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Beer Orders

The beer orders should not be revoked- the Competition Act alone cannot save `unique and diverse` beer and pubs industry from damaging consolidation.

Beer Consumer group, the Campaigh for Real Ale, has condemned Government plans to revoke the `BeerOrders` in a report published recently. The report accuses the Government of failing to assess the effects of revoking the Orders on competition and consumer choice in the beer and pubs market. The Government announced its intention to revoke the Beer Orders, the laws enacted in 1990 to overcome the `complex monopoly` in brewing and pub retailing, in February and views from interested parties have been submitted to the DTI.

CAMRA claims that, while the orders are not entirely relevant to today`s market, they play an important role in helping to prevent mergers and takeovers, maintaining consumer choice and preventing community pub closures. Mike Benner, Head of Campaigns and Communications said,"Both the brewing and pub retailing industries are consolidating at an alarming rate and the Government is proposing to scrap the only real legislative barrier to protect consumers. We predict that revocation of the `Beer Orders` will lead to more mergers amongst vertically integrated regional brewers, larger pub chains buying breweries, and leave thousands of consumers out in the cold with less choicein pubs."

CAMRA concludes that the Government should leave the Beer Orders intact and lauch an immediate investigation into the the industry in an attempt to overcome the complex monopolies which now exist in pub ownership and beer supply.Mike Benner added,"While it`s true that the Beer Orders do not restrict the activities or growth of big non-brewing pub chains, the answer is not to throw the baby out with the bath water, but rather to investigate properly the need for a revised set of Orders to curb the power of pub chains and global brewers. Leaving British beer and pubs at the mercy of global market forces will erode our still unique and relatively diverse industry and lead to power falling into the hands of fewer and bigger global players."

STOP PRESS

Good news! we have it on pretty good authority that neither the beer orders revocation or the full pints proposls will go through Parliament before the recess. This indicates, at least, that we {CAMRA} have successfully de layed the process and we can keep the pressure on both issues.

Mike Benner

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