§ 3.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Butcher (Holland with Boston)
I hope the Committee will not think it inappropriate and inconvenient that on the first day after the Whitsuntide Recess, which has been somewhat longer than usual owing to hon. Members opposite being actively engaged at one of our popular seaside resorts, we should consider matters affecting the tourist trade, with particular reference to the Catering Wages Act. The President of the Board of Trade is a great traveller, and most certainly has that been the case since he has been in office. I feel sure that he will find very much in common with me this afternoon and that he will find me sweet reasonableness itself in the remarks which I wish to make. I hope that when he replies he will be able to make some satisfactory statement on the assistance to be given to this great and very important industry.
I should like him to go with me on three main propositions which I believe will run through the whole of the Debate in Committee today. The first is that the holiday and tourist industry at the present time is one of our most, if not the most important, earners of dollars. 40 As we find the problem of selling goods overseas becoming rather more difficult than it has been up to now, we shall have an increased opportunity to sell service in this country, and with imagination on the part of all those concerned in the industry, including the Government, the proprietors, the caterers in the tourist industry and the staff employed in that industry, they can make a great contribution to our nation to our mutual advantage.
The second proposition which I hope will have the President's support is that a prosperous tourist industry—by that I mean an industry attracting tourists from overseas—can only be based on a prosperous and efficient industry catering for the needs of the home holiday maker as well. One cannot be divorced from the other, and therefore, in considering this matter, it is impossible to divide the question of catering for the overseas visitor from the problem of taking care of the dweller in this country who seeks his recreation and refreshment here in this island.
I believe that I have carried the President with me so far, and I hope I shall be able to secure his agreement on the third point—that we are not the only people in Europe at the present time who recognise the importance of the tourist industry in assisting the balancing of their national accounts. Indeed, all the countries of Western Europe have been urged to increase the amount of accommodation available for tourists. Many of them are going at it in a spectacular and novel manner and are drawing tourists from all over the world to their countries. I believe that those three points will run through our minds during the whole of the Debate today. Therefore, I propose to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will be so good as to examine with me the present set-up which we have in relation to the Government and the holiday and tourist industry in this country.
Until 1929 this matter was very much left in the hands of the Travel Association, largely a project of Lord Hacking, formerly a very distinguished and respected Member of this House. Since then there has been some slight alteration. I am not sure that it is an improvement, but it is a matter which can be explored during the Debate. We find that the Catering Wages Commission in 1946 recommended the establishment of 41 a statutory travel and holidays board. On 10th December, 1946, a statement was made by Lord Hall in another place that the Government intended to set up a British Tourist and Holidays Board as an unincorporated body. The activities of that body were not particularly clearly defined or described at that time, and I think that the time has now come to ask the President for a full explanation of the work which he desires this board to undertake, and if, indeed, he considers that the present set-up is the right one to be governing, controlling and influencing this important industry.
This British Tourist and Holidays Board reports to the tourist, catering and holidays branch of the Board of Trade, which is a section inside one of the divisions of the Board of Trade. I am bound to ask whether this tourist catering and holiday branch inside the Board of Trade is not rather duplicating the work which is, in fact, done by the British Tourist and Holidays Board itself. Is the President really satisfied that there is not some measure of overlapping? It seems rather difficult to understand why it is necessary to have inside the Board of Trade a special branch in which are occupied a large number of civil servants, while at the same time there is a special Board dealing with the same matter with a secretariat manned by persons loaned from the Civil Service.
This British Tourist and Holidays Board has four divisions. I am wondering whether it is equally appropriate that each of these divisions should report to the Board of Trade. One is the catering division, and it might very well be, with the responsibility for catering resting with the Minister of Food, that this division should report to that Ministry. Another division of the Board is the Travel Association in its contractual position. Travel and transport seem to be related, and it might be that there should be a closer link direct with transport and that the Association should not report through the Board of Trade at all.
Now we come to the question of expenditure. A sum of £424,000 was given for expenditure by the British Tourist and Holiday Board. Of that £326,000-odd has been spent by the Travel Association in the travel division. It is pertinent to pause for a moment and inquire what the Government got from the expenditure of the remaining £98,000? If we refer to 42 the last report of the Board, which I believe is also its first, it will be found that the Board is almost silent on any activities, except those relating to the travel division, which is the Travel Association itself. I believe that is for the very good reason that the other three divisions have found very little useful indeed that they can do. The hotel and catering divisions are in a rather peculiar position. There are well developed trade associations covering their interests. In fairness to these particular divisions it is worth while saying that there is no particular activity or any great expenditure of money, but it is really time to inquire whether they really fulfil any particular purpose at the present time.
Then we come to the home holidays division. I have read the report of the 31st March, 1949, with considerable care. I told the President that I was in a kind and friendly spirit this afternoon, and I will, therefore, go no further than to say that careful perusal of this report causes one to think that much of the admirable and painstaking work done by the staff of this home holidays division was in its usefulness hardly commensurate with the time and labour they employed on it. There is disclosed a very limited field in which they have been engaged. A very small amount of publicity has been issued. My opinion is that much of the work of this division is either duplicated elsewhere or is unnecessary.
The remaining division, the travel division, is the old Travel Association. It has issued its 21st report, which I regard as a very imposing record, reflecting the greatest credit both on the directorate of the Association, on the President of the Board of Trade and on the Government who have placed money at its disposal so that its very useful work can be done efficiently and with such satisfaction to visitors from overseas. The record of 7,500,000 copies of publications distributed and 36,000-odd travellers to London with whom the Travel Association has come into the closest personal touch, is a great accomplishment for any organisation. It might very well come out of this Debate that the proper organisation should be some alteration of the present set-up, with a strengthening of the hands of the Travel Association, as well as the clearing away of some of the rather unnecessary foliage that has gathered 43 round this interesting problem while the President of the Board of Trade has been engaged on other matters of more immediate and vital importance.
The second question is how we are represented internationally in matters dealing with the tourist industry. The O.E.E. recently set up a tourist committee and I find that representatives of many national tourist offices sat on it. How is Britain represented? By people who were brought up in the travel industry? By Board of Trade officials? Are we represented, as I think we should be, by some of the officers of the Travel Association, or even by the British Tourist and Holidays Board? I am sure that hon. Members of this Committee would be grateful to have a reply on this point during the Debate.
The problem facing this country is very great, but so are our opportunities. The Americans have estimated that between 600,000 and 700,000 Americans can be expected to visit Europe in the near future, provided that facilities are made available to them. We know, too, of the interest which many other foreigners have in this country. We know how gladly we welcome parties to London from all over the world, especially from democracies with which we have been in the friendliest touch for many years, such as Sweden, some of whose visitors we are happy to have in the country today.
If the demand is as great as I think it is, I would ask what plans we are making to see that adequate facilities are available. I think it will be agreed that the private shipping companies have risen to the occasion and have played their part nobly, but the development of nationalised airlines has, I must say, been disappointing. It is four years since the need for concentrating on fighting planes ceased, but we are far from securing that leading part in air transport which we should maintain if we are to earn dollars. If we are thinking in terms of dollars, and if we can persuade Americans to come to this country in British planes, then the earning will start right away on the other side of the Atlantic.
I now turn to some of the difficulties with which the holiday and tourist industry is faced. I hope it will not be wearisome to the Committee if I repeat 44 that an industry successfully catering for the British holidaymaker is an essential foundation on which alone can be built a thriving tourist industry. The interests of the oversea tourists and the home holidaymaker should in no way be allowed to clash; but what do we find? I do not blame the President of the Board of Trade for it. The real difficulty is that the height of the home holiday period coincides with the peak of oversea tourist traffic, particularly from America. The monthly arrivals in Britain for June, July and August are at their peak exactly at the time when there is the largest pressure upon the available accommodation. We must take some steps if we are to spread the load as I believe it should be spread, through the year, to get over the enormous and heavy pressure on the holiday resorts in July and August.
Some suggestions have been made for staggered holidays—which I regard as a singularly unfortunate expression. Nevertheless, we must find out how far the holiday period can be stabilised throughout the whole year. The British climate is infinite in its variety. No one will be willing to promise a good fortnight in August more than in May or in June. I wonder whether it might be possible for the President of the Board of Trade to tell us what conversations he has had with the Minister of Education. I believe that in this matter the schools govern the holiday habits of the whole population. Could he see that the schools in some parts of the country take their holidays at other times than July and August? If the Leader of the House were here, I would ask him why Parliament always adjourns during August and September. Why should we not set a good example? The right hon. Gentleman's absence on this occasion is probably due to the fact that he sees that, almost certainly, he will have only one further opportunity of deciding the Summer Recess, because in future some gentleman now sitting on this side of the House will do it. Nevertheless, if an arrangement could be made by agreement among the parties, it would be admirable for Parliament to rise earlier in the year and not in August and September.
In the two months mentioned the Atlantic services are fully booked. While we applaud the action of the airlines in 45 reducing their charges over the less popular periods of travel, we say that this must be carried further and extended if we are to bring into use all the holiday accommodation that is available. I would pay a tribute to the work of the Travel Association in stressing the attractions of this country in the earlier months of the year, which resulted in an increased number of people coming to this country. Still, more inducements are needed.
There is the question of hotels. In paragraph 147 of the White Paper upon European Co-operation we read:The shortage of hotel accommodation caused partly by the war, is being successfully tackled.I am bound to inquire, how? How is this shortage of hotel accommodation being successfully tackled? All my information is that the demands on hotels in the more popular places make it quite impossible for the hotels to accommodate all the visitors who offer themselves. I do not believe that a new hotel has been built in this country since the end of the war. How is the shortage of hotel accommodation being tackled by the Government? Do not let anybody think that the new buildings that we see rising in various parts of the country are for the accommodation of overseas visitors. They are not for the earning of the dollars of which we stand in need. They are new Government offices on which the people's sterling will be spent. We can find labour, time and material to put up new Government offices but we cannot find them for additional accommodation in London for oversea visitors.
When we turn to the facilities in the hotels, such as the furnishings, we learn that it is not easy for the hotels to make themselves attractive to visitors at the present time. There are difficulties with staff and with high costs which are unnecessarily inflated by the Purchase Tax. Those and other difficulties make it hard for our hotels to act as they should, namely, as shop windows for our tourists. Of course British Railways do all they can to discourage people from buying British crockery. Can anyone imagine anything more unpleasant as an advertisement for British goods than the thick white crockery supplied by British Railways on which we find the strange and almost undecipherable symbols "B.R." followed by "(E)"? How can the poor 46 foreigner understand it? What is there in that design which will interest him in British crockery and chinaware, and make it so attractive to him that at the next stop he will rush to take a supply home to use on his breakfast table in Washington, Stockholm, or Paris?
Many overseas visitors are making complaints about the prices and services in this country, and they are pointing out that conditions on the Continent are much more favourable. The Travel Association have wisely arranged for a welcome card to be handed to each visitor from abroad as he comes into this country, on which is a space for any complaint. I understand that until recently there were few complaints about food—at least about the quantity—or accommodation, but those complaints are now growing; I wonder why?
There are certain difficulties facing the catering and hotel industry which can be removed by a certain amount of application and intelligence by the Government, of which the President of the Board of Trade is the spearhead in this matter. The first is the difficulty created by the catering wages regulations. That matter will be dealt with by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen with perhaps more intimate knowledge of these matters than I have. Nevertheless, I believe that unnecessary difficulties and hardships and loss of service to the visitor have been imposed on the industry in recent months by the operation of these regulations.
I believe that orders laid by the various boards have been designed, in the main, for factory industry rather than a service industry such as that of the hotels. Nobody on this side of the Committee wishes to see anybody working for less than a proper and adequate remuneration, yet we recognise as I believe the Government recognise, that while factories can be organised on a three-shift system of eight-hour shifts, and can be run efficiently on that basis, the best organised hotels do not run their bedrooms on a similar basis. That fact must be appreciated. I believe this difficulty is largely due to the fact that some of the trade union organisers have had little personal experience of the catering industry, and have brought to this difficult problem a desire to approximate the conditions in hotels to the conditions in 47 factories, rather than regarding it as an individual service to be planned for on its own account.
Secondly, the regulations made are far too complicated and rigid. I understand that there are nearly 2,000 varying rates of wages that can be paid. When I have examined some of the orders made I am sure that if I were a small hotel proprietor I would find it difficult to understand how an order should be interpreted. If the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour would like some examples, I should be happy to provide him with them, but I think he knows the position for himself. I believe that a calamitous mistake was made when the question of tipping was ignored in the framing of these orders. The result has been that the remuneration of the staff who do not come in contact with the visitors is out of relation to the rewards received by what can be called the "front of the house" staff. Therefore there is not the same willingness to accept the jobs behind the scenes.
Many other of these hindrances were dealt with in the Debate which took place on the Adjournment on 22nd March which the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Spearman) so admirably initiated. I do not propose to deal with them today but I hope that on certain points we may get fuller and more adequate replies. I do say, however, that France, Belgium, Italy, and now the Western zone of Germany, are as conscious as we are of the value of the tourist trade and are rapidly overcoming the difficulties which, occupied as they were during the war, they have had to face. Yesterday I saw menus from hotels and restaurants in Germany which were far more attractive in diversity and quantity than those which many leading London hotels are able to offer today. That ought not to be so. If it is possible for Western Germany to feed its American visitors well, it should be possible for this country to do so. Indeed, we have to do so if we are to earn the dollars of which we stand in need.
On this point it is worth while looking at the evidence of a distinguished American citizen, Mr. Douglas Fairbanks, who wrote in the "Sunday Times" of 8th May: 48The few best British trains are still as good as any—but the next best are as bad as any.May we ask the President of the Board of Trade to have a word with the head of British Railways? How much longer is the traveller on long distance trains to be expected to go without towels and soap? Why is it that we are not able to offer these facilities? Then Mr. Fairbanks goes on to say:The food in … some restaurants is as well prepared as any … but the next best is generally … tasteless.The hotels are doing what they can in this matter. They are training their staffs and there is a steady improvement. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the food in this country is not as appetising or attractive to visitors from overseas as that which the Continent is able to offer.
