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
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick