will, of course, be taking account of the views of the National Licensed Victuallers Association.

Photo of Mr Michael Colvin Mr Michael Colvin , Romsey and Waterside

I should like him also to take into account the views of my hon. Friend, because he bears responsibility for tenant security for licensees; I do not know why. He has been subject to a considerable amount of lobbying over the years by publicans who are concerned about their tenant security. As the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report on the supply of beer recommended that publicans now become subject to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 my hon. Friend will obviously want to express an opinion to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, and the House would like to know what that opinion is.

Photo of Mr Richard Ryder Mr Richard Ryder , Mid Norfolk

As soon as the report was published, I met the NLVA. Its views have been passed on to my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley , Glanford and Scunthorpe

Is it not fair to say that the Minister should have consideration for the small producers of food? That could apply also to small producers in the brewing industry. The small producers have been squeezed out and crushed for far too long by the juggernauts, the few, large brewers. The report gives small breweries a chance to get their beers into more chains through the guest beer slot and therefore encourages those businesses. Should not the Minister make representations to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to defend those people?

Photo of Mr Richard Ryder Mr Richard Ryder , Mid Norfolk

Conscientious to a fault, I also met the small brewers soon after the report was published. It is inconceivable that my noble Friend is unaware of their views.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

Does my hon. Friend not accept that the tenant of a pub, particularly in a rural area, plays a vital role in the community? Is he not concerned that if we erode the position of the tenant, we shall be doing great damage to rural communities? Therefore, will he not prevail upon his right hon. Friend to amend the recommendations of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report?

Photo of Mr Richard Ryder Mr Richard Ryder , Mid Norfolk

My hon. Friend is tempting me, but I will resist the temptation. I am sure, having spoken to my noble Friend, that he is fully aware of the point of view that has been expressed by my hon. Friend.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , South Staffordshire

Will my hon. Friend stop being so coy? He has not only a right to an opinion but a duty to have an opinion. Is he aware that on this extremely important issue the totally unreconstructed free market philosophy advocated from the Opposition Benches is not shared by all Conservative Members?

Photo of Mr Richard Ryder Mr Richard Ryder , Mid Norfolk

My hon. Friend is never short of his opinions. He can be certain that I am never short of mine when it comes to talking to my noble Friend.