§ Mr. Shackleton (Preston)
Is the hon. Member suggesting that we should have different food for visitors, as they do in Germany and Austria? Does he realise that there are special rations put aside for tourists in those countries? It is rather an important point if he is suggesting that.
§ Mr. Butcher
I have not made any such suggestion. It is not for me to make suggestions; I hope we shall receive those from the Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Certainly, the Government have a responsibility for organisation. In answer to the interjection of the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Shackleton), I ask him to refer to the "Star" of Thursday last. This is what it said:There is no shadow of doubt that in those countries, that is France, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy, life for the visitor will have been much more pleasant and abundant than that which can be enjoyed in Britain.Earlier the article said:Goodbye to the juicy steaks and those tender veal cutlets; goodbye to the cream cakes and the shop windows full of chocolates. Goodbye to unrationed petrol.Cannot the President of the Board of Trade use his influence with the Ministry of Food to give a somewhat elastic interpretation of the present Meals in Establishments Order? It must be stressed that the quantity of food consumed by visitors or citizens of this country is not controlled by price: the quantity is controlled by the rationing orders, and this problem was dealt with recently in 49 an article by Mr. Mabane, a former Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food. The Meals in Establishments Order has now entirely outlived its usefulness.
Let me again turn to the "Star" article from which I quoted a moment ago, namely:There is another matter which helps to explain the contrast between the free and easy glitter of the continent and the drabness of our own life. It is better and more willing service. It finds its expression in a willingness to please in restaurants: in the fact that you can get late meals; that the shops are open when you want them. All this is done because people are prepared to work longer and more uncertain hours than we are.Those are not my words. Indeed, I doubt whether it is true that the foreigner is prepared to work any longer or any harder than we are.
I am satisfied that the British hotel and catering industry through Government regulation is not permitted to offer the flexible service that its Continental competitors do. For example, the tour of duty of the chambermaid in Switzerland is calculated on a basis of 63 hours per week. These are facts which have to be recognised, not because we desire people to work longer hours but because we are in competition with our friends on the Continent to secure more American dollars which the President of the Board of Trade is always telling us we need if we are to be free of American charity by 1952.
The Secretary for Overseas Trade said in the Adjourned Debate I have already referred to that he has always been worrying the Minister of Fuel and Power for more petrol for overseas visitors. I hope that this afternoon he will tell us how he has been getting on. The concessions are not particularly significant up to date. I do not believe that concessions made only to overseas visitors are enough. Many of the remote hotels in the countryside must receive British visitors who can only come to them by road if they are to be able to remain open to provide accommodation for foreign visitors. That drives home the point which I tried to make earlier that the export side of the industry cannot flourish without a sound home market.
Why do the Government make it so difficult for overseas visitors to buy goods in our shops free of Purchase Tax? I 50 am sure that the Government will say, "We do not. We make it extremely easy. All that has to be done is to have a form filled in." I have a copy of the form here. It looks an easy form to the civil servant, but to the shopkeeper it is just another form, and to the tourist it is a completely unnecessary complication on his holiday with which he refuses to have anything to do because he knows that he can purchase similar goods in France, Italy and elsewhere without the completion of such forms. I do not believe the Government have a proper understanding of the mind of the tourist. He likes to walk into a shop with his wife, select his purchases, have them wrapped up, and take them home with him. When he gets back to the hotel he likes to unwrap them and show them to his fellow travellers. There is a psychological moment of sale which, if it is lost, is lost forever, and the idea of having the goods packed up and forwarded to the port or airport of exit, complete with this form—let us be fair to the Government; it is only required in duplicate—does not appeal to them. The result is that we are losing many dollars which we could secure. The specialised tourist goods are such things as furs, leather goods, women's hats and jewellery, and they bear Purchase Tax, and the present regulation prevents a sale.
I do not imagine that I have listed all the difficulties facing the tourist industry. Doubtless I shall hear of others from the President of the Board of Trade. I have tried not to be unduly controversial and I wish to say that I realise the difficulties which have to be faced. I appreciate that it will not be an easy thing for this country, which once upon a time was largely able to look to unearned income for its overseas balance, to earn it in the future by the steady development of this new industry. Nevertheless, I believe it is a step which has to be taken. I make no apology for having raised this matter the day we resume after our brief Recess because I believe that unless we set out to secure the maximum advantage from this industry, the desire of the President of the Board of Trade, which is the desire of each and every one of us, that this country shall be self-supporting, free from charity and standing on its own feet at an early date, will not be realised.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Harold Wilson)
I am sure that the Committee will agree that the hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher) has done a useful service in raising the question of the tourist industry this afternoon. I think the Committee will agree also that, on the whole, he has approached the subject in a very fair and uncontroversial way.
§ Mr. Wilson
I used the phrase, "on the whole." I shall deal with some of the points on which I think the hon. Member was less than fair and more than controversial. I want to express agreement on the three points on which he began; first, the importance of tourism as a dollar-earning industry; secondly, the fact that one cannot separate the importance of the hotel industry as a tourist industry from its rôle in providing holidays for the citizens of this country—though that is a fact which causes many difficulties in addition to making things rather easy in certain ways; and, thirdly, that this is a subject of international importance and one on which many other countries are making great efforts, not only separately but also jointly through the special organisation set up in Paris.
In addition to dealing with the general subject of the tourist industry, the hon. Gentleman raised many specific points for me and my hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour hopes, Mr. Bowles, to catch your eye later when he proposes to deal with the points raised and any further points which may be raised on the subject of the Catering Wages Regulations. Should there be other points raised with which the Committee feel I have not adequately dealt, my hon. Friend the Secretary for Overseas Trade, who has a special responsibility for tourism and who has given a good deal of his time to it, will be prepared to answer if that is for the convenience of the Committee.
Perhaps it would help the Committee if I gave a few facts first about the present tourist position in order to put what the hon. Gentleman has said and what I propose to say in its proper setting. 52 Last year rather more than half a million visitors came to this country for business and pleasure—505,000 altogether—and with those who passed through this country on the way to other destinations, they spent something like £33 million in addition to the fares which many of them paid to our shipping and airline companies. Of those, 147,000 came from Canada and North and South America, and we estimate that our earnings from them just about reached the 50 million dollar mark. That means that the tourist industry is already making a major contribution to our earnings of foreign currency.
§ Mr. Keeling (Twickenham)
The right hon. Gentleman began by saying that the figures he was giving referred to people who came to this country on business and pleasure. He now talks as if all those people came as tourists. Coming to this country on business is quite different from coming as a tourist. When one comes on business it is because one has to, but when one comes as a tourist it is because the country attracts one. Cannot the right hon. Gentleman distinguish the figures, or at any rate not confuse the Committee by suggesting that the figures which apply to those coming whether on business or as tourists refer only to tourists?
§ Mr. Wilson
The hon. Gentleman knows that the phrase "tourist industry" is now very widely used to cover the entertainment of all foreign visitors. I am sure that he will be the first to recognise that it would be very difficult to distinguish those who come as holiday makers and those who come on business without instituting a far more difficult and complicated system of questions when they enter.
§ Sir Arthur Salter (Oxford University)
They are distinguished in this publication from the Travel Association.
§ Mr. Wilson
The right hon. Gentleman will realise that very many people come for both purposes, first for a short business visit and then they decide to stay for two or three weeks or two or three months to look round the country. As I have already indicated, in 1948 the tourist industry was our most important source of earnings of American dollars. It exceeded even cotton and whisky that 53 year. This year the tourist division of the British Tourist and Holidays Board is spending nearly £400,000, 30 per cent. more than last year, on publicity abroad, and we are looking for a substantial increase in the total number of visitors from overseas. By far the biggest proportion of this increase will be in visitors from America.
The tourist season, of course, has not yet reached its peak, but there is already good reason to believe that our hopes for this year will not prove to have been over-optimistic, and we are hoping that our 1949 earnings will exceed £40 million, of which £17½ million, we hope, will be in dollars. Although shipping capacity available on the North Atlantic routes during this Summer will considerably exceed that of 1948, all accommodation on the East-bound ships during the tourist season has been fully booked for many weeks past, and the trans-Atlantic aircraft are likely to be just as full as last year.
Whenever the hon. Gentleman was comparing any privately-owned and publicly-owned body, whether it was the shipping or air companies in the matter of travel, or the hotels and railways of this country, I noticed that in every case he was far more critical, as one would expect, of the publicly-owned bodies.
§ Mr. Wilson
But when he talks about shortage of space on the trans-Atlantic air routes, no one will deny that B.O.A.C. provide an extremely good service on the North Atlantic route, certainly at least as good as, and, in the view of many travellers I have met, far better than, that provided by any other company. Dealing with the question of space, on my recent visit to Canada I was told that thousands of Canadians were most anxious to visit these shores but that, for reasons of which none of us would wish to be critical, they were unable to get shipping space to this country. In spite of transport difficulties, however, the figures for the first three months of this year show an increase of about 4 per cent. in the number of overseas visitors as compared with the same months of 1948—and, of course, this is always the slackest part of the year for tourist travel; but in April, 54 which is not really properly into the tourist season, arrivals of visitors jumped up by 43 per cent. above what they were in April, 1948, a very remarkable increase and one which we hope will be maintained, and perhaps improved upon, in the real tourist months.
As the hon. Gentleman said, we do not regard these figures as anything like our maximum. In the four-year programme which was put in to O.E.E.C.. as the Committee knows, we have put tourism as our principal dollar earner. We are aiming at a total income of £65 million from tourism by 1952–53, of which we hope £37½ million will be in dollars. The Committee will be in no doubt of the size of the task we have set ourselves with such a programme. We shall be competing, for dollars especially, not only with the United States themselves and their own tourist industry; not only with Mexico and Canada, which offer a very wide variety of attractions to the American tourist, but also with other European countries, especially France, Switzerland and Italy, all of whom have a much longer tradition of catering for tourists, and a much more highly developed tourist industry, than we have ourselves.
Here, again, I thought the hon. Gentleman was less than fair in his comparisons between the attractiveness of our own tourist industry here and those of certain countries abroad. Having criticised the railways, he was very gentle with the hotels. I agree that the hotels are making great efforts to improve their cooking, but no one would suggest that this is a new problem; it was a problem for a long time before the war, and whatever may be done in training and in all the things to which the hon. Gentleman referred, we certainly had a very long way to go to catch up. Again, when talking about food supplies, the hon. Gentleman was undoubtedly less than fair when quoting the position in Western Germany. I did not gather that he was suggesting—and some of his hon. Friends denied that he was suggesting—that we should have separate hotels, restaurants or tables for overseas visitors, particularly for dollar visitors; nor do I think he would suggest a general re-allocation of food supplies in this country so as greatly to improve the supply of food to the hotels, many of which, of course, do not see very many 55 overseas visitors and which would provide food not so much for overseas visitors as for a very large number of home visitors, at the expense, of course, of their domestic food ration.
§ Mr. Butcher
I am sorry if I did not make myself clear. I was merely suggesting that, without any variation at all in quantity, diversity could be provided by removing the Meals in Establishments Order.
§ Mr. Wilson
The Committee has heard that question debated sufficiently to realise exactly the implication of the hon. Gentleman's suggestion. Generally speaking, our impression—this is true of the British Tourist and Holidays Board and of the Travel Association—is that Americans undoubtedly found conditions here in 1948 very much more to their liking than in 1947. Most of those who visited this country last year carried back good reports of the reception they had had in this country and of their enjoyment of their visits here. It is certainly no reflection on the efforts of the hotel, catering, transport and other industries concerned, or of the British Tourist and Holidays Board, to say that these efforts must be maintained and considerably intensified if we are to accomplish what we have set out to do in this field. I wish to pay my own tribute to the great achievements of Sir Alexander Maxwell and his colleagues on the British Tourist and Holidays Board, who have devoted great energies, and practically the whole of their time, in this important public service.
The hon. Gentleman referred to the constitution and working of the British Tourist and Holidays Board. I can assure him that there is certainly no overlapping between the Tourist and Holidays Board and the Tourist, Catering and Holidays Division of the Board of Trade, which is an extremely small division in any case. He referred to the fact that there are four divisions or wings of the British Tourist and Holidays Board and suggested it might have been better, if, for instance, the catering section were to deal direct with the Ministry of Food instead of with the Board of Trade; but if he looked into this very closely he would find that such a proposal would lead to far more cross-lines and duplication than if we have the whole of the 56 tourist problem looked at by one Government Department, which is then responsible for dealing with other Departments and getting what help and facilities it can.
The hon. Gentleman said, for instance, that the Travel Association—the travel side of B.T.H.B.—should deal direct with the Ministry of Transport because of the close association between transport and travel; but of course, as he himself said, it is not possible to divorce tourism—the provision of tourist facilities for the overseas visitor—from the provision of holiday facilities for the resident in this country. In any case, as he himself has made clear, the attraction of tourists to this country depends on very many more things besides transport. In fact, all other departments are brought closely into the working of B.T.H.B. and its various sections, with the Board of Trade in the lead, seeing that there is close relationship between the various sections of B.T.H.B. and the Departments of Food, Transport, and the rest that are concerned.
The Board of Trade also take the lead in representation on international bodies concerned with tourism; I am thinking particularly of the technical committee of O.E.E.C. The hon. Member seemed to think it strange that representation on that technical committee is by civil servants and not by representatives of the travel associations or B.T.H.B., but it is the policy of the Government on all these technical committees to have direct representation by officials of the Government and with technical advice in all cases from representatives of the industries or services concerned.
I am sure the Committee will realise that there is no single method by which the tourist trade of this country can be developed. It depends on the cumulative effect of patient and unspectacular but unremitting work in almost every aspect of our national life. The hon. Member referred to only a few of the many things which are of importance. The impression which visitors get is based only in part on matters which it is within the competence of the Government to influence. In the main, what will effect a visitor's view of his treatment in the country where he spends a holiday are the thousand and one things in his everyday contacts with the people who are temporarily his hosts. 57 They include such things as cleanliness in hotels, restaurants, streets and theatres. In this connection the clean food campaign of B.T.H.B. has dollar-earning as well as hygienic value. There are also the courtesy, willingness and a desire to help on the part of waiters, taxi drivers and everyone; the spring-cleaning of towns and tidiness in the country; the simple, straightforward and tactful presentation of bills and accounts. All these things add up to make a successful tourist trade.
