Government report on pub laws was written by lobbyists

Civil servants copied and pasted from letter sent by powerful body representing big firms

A Coalition report rejecting tougher controls on pub companies was partly written by a powerful industry group, it has emerged.

Civil servants preparing the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills's (BIS) response to a critical Commons investigation into "pubcos" copied chunks of a document from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), which represents the companies. In some cases, officials cut and paste paragraphs from the BBPA proposals without changing a word.

The disclosure is likely to increase concern about the influence of vested interests in the corridors of power following The Independent's disclosures about the work of the lobbying firm Bell Pottinger, as well as prompting further scrutiny of the Government's decision to abandon legislation to reform the £28 billion-a-year pub industry.

An estimated 700 pubs closed last year amid increased home drinking and evidence that pub companies raised charges to "tied" pubs for rent and beer.

In September, the BIS concluded that the industry was incapable of reforming itself and backed legislation to control pub companies.

But in November, Ed Davey, a business minister, said he was prepared to give self-regulation another go by agreeing a tougher code of practice.

His department added that adopting the industry's proposal of inserting its strengthened code into "tied" contracts would be quicker and potentially "equally effective" as legislation.

His department said that the Office of Fair Trading had found no evidence that a lack of competition was hitting drinkers.

Emails from BIS, obtained under freedom of information laws by the all-party parliamentary Save The Pub Group, suggest that the BBPA exerted a heavy influence on the Government during what Mr Davey described as "tough negotiations".

BIS apparently accepted that the new contracts would be legally binding after accepting advice from a QC, Robert Howe, who had been hired by the BBPA.

Officials assisted the association in writing a press release and inserted wholesale into the department's response to the BBPA's changes to the code of conduct on items such as rents, complaints and insurance.

The Save the Pub Group said the correspondence revealed "a wholly inappropriate relationship" between BIS officials and the BBPA.

"BIS officials, as well as being worryingly close to the BBPA and their lobbyists, sought advice from the BBPA for their advice on issues, then took it – without any scrutiny and without consulting the licensee and consumer groups," the parliamentary group said.

Jonathan Mail, head of public affairs at the Campaign for Real Ale, said: "The influence is remarkable. The Government's response was effectively captured by the pub companies."

The BBPA said the claims were "without foundation". A spokesman for the organisation said: "It is common sense that the only way the Government could consider whether there was any merit in further self-regulation was to talk to us about these issues – as you would expect the department for business to do."

The BIS said: "Where we secured a commitment from the BBPA, of course we copied that text exactly... The rest of the response is fully the Government's."

Weeks before the general election, on 12 April 2010, the Conservative Party leader, David Cameron, wrote to a group called Justice for Licensees pledging the Tories' support for a statutory code of conduct.

He wrote: "The Conservative Party support the idea that should the industry fail to deliver self-regulation by June 2011, the government of the day should end up consulting on putting the Code of Practice on a statutory basis."

Case study: 'Not sure how much longer we'll go on'

Dave Mountford, 46, has been the landlord of the Rising Sun Inn in Middleton, a Derbyshire village, since June 2007. The pub is tied into a contract with a large pub company.

"My wife and I work 90 to 100 hours a week, and now take a yearly turnover of £450,000. But because of rent and beer prices, we only just make any money.

"I'm not sure how much longer we can go on. The community loves the pub, the people are lovely and it would be a real loss to our small village.

"Our four kids, aged between five and 18, go to the local school and they're happy, and we'd hate to have to go elsewhere."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine