Scottish Pub Tenants Are Now Very Much The Poor Relations, Says SLTA

The SLTA is bitterly disappointed with the outcome of the Scottish Government’s Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee’s Stage 1 Report on the Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill.

SLTA managing director, Colin Wilkinson, said: “The lack of cross-party support for legislation to be introduced to protect Scottish tenants, improving on the current legislation covering only England, has left Scottish-based tenants greatly disadvantaged in comparison to their counterparts south of the Border where even now increased protection measures are being considered.

“Despite 93% of respondents supportive of the principles of the Bill, the SLTA fails to understand the Committee’s decision that while commending the intent behind the Bill, it has not agreed that legislation is required.”

The Bill proposes the establishment of a Scottish Pubs Code and a Scottish Pubs Code Adjudicator (SPCA) to apply the code. The Scottish Pubs Code, and decisions made by the SPCA, would be consistent with the following three principles:

• that there is fair and lawful dealing by pub-owning businesses in relation to their tied pub tenants

  • that tied pub tenants should not be worse off than they would be if they were not subject to any product or service tie
  • that the tied agreements offer a fair share of risk and reward to both parties

The Bill would ensure that tied tenants have the option to request a “market rent-only” lease. This would allow a tenant to pay the going market rate to rent the pub without having to buy products or services from the pub-owning business, therefore ending the tied relationship.

The Bill would also allow a tenant, who wished to remain tied, the opportunity to sell at least one “guest beer” with no restriction to only selling the brands permitted by the pub-owning business.

Wilkinson added: “The hopes of Scottish tenants to operate in a fairer and more equitable tenanted sector have been completely scotched by the majority decision of the Committee not to support the Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill. Remembering that there was cross-party support from the SNP, Conservatives, Labour and others in Westminster when legislation was introduced to protect tenant licensees in England, it is incomprehensible that the same cross-party support for the guiding principles of the Tied Pub (Scotland) Bill to protect Scottish tenant licensees has not been reflected by the Committee.

Failure to support Scottish tenants at a time when the whole industry is in crisis is unforgivable and Scottish tenants are now very much the poor relations.”