I wish particularly to emphasise the need to improve facilities for middle-income and lower-income tourists because that is where the big volume of extra business will undoubtedly lie. The prestige of the great hotels in London and in some other parts of the country is undoubtedly a great asset to us, but the extra business will lie in the multitude of less expensive hotels catering for a far greater public. I have referred especially to dollars, but no one taking part in this Debate will be thinking of dollars only, or even of dollars primarily. As the hon. Member said, we are all of us alive to the cultural and political benefits of a flow across the North Atlantic of a great number of our Canadian cousins and our American friends from all walks of life.
A number of special points have been raised and I wish to deal with them as fully as possible without taking too much time of the Committee. The question of publicity is obviously of great importance in attracting overseas visitors. I have referred to what the British Tourist and Holidays Board are doing in their present campaign. Recently they have opened new and bigger offices in New York, on Madison Avenue, and from the accounts we get that is attracting large numbers of visitors. A wide variety of literature is distributed to all travel agents, and there is extensive advertising in the Press, magazines, on the radio and by means of films. This year the publicity is specially planned to increase the value as well as the volume of travel in this country. It is directed at persuading visitors to stay for longer periods, to travel more widely and not to be content with London and Stratford and, perhaps, Oxford and Cambridge, and also to appreciate the advantages of travelling in Spring and Autumn, outside the peak months. My hon. Friend will be dealing with the question of staggered holidays, to which the hon. Member referred, and the application 58 of the policy in regard to the tourist trade over a longer period of the year.
The question of facilities for tourists when we have them here and the need to persuade tourists to buys goods here was raised by the hon. Member. In this connection the new regulation of the United States Government that tourists may take back 400 dollars worth of goods duty-free makes sales from the shops of this country a very real proposition and one worth tackling. The hon. Member referred to the personal export scheme. While clothes rationing continued, we made special arrangements to give coupon vouchers to overseas visitors so that they could buy rationed clothing, and considerable use was made of the scheme, but naturally it came to an end with the end of clothes rationing.
At the same time, the personal export scheme, which was originally devised to enable visitors from abroad to buy rationed clothing tax-free, was revised. An extension of the previous scheme was introduced at the beginning of May and it is now-possible for visitors to buy personal and household effects tax-free, provided they are sent direct by the shops to the port or airport from which the customer is leaving, and not handed over the counter or delivered to him in this country. The main feature of the new scheme is that if it is not practicable for a retailer to pass back to his registered supplier an order which he receives—as he was bound to do under the old scheme—he may, by arrangement with his supplier, obtain tax relief if he supplies tax-free, for delivery to the port or airport, an article which he has in stock and on which tax has already been paid. The form which the hon. Gentleman held up was drafted in conjunction with the trade and those concerned, and the actual amount to be filled in by the tourist is virtually limited to certifying the value which he pays for the article.
The hon. Member referred to petrol, and I think the Committee are aware of what has been done in this connection. If further particulars are needed, my hon. Friend the Secretary for Overseas Trade will be prepared to give them. During the period April, 1948, to the end of March, 1949, 1.4 million gallons of petrol were issued to overseas visitors and about 22 per cent. of the petrol issued was to visitors from hard currency 59 countries. There are special arrangements for the supply of soap. Recently there have been Customs concessions made for the benefit of overseas visitors. This is a subject which has often been raised during the last year. Large quantities of tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, spirits and so on can be brought in duty-free by the visitor.
Another matter with which the Government have been very much concerned is that of formalities affecting tourists. The Committee know the position and the changes made in connection with visas. Formalities in connection with identity cards have been considerably relaxed and certain changes have been made in the personal declaration of health which visitors have to fill up.
One of the matters with which we have been chiefly concerned is that of the improvement of port and airport facilities. In December last year we felt that the best way of ensuring an improvement of conditions in the ports and airports for the reception of foreign visitors would be to set up an expert committee composed of representatives of all interested departments and authorities concerned to make an examination on the spot of facilities and amenities available and to consider how far they could be improved, both urgently for this year and, on long-term programmes, for subsequent years. This Working Party on Passenger Handling Facilities has now visited all the principal ports and airports handling tourist traffic in this country and has also been to several foreign ports and airports to see what can be learned from them.
Many recommendations made by them have been put into effect and the ports have been made brighter and cleaner and the standard of amenities raised. At Harwich, for instance, recommendations of the working party for work on rehabilitation and redecoration of buildings were adopted. Work began in February and was finished by the end of May. Port authorities are also being encouraged and assisted to prepare and work out long-term plans for port improvement. In this connection, I should like to refer especially to the fine new passenger terminal for the "Queens" traffic at Southampton, the completion date of which has been advanced so that it should 60 be ready for the beginning of the 1950 tourist season.
The working party has recently been paying particular attention also to the two general problems of handling baggage and motor cars. Various recommendations have been put into effect for speeding up the handling of baggage and motor cars and also for simplifying the formalities involved in bringing cars into this country. The number of cars brought here in 1948 was greater than in any prewar year and is expected to increase again this year.
Special attempts have been made to improve the general transport services, particularly on the main tourist routes. The Ministry of Supply and the British Tourist and Holidays Board have been able to make arrangements for certain hire-car firms who deal particularly with overseas visitors to get delivery of new cars from the export quota. About 210 cars have been allocated to 20 of these firms this year.
I now come to the special problems and difficulties of the hotel and catering industry itself. I am well aware of the feelings of many hoteliers—they have been well voiced at various times by many hon. Members from seaside towns and other parts of the country—particularly their feelings about shortages of supplies. But I am quite sure that no hon. Member would ever have suggested that the whole hotel industry, including thousands of establishments which never see an overseas visitor, should have been given a priority—for instance, for sheets and towels or crockery—over the housewife. Nor would I think that anyone would suggest that all hotel buildings should have a priority over housing. Yet if we were to do anything for those hotels which could make a contribution to earning dollars, we had to give some priorities, but we had to do so on a selective and discriminatory basis. That is not an easy thing to do, although we have not shirked doing it in many directions.
§ Sir Ian Fraser (Lonsdale)
Will the right hon. Gentleman call to mind his own statement that he would be prepared to show open favouritism—those were his words—to those who could earn dollars?
§ Mr. Wilson
Yes. I was then refering to industrial production, but we have 61 shown open favouritism and open discrimination towards a large number of hotels, particularly in the matter of building licences, and also in the supply of sheets, towels, etc., if hotels could show that they were capable of entertaining a good number of dollar visitors.
On the question of physical accommodation, we have been struggling with the difficulties that during the war so many hotels were requisitioned and no replacement of equipment was possible. The industry is only now getting back to anything like its normal, state. But within the present limits on building work imposed by the necessity to control capital investment and to promote the housing programme, we are doing what we can to raise the general standard of accommodation throughout the country by permittinq, minor improvements, such as redecoration, installation of new bathrooms and wash basins in hotels to be made as freely as possible. In addition, we are sponsoring applications for rebuilding and extensions and new building to be undertaken where these are expected to be of importance to the overseas tourist trade. In the seven months just ended, building work on hotels has been authorised to a value of £766,000. Well over 90 per cent. of the hotel accommodation formerly held on requisition has now been released. The hon. Gentleman referred to some buildings which are going up in the Whitehall area. I would say that the faster they are completed the more requisitioned hotels can be handed back. Further, hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have pressed for the derequisitioning of business property, which all of us who are interested in the export trade would like to see speeded up.
§ Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)
Is the right hon. Gentleman doing anything to expedite the time taken to get permits? For example, when we had the international yachting at Torquay last year his Department took so much time that the event was over and the chance was missed.
§ Mr. Wilson
We are doing everything we can to speed up the time taken in dealing with these matters. If the hon. Member knows of any recent case perhaps he will let me have particulars of it.
§ Mr. Keeling
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the question of building 62 licences will he say how he can justify the position whereby the occupier of an office, whether or not he is an earner of dollars, can spend up to £1,000 without a licence, while the occupier of an hotel, whether or not he is an earner of dollars, can only spend up to £100 without a licence? What is the sense of that?
§ Mr. Wilson
I think the correct answer is that if there are any hotels which desire to spend not only between £100 and £1,000 but very much more than that, provided that they can earn dollars or entertain overseas tourists, those concerned will find the Government ready to give speedy facilities for that to be done.
§ Mr. Keeling
The right hon. Gentleman has not answered my question: why has a licence to be obtained in one case and not in the other?
§ Mr. Wilson
If the hon. Member wishes to raise a question about the general discrimination in regard to building licences, he should direct it to the Department concerned, the Ministry of Works, and I am sure that he will get an answer.
Turning to equipment, in the past, as I have said, special arrangements were made to enable hotel and catering establishments to get items of equipment which were rationed or in short supply—household textiles, furniture, floor coverings, plated ware, cutlery, pottery, etc. Now that rationing of these commodities is a thing of the past and supplies are, on the whole, much easier, they can get their equipment in the ordinary way, and re-equipment can go ahead without Government intervention. Nevertheless, we are still prepared to look into any cases brought to our notice by the British Tourist and Holidays Board or by anyone else, where an hotel of importance to our overseas tourist trade is experiencing difficulty in getting equipment which it needs, and to do what we can to help.
There are, of course, still complaints about certain articles being difficult to get, such as heavy duty catering equipment and some other items which are not supplied for the home market, such as decorated pottery. It would be nice if not only British Railways but hotels could have decorated pottery freely, but the hotel and catering industry is getting from manufacturers about 12 per cent. of the 63 total pottery supplies to the home market; in addition, it is also obtaining further quantities, about which we have no information, from wholesalers and retailers. That is a fair share, and if we attempted to direct a higher percentage of crockery supplies to the hotel industry, and certainly if we attempted to supply decorated crockery, it could only be at the direct expense of hard currency exports, or, in the case of non-decorated pottery by reducing the already restricted supplies to the domestic consumer to an impossibly low level. I am sure the Committee would not accept the view that even the undoubted advantages to the industry and the tourist trade of the advertisement of our pottery would justify such diversions from the export trade or the home market.
I have not been able to deal with all the points raised by the hon. Gentleman, but my hon. Friend can do so. I hope that this survey of the tourist facilities will satisfy the Committee and the hon. Gentleman that the Government really regard the tourist industry with the same degree of consideration as they would extend to any other dollar-earning industry, and that within the limitations placed upon us by the needs of our direct export industries, the capital investment programme, and minimum supplies for the home consumer, we are doing everything within the power of a Government to enable this industry to continue and to improve upon the fine work it is doing to improve the country's balance of payments and to attract overseas visitors in the numbers we all desire to see.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)
The Committee will have been interested in many of the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman, but I must admit to a feeling of considerable disappointment at the way he put the case before the Committee for the activities of his Department, and, so far as he could do so for those of other Departments too. I rather think the best example of his approach to the matter was included in the few words he used about the new reception accommodation at Southampton. He spoke in easy terms about "the completion date being speeded up." What he really means, surely, is that efforts have been made, we hope successfully, to speed up 64 the rate at which the work is being carried out so that the job will be finished earlier than anticipated. He looks only at the end of the story and merely says that "the completion date has been speeded up." That is one of those paper statements which can, or cannot, mean anything at all. I think it would be much wiser if he would look into the details of this industry in which he is interested from one aspect, the inducing or the enticement of overseas visitors to this country, and see what he can do to help from his own angle, while other Ministers are seeing what they can do to help from other angles.
I wish to look at this matter from the point of view of the holiday catering industry in so far as it has to carry on the work of supplying holidays for those at home. I entirely agree with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher) that no hotel or boarding house or apartment house industry can properly exist on overseas visitors alone. In fact, I would put it exactly the other way round, and say that unless we have a strong industry which is successfully catering for the vast masses of those within this country who desire holidays, we cannot supply reasonable holidays and reasonable accommodation for the overseas visitor at all. Therefore, I would suggest that the key to the success of attracting overseas visitors lies in the success with which we can deal with the problem of catering for those who desire holidays within this country. Unless we can deal with that problem properly it seems to me to be unlikely that we shall be able to provide the means of entertaining those who wish to come to us from overseas.
Let us look first of all at the extent of the problem of dealing with those who desire holidays in this country. The growth of the number of those who so desire holidays on paper is, of course, colossal. In 1937 only 1,500,000 in this country were entitled to holidays with pay, but by 1939 that number had increased to nearly 12 millions; and by 1949 those entitled to holidays with pay included practically the entire insured working population of the country. That is not just an expansion; it is in fact a flood, a spate, a torrent which we have to face, and with which we have to deal 65 and plan for, and to think about very seriously indeed.
This expansion of the potential demand has, as we all know, taken place during a time when it has been quite impossible for hotels, boarding houses and so on to carry out the necessary improvements, expansions and extensions; and also at a time when, on the other side of the picture, the housewife and the working man is more in need of a holiday than ever before. Those are the two extremes of urgency within the picture itself.
Equally, this increased potential demand for holidays has taken place at a time when getting about the country is extremely difficult, when petrol has had to be cut down or is cut down, and railway fares are so excessively high as to make travel to the more distant holiday centres extremely extravagant, extremely expensive, and unpopular with the would-be holiday maker. My hon. Friend the Member for Holland with Boston made, I thought, one rather derogatory remark about the home holidays division which is collecting and disseminating information about home holidays. I do not think that these divisions of the Tourist Board are doing bad work at all. I think they are doing excellent work, which no one has done before, but which must be done if we are to be in a position to face these holiday problems at all. The one thing I would say about their reports and work is that nobody in the Government seems to pay any attention to them, and that is half the trouble. If only the recommendations and requests put forward by these boards and divisions were given the attention which they deserve, I think that the whole picture would be very much brighter and better.
I mentioned travel. I know that recommendations were made, and were carried out, with regard to petrol for overseas visitors. I know the difficulties of increasing the petrol for home holiday makers. But petrol and motorcars are not the only means of holiday travel, and I wonder why no step has been taken by any Ministry or member of the Government to force the British Railways to face up to the possibilities of running special holiday trains to designated centres from other designated centres at lower rates in order to encourage the spread of the holiday population to the 66 more remote districts. After all, under the Catering Wages Act of 1943 it was part of the duty of the Catering Wages Commission to study the problem of staggering holidays. Staggering holidays depends not only on staggering in time, but also on how far people can be spread into other areas where holidays can be provided. If the high cost of travel does debar people from going to more distant areas that is a problem which should be tackled very actively indeed.
