Pubs will go bust unless rent payments are waived during coronavirus lockdown, an MSP warned.

Labour’s Neil Bibby said some large pub-owning companies continue to charge commercial rent from tenants in "tied" agreements in Scotland.

Bibby has already been trying to change the law at Holyrood to make rents and leases fairer.

But with pubs shut down across the UK, he fears many will not open when the crisis eases.

Bibby said: "The government has instructed pubs to close, and tied pubs are not trading and therefore have no customers or income.

"Yet most large pub-owning companies are continuing to charge tied pub tenants a commercial rent.

"This is not just a grave injustice, it threatens the very viability of pubs the length and breadth of the country. It risks some pubs never re-opening.

"Some PubCos have announced rent deferments, however this still creates an unsustainable debt that many tenants will simply not be able to pay due to a severe loss of income.

"The burden of commercial rent should not be deferred, it should be lifted - and all PubCos should not charge or collect commercial rents from tied tenants until they can reopen their pubs."

Bibby wants industry body the Scottish Beer & Pub Association to put pressure on firms to follow the example set by Fullers.

Last week, the company said it will wipe charges for around 200 pub tenants while ordering branches to shut during the lockdown.

Bibby also encouraged MSPs across Holyrood to back his campaign.

In Scotland, nearly 1000 pubs are "tied", meaning tenants rent from pub owners with an obligation purchase alcohol from a particular brewery or company.

The unprecedented lockdown measure was ordered by the government to stop people mixing and spreading lethal Covid-19.

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Scottish politics

Meanwhile, the Scotch Whisky Association has called for an extension of business rates to support distilleries.

The industry body said reliefs and grants do not cover its members’ visitor centres, which one distillery said made up to 70 per cent of its revenue.

A suspension excise duty for at least six  months would give “breathing room”.

Sales have been dropping across the world, the association said.

The Scottish Government already announced a package of measures worth £2.2 billion.

It includes full non-domestic rates relief for a year covering retail, hospitality and tourism and £10,000 grants for firms in receipt of the small business bonus scheme or rural relief.