There wasn’t a huge turnout, and opinions seemed to be broadly split three ways, although nobody thought their effect had been “very good” and 72% thought that, overall, the effect had been negative.
Since 1989, we have seen dramatic changes in the industry, most notably
- The large-scale severance of the traditional link between brewing and pub-owning
- The transfer of British brewing to foreign-owned multinational companies
- The creation of giant pub companies which seemed more driven by considerations of property than retailing
Unless there is an overwhelming monopoly, government intervention in markets always tends to be a bad idea, and the Beer Orders rather prove the point that it is fraught with unintended consequences.
It also seems to me that the government of the day embarked on the Beer Orders without any clear view of what the consequences actually would be. Did they think that the Big Six companies would simply sell off their surplus pubs, or even that they would spin off regional breweries with an associated estate of tied pubs as independent businesses? Did they ask them what they would be likely to do?
* I would argue that Progressive Beer Duty is actually the most significant measure CAMRA has ever managed to turn into legislation