We have, therefore, two appalling difficulties in dealing with this very large number of potential holiday makers in the right way. First of all, there has been the complete failure to stagger our holidays in time. A great deal more work should be and could be done in this direction by way of educational work, propaganda and persuasion. But owing to travel restrictions we have a small proportion of centres, many of them gravely overcrowded, and others which are in some difficulty except at certain periods of the year. Owing to those reasons and several others, some of which I shall mention, there does appear to be a changeover in the desire of the population as to where they should go to spend their holidays. It is mentioned in the annual report of the home holidays division, and there have been other surveys by other bodies, describing where people would like to go and where they are going for their holidays. I do not propose to mention any figures in that respect because I do not think there is any unanimity in the surveys that have been made.
But the tendencies are perfectly clear, and all the different surveys show the same tendencies; namely, that more people want to go abroad and also that more people are staying at home and not going on holiday at all. I do not think that that is a healthy position for the working population of this country to be in. If more people are staying at home and not having a holiday at all more people will not have the refreshment and change so essential if they are to remain efficient and go on with their work. That is a subject which deserves the most active and full attention of the Minister of Labour himself, and attention at once. If there is a steady increase in the number of those who stay at home instead of taking holidays, that will affect the efficiency of the people for whose 67 welfare the Minister is responsible to a considerable degree. Also, it will affect the work which those people carry out.
I have mentioned the failure of staggering in time. That is a most serious matter. It is officially estimated that 40 per cent. of the total population take their holidays in the two months of July and August. That puts an almost unbearable strain upon accommodation in certain parts of the country. As the spread over or the staggering is not working, the employment of those in the industry which caters for holiday makers is becoming more and more seasonal. That in itself is extremely unhealthy for the industry. Once we start a system under which the employment of people in that industry becomes seasonal, eventually even the key workers will be affected. Nobody knows better than the hotelier or the men and women who run boarding houses how vitally important it is that the key men or women at least should be kept employed throughout the year. That is a point which must be watched. It is a matter which the Minister of Labour should take up at once.
It is clear from all the figures which are available that more hotels and boarding houses are closing during the quieter parts of the year. That tendency has increased because beyond a certain point the high costs in the hotel and catering business cannot be recovered from the customer, whereas in the past the summer holiday months provided a sufficient margin of profit to enable a proprietor to carry his entire staff at a loss over the thinner and poorer months. Where the actual cost of operating is so high that the profit margin is small during the summer months, obviously the profit earned then is not sufficient to enable business to be carried on at a loss over the rest of the year.
That is another factor which must be considered in relation to the regulations proposed by the wages boards set up under the Commission which was brought into being by the Catering Wages Act. Already we are beginning to see some of the evil effects of the confusion brought into the industry by orders made under that Act. It is obvious to any one who travels about the country that there has been a drastic reduction in the amount of services which it is possible to supply. 68 Cuts are made in many obvious ways. One cannot get a meal either early or late whether one wishes to leave early or arrive late. Very often hotel visitors find themselves denied the possibility of obtaining a meal not from any lack of desire on the part of the management but simply because the staff cannot be there at that time except at exorbitant expense. Service in bedrooms and in the lounges of hotels equally has suffered enormously.
Hardly any one who visits any hotel today can help noticing that the general standard has been very much reduced. Sooner than supply poor service, hotels which normally remain open throughout the year are cutting down the period during which they stay open. The Hotels and Restaurants Association recently carried out a survey which showed that at the end of 1948, 12 per cent. of the hotels which were open in 1947 for the Winter and Spring, were closing their doors for three months or longer. They also discovered that 18 per cent. of those open in the winter closed at Christmas. Though they were open throughout the winter they closed at Christmas because they could not possibly afford to pay the treble rates demanded by the regulations in force at that time. That is an unhealthy position caused very largely by the effect of the regulations under the Catering Wages Act.
I should like to remind the Committee of the structure of that Act of 1943 which I neither supported nor opposed. I find from the record of my voting that I did support the Question being put, but I neither supported the Bill on Second Reading nor did I oppose it. Under that Act a Commission was set up charged with the duty of looking into the different branches of the industry. If the Commission decides that any one branch of the industry needs some sort of structure to regulate wages, they apply to the Minister who tables an order before the House under which a wages board is set up. The wages board is constituted of employers, employees and independent persons. There are 10 to 15 on either side representing the employers and the employed and three or four independent persons.
When such a board has investigated the branch of the industry with which it is concerned, it makes recommendations for regulations. It is open to those affected by the regulations to protest and to ask 69 for amendment. Any proposed amendments are considered and then the regulations are re-submitted to the affected parties who again can make recommendations or objections. Finally, the Wages Board is charged with the duty of laying draft regulations before the Minister—it is important to remember that—and then the Minister is charged with the responsibility of putting those regulations into effect.
Therefore, the whole responsibility whether or not the regulations should be approved finally rests upon the Minister. The most remarkable point is that the House of Commons at no stage of the proceedings has any say whatever in the matter. The Minister is charged with a duty and at no time can he be questioned, influenced or persuaded on the Floor of the House either upon the advisability or inadvisability of any regulations he may be considering. The House of Commons can have no part in the matter once a board has been set up. Though I personally am in favour of the continuation of the Act—I do not wish to see it repealed—I consider that it is our duty to look into the workings and the machinery of the Act, because I believe that as it is being worked at present it is causing grave harm to an important industry.
We have looked at the scope of the problem and examined the machinery set up to deal with it. I wish to ask whether the machinery is helping to solve the problem in any way. Frankly, I cannot find one point on which real assistance has been given. On the Second Reading of the Bill in 1943, the then Minister of Labour said that he wished to set up this Commission, and to see wages boards set up if necessary, in order to assist in the reconstruction of the hotel and catering industry immediately after the war. It is now four years since the end of the war. During that time there has been an acute labour shortage and the rates of pay in the industry, in almost every case, have exceeded the rates recommended by the wages boards. In that direction, therefore, have the wages boards performed a useful function? I would say that in that respect they have wasted their time.
The rate of wages is not the only thing. There are also the terms and the conditions of holidays, and one would have expected that a body charged with the 70 duty of attracting overseas visitors and also people at home to have proper holidays would have realised that more people go on holiday at holiday time, and the greater would be the demand which is placed on the personnel in the industry. I should have thought that that was quite a simple question, but it is one which has apparently been overlooked by the Board. I have no doubt that the Parliamentary Secretary can give us a word of encouragement to believe that his right hon. Friend is really looking into the effect of these recommendations and the regulations for which he is responsible, in order to see whether, in fact, he has done good or evil.
I have other reasons for saying that this machinery has failed. First of all, the boards have entirely neglected to study the whole question of tipping, and, whether we like it or not, the fact is that tipping has been so long established that we cannot either stop it or change it in a short time. Tipping is one of the biggest problems which the industry is faced with, because the people behind the counter who do not participate in that sort of thing are apt to look at it in quite a different perspective in relation to those who do participate. I am not saying whether it is a good thing or a bad thing; I am only saying that it is firmly established and that it will take a great deal of persuasion to stop people giving tips.
Secondly, the approach of the boards has been far too much the approach which might have been made to an industrial problem. So far, five boards have been set up, and I believe that the field covered by each—certainly, by two of them—is far too wide. The board set up to deal with the question of licensed residential establishments and that which was set up to deal with the question of conditions in unlicensed residential establishments are asked to cover an almost impossibly wide field. The variations in that field are simply enormous. To take one example, we cannot possibly conceive that the same problem exists in a holiday resort as exists in a large centre of population in regard to questions of staff for hotels and boarding houses. It is quite obvious that it is an entirely different problem. The one has a steady trade, and the other, as is bound to be the case, has a trade which is highly seasonal.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Ness Edwards)
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me, as I am sure he does not want to misrepresent the situation? With regard to the licensed establishments, he is aware that there is an area differential, and, in that sense, the very anomaly of which he complains has been taken care of.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
I agree that it has been taken care of to a certain degree as regards payments, but I feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that I was not exaggerating the whole picture.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis (Upton)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, during the discussions on both these boards, it was the employers themselves who would not agree to the classification or grading of establishments according to their size, the size of the place where they were situated and matters affecting wages and conditions? It was the employers themselves who opposed the very suggestion which the hon. Member is now making.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
The hon. Member has raised an interesting point. This House and this Committee are not aware of the proceedings of these boards, and I think it is a great pity that we are not aware of them. I should be considerably assisted if the minutes of the proceedings of these boards were published, and I see no reason why they should not be, although I agree that it would be quite wrong if the sittings took place in public, because I can imagine the kind of propaganda in which the hon. Gentleman would engage as a result.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
Whether they published it or not, there is no official document which gives a proper and exact official record of the proceedings of these boards. I think it would help very considerably if a proper report of these proceedings was published.
I want to deal with another aspect of the problem concerning which I believe the boards have failed, and this concerns the question of the personnel of the boards. On re-reading the Second Reading Debate, I find that it was intended that the personnel of the boards should 72 be composed on both sides of those who were actually engaged in the industry. After all, when we are looking into an industry which is so extremely complicated, with all sorts of ramifications and variations, it is surely most important that both sides should be represented by those who really understand the details of management and of working the industry itself. As regards one side of these boards, that is the case.
Every man on the employers' side of these boards is a man who has been engaged in management or has worked his way in and understands the working of this industry. That is not the case on the employees' side. I do not think it is at all a healthy position when we find a professional organiser, who has been doing a grand job in his own particular sphere, taking a large part in the consideration of the terms and conditions of working in an industry with which he has no personal contact whatever, except that of the ordinary visitor to an hotel. Once we get that, we get the results which are in fact taking place today.
The independent persons on these boards, who are bound to be people who are not interested in the industry, instead of coming to a decision on matters of fact, attempt to arrive at a decision simply by bargaining the one side against the other by saying, "Will you accept this?" and, "Will you accept that?" I am imputing nothing improper to these people, but this matter has become so important that it is now a great menace, because, rather than face the actual facts of the situation and the effects of certain proposals on the consumer and the public, there is too much bargaining by the independent members between one side and the other, which must be very unhealthy for the industry as a whole. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to reassure us on that particular issue.
Lastly, on the particular matter of representation, I do not believe that, when we are dealing with such a vast field and such an enormous number of variations as exist in the case of unlicensed residential establishments, any one body can possibly feel that it is truly representative of the whole field. It really has become almost impossible to find, in any large holiday resort, more 73 than a small proportion of the boarding houses, which would be affected by a draft order, in which the people concerned know anything about the proposal, care anything about it or have really heard anything about it at all. A large proportion do not belong to any association which can speak on their behalf. In my own constituency, I can only say that I know that a very large number indeed of those who will be affected—and boarding houses will be affected down to those with only four rooms to let—do not belong to any association, have made no representations and are completely unaware of the effects of the new proposals. That in itself is obviously a very unhealthy position.
In the country as a whole only a quarter of the estimated number of unlicensed residential establishments have registered at all, and two-thirds of that number have sent in objections to the proposals which have been put forward by the Boards. There must be something wrong with the system of working of a body which can send out proposals which are so nearly unanimously considered undesirable. The size of this business is very great indeed, and I think it would be most unwise if a board of that sort was allowed to continue its own particular structure and machinery in the way in which it has worked so far. These smaller people simply have not the proper voice in the matter which they should have. When we realise that some 75 per cent. of the demand for holiday accommodation is provided by boarding houses and apartment houses we see what an important matter that is.
I recognise, and I am sure that the Minister will also recognise, that this Act must remain on the Statute Book. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us that he now realises that the structure has not proved to be entirely satisfactory, and that the work being performed by the different units concerned under the Statute has not been performed in as helpful a way as the previous Minister of Labour who introduced it hoped it would. An enormous responsibility is laid upon the Minister, upon the Commission and upon the boards, because on the effect of their work depends, first, whether we can have a satisfactory hotel and holiday industry in this country at all; secondly, whether we can attract overseas visitors, and, 74 thirdly, whether we can provide a proper measure of rest for those engaged in vital work in this country. I place this third possibility by no means last in importance. For all these reason I hope that active steps will be taken by the Minister to see that this Act is operated in the best way possible, and that he will be able to tell us tonight that this will be so.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Shackleton (Preston)
I am happy to have caught your eye, Mr. Bowles, but I regret that I shall not be able to follow the hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher) in what is an extremely important aspect of the tourist and holiday industry. It is perhaps clear to those who are not themselves concerned with the tourist and holiday industry that we are dealing with a very complicated structure indeed, with problems, which do not crop up in the rest of industry, and which, furthermore, have to be dealt with by a somewhat experimental approach. Until the hon. Gentleman came to deal with the operation of the catering wages provisions, I was in agreement with him on his observations about the tourist industry, and it is with regard to the foreign tourist industry that I propose to speak this afternoon.
Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the Committee if we accepted the international definition of a "tourist" as covering anybody who travels to another country for purposes other than passing through it or residing permanently in it. Therefore, it covers businessmen as well as holiday travellers. That is, in fact, the definition given to the word by a committee set up by the League of Nations, although, of course, hon. Members can choose whatever definition they prefer.
I wish to refer to some of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Holland with Boston who, I am sorry to see, is not in his place. He completely belied the statement he made at the beginning of his speech to the effect that he would take a reasonable and constructive line. In fact, he delivered a particularly destructive and unhelpful speech, and one in marked contrast to the speech of the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Orr-Ewing). It is quite absurd to suggest that the Home Holidays Committee of the British Tourist and Holidays Board does 75 nothing, and that even if it does something it is merely duplicated by other bodies. The hon. Gentleman did not explain in what way it was duplicated. It is quite clear that there is a tremendous need for the Home Holidays Committee in the development of provision for holidays for people in this country in view of the enormous developments that have taken place in the provision of holidays with pay. It is equally absurd to make comparisons between the type of food provided by a hotel in Germany, with its special allocation for tourists and a very much lower scale of rationing for the rest of the people, with the food which is available in British hotels to anybody who can afford to pay for it. People talk about the enormous steaks one can get in Paris and elsewhere, but we know that, despite that, the consumption of meat per head in this country is higher than in those European countries. Therefore, I felt that the hon. Member's speech was not a helpful one when examining this tremendously important industry.
