§ 16. Mr. William Price
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he proposes to take on the Monopoly Commission recommendations in respect of the tied house system in the licensed trade.
§ Mr. Emery
The Monopolies Commission's only recommendation in its Report on the Supply of Beer was that the licensing system should be substantially relaxed. I would ask the hon. Member to await the outcome of the consideration by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary of the report of the Erroll Committee, which was set up to examine the social implications of changes in the licensing laws.
§ Mr. Price
Is the Under-Secretary aware that the Erroll Committee has absolutely nothing to do with that matter? Is it not clear that the Government intend to do nothing and that the brewers are 787 blatantly using the tied house system for a variety of reasons, the most devious of all of which is the kicking out of hundreds of public house tenants and their replacement by managers? What protection does he intend to give these unfortunate people?
§ Mr. Mason
Is the Under-Secretary aware that among the most recent disturbing aspects of the brewers' monopoly are, first, its callous disregard for the consumer—namely, the draught beer drinker—and, secondly, its drive to close regionally-based breweries, as instanced by the Imperial Tobacco Group's recent decision to close the Barnsley Brewery? Is the hon. Gentle man aware that there is a callous disregard for the consumer, that the result will be a loss of 200 jobs in my constituency, and that these organisations are forcing on draught beer drinkers oxygenated swill which is to be trundled all over the country? Why does he not make representations to the Brewers Society that consumers and jobs matter, as well as profits?
§ Mr. Emery
Certainly, jobs matter. The right hon. Gentleman knows that the rationalisation of the beer industry has meant a considerable amount of centralisation. I do not think that this question particularly raises the matter of the Barnsley Brewery. It is important for us to remember that, on the whole, brewers want to supply the drinking public with that which is demanded. The fact appears to be that the brewers are supplying the demand that exists.