Pub companies: follow-up - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

Supplementary memorandum submitted by Simon Clarke


  In accordance with the Chairman's suggestion I have prepared a short supplementary submission to tie up a few "loose ends" and address information which was requested by the committee in more detail or which, given the constraints of time, we were unable to raise during the evidence sessions.

It was clear from the previous hearing and subsequent report that the Committee took a dim view of being misled. Mrs Simmonds' witness statements contain a number of "terminological inexactitudes".

  At the BISC witness hearings, in answer to Q106, Mrs Simmonds, whilst discussing the industry mediation, indicated "…to go completely free of tie was not an option we were prepared to discuss even in mediation, although we were absolutely clear that we would discuss the operation of the tie at the time." Mrs Simmonds was not at the mediation, all the IPC witnesses were. We are bound by the confidentiality agreement not to discuss the content of the mediation. In order to preserve, my confidentiality obligation, I am unable to comment but the article entitled "Talk of the beer tie was banned from mediation" from "The Publican" magazine published 19 November 2009, I believe will be sufficient to demonstrate that Mrs Simmonds was mistaken.

    1. In answer to Q126 Mrs Simmonds denied knowledge of Brulines and direct debit withdrawals, such practices only weeks before she had discussed with Karl Harrison, as he confirmed in answer to Q196.

    2. The issue of upward only rent reviews being "a thing of the past". In answer to Q91, Mrs Simmonds indicated that the practice of enforcing upward only rent reviews had ceased in 2005. IPC verbally presented (Q165 & 166) evidence, that as recently as 17 November 2009, Punch Taverns lawyers are still disputing that rents should be capable of going down. Punch Taverns lawyers are maintaining that the terms of the lease are all that matters and that the codes of practice and conduct are not legally binding and are unenforceable. I am advised by the tenant in this case that a full transcript can be obtained if the Committee are in any doubt of the accuracy of the above information. I would remind the Committee that even if the BBPA enforced the removal of upward only rent review clauses, members could simply resign from the BBPA and continue to implement the upward only rent review clause as before.

    3. On the issue of Brulines, I have previously submitted but would like the Committee to consider the most recent email from LACORS which, together with my previous Brulines submission, confirms, contrary to Mrs Simmonds contention (in answer to Q127) that Trading Standards have not considered whether Brulines equipment should, or should not, be prescribed under the weights and measures regulations, as it is on an individual basis these decisions should be made. Brulines may have had their system tested but, it would appear, not by LACORS or Trading Standards, moreover LACORS have requested equipment to be submitted for testing by the National Measurement Office but thus far they have declined. The email confirms that "there is no valid testing regime", I interpret that to mean, contrary to Mrs Simmonds assertion in answer to Q127, there is no agreed protocol to which the equipment should be subjected.

    4. Some of Mrs Simmonds faux pas may have been due to inexperience in the role (three months), she may have received inaccurate information from BBPA members, who have misled her as they previously misled the Committee, or perhaps she had an urge to answer questions rather than honestly stating she simply did not know. In any event, these economies with the truth do nothing to offer credibility to the BBPA's assurances for tenants. The IPC membership have long experienced the empty promises of the pubcos voiced through their mouthpiece the BBPA, the assurances are unacceptable and demonstrate that an independent statutory solution, capable of genuine enforcement, is required if these companies are to be allowed to maintain a tied tenanted business model.

21 December 2009

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2010
Prepared 4 March 2010