Pubcos are to be told to deliver meaningful reform or the Government could support a Private Members’ Bill that backs a mandatory free of tie option and an open market rent review, the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, sister title to M&C Report understands. The Tied Public Houses (Code of Practice) Bill was tabled in March this year by Lib Dem MP Martin Horwood and calls for a statutory code of practice to be introduced forcing pubcos of more than 500 sites to give tenants a free-of-tie option, combined with an open-market rent review. Tied lessees must also be offered a guest beer option. The Bill makes provision for compensation to tenants and lessees for any breach of the code and a fine to the pubco. Sources close to the situation indicate that the Government is keen to avoid fresh legislation following the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee’s report into pubcos. The report called for a statutory code to be implemented without delay, backed up by a full suite of sanctions. It is understood that this represents the very last chance for pubcos to convince Government it can enact further reforms itself. It is believed the Government is looking for the codes of practice to go further and include more detail. They could also be made legally binding through a deed of variation. If the Government is not satisfied, then it could be minded to support Horwood’s Bill as it already has parliamentary time allocated to it and has garnered cross-party support. The Bill is also very simple and contains just seven clauses, meaning it would cut down on debating time. It is due to get its second reading on 25 November. A source said: “It is quite clear this is a deregulatory Government but if they supported this Bill, then how democratic would that be? “It would look good and would be easier.” After the Bill’s first reading in March, Horwood said: “I’ve already talked to [business minister] Ed Davey informally, and clearly at the moment ministers are still hoping that self regulation will do. “But unless we see some improvement, this will become a very important debate about whether legislation is required.”