MPs and Lords raise a glass to CAMRAâs successes at Parliamentary Reception
On the 24th April, CAMRA held our annual Parliamentary Reception. The event was attended by Jo Swinson, Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs; Community Pubs Minister Brandon Lewis; Andrew Griffiths , Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group; Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles.
Opened by a speech from CAMRA's National Chairman Colin Valentine, MPs in the room were thanked for lobbying the Chancellor of the Exchequer in an effort to abolish the beer duty escalator.
Secretary of State Eric Pickles took to the floor, describing pub culture as Britain's equivalent to European cafe culture in a fantastic speech:
"This is a game changer. CAMRA's decision to go for the registration of 300 pubs this year is ambitious but achievable, and then next year, and the year after - once they're registered it changes the whole nature of the game. It's demonstrated that it is within the grasp of communities to be able to do that. I understand that you want to see changes in the law, in planning, but let me make clear, this is a big changer - local authorities already have a power through a thing called article four to be able to ensure that the change of use from pub to supermarket, or to doctors surgeries or to solicitors can be stopped. Don't wait for things to happen, use the power that this gives.
"To CAMRA, you have my support, you have my desire to see British pubs go from strength to strength – and with the consultation [on PubCos] you've seen that we're not just prepared to talk-the-talk, we're prepared to make a difference, and we're doing it not just to be nice to your fine organisation, but because we recognise that the British pub is integral to British life."
Greg Mulholland, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group was awarded CAMRA's prestigious Parliamentarian of the Year award for the continued support he has given CAMRA's campaigns.
Acknowledging this, Greg told the audience "I've been a CAMRA member longer than I've been a member of any other organisation, including my political party". He also announced that Community Pubs Minister Brandon Lewis had recently joined CAMRA as a fully paid up member. Expressing his delight at CAMRA's most recent win regarding the beer duty escalator, Greg adapted a well known political phrased, telling the audience "It was CAMRA what won it."
The event was also attended by many constituency MPs and members of CAMRA's National Executive. A number of guest ales from across the country were on offer for parliamentarians to sample during the evening, including Westerham Brewery's Spirit of Kent and Rudgate Brewery's Ruby Mild.