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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Defendant Personal Injury 2+PQE

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - NICHE DEFENDANT FIRM - Defendant Pe...

Java Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: JAVA DEVELO...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Developer

£475 - £550 per day: Progressive Recruitment: MDAX / Dynamics AX / Microsoft D...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on