It is also clear that the policy adopted by the Government has met with considerable success. We know that last year was a record year for tourists, and that tourism—the visiting of this country by foreign tourists, particularly from America—is one of our most important sources of foreign currencies and our most valuable source of dollars. The real question is whether the Government are spending enough money on the tourist industry. I believe they are spending something in the region of £500,000 in this field, but that sum seems small in comparison with the amount of money being spent on the development of other visible exports in America. Here is an industry which is capable of making a greater contribution than any other single industry towards righting our adverse dollar situation, and yet there seems to be a general lack of appreciation of this fact not only on the part of the British Government but among all Governments. The report which led to the setting up of the O.E.E.C. made practically no mention of tourism at all, and although there is a greater recognition of its importance today, I still feel that its real significance is not fully appreciated, and that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and my other hon. 76 Friends in that Department should devote much more of their time to the consideration of the development of this business.
I was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman in his speech, in which he paid tribute to Sir Alexander Maxwell—a well-merited tribute—and to members of the British Tourist and Holidays Board, did not give the credit where it was really due—to the Travel Association, and particularly to the Director-General, Mr. Bridges, and to Lord Hacking and Lord Jowitt who are, I believe, also important figures in that Association. We are not at all clear today what is the position of the Travel Association in relation to the British Tourist and Holidays Board. I do not know whether any statement has been made clearing up this point, which is one of some significance. Here is a body which should be encouraged and which has come into existence largely through the initiative of people interested in the industry. It has received Government support, but it is in danger of falling between two stools unless its position is clearly defined.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
Can the hon. Gentleman tell me whether the Travel Association is a body distinct from the Workers' Travel Association?
§ Mr. Shackleton
The Workers' Travel Association is a completely different body; to some extent it is a commercial body, and, as its name suggests, provides holidays primarily for the workers. The Travel Association is a body designed to develop the export of tourism—in other words, to persuade foreign tourists to come to this country and to assist in the provision of facilities, and so on. I may say that some of the leaders of the W.T.A. have played a considerable part in the development of the Travel Association of Great Britain. I hope that when the Parliamentary Secretary replies he will deal with the structure of the British Tourist and Holidays Board and the Government's intentions with regard to the Travel Association. There is a great deal of vitality in that body which should be given full scope. In particular, I think one should draw attention to the work of the research department, which has produced figures that have astonished me and undoubtedly have astonished all those who have seen them. It is important that we should have precise information about the tourist industry.
77 There are a number of points with which I should have liked to deal concerning the improvement of the facilities in this country for foreign tourists. Some of these points have been suggested in the Report entitled "The Development of the Catering, Holiday and Tourist Services," published in 1946. It is clear that there is a great need for the improvement of facilities for the accommodation of foreign visitors, and there is the same need for our own people. This need not necessarily take the form of building large hotels. Indeed, at a time like this, when there is still a great housing shortage to overcome, it would obviously be a gross piece of injustice to go ahead with large-scale hotel building such as has taken place in a number of countries on the Continent whose housing shortages are even worse. That would be completely wrong. At the same time, the Government will have to face the necessity for the provision of accommodation, particularly in relation to the 1951 Exhibition. I do not know to what extent bodies like the Travel Association are consulted on this question; I do not think it even has a representative on the 1951 Exhibition Committee. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary can reply to that point.
One thing which should be borne in mind is that there are many forms of accommodation which can be supplied but which need not involve very large buildings. I have in mind the type of camps which are to be found in foreign countries, particularly in America and Canada, which are cheap to stay in, and which would meet the needs both of the home trade and of a large class of foreign tourists. I hope that we are going to cater for that large class of potential tourists from abroad who cannot necessarily afford to stay at the Dorchester and the more expensive hotels. I have in mind something on the lines of what hon. Members who have been in America will no doubt have seen—a curious institution called a "motel." Such a building would be of great use.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
I understand what the hon. Gentleman means when he refers to "motels"; I have seen them, but I confess I have not seen those camps to which he has referred. What does he mean by camps?
§ Mr. Shackleton
"Camp" is the only word I can think of to describe what I 78 have in mind. I am thinking of the cabins which one finds, for instance, in some of the national parks in America; they are cheap and comfortable, without too much luxury, and they are admirable centres for tourists. I hope that sort of development will take place in some of our own national parks. I should like to know how far we are developing facilities for holidays in some of the national parks; for instance, in some of the Forestry Commission parks, such as the one in Argyll, of which mention has been made in one of the Catering Commission reports. There should be developments on these lines for the provision of facilities for foreign tourists and our own people.
There is one point which I should like to mention on the subject of catering wages. When complaining about the operation of the new provisions for catering, hon. Members sometimes forget that, had there not been a considerable improvement in conditions for the workers in the industry, it is quite possible that we should have been without any workers at all for the hotels. It is no use, with conditions of full employment—unless hon. Members opposite hope to alter that at a later date—to expect the workers to work a 63-hour week throughout the year unless some sort of concessions are made. It is a very difficult problem, and it has to be dealt with as dispassionately as possible.
I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour will reply to some of the points I have made. One thing is clear; we must give good conditions and we must attract people into the hotel industry. Incidentally, in some other countries the hotel industry is often linked with agriculture, because there is a certain amount of seasonal work and the workers alternate between the hotels and the farms. That is a difficult problem to solve. The hon. Members for North Blackpool (Mr. Low) and South Blackpool (Mr. Roland Robinson) know that a degree of unemployment exists in their town, and presumably it is connected in some way with the instability of work in the catering industry.
I repeat that I hope the Board of Trade will realise that this industry is our most important dollar earner, and that they will give all the support they can to the tourist organisations and particularly to 79 the Travel Association. Meanwhile, I congratulate them on the success they have already achieved.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Roland Robinson (Blackpool, South)
I feel particularly fortunate in having caught your eye, Major Milner, especially as it gives me an opportunity of following the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Shackleton) who referred to conditions in Blackpool. My hon. Friend the Member for North Blackpool (Mr. Low) and I admit that there is a good deal of unemployment there. Going there very often, we both know that the chief cause of unemployment is that under this Government the biggest factory in the town has been closed down, and so far remains closed.
The hon. Member for Preston cannot have it both ways. He pointed out that people could not be expected to work day in and day out throughout the whole of the year. A little later in his speech he said that from his experience there was instability in Blackpool because there was unemployment from time to time. The answer is this. In Blackpool, as in every seaside resort in the country, work in the catering and hotel industry is of necessity seasonal and it is not work which is done day in and day out, week in and week out, throughout the whole of the year. For that reason we feel that there ought to be more elasticity in these catering wages regulations.
Although I disagree with the hon. Member for Preston on that point, there were other points in his speech which made a great appeal to me, and I support all that he said about the excellent work which is done by the Travel Association. Their recent report, which both he and I, no doubt, have read, is a first-class document and it tells the story of a good job by way of overseas publicity which has been very well done indeed.
I thought that in his speech the President of the Board of Trade at times tended to confuse the work of the Travel Association with the general work of the British Tourist and Holidays Board, and I think it should be made clear that the greater part of the work of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke 80 was work which had been done by the Travel Association.
§ Mr. Bottomley (Secretary for Overseas Trade)
The Holidays Board is the supreme body. It has four divisions, of which the Travel Association is one, and it is therefore correct to say that it was work carried out by the main body, through this agency.
§ Mr. Robinson
I follow perfectly well what the hon. Gentleman has said and I agree with him, but my point was that, on the whole, when the President was speaking he was in fact referring to the work done by a part of the Board; and my point is that the part—the Travel Association—to which he was referring was a pre-war creation, in existence long before the formation of the British Tourist and Holidays Board and which, probably in spite of a good deal of interference with its activities, continues to do increasingly good work as years go on. I feel that we should support it, and I hope the Government will continue to support it.
I think one of the most interesting points which the President made was the fact that he gave recognition to that part of the report by the Travel Association in which it is pointed out that for the second year in succession the tourist trade's contribution to the drive for exports to the United States ranks higher than that of any manufacturing industry. I am very glad indeed that the President recognised that in his speech, but I was perhaps a little apprehensive when he said that he would give the industry the same treatment as that which he gave to other industries which earn dollars. I thought of the closed doors of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. I hope that we shall not have the same trouble in our holiday industry.
I should like to reinforce the plea made by my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Orr-Ewing) with regard to the importance of home holidays. I think that part of the business is absolutely vital. More than any other industry we can only support this export market if we have a thriving home market. We cannot offer attractions to visiting tourists unless we have vast facilities which must be shared with them and with the home holiday-maker. Indeed, it is fair to say that no hotel, no restaurant, no theatre, no catering establishment in this country could stay open 81 solely for the benefit of the foreign tourist. Therefore, in order to create conditions to draw foreigners here it is essential that we should develop our home holiday industry. Quite apart from that, it is vital that we should look after the needs of our own people.
We have an industry, therefore, to which the Government should give the greatest possible consideration and help, and in this connection I call the attention of the Secretary for Overseas Trade to one paragraph in the Fifth Annual Report of the Catering Wages Commission—one which was published on 9th December last year. Quite early in the Report, the Commission said:The shortages and restrictions of the present time make even the day-to-day business of catering an exacting task, and provide little encouragement to the industry and its leaders to spend time in the pursuit of higher standards of food, comfort, service and hygiene.Those are the conditions with which the industry is faced, in the words of the Catering Wages Commission themselves, and I ask that this shall be borne in mind by the Government.
I should like to say a few words about the work of the Catering Commission. This is a matter of very grave importance. I feel that it should be stressed that the activities of the Catering Wages Commission in connection with wages are resulting in higher costs in the catering and tourist industry. That is something we have to face. First, the cost of raw materials is rising the whole time; in addition, on account of the general increase in wage levels; and on account of the recommendations of this Commission wages are rising, too. That means inevitably that the cost of holidays for people in this country is rising. We have to be prepared to face it, and the Government should tell the general public that that is the situation.
If we want a good holiday industry we cannot have a cheap holiday with low wages in the industry and sweated labour. If we are to have good wage conditions throughout the catering industry, then the people of this country have to be prepared to pay for them. I should not like the holiday industry, through the desire of the public for cheap holidays, to be allowed to drift into the position which agriculture occupied some years ago. The towns wanted cheap food and they 82 did not care whether the wages of the agricultural labourers were low or not; cheap food was the important thing. I am very anxious indeed that people should not say that cheap holidays are the important thing and not care two hoots about what happens to the people in the industry. I hope the Government will make it clear that, on account of governmental activities and the improved conditions in the industry, the people of this country will have to pay in order to give good conditions to the workers in the holiday industry.
From my experience of the industry, I believe it is one based essentially on personal service. It is a domestic industry, and these boards cannot possibly judge conditions on a factory pattern. Trying to judge on a factory pattern should be avoided. On holiday, personal service has to be given at all times. We cannot attract our own people, let alone foreigners, if we are told that at a certain hour no more cups of tea can be served, that there can be no late meal for the late arrival or early meal for the man who has to make an early departure. I believe we want a great deal of flexibility and we must avoid rigidity, because, when people take holidays, above all they want them to be happy and they want easy service.
I hope attention will be paid to the difficulties of those people who are seasonal workers. We have to face the fact that in the seaside resorts we are making our money when other people are taking their holidays. If we are to be bound down tightly during our holiday period—the Bank holiday weekend and so on—with regulations which are very proper for the ordinary factory industry, then we shall never succeed. I think that is something with which we have to reckon. During our season, which in all conscience is short enough, in the main we are prepared to work harder because we know that in the long winter months we shall have great opportunities for leisure which we may not, in fact, want at all. I think we should do away with rigidity and make a very practical approach to the problem.
There is a great deal in what my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare said about the composition of some of these boards. How much better it would be if, on the employees' side, we 83 could have people who had practical experience of the industry. My hon. Friend the Member for North Blackpool reminded me of the case of the deliberations on unlicensed houses which were presided over by the railwayman, Mr. Figgins. He may be an estimable man, but in trying to settle conditions of a domestic industry of this kind, I feel that he cannot be as good as some man on the employees' side who has had practical experience of the industry. I ask that great attention should be paid to the difficulties of the unlicensed industry. Here we have an industry which, even more than others, is a domestic one. I refer to the tens of thousands of small hotels, boarding houses and apartment houses which are run very much in the nature of a family business. If we are to have regulations, they must be made simple and easy to understand and they must be made workable so that where there is a small establishment—I am not talking of those with fewer than four bedrooms—the people must have the time to understand what they are doing. At the present time I think we are tending to overload them with clerical work.
§ Mr. A. Lewis
Is the hon. Member aware that on all the five boards there are people who are workers engaged in the day-to-day activities of the catering industry? They are members of these boards in their respective spheres. Mr. Figgins has not presided over any of the boards.
§ Mr. Robinson
At no time in my speech have I said that none of them had any practical experience of industry, but the vast majority of the people on the employees' side are those who have had no practical experience of this industry, and we on this side of the Committee are making an appeal that the workers engaged in this industry should have the opportunity of playing their part in framing the regulations. I say that the men working in the hotel and catering industry, or the people who have worked in that industry all their lives, especially in the holiday resorts, are in a far better position to judge the conditions in which catering establishments can be operated than somebody who has been working in the steel industry, or the transport industry, and so on.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
The hon. Member for South Blackpool (Mr. Roland Robinson) has pleaded the cause of Blackpool eloquently and emotionally, but he has not told the Committee why Blackpool, of all places in the world, discourages swimmers; for while it has two of the best swimming pools in these islands, it closes them in the middle of the day so that people cannot get a swim at that time.
§ Mr. Robinson
I have enjoyed these interruptions. Let me deal first with that of the hon. and learned Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hector Hughes). There is no call for me to answer him, except, perhaps, to offer him thanks for the advertisement he has given of the swimming pools of Blackpool. As for the hon. Member for Upton (Mr. A. Lewis)—the hon. Member for the Savoy Division of West Ham, I could fairly say—his information on the subject differs from ours, and it is our understanding that on the unlicensed side only some five out of 15 have actual experience of the industry.
