HC Deb 25 July 1949 vol 467 cc1806-7
38. Mr. Keeling

asked the Minister of Works whether he has heard of the long delays in obtaining licences for the repair or improvement of hotels; and whether, in view of their dollar-earning importance and other services to the community, he will modify the £100 limit and will put those with a certain minimum number of bedrooms on the same footing as businesses with a certain floor area, schools and agricultural buildings, which can spend £1,000 per annum without licence.

The Minister of Works (Mr. Key)

I cannot undertake to change the present licensing limit for all hotels of a given size, but in the issue of building licences instructions have been given to ensure special attention for hotels catering for foreign visitors. There should not ordinarily be any delay in dealing with these cases.

Mr. Keeling

How does the Minister account for the delays of which I have sent him full particulars? Why does he not put hotels on the same level as other businesses?

Mr. Key

There was a little delay in the cases which the hon. Member mentioned, but all five cases have been adequately and properly dealt with. I see no reason for including hotels with the ordinary sort of business.

Sir Stanley Holmes

Does the Minister realise that what may be termed the buyers' market has reached the seaside resorts and that people providing accommodation are realising that unless they can improve the amenities of their hotels, either by repair or replacement, they will be unable to cater for the requirements of overseas visitors? May I also ask him whether he realises that in many seaside resorts the building industry is a secondary trade and that very great hardship will be caused this winter unless sufficient licences of the kind mentioned in my question are granted?

Mr. Key

As I have already said, special attention is given to hotels catering for foreign visitors. In the normal course, the regional committees under my Department keep in touch with the state of employment in each area and they vary their licences according to the unemployment.

Mr. Shepherd

What did the delay amount to in the cases referred to?

Mr. Key

I have not that information.

Mr. Keeling

Is not the Minister aware that the poor condition of some British hotels is driving many people, both British and American, over to the Continent?

Mr. Key

No, Sir, I do not think that is true.