Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Government ignores MPs' vote on PCA job

Adjudication without credibility
is worthless
I have written several times about the pub code adjudicator, Paul Newby, including:
The issue hasn't gone away, and the House of Commons has voted to "reopen the appointment process for the PCA (pubs code adjudicator)". While the minister from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy admitted that pubcos were "flouting the code", the solution she suggested was for the licensees affected to use the PCA. A Tory MP added that the appointment complied fully with the code of practice for ministerial appointments to public bodies.

This is missing a significant point: that such an appointment should not only be compliant with the code, it must also appear credible to the people for whom the post has been created: in this case, pub licensees. In the debate, Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland described Newby's position as untenable, explaining that there is a real possibility that he will undermine the intentions behind the pub code. He concluded: "All the people that the British Pub Confederation is representing in cases oppose Mr Newby, have no confidence in him and he will have to go. It will happen; it depends on if we see leadership from the Government or whether this has to drag on for another six months or a year, but this will not go away."

The longer this controversy continues, the more Newby's credibility in the job will plummet. The government's position should not be determined by a refusal to admit a mistake. I can only conclude that they don't want to lose face, but the risk of that will be greater as time passes. It would more sense to cut their losses now, accede to the MPs' vote, and reopen the appointment process.

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