Robert Buckland talks up local pubs as at the heart of communities, but when it came to the opportunity to vote for new measures which would help support them, he instead chose to stand up for the large pub companies and to allow them to continue to exploit their tenants.
On Tuesday, Robert Buckland MP for South Swindon, voted against a new cross-party clause to the Small Business Bill which offered new protections for local publicans against the predatory practices of large pub owning companies (known as pubcos) and opposing plans to give local pubs and landlords a fairer deal.
Following a report into the industry by the cross-party BIS Select Committee in 2010, Labour have campaigned alongside a broad coalition of groups in the industry – including the Federation of Small Businesses, the Forum of Private Business, CAMRA, FairPint and the GMB and UNITE trade unions – to call for greater protection for local pubs and put a stop to unfair treatment and restrictive practices by pubcos.
The government’s provisions to regulate pubcos in the Small Business Bill, debated in Parliament this week, but these fell some way short of Labour’s plans and campaigners’ demands. Labour therefore supported a cross-party clause to strengthen the Bill.
However, despite several of his Tory colleagues defying their whip to vote for this new clause, local MP Robert Buckland voted against it.
Anne Snelgrove, Labour’s candidate who is hoping to unseat Robert Buckland in May’s general election, commented: “Robert Buckland talks up local pubs as at the heart of communities, but when it came to the opportunity to vote for new measures which would help support them, he instead chose to stand up for the large pub companies and to allow them to continue to exploit their tenants.
“27 pubs close every week and 57% of landlords who are tied to a large pubco earn less than £10,000 a year. These are scandals which must be addressed, and so I was proud that Labour MPs voted to make this important change. If I am elected in May, people in Swindon can be assured that I will always support local pubs with deeds as well as words.”
Toby Perkins MP, Labour’s Shadow Pubs Minister said: “Labour has led calls for a proper statutory code with teeth on pub companies, giving tenants the protection they need and putting an end to the unfair treatment they’ve received from large pub companies. Our plans have won support from a broad coalition of campaigners including CAMRA, the Federation of Small Business, trade unions and the cross-party BIS Select Committee.
“Over the past three years ministers have been dragged kicking and screaming every step of the way on this issue, and now they have been dealt a resounding and humiliating defeat in the House of Commons. Ministers must now act immediately to ensure there is a proper statutory code with a free-of-tie option to protect local pubs, and must not ignore the will of the House of Commons, after their desperate and shambolic attempts to stave off defeat have failed.”