COMMONS

Pubs Code Adjudicator should be replaced, says Committee

29 July 2016

The Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee has urged the Government to replace its newly-appointed Pubs Code Adjudicator, Paul Newby, citing his perceived conflict of interest and inability to command the trust of pub tenants.

Iain Wright MP, Chair of the BIS Committee, has written to the Secretary of State, Greg Clark, calling on him to reopen the appointment process and choose a candidate "who can attract the confidence of tenants as well as pub companies".

Mr Newby was appointed by Mr Clark’s predecessor in March with responsibility for enforcing the Statutory Pubs Code – a new regulatory framework governing the relationship between large pub owning companies, known as pubcos, and their tied tenants in England and Wales.

Committee inquiry

The BIS Committee held an inquiry into his role and responsibilities, hearing from representatives of pubcos, tied tenants and Mr Newby.

Tenants questioned Mr Newby's ability to be impartial, pointing to his career as a surveyor with Fleurets, which receives a significant proportion of its fee income from pubcos, and his continued financial interest in the company.

Chair's comments

Iain Wright MP, Chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, said:

"While the Committee has no reason to question Paul Newby's integrity or his qualifications for the job, his long-standing relationship with pubcos through his past work and a continued financial connection has created a strong perception of a conflict of interest.

The Pubs Code has the potential to significantly improve the embittered relationship between pubcos and many of their tenants, but it will only work if the Adjudicator is seen to be independent and is able to command the confidence of all the industry's stakeholders.

The Committee would like to see a new Pubs Code Adjudicator appointed from outside the sector, to ensure that this important role is - and is seen to be - completely independent and impartial."

Mr Wright highlighted in his letter to Mr Clark how a large number of tied tenants have historically been disadvantaged by an imbalance of power between tenants and some large pubcos. It has left many tenants struggling to make a decent living in a system that is stacked against them.

Pubs Code Adjudicator is an appointment not subject to Select Committee pre-appointment scrutiny.

Further information

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