§ Mr. Robinson
I really ought to get on, because I have promised to be brief, and I do not want to protract the proceedings too much. My final point is this. The President of the Board of Trade offered us very little for the future. He told us what had happened in the past, and went over the work that has been done; but he offered no really constructive proposals as to what should happen from now on. I was very disappointed by that, because I understand that there are actually some proposals sponsored by the Government and to be carried out if the nation should have the misfortune to see this Government in office again. I was in Blackpool at Whitsuntide, and I saw Labour Party literature lying about, 85 and I picked up a statement of Government policy on holidays.
I strongly disagree with the proposal which, I believe, the Government are planning to sponsor, but which was not mentioned by the President of the Board of Trade today—the proposal that, in addition to our having the British Tourist and Holidays Board, the Catering Wages Commission, and all the other boards we have today, there should be set up one more board in the form of a Holidays Council. It is the proposal of this Government that the Holidays Council should actually go into the industry itself and start providing modern, reasonably-priced holiday centres with accommodation for families. I believe everybody in the industry will resist most strenuously a proposition of that kind. Various surveys which have been made during the past years show that, on the whole, the accommodation for holidays in this country is sufficient. Given reasonable expansion amid good conditions created by the Government, I believe that our holidays industry can cater for all the needs that there are in this country today. I believe that the industry can cater as well for the overseas visitors. I do appeal to the Government, "Leave the job alone. Do not come in and compete. Rather, give encouragement to the people who are doing a good job well."
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that he misunderstood the question I put to him just now? Does he realise that it is no advertisement for Blackpool to say that it closes its swimming pools in the middle of the day when people want to swim? In Aberdeen we have two fine swimming pools, and they remain open all day.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Squadron-Leader Kinghorn (Great Yarmouth)
I am sorry I have to step in between the protagonists of Aberdeen and Blackpool, but we really ought to get back to the topic we started to discuss. I am glad that the National Liberal Party chose to use its Supply Day to bring up this topic, because the mere figures of the dollars earned last year and the year before by the holidays industry show how important this industry is to our national economic survival. This industry is the chief gainer of dollars that we have; the greatest single gainer of dollars of any industry in this country. It is a 86 colossal industry, and we ought to be talking seriously about it today. The hon. Member for South Blackpool (Mr. Roland Robinson) said there was all the holiday accommodation necessary in this country. He knows as well as I do—as well as all the people on these benches—that this country has never had enough holiday accommodation for the people that ought to take holidays.
If there is one task we have before us in the next few years it is to use the accommodation we have, and to increase it, and to re-organise the industry so that we can go on earning more dollars—increase the amount of dollars we can earn through this industry—year by year, and so provide more and more holiday accommodation for our own folk in this country to enable them to go back to their work after their holidays to produce more and better even than they are producing now. Those, surely, are the two simple propositions before us.
A further proposition would be for the Committee to pay a tribute to the holidays industry, in the seaside resorts especially, for the miraculous recovery it has made since the war. Let us consider my constituency. There, in 1939, within two days of the declaration of war, every visitor had left the town at the height of the season. There was calamity at once. To understand what it meant to the people of my constituency one has only to consider what kind of calamity it would be if the industry in a cotton-producing town, or a town engaged in textile production, or in a town in the Midlands producing motor cars, completely collapsed. Then there followed the years of the war, and the bombing, so that many parts of holiday towns were in ruins when the holiday catering industry had to start again in 1945. I am talking now, of course, of the towns covered by the defence belt, from the Wash to about the middle of the South Coast.
There has been a miraculous recovery by the holiday catering industry. It could not have taken place but for the work that the Government have done to help, and I think the President today could claim quite rightly that this Board which has been working since the end of the war has done a very good job indeed, if it were only in providing the paint to put on all the little boarding houses in our constituencies, which look now as 87 though the path of warfare had never run through them at all. It has been a remarkable job of recovery. However, we must not be satisfied with it. We must bear in mind that here we have an industry which can earn more dollars than any other. That is a startling fact that has emerged—like that other of which we heard not long ago, that one of our Colonies, Malaya, earns more dollars than all our combined exports from this country. We ought now to set ourselves the task of trying to re-organise the industry so that we can build for the future on the most solid foundations. We have read in the newspapers in the last couple of years how such and such a firm producing motorcars had produced more than ever before, or sold abroad more than ever before, or sold an increased number in the American market, earning so many dollars. But how does that achievement compare with the work of our holiday industry in the little historic towns, inland and on the coast, which the Americans visit and want to visit again, that they may see more and learn more of the glory of these Islands?
How are we to set about the re-organisation of this industry? There is quite a number of suggestions one can mention here that the authorities concerned may study and do their utmost to carry out. First I refer to transport, a topic which has already been mentioned this afternoon. We now have a unified transport system; the railways are now nationalised; but are British Railways doing the job which should be required of them, in moving tourists about, whether those from dollar-earning countries or whether those from our own industrial towns who go to the sea for a week or a fortnight to refresh themselves each year. In my view, in the last couple of years British Railways have done a very great deal, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
The other day I found that I could get a train from my constituency down to Liverpool Street in three hours—the first time such a thing had been known since before the war. Admittedly, it was two or three minutes late, but had it arrived on time it would have been a red letter day for trains travelling from that part of the East Coast. An elderly constituent of mine then told me that in 1909 one could go from Yarmouth to 88 Liverpool Street in half an hour under that time.
§ Squadron-Leader Kinghorn
It may have been private enterprise. Whatever it was the point is that British Railways must aim at that target. That applies to other lines as well. That is obviously part of the framework on which a substantial holiday business must be founded.
One of the prominent aspects of the holiday industry, in its widest possible sense, is the fact that most resorts have a very short season, whether they be inland resorts like Harrogate or coastal resorts. Wage and salary workers do not stop enjoying themselves once they have finished their yearly holiday; they go back home, attend dances and concerts, and go to the cinema for the other 50 or 51 weeks of the year; and I cannot for the life of me understand why, with insistent propaganda, we could not persuade our people to adopt a holiday attitude of mind so that they use their holidays at all times of the year. Why should they not go to the coast on Christmas Day as well as going for the sunshine on Midsummer Day? When at home they go dancing in their local dance halls; they could use the pier dance halls just as well as those in Runcorn or Wigan, or wherever they may work.
We could, and I hope we shall, push on with this propaganda to persuade our people to spread their holidays throughout the summer months. I believe that, with the work the R.A.F. has done in meteorological survey we know that there can be no guarantee that the best sunshine will occur in the usual holiday months; we are just as likely to get the good weather, as we did this year, at Easter as in the Bank Holiday week when the resorts are full. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but that has been demonstrated by the experience which we on this side had ourselves at a conference recently at Blackpool. The same thing applies to racecourses. On going round the country I have often been horrified to see notices at racecourses saying "The next meeting here will be three months hence." Racecourses with their stands, offices and turnstiles are idle for most of the year, and seem 89 to have, at the maximum, four meetings per year. That seems to me to be very wasteful. The same argument certainly applies to all the piers at our coast resorts, which have very good facilities for dancing and concerts.
My line of reasoning fits in with the statement in a report published yesterday by the party opposite, in which they point out that in future, with the great success of the Conservative Party and the democratic way in which they now elect delegates, they will get so many delegates that there are only two places in the country in which they can hold conferences — Blackpool and London. Evidently some of the delegates are getting tired of Blackpool; many of them come from London, and I have no doubt that they would like to go to some other place for a change—[HON. MEMBERS: "Yarmouth."] Certainly I should like to recommend Yarmouth straight away, but I could not ask them to come to Yarmouth because we have not a big enough hall for these large conferences of the big trade unions and political parties. For those conferences there are not more than six resorts in which accommodation can be found. As conditions get better and as we can relax a few licensing controls, the Government might be able to help to build up the holiday trade by helping the local corporations of these resorts, who have only small populations throughout the winter, to erect buildings which will be part of a great national asset. One of these days we may even get foreigners coming here to hold conferences.
I know that many others want to speak, and I shall be brief, but there are one or two practical points which I wish the Minister to bear in mind. We did not get a direct answer from the President of the Board of Trade this afternoon on the question of building licences, and on why £1,000 licences could be obtained for any kind of office or warehouse and yet could not be given for repairing in a holiday resort a substantial building which bore the name of a hotel before the war. There may be very good reasons for it, but I do know that the people in the industry would like to see some relaxation of that regulation, in order that repairs may be carried out on hotels—not necessarily to large hotels—which sustained bomb damage, perhaps in 1939 or 1940, and whose state of dilapidation increases each 90 year. I know of small hotels where a relaxation of that regulation would help to salvage the property before it goes into complete decay. Unfortunately that applies to a number of resorts, especially on the East coast.
I suppose it is no use referring to the Purchase Tax. I imagine that no Purchase Tax is involved if a manufacturer in Manchester says, "I want some machinery to make cotton goods to send to the Middle West of America to earn dollars." He gets his machinery without Purchase Tax. But if a hotel proprietor says, "I want to set up a first-class, kitchen, like those at Butlin's Camps, in order to attract dollar-paying visitors" he will have to pay Purchase Tax. I think that that sort of thing could be rationalised after discussion with those in the industry.
How often do we read in the newspapers of the financial success of certain kinds of holiday camps? They seem to have no difficulty in getting money subscribed to further their activities in various parts of the country. That is not so for the normal kind of holiday accommodation; there is no demand for investment in the boarding house and the small hotel. This is perhaps where the Government Finance Corporation might take an interest and give some backing in order to increase our hotel accommodation, of which we have been so short for many years, are still short, and will remain so for many years to come until we tackle the problem in a proper national way.
I had intended saying a little about the Catering and Wages Board, but several hon. Members have already mentioned that. I was glad to note that the Debate did not develop into a sort of barging between those who are for and those who are against, catering wages. I hope that we shall later have an opportunity to discuss catering wages, so that we in this House may know what is going on in this important dollar-earning industry. I have sufficient experience of industrial relations to realise how extremely dangerous it is to interfere in such matters when one has not all the facts. A week ago I came across a waitress in a hotel who had been there since seven o'clock in the morning to take the residents their early morning tea, and she could not go home until after I had finished dinner at half past eight at night. I hope that was an isolated case. 91 I think it was; but we must stop that sort of thing and protect the people who work in this important industry.
§ Squadron-Leader Kinghorn
That may be the answer. On the other hand, perhaps she was in the union, and they may not have been looking after her. It is very difficult in many resorts to carry on union activities, as compared with the better organised industries.
As time is short, I shall curtail my speech and conclude by saying that we must not forget that in our seaside resorts a great responsibility rests in regard to the people who live inland and work in industry throughout the year. The coastal fringe is like the skin on our bodies which, when given fresh air, re-vitalises our whole nervous system. Most of our people, if they get a holiday at all, have only one week's holiday, which I think ought to be more, and which I hope will be more if we can get industry better organised. On the overseas side, we have to see that the industry has our backing, because it is our chief dollar earner and will be for the next few years. We must take a close interest in the industry and see that it increases its dollar-earning capacity each year as the returns come in.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Mr. McCorquodale (Epsom)
It has been suggested that I should intervene at this stage for a few moments to discuss one or two matters and I am to be followed, I think, by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour. I should like to say at the outset that the Debate has been a great success. The speeches have been of a very high order, and I enjoyed particularly the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Great Yarmouth (Squadron-Leader Kinghorn). The speeches from my hon. Friends behind me have also been excellent. We all owe our colleagues, the Liberal Nationals, a debt of gratitude for arranging such an important topic on this most suitable occasion to be discussed on one of their Supply days. When the Secretary of State for Scotland entered the House to answer Questions in a very pale grey flannel suit I thought he had a holiday air about him. I am sorry that he has since left our deliberations, because surely holidays are among the 92 most important things for the welfare of Scotland.
One thing we must bear in mind throughout the Debate is that the consumer comes first. It is the consumer, his needs and wishes, that must constantly be in our minds if we are to make a success, as we all hope we shall, of this tourist business. The consumer comes first and foremost, and I am glad in this connection that it has been emphasised more than once that the home trade is the most important aspect and that the industry cannot exist on overseas visitors alone. The trade must be based upon a prosperous home trade, otherwise it will be impossible to offer to our visitors from overseas the facilities they expect. It was during the Conservative Government which preceded the war, that the principle of holidays with pay received such a tremendous impetus. At the beginning of 1937, as we have been reminded, some 1½ million people in the country received holidays with pay. The Government took the matter up and within 2½ years, that is by the summer of 1939, over 11 million people were receiving holidays with pay. That momentum has been carried forward until today, and we are all glad to see that this movement has now spread throughout the whole of industry.
I have been trying to find whether there are any figures available as to where the potential consumers of this trade wish to spend their holidays. Certain polls have been made by different people to try to ascertain the facts. I am not one of those who place too much reliance on mass observations and the like, but Mass Observation have recently completed a poll on where people hope to go for their holidays this summer. The results are of some interest and correspond very roughly to what other people have suggested.
According to their observations, one-quarter of the population wish to go abroad for their summer holidays. That figure is up by no less than 7 per cent. on last year. One-quarter still plump for the seaside, which is 5 per cent. down on last year, and one-quarter propose to stay at home, which is a 7 per cent. increase on last year. One-eighth of the population wish to go to inland resorts, which is 5 per cent. down on last year's figures, and if we analyse the rest of the figures we find, most strangely, that 3 per cent. 93 of the population want to attend conferences for their holidays, which no doubt the hon. and gallant Member for Great Yarmouth will find very encouraging; I was surprised that the figure was so high, especially as one of the largest conferences has already been held.
It is very significant that according to these figures the potential consumers in the home trade are 10 per cent. down this year as compared with last year, that is 5 per cent. less for the seaside, 5 per cent. less to inland resorts, 7 per cent. more wishing to go abroad, and no less than 7 per cent. more proposing to stay at home. It is a very serious state of affairs. There is one other side-light which may be of interest, and that is that last year no less than 14 per cent. for one reason or another went to visit friends and relations for their holidays. I do not know what happened to them, because only 8 per cent. wish to do so this year. No doubt novelists and others with imaginative minds could make up a lot of little tragedies which lie behind these figures.
