HC Deb 09 July 1973 vol 859 cc1018-9
23. Mr. William Price

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of beer sales go through managed public houses; and what was the figure five years ago.

Sir G. Howe

The latest available estimate shows that in September 1972, of the total beer sold through retail outlets owned by brewers, less than 45 per cent. was sold through managed houses. The corresponding figure for the last quarter of 1967 was 40 per cent.

Mr. Price

The Under-Secretary has been quoting figures from the Brewers Society showing that the percentage of public houses going over to management has not increased significantly in recent years. However, is not the figure that the Minister has quoted this afternoon far more significant in the sense that the brewers are taking over the best public houses and leaving the others to the tenants? As the brewers already have the manufacturing and the wholesaling profits, is it a fair trading practice that they should grab the retailing profits as well?

Sir G. Howe

The figures I have given have to be looked at alongside the figures for the number of managed houses and tenanted houses that my hon. Friend has given the House. The general subject of the matters mentioned by the hon. Gentleman I propose to discuss shortly with the brewers, and I intend also to arrange a meeting to discuss it with representatives of the licensed victuallers.

Mr. Lipton

When will the Government do something about the Erroll Report, which goes to the root of the matter and about which they have taken no action whatever?

Sir G. Howe

That is a question for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department.

Mr. Mason

Is not the Minister aware that, as the increase in managed pubs becomes more evident and as the licensed victuallers are phased out, the traditional British pub is being destroyed, and that a manager has no interest in the darts club, the angling club or similar social community organisations that use public houses, which in some areas are the centre of community activities which are now being denied? Is it not time that he impressed on the Brewers Society the need for an examination of the adverse social aspects of this change?

Sir G. Howe

It would not be right to conclude that all the consequences of the change are adverse in the way the right hon. Gentleman suggests. It should be borne in mind that 74.9 per cent. of outlets are still tenanted. However, I will certainly bear in mind the points that have been made in any discussions I have about this matter.