HC Deb 04 March 1997 vol 291 c583W
Mr. David Nicholson

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on recent rulings by the Office of Fair Trading in respect of(a) the tied house in relation to brewers and (b) the Courage Inntrepreneur scheme. [18462]

Mr. John M. Taylor

(a) The Officer of Fair Trading held an inquiry into brewers' wholesale pricing policy in 1995. The inquiry concluded that, although a minority of tied tenants on long leases had experienced some hardship, the differential wholesale pricing policy of brewers had not in general placed the tied trade at a disadvantage to free houses. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade accepted this conclusion.

(b) The Office of Fair Trading recommended that the undertakings given by Inntrepreneur following the merger between Courage and Grand Metropolitan in 1991 be varied. This variation released Inntrepreneur from its previous undertakings, but introduced a new undertaking which prevented Inntrepreneur from requiring any of its tenants to take beer supplies exclusively from Scottish and Newcastle, which owns the Courage beer brands. The Director General of Fair Trading argued that, as the nature and size of Inntrepreneur were similar to that of a number of other pub chain operators, it was no longer appropriate to keep the existing undertakings in place. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade accepted this recommendation.