The importance of the tourist trade as an overseas currency earner, especially in dollars, has been emphasised in this Debate. The President of the Board of Trade gave us some encouraging figures of the amount of foreign exchange which is coming to this country through the tourist trade. I see, however, that according to the report of the Travel Association, taking all currencies, our own people going abroad are spending twice as much as the foreigners coming into this country. This is a trade in which, taken by and large, we are losing and not gaining at the present time. Admittedly, we are not allowed to spend our holidays in hard currency areas, and therefore visitors from the hard currency countries are a net gain in this vital dollar business, but, taking the thing broadly, more people in this country want to spend money abroad than visitors from overseas want to spend in this country. That is a fact we must face.
It is a good thing that a lot of people in this country want to go and see what it is like overseas, and it may be that there are good things overseas that are not to be got in this country. I do not want to be unduly controversial, but I think that the President of the Board of Trade gave the appearance of being a little bit complacent about the position of the tourist trade in this country. There 94 are two great dangers ahead, one of which we hope will never materialise, the other being right on top of us. The first danger is the "slide," as they call it in the United States, which we hope they will be able to arrest, but which may make a difference to the number of tourists coming to this country. It is not within our power to do anything about that.
The other danger is right on our doorstep, and that is the desperate efforts being made by our competitors on the Continent to attract American tourists to spend their dollars with them rather than with us. I have had some wonderful menus put into my hands from the Western zone of Germany showing what food is available—roast beef cold, roast beef hot, and stacks of all the rest of it being offered to the tourists who go to the Western zone of Germany. I am not suggesting for one moment that in our present circumstances we can compete with that. I want to see the maximum amount of food which is available for this country go into the homes of our people. That, I believe, is the right policy, but these are the dangers we must face. The Continent is putting forward very serious counter-attractions to the great attractions we have in this country. The abolition of food rationing, the apparent abundance of petrol for visitors, and arrangements for the comfort and welfare of visitors when they arrive at ports—and I was glad to hear the Minister say a few words about this point today—leave us seriously in the background so far as physical inducements are concerned.
Further, we are sadly short of hotels; many are still requisitioned. I am told that there are 144 hotels and boarding houses still in Government hands. I hope that this number will be rapidly reduced. There was a very informative article in last Sunday's "Observer" on this subject. It said:We are sadly short of hotels, and especially of modernised hotels, in many magnetic places: Oxford and Cambridge are obvious examples, and at Oxford the Government which cries out for tourists, is actually keeping them out by prolonged squatting in one of the chief hotels of a very over-crowded city.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
I have taken a close interest in this hotel. In spite of our efforts to get it taken back for hotel use nobody wants it, as it is not economic.
§ Mr. McCorquodale
I wonder whether it might be made economic. Certainly, Oxford and Cambridge are badly in need of extra accommodation for tourists. I am glad to hear that the Minister has the matter well in mind. The article ends by saying:It is nonsense to go clamouring for tourists if we can only write up, 'No room in the inn.'There is no doubt that we must make most serious efforts, and must not think that anything is too small to be considered if we are to compete in our own way in spite of the difficulties that we have at home. We cannot compete in actual form with the Continent, but we have precious assets in our own country and we must make proper arrangements for the proper reception of our own kith and kin who want to visit us. I suggest that the Government see whether holidays can start earlier and end later. That would be an enormous boon not only to the catering industry, but also to the shipping companies, which are such great dollar-earners. I urge the Government to even greater efforts in this direction.
Here is another small but, I think, important point. I believe that many people expect the Minister of Fuel and Power shortly to make an announcement about petrol rationing, that he will say that the value of the basic coupon which has been increased for three months will soon be extended for a further three months. If rumour is correct I think the Minister would be well advised to make the announcement as quickly as possible, because it would help materially in the spread-over of holidays to resorts far from railways, which can be reached only by means of a car. I am not making any suggestion about long-term petrol policy, but I say that if this rumour is correct it would be in the interest of the catering industry that the announcement should be made very soon.
I should like to pass on to the question which is at issue, the Catering Wages Act and its application to the industry. I would ask the House to pardon me if a certain amount of what I wish to say is personal history. I was one of those who was privileged to take a prominent part in the passing of the Catering Wages Act, 96 1943, when I was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour under the then Minister, who is now the Foreign Secretary. I assisted the right hon. Gentleman at that time to the very best of my ability; indeed, some of my friends said I was a little too strident about it. I say seriously that I am deeply disappointed with the way in which the Act has been functioning in practice recently. I have been re-reading the Debates on Second Reading and in Committee, and I still believe that the views which we suggested and supported then are right today. I believe that the Act is a good one; I believe it is capable of doing great good to the trade as a whole, to all those engaged in it and to consumers who enjoy its facilities. But I am not happy about the present working of the trade. The Tourist Association's annual report says:It is felt in many quarters that the effect of the recent catering wages orders has been to create many difficulties for both staff and management at a time when the tourist industry is making good progress, but we believe that these difficulties are capable of solution.I believe they are capable of solution by wise handling, but at present, as I say, many people are disappointed at the way in which things have worked out.
If I am right in saying that the Act is a good one, I can only come to the conclusion that it is the administration of the Act which is at fault. I believe that that is the trouble today. The first thing the Act did was to set up a Commission, which is an extremely important body. The Foreign Secretary, speaking at that time, said he had the highest hopes of the Commission as a sort of guide, philosopher and friend to the whole industry. Perhaps I may quote some remarks which I was privileged to make on the Third Reading:It is, of course, of the very greatest importance that the Commission should be held in the highest respect and have the complete confidence of all those engaged in the many services with which this Measure is concerned, and indeed of the general public."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th April, 1943; Vol. 388, c. 1576.]This has not altogether come about. I have not been able to find out very much of what the Commission have accomplished. I hope they have made recommendations to the Ministry, but we have not heard a great deal about them.
97 There are, however, two things on which the Commission have reported and on neither of which am I in entire agreement with their action. First, there is the question of what should be done about tipping. This question was submitted to the Commission which, with little hesitation, came to the rather sweeping generality that tips should be entirely disregarded. Everyone connected with the industry knows that tipping has been one of the difficulties. When people in the industry see hotels in which one section can get much more than another because of gratuities there is a tendency for everyone to want to flock into those places where gratuities are available, and not where they are not. Like it or not, we have tips with us.
There was an excellent article in this week's "Illustrated" about tipping. Many of us take the view that tipping is a deplorable habit, but we must realise that it is with us and that it will be many years before it is eradicated, so that we ought, therefore, to take some notice of it now. I cannot believe that the Commission were wise when they said, "We will ignore this thing, and put it behind us in the hope that it will disappear." The Minister was good enough to publish over the week-end a report of the Commission on an important subject connected with Scotland—and I am sorry that the Secretary of State for Scotland has just left the Chamber again.
There was a most valuable report issued by Professor Knox on the effect of the Catering Wages Act with regard to Scotland, its hotels and establishments generally. It was a brilliant report and I read it at the time with much interest. He strongly urged the setting up of a Scottish Board to deal with special Scottish problems. He was supported in that by articles in the paper and by one pre-eminent in Scotland who is regarded on all sides as having a unique knowledge in Scottish public life—Mr. Tom Johnston.
The Commission have turned this thing down flat, and in a rather cavalier fashion. They have not argued the matter very seriously. They seemed to say, "What is Scotland anyway to ask for separate boards for itself? If Scotland, why not Wales?" In view of the nationality of the chairman of the Commission, one can understand that Wales 98 would not be forgotten. Even Wales could have a separate board, but why Scotland should be deprived of it because there is such a country as Wales, I do not understand. The Commission fortified themselves by seeking the views of predominantly English organisations, like the Hotel and Restaurants Association, this wages board and the like. They are almost entirely made up of English people with one or two representatives from Scotland, and their answer was, "Scotland shall not have what it asks for."
The Commission should look at this from the other way round. They should have argued that if Scotland wanted this facility—and apparently Scotland does—then they should go out of their way to satisfy Scotland, seeing the great value that Scotland is to the tourist industry. Those are the two questions about which I am most concerned—the turning down so cavalierily of the Scottish application, and the dismissal of the question of tips. The way in which these were done has not given me the confidence which I had hoped to have in the work of the Commission.
Then we come to the wages board, and its composition. It is the privilege of the Minister to appoint the boards, after consulting with such organisation as in his opinion represents the employers and employees. It is a fact that—and I am not blaming the Minister—in order to get something out of the boards a considerable number of skilled trade union negotiators have been appointed on the employees' side. It is a pity there were not skilled professional negotiators on the employers side to deal with them. I think it is one of the weaknesses. We want a little bit of professional skill on both sides. In actual fact, in some of the boards the professional skill on the employees' side is overweighted and on the employers side it is the opposite. I hope the Minister will look into that.
What has happened? It should be recognised by everyone that the question of building up a wage edifice has been too fast. I believe such an edifice should be built gradually on firm foundations, and that concentration first should be on a basic minimum wage and proper regulation hours. That would be the best way on which to build up step by step a mutually agreed edifice, which would 99 not have those defects to which my hon. Friends have referred. To force in the industry, as the wages board did, a complete structure such as we have in the manufacturing industries, and which took many years of negotiations to build up, was not in my opinion very wise.
The licensing section of the trade was regulated first. That was only a year ago, but drastic amendments have already been necessary, and "The Times" on 29th March came out with a strong condemnation even of those amended regulations.The Board has been obliged to attempt a simplification of its original plan, but no one who has studied the revised order, and the forms employers have to use, can deny that the revision does not go far enough.I happen to remember that day because I read it on my birthday. I agree with "The Times." The licensing board amendments have been greatly changed and they have gone back on some of the original positions they took up.
The 90,000 separate establishments of the unlicensed are now being considered. We have seen the proposals, and I believe that they are being amended—at least I hope they are—in the light of the many suggestions and protests that have been received, because in their original form they reproduced the difficulties and all the faults of all the innumerable forms and such like matters and will harass wretched boarding house keepers if they ever came to rest upon their shoulders. Again, something simple, some basic minimum is wanted as a start on which an edifice is gradually built up. I hope, therefore, that the Minister in considering the reports will think twice before he gives legal effect to these very complicated suggestions for the licensing trade.
It may well be that the proposals in the main follow a good practice in the industry generally, but there is one point that the hotel industry must bear in mind, and that is to have regard to bank holidays and other holidays. In industry it is not normal to work on bank holidays. Therefore, those who are asked to work on them regard it as an abnormality, and are entitled to ask for extra pay for so doing. In this industry it is normal to work on bank holidays. Indeed, those are the times when this industry wants to flourish at its highest peak. There are 100 other times when those holidays can be given to the workers in the industry, and those who enter this industry must realise from the start that one of the things it does mean is that they will be required to work on bank holidays and the like. It is not in the interests of the consumer that hotels and boarding houses which open for bank holidays should have to increase their charges in order to recoup themselves for extra expenses, especially at a time when the masses of the people want to get away for a brief holiday.
I am afraid I am taking a rather long time and I shall finish with one quotation from the Committee stage of the Bill. On 31st March, 1943, I gave this assurance on behalf of the Government:May I give an assurance to the good employer in any section of the catering trade, whether a large or a small employer … that they have nothing to fear from the setting-up of a wages board."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st March, 1943; Vol. 388; c. 205.]That was the opinion of His Majesty's Government because I did not give that assurance on my own responsibility. I am afraid that that assurance has not been entirely carried out, and I would remind the boards of that assurance and ask them to see that, in any future orders which they recommend to the Minister, that promise is remembered.
Who really suffers from any mistakes made in this connection? I come back to where I started. It is the great mass of the people of this country who want and who deserve, as I am sure everybody will agree, a holiday once a year which is not too expensive. It is of vital importance that our people should get an opportunity for a holiday. They are working very hard. The Government and all public men must urge them to work harder if we are to get through the financial difficulties which now surround us. They will not be able to sustain hard work unless opportunity for holidays is granted to them. Even more important now, in the financial crisis through which we are passing, is the arrival of oversea visitors whom we must attract to this glorious island of ours, if we are not to suffer grievously in the future.
I therefore ask the Government most earnestly to consider seriously these criticisms, which I have endeavoured to make in a non-controversial way. I am as keen as, and possibly more keen than, most hon. Members about the Catering 101 Wages Act that we passed in 1943, because of the high hopes that we had that the Act would be of the greatest importance to everybody connected with the industry. The Foreign Secretary, who was then the Minister of Labour, expressed those hopes with all the eloquence at his command. I would urge the Minister who, in the last resort, is all-powerful because he appoints the members of the Commission and of the boards and accepts or rejects the orders made by the boards, to consider very seriously the whole of this matter and to see whether there are changes that he might make so that our hopes may be fulfilled.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Ness Edwards)
I am sure that all hon. Gentlemen would agree with me when I say that I have not known a subject to be dealt with in a more constructive way. Criticism has been helpful, balanced and reasonable, and many useful suggestions have been made from all sides of the Committee. I am concerned only with two aspects of the matter. The first is the staggering of holidays, as it is called, and the other is the operation of the Catering Wages Act. My hon. Friend the Secretary for Overseas Trade will deal with the wider aspects of the matter when he winds up the Debate.
Let me deal first with the question of staggered holidays, a matter that has been raised by almost every speaker in the Debate. We have been wrestling with the problem for the best part of three years. Tradition has weighed so heavily upon our people that we have not made as much progress in the matter as we should like to have done. What is important is the growing demand for holidays from the working population. The development of the holidays-with-pay movement has meant that there is now the greatest necessity to provide the maximum opportunity for people to have a holiday. All sides of the Committee would agree that our people are working hard, and that we shall have a much more efficient working population if they can take a holiday once a year among the sea breezes, whether from Weston-super-Mare, Blackpool or Yarmouth. I do not know whether there are any interesting things in places like Preston 102 or Epsom. This matter is one of the very highest necessity.
