Letter:Tie gives drinkers cheaper beer

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The Independent Online
From Sir Paul Nicholson Sir: Your comment "Final orders for a shabby compromise" (Business, 8 February), about the latest investigation into beer prices, contains an inaccuracy in stating "Britain is alone in Europe in having any form of tie". The tie isas widespread in many countries of the EU, particularly Germany, as it is in Britain. It is very much to be regretted that the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and the Government, with its ill-conceived beer orders, did not pay attention to Leif Mills'Note of Dissent to the MMC review, the final paragraph of which I quote: Warts and all, imperfections and all, the tied estate and the vertical structure that this supports, and the involvement of brewers in the free trade through loan ties, give the consumer reasonable value for money and reasonable choice. The tied estate and the loan tie should be left to continue as they are and the brewing industry should be left to change and develop as it is already doing.

Your article refers to the ultimate demise of the tie. More likely, further interference will lead to the ultimate demise of the British pub as we know it. It is no coincidence that because of the strength of the tie in Britain, customers in a pub enjoy lower prices for their pint than almost any country in the civilised world, and that is in spite of the punitive tax regime imposed on the British drinker.

Yours faithfully, PAUL NICHOLSON Chairman Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association London, W1

8 February