HC Deb 18 March 1948 vol 448 cc2293-5
91. Mr. Gammans

asked the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received from the hotel and catering industry regarding the necessity and desirability of the investment of American capital in British hotels.

94. Mr. Teeling

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give details of the proposal that some part of the unexportable U.S.A. film earnings should be invested in British hotels; and whether before permitting such investment and competition he will provide better facilities to enable existing British hotels to proceed with their rehabilitation and renewal of equipment.

Mr. H. Wilson

I have received no representations from the hotel and catering industries concerning the investment of American capital in British hotels, though I understand that certain hoteliers and hotel trade associations have made statements to the Press on the subject. I shall certainly consult the hotel interests before any final decision is taken.

Meantime, I can only say that the possibility of using non-exportable American film earnings to assist in the development of our tourist trade was mentioned merely as one of a number of possible outlets for any sums that so become available. Any project for the employment of such sums will be subject to the approval of a control committee composed of members of His Majesty's Government and the American motion picture industry. We shall certainly see that nothing is done which will unfairly prejudice the interests of our own industries.

Proposals for new construction or extensions would, of course, have to be considered in relation to any of the competing projects in the capital investment programme, and neither in this matter nor in the provision of supplies could there he any discrimination as between foreign owned and British owned hotels. I may add that my Department has already provided for the hotel industry as many facilities in the renewal of equipment as can be spared.

Mr. Gammans

Do I understand that the right hon. Gentleman made this extraordinary suggestion that we should sell our hotels for American films without taking the trouble to find out whether the hotel industry either sought or needed American capital?

Mr. Wilson

I do not know what the hon. Member understands, but I ofould say to him, and to many of those who have made comments on this, that they should not believe that all that they read in certain sections of the Press was what was said.

Mr. C. Williams

Referring to the right hon. Gentleman's remarks about the reconstruction of hotels, is he aware that the proprietors of some of the hotels destroyed in the war find that great difficulties are being put in their way by Government Departments?

Mr. Wilson

Yes, Sir. Their difficulties are fully realised, and we are doing what we can to help.

Mr. Williams

As the right hon. Gentleman says he is doing what he can to help, will he help some of these hotels, instead of holding them up?

Mr. Teeling

Is the suggestion th it the money to be spent in this country on investing in hotels will then attract further dollars, or dollar purchased goods, and so make these American purchased hotels more attractive, because, if so, it will be a definite handicap against our own hotels?

Mr. Wilson

No. The suggestion was made that it might be possible, and no details have been worked out yet, to have a limited participation of American capital in British hotels, linked with what is already being done to attract American tourists to Britain.

Mr. Churchill

Was not the statement to which the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans) referred, in the first instance, made not in the newspapers, but from the Treasury Bench?

Mr. Wilson

No, Sir. The statement to which the hon. Member referred was based on the statement which I made at a Press Conference, and of which I shall be glad to send full particulars to the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Churchill

It was made, then, not from the Treasury Bench, but by one of His Majesty's Ministers?

Mr. Wilson

The statement which I made and that which has been quoted by the hon. Gentleman and in certain other quarters are very much at variance.