HC Deb 08 November 1948 vol 457 cc1241-2
4. Mr. C. S. Taylor

asked the Minister of Food whether he will consider authorising increased charges for meals served in hotels and restaurants on 24th, 25th, 26th and 31st December, 1948 and 1st January, 1949.

The Minister of Food (Mr. Strachey)

No, Sir. I have considered this possibility but have come to the conclusion that it would not be desirable to allow caterers to charge more for meals at Christmas time.

Mr. Taylor

In view of the fact that both hotels and restaurants have to pay greatly increased charges because of the provisions of the regulations under the Catering Wages Act, and as many hotels have already announced their intention to close down for these holiday periods, will not the right hon. Gentleman reconsider his answer, or are we to have complete austerity at Christmas time, too?

Mr. Strachey

I do not think I can consider allowing a higher charge for meals, but it might be possible to do something along the lines of some allowance for special Christmas festivities at particular meals—crackers, etc.

Sir Stanley Holmes

Does not the Minister realise, having regard to the fact that the public know that the Government are compelling restaurateurs and hotel keepers to pay additional wages for Christmas service, that the public are only too anxious to take advantage of what is provided for them by those restaurants and hotels, and will be only too ready to pay an extra contribution for what they are getting?

Mr. Strachey

That is a matter of opinion.

Sir Peter Macdonald

In view of the fact that hotels and caterers have to make their arrangements some time in advance, will the Minister come to an early decision on this matter and let them know where they stand, in order that they can make their plans for Christmas?

Mr. Strachey

Yes, I think that is a reasonable request.

Mr. Taylor

In view of the most unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.