LETTER: ‘Tied trade’ has led to demise of our pubs

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Our esteemed MP is as qualified as anyone - and maybe more qualified than most - to speak about beer and breweries in a House of Commons debate.

Andrew Stephenson is known to like the odd pint of best and, when his Westminster duties allow, he does shifts at three local hostelries.

In the debate, he argued more needed to be done about big breweries’ monopoly, tying their tenants to sell only the brewery’s ale. It has been known as “tied trade” for years.

After a half-day debate, Andrew’s brigade won their point and now the Government will have to look more closely at the current voluntary “tied” regulations.

In his last “From the House” column, he admitted the topic was not the “most burning issue” for discussion in the Commons. He got that right.

Mr Stephenson also claimed the breweries’ stance on the tied agreements has played a part in the demise of so many of our pubs every week. He got that right, too.

But below cost sales of alcohol in supermarkets and rising beer taxes are, he so rightly says, major reasons why so many pubs, including some of our favourite locals, have disappeared.

The main reason, which our MP surprisingly didn’t spotlight, is the iniquitous smoking ban. That was the final killer blow to so many.

ERIC GREENWOOD

Beaufort Street, Nelson