A member's bill that seeks to improve the position of tied pub tenants through a code for landlords backed up by an adjudicator, has failed to win the support of a committee of MSPs at its first Holyrood stage.

In their stage 1 report on the Tied Pubs Bill, a majority on the Economy, Energy & Fair Work Committee concluded that they do not support the general principles of the bill. Rhoda Grant and Andy Wightman dissented from the six majority members and Gordon Lindhurst abstained.

The bill was introduced by West of Scotland Labour member Neil Bibby, who wants to provide Scottish tied pub tenants with at least the same protections and opportunities as those given by 2015 legislation in England & Wales. His bill would require the establishment of a Scottish Pub Code to govern the relationship between pub-owning businesses and their tied tenants, and a Scottish Pubs Code Adjudicator to apply the code.

While the committee heard from tenants who supported the aims of the bill, with only 750 tied pubs in Scotland the majority of the committee saw little evidence to suggest widespread problems that warrant primary legislation. 

Deputy committee convener Willie Coffey MSP commented: “While the committee commend the intentions behind this member's bill, a majority felt there was a lack of hard independent evidence which suggested that a widespread imbalance exists.

“The committee believes that primary legislation is not needed and therefore do not agree to the general principles of the bill.

“However, a minority of the committee did agree that there is an imbalance in the relationship between pub tenant and landlords and felt that the proposed legislation could be part of the solution.”

The bill is due to be debated in the chamber in the coming weeks.

Click here to view the committee's report. The published bill can be found here.