The Liberal Democrats would reform the beer tie, insist on a Competition Commission investigation into pub ownership, ban cheap supermarket alcohol and review the beer duty escalator if they got into power, writes Ewan Turney. In a separate pubs manifesto the party has outlined their plans for the sector. The Lib Democrats said that the beer tie “can be unfair to tenants” and “harm consumers”. It said it would: • impose a statutory code of practice to ensure the tied tenant is no worse off then if free of tie • Ensure all tenants have a guest beer option and a free of tie option. Brewers with under 500 pubs would be exempt • Scrap upwards only rent reviews and changes to rental valuations • Abolish machine tie The party also said it was in favour of a minimum price and a ban ban on below cost selling. It would review the controversial duty escalator and “explore the possibility a preferential duty for draft beers which are more expensive to both serve and store, something that would help pubs”. The Liberal Democrats also want to see changes to planning laws to protect pubs from demolition or change of use to restaurants, cafes or shops plus a right to buy scheme for local communities and an end to restrictive covenants. On business rates, the Liberal Democrats want to make small company rate relief automatic and encourage local authorities to use discretionary powers to increase relief to 100%. Finally, the party also wants to cut red tape for pubs and re-introduce the two in a bar rule for unamplified music and allow venues for up to 200 people to host live music without the need for an entertainment licence. “Pubs have been closing at an alarming rate in recent years, yet the Labour Government has failed to act to save them,” said shadow culture secretary Don Foster.  “The Liberal Democrats are committed to bringing forward real changes that will help to protect community pubs.”