Monday, 20 January 2014

A brief chat with the pubs minister

The government's consultation on pubco reform ended on June 14th. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) at first insisted it would respond in the autumn, but as autumn turned into winter, there was nothing but silence. In December, Jo Swinson insisted a response would come 'very soon' but claimed the volume of responses had been 'staggering' and they needed more time to plough through them.

There were more than 8,100 responses in the consultation; being generous let's say 8,200. The consultation closed exactly 220 days (as of January 20). This means BIS has to go through just over 37 responses a day. As of March 2013, BIS employed 3,112 civil servants, but this is apparently not enough to tackle this task of studying with sufficient efficiency to ensure legislation can pass through the Houses of Parliament before the next election. Time is running out.

Pubs minister Brandon Lewis, who has been very quiet on the whole issue of pubco reform, has given an interview to the Publican's Morning Advertiser and manages to devote one line to the subject. He says he can see the 'logic' of the delay but in the article doesn't expand on this.

But, in a brief chat on Twitter, he did a go a little further on the issue.

And, like Jo Swinson, he blames the volume of responses:

More than 8,000 responses is a big consultation - though, by way of comparison, the equal marriage consultation received a record 228,000 replies and, comparatively, these were considered with much greater speed than the pubco reform study. Perfectly reasonably, Mr Lewis also explains he isn't responsible for the editing of the story. 

And, despite being pubs minister, it wasn't his consultation anyway, as he is a minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Sadly though, as of yet, there has been no response to either the point above, about the lack of time, or the questions below:

The government is in very great danger of giving the responses so much 'consideration' that they end up doing nothing, which may well now be the intention. 

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