PUB landlords representatives in Huntingdonshire have thrown their weight behind moves in Parliament to sever ties between taverns and the products they sell. The Huntingdonshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses has welcomed a House of Common

PUB landlords' representatives in Huntingdonshire have thrown their weight behind moves in Parliament to sever ties between taverns and the products they sell.

The Huntingdonshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses has welcomed a House of Commons Business and Enterprise Committee recommendation that ties between pub owners and tenant landlords that tie them in to expensive products should be banned.

Branch chairman Malcolm Lyons believes such a move would stem the tide of more than 40 pubs across the country closing every week because tenants can no longer afford to stay in business.

He said: "Pubs are not just part of the local community. They help to hold the local community together. But the FSB is watching over 40 pubs closing a week, which affects not just the owners and their families, but the communities around them.

"The FSB welcomes the committee's recommendation that pub tenants be given an opt-out of the tie. This needs to be written into contracts immediately. We would then see many tenants voting with their feet and walking out of the tie in five years, if the opt-out were written into contracts, as recommended, which means it would be effectively lifted."

The committee's report recognises that tenants share the risks of running a pub with the pub owner but not the profits - around 67 per cent of lessees with a turnover of half a million pounds said they earned £15,000 - less than the average wage.

The FSB welcomed the recommendations for tenants to opt out of the tie at the time rent reviews take place, and for owners' profits on beer to be capped at around 10 per cent above the wholesale price.

Plus ca change: 40 years ago, in a House of Commons debate in the late 1960s, a veteran MP observed that, in his view, breweries ought not to be allowed to own public houses. Richard Boston, then a columnist on The Guardian and later one of the founding fathers of the Campaign for Real Ale, added that, in his view, "most of them ought not to be allowed to brew beer, either".