§ Sir Anthony Grant
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations he has received from regional and local brewers about the consequences of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report on the supply of beer; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Maude
I am aware that there has been considerable speculation in recent weeks about the discussions taking place with the Brewers Society and other interested parties.
The principal concern, both of the M MC and the Government, is the dominant market position of the national brewers, who account for 75 per cent. of United Kingdom beer production, 74 per cent. of the brewer-owned tied estate, and 86 per cent. of loan ties. We have no intention of introducing measures which might adversely affect the competitive position of regional and local brewers. Their continued success is vital to achieving the objective of a freer market with wider choice which was behind the MMC's recommendations.
The MMC's principal proposal, which we are still considering, was to limit pub ownership to a maximum of 2,000—a proposal which of its nature applies only to the national brewers. I can say that our intention is that certain measures, in particular the requirement to allow tenants to choose a cask conditioned guest beer; the abolition of the tie on low alcohol and non alcoholic beers, ciders, wines and spirits and soft drinks; and any measures to reduce local monopoly, should apply to the national brewers but not to other brewers.
There is general agreement that greater security should be provided for tenants. There appears to be a consensus that while it would be appropriate to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 to remove the present exception for licensed premises, it would not be right to go further and require additional provisions for tenants' protection in a mandatory brewers code of practice.