Plans put forward by a Scottish Labour MSP to give tied pubs north of the border more choice over what they can sell has gained wide cross-party support.
Neil Bibby has been given the green light to take his proposal forward in the form of a Bill in the Scottish Parliament, claiming 93% support for the move in a consultation.
The Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA), however, has called for a rethink, saying if successful, the legislation would cost jobs, investment and opportunities, while punishing tied-pubs with an expensive levy to meet the costs of the plan.
SBPA chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, said: “This proposed bill seeks to replicate legislation in England and Wales which is completely unsuitable and financially unfeasible for Scotland, seeking a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
“Only 17% of pubs are under a leased and tenanted arrangement here in Scotland, compared to 40% across the rest of the UK. It simply doesn’t work to compare like for like in this case, especially considering the financial burden of this costly legislation would be met by a levy on a tiny minority of pubs.
“Furthermore, there is already in place a system of self-regulation in Scotland, which safeguards tenants’ right and came into force less than two years ago.”
She added: “Last year, a comprehensive independent report by the Scottish government found that no part of the pub sector in Scotland was unfairly disadvantaged over another. Any reform should be evidence-based, and evidence to back these proposed changes is noticeably absent. If the Bill is passed, all the evidence shows that it will cost jobs, hurt small business owners, reduce entrepreneurship opportunities and see Scotland’s pubs lose-out on much needed investment.
“We believe further dialogue between trade bodies, government and other interested parties is now needed. We look forward to the forthcoming stakeholder meeting convened by the Scottish government minister to discuss these bill proposals in the round with other areas of real interest and concern to the industry at this time.”