In the past, the holiday industry has been in full use for the shortest possible space of time. It has created a problem of casual employment. The shorter the period during which we use our holiday resorts the greater will be their cost and the greater the waste of national assets. Our attempt has been to lengthen the holiday season so as to get the longest possible use of those resorts and thus provide accommodation for an ever-growing number of people. We have discussed the matter with holiday resort representatives and associations, members of the British tourist industry, representatives of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Transport, and other interested departments. We have the views of other interests which are represented on the staggered holidays committee. We have found that holidays are so tied up to the traditional bank holidays that everybody wants to take his holiday during the week before a bank holiday so as to get the extra weekend in with his week's holiday. It is extremely difficult to get people to take their holidays in any period which is divorced from a bank holiday.
We know that educational holidays are linked with the holding of examinations. Parents want to take their holidays when the children are home from school. We have therefore been discussing with the Ministry of Education the moving of the dates of examinations so as to enable holidays to be taken over a wider period than is at present possible. The staggered holidays committee also came to the conclusion that the Easter holiday is rather too difficult to move on account of its deep religious connection. It has taken the line of least resistance. It has said that as Easter holiday falls in the first quarter of the year it might be possible to shift the Whitsun bank holiday. It decided to recommend that the Whitsun bank holiday should fall regularly and permanently upon the second Monday in June. With regard to August bank holiday, the committee recommended that it be moved to the first Monday in September.
Those recommendations mean that we should have a holiday in each quarter of the year. We should have two middle 103 holidays, Whitsun on the second Monday in June, and a holiday on the first Monday in September. The holidays would thus be spaced in such a way that we should automatically extend the holiday season and give the holiday resorts much more time to deal with the flow of visitors. That proposition has been put to a number of interests. It was submitted to the National Joint Advisory Council of the Ministry of Labour. After discussion, we found no severe opposition. We were warned by employers that a change would mean altering thousands of wages agreements relating to payment for holidays, because the dates of the holidays are usually specified in the agreements. We were also asked to discuss the recommendations with the churches. We found that some religious people felt that the shifting of Whitsun was indirectly an assault upon the significance of Easter.
As soon as we can clear away difficulties with outside bodies, including the one relating to school holidays and examinations, it is hoped that we can cultivate within the country an acceptance of our views, and that we can get the National Joint Advisory Council to accept and endorse the recommendations. We hope that the Government of the day can then bring the matter before the House of Commons in order to see how far we can get the recommendations accepted. After having worked at this problem over the last few years, I am satisfied that unless we make this departure in the date of our bank holidays, we shall not succeed in what is called "staggering the holidays" or spreading the holidays over a longer season. I hope that hon. Members will give consideration to this proposition and that if they feel that it is one which will help to meet the needs of the resorts and the consumers and make for the maximum use of our resources, they will become advocates of this proposition, because it is one which could not be adopted in this country without the whole hearted support of the population.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
Has the committee on the staggering of holidays any power as to the staggering of holidays by geographical areas, that is to say, in relation to British Railways in the matter of special fares for special holiday trains?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Yes, Sir. We have got British Railways to agree that the holiday fares shall be spread over a greater period of time. What we have not considered is the suggestion—which I thought very interesting—of the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Orr-Ewing) that special fares might be offered to the more distant holiday resorts which are least patronised and could offer accommodation. That will arouse a great deal of conflict and jealousy, but I assure the Committee that that suggestion shall be placed before the committee on the staggering of holidays and given consideration. That seems to be one way of obtaining wider use of the facilities which may exist in distant places.
I now come to the operation of the Catering Wages Act. I thought that the right hon. Member for Epsom (Mr. McCorquodale), as the stepfather of this child, behaved not unkindly. I recollect the very courageous speech he made on Second Reading. He earned the admiration of the House for his loyal statement made in reference to the Bill and its author, the present Foreign Secretary. He was supported in that matter by his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe). The Foreign Secretary sat between two not small figures belonging to the party opposite when piloting the Bill through the House. No one who has spoken about the Act has asked for its repeal. All the critics have agreed that the Act must remain and that the Catering Wages Commission must remain.
When there was reference to the difficulties arising from its operation, my mind went back to the very violent interruptions we had from the second Bench from Lady Astor who was then a Member of this House. Her description of the conditions of employment of extremely young girls in the hotel industry startled the House and aroused in some of us a high appreciation of that type of virtue in Lady Astor. On neither side of the Committee is there a desire that we should go back to the days when allegations could be made of sweating, long hours, insecurity and a complete dependence upon tips for wages. I am sure that none of the critics who have indulged in criticism of the operation of the Act today will argue that we should return to that state of affairs.
105 I thought that the criticism was summed up in the speech of the right hon. Member for Epsom. He felt then, and he still feels, that the Act is a good one. He thinks the administration is at fault. It will be remembered that this is an administration dealing with an almost uncharted field of tremendous variety and little organisation on the part of either the employers or the employed. Very much of it is seasonal in character, a floating population going through it, and, as has already been pointed out, the conditions in one part of the industry are entirely different from conditions in another. The Catering Wages Commission has an extremely difficult job to do.
The second point is that the Commission was set up by the Act and the method which it has to adopt was decided by the Act, and was accepted by the House after a Debate on the lines of the Debate today. The hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare suggested that the regulations should come before the House.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
For the very reason that the hon. Member's Amendment on that point was negatived by his colleagues in the Coalition Government. We cannot settle wages and conditions of industry in this House. Over the years it has been decided that discussion of these matters should be excluded from the Floor of the House. I know nothing more calculated to inflame feelings in the industrial field than discussion of industrial issues here by hon. Members on either side of the House. That being so, it is far better to leave these matters to be freely negotiated by the people who know the circumstances rather than to use them as pegs on which to make political attacks upon each other in the House. That was the decision, and in 1943 the Conservative Party rejected the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for those reasons. It is Conservative Party tradition to keep industrial matters off the Floor of the House. In that respect—perhaps only in that—I am in agreement with them.
It was suggested that the Catering Wages Commission and the catering wages boards were moving too fast. Is that true? Three years after they came into operation we still have no regulaations for the unlicensed residential 106 section of the industry. Can it be said that people who are getting less than would be provided under a wages regulation order are not entitled to complain that this Statutory authority is taking three years to decide the issue of wages for the unlicensed residential section of the industry?
§ Mr. McCorquodale
That would be a good point but for the fact that the reason why it has taken so long is that the wages board has been trying to create the whole edifice first, but if they had begun with something simple and basic, we should have had an order long ago and should have had something upon which to build.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Again, that is trying to teach those who are in the industry how to run their industry. Surely they are the best people to decide this matter. That they are taking all this time is an indication that they are moving steadily and giving adequate consideration to the very great difficulties with which they are faced. I would not minimise those difficulties. It is an extremely difficult problem. They have published their proposals, and in reply they have received a vast number of objections. They are now giving consideration to those objections. Surely it will not be said that they will turn down completely or ignore all that has been represented to them?
On the other hand, I would warn the Committee that it is a dangerous precedent to use this House as a means of bringing undue pressure upon any piece of arbitration machinery in the industrial field. I would warn hon. Members on both sides of the Committee that a precedent of this kind is full of consequences for the wellbeing of this nation. If every industrial issue which goes to arbitration machinery provided for and set up by Act of Parliament is to be influenced by speeches in this House before any decisions have been arrived at, we have reached a dangerous stage. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman, with his knowledge of the Ministry of Labour over the war years, will agree that it is far better not to use the platform of this House to try to influence members of the arbitration boards in having regard objectively to the problems placed before them.
107 Then there was the suggestion that there is an attempt to fix a strait jacket on this industry. That is quite wrong. On the one hand, we get the complaint that the regulations are too complicated and that there is too much of a strait jacket, and on the other, the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare seems to "pour the baby out with the bath water" when he says that the wages regulations have done no good at all because everybody is paying more. Where are we? The fact is that in the licensed trade in some parts of the country wages in excess of the rates laid down in the regulations are being paid but, over the vast area of the country, wages in accordance with those regulations are being paid. I thought one of the complaints was that employers paid far more under the regulations than they paid before.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman wishes to be fair. What I meant was that although the average wages paid now on the unlicensed residential side are in excess of those laid down by the regulations in most cases, it is not only a matter of wages but of holiday arrangements and other things. One cannot stop at wages because hours and distribution of work come into the question also.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
The great protest made by hon. Gentlemen opposite is that the worker will get more under these regulations than the industry can afford, that the cost is prohibitive, that the service which would otherwise have been given, were the cost not so high, would have been greater. Hon. Gentlemen cannot have it both ways. This Debate has done good in the sense that it has ventilated views. I assure the Committee that the views expressed will be brought to the notice of the Catering Wages Commission. I cannot, and my right hon. Friend the Minister would not, attempt to interfere with the machinery laid down. I think the right hon. Gentleman would agree that our interference there would be highly improper——
§ Mr. McCorquodaleindicated assent.108
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
The Catering Wages Commission has a general responsibility. I assure the Committee that the criticisms made today will be brought to their notice, and I am sure we shall get observations from that body.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the Catering Wages Commission were cavalier about the tipping problem when they considered it. They have not pushed it aside. They have said they will keep it under review, and in each of the annual reports issued by that Commission there is mention of this problem. However, their unanimous view up to the present is that wages ought to be divorced completely from tips. I admit there are two points of view about that, but the Catering Wages Commission is the authority to decide this, and the right hon. Gentleman clothed them with the authority in the help he gave in passing this Act.
With regard to Scotland, I thought that Professor Knox made an interesting report. As the Act lays down, the matter was referred to the Catering Wages Commission which, exercising its powers under the Act, considered this report and consulted all the interests. The remarkable thing which comes out in the report is that the Scottish interests consulted were not in favour of a separate board for Scotland.
§ Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Central)
Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to say what interests were consulted? I understand that no political party and no journal in Scotland has at any time opposed the setting up of a separate Scottish board.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
The Catering Wages Commission is not obliged to consult political parties; in fact, I hope it never will do so.
§ Mr. McKinlay (Dumbartonshire)
May I interrupt on the same point to ask my right hon. Friend a question? If we had taken the opinion of those consulted in 1943, would the Act have been placed on the Statute Book at all? Perhaps we could have the reasons why those who were consulted were not in favour of a separate Scottish board?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
That is not a matter into which I am entitled to go. The Catering Wages Commission said it consulted Scottish representatives inside 109 the industry and that in no case was there any support for the recommendation of Professor Knox.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
If there is feeling here that the field of consultation was not wide enough, that can be passed to the Catering Wages Commission. I have given an undertaking that the criticisms made today will be brought to their attention, and this will be one of the matters on which there will be communication between my right hon. Friend and the Catering Wages Commission. I hope I have covered all the points that have been raised which affect my Ministry, and I shall leave the other matters to be dealt with by the Secretary for Overseas Trade.
§ 7.9 p.m.
§ Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Central)
I am glad to have the opportunity immediately to reply to the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, because the operation of the Catering Wages Commission and the Catering Wages Act in Scotland are causing a great deal of anxiety at present. Before I come to the details of that, I shall refer to certain criticisms made by the Parliamentary Secretary of what has been said from these Benches, in which he tried to attribute to hon. Members on this side of the Committee a desire to interfere with the negotiating machinery. That is not the case at all. We have a duty to see that, when negotiating machinery is set up, it carries out the purposes for which it was established. Let us look at what the Catering Wages Act says is one of the prime functions of the Catering Wages Commission. It charged them tomake such inquiries as they think fit … for meeting the requirements of the public, including in particular the requirements of visitors from overseas, and for developing the tourist traffic.It is against this background that we must consider the whole of the administration of the catering wages regulations.
The tourist industry is of particular importance to Scotland. We have seen how important it is—figures have been quoted but I will not go over them again as I wish to be as brief as I can—for earning dollars and other currencies from tourist traffic. But if it is important to 110 England, it is even more important proportionately to Scotland. This question, therefore, looms very large in Scottish minds.
Regulations were produced for four of of the five boards which have been set up, and proposals for regulations have already been made for the fifth of those boards. Our complaint about them is that they follow the same factory-type formula as one might have expected in an ordinary commercial industry. The same type of method for dealing with the Dorchester is applied to, let us say, the County Arms at Dunoon, and the whole of these regulations are stamped with the hallmark of factory negotiations, to the detriment of the public, the tourist trade in general, the employer, and often of the employee himself.
Therefore, as these regulations, particularly in the licensed residential establishments, came into operation, representations flowed in as to how they were-damaging the whole of the tourist industry all over Britain. Representations came in that hotels were losing money; that they were forced to curtail their service. Most hon. Members will already have suffered in some form or another from curtailed service. In one place a hotel was closing down; another was shutting at Easter or Christmas; and there is a case in my constituency of the largest hotel in Scotland closing on August Bank holiday. In some places hotels are refusing to serve afternoon teas. In others they are refusing to take wedding parties or Rotary clubs. One hears of them refusing, or threatening to refuse, to take children because they require, or tend to require, a 24-hour service. The whole system, therefore, is being upset, not by the fundamental wrongness of the regulations but because of their rigidity and inflexibility.
The Scottish Tourist Board called for the Report, which has been mentioned already by the Parliamentary Secretary and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Epsom (Mr. McCorquodale), from Professor Knox, and an admirable report it is.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
May I say this in order that there shall be no misunderstanding? I think I said that they consulted all the interests and that all the interests were against it. I correct 111 myself by saying that they consulted the wages board and that the whole of the members of the board were against it. The British Hotels and Restaurants Association were wholly against it. Ten local associations in Scotland were consulted; five were for the board, the rest were against. I do not want to mislead the Committee if I said inadvertently that everybody was against it.
§ Colonel Hutchison
I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's help. All I can say is that the question of who is consulted in a matter of this kind is of the greatest possible importance. I reiterate what I was told by no less an authority than the Chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board. The Scottish Tourist Board is an independent body and owes no allegiance to the British Tourist Board. Mr. Tom Johnston informed me that there was no body of political opinion against a separate board and, therefore, there was no political cleavage. No responsible journal in Scotland has spoken against a separate Scottish wages board, and wherever one turned one heard the same advocacy. Indeed, is it not a fact—I should like the Secretary for Overseas trade to answer this—that the trade unions themselves have recommended regionalisation of these boards? If so, then they are making the case for a separate board for Scotland.
As a result of all the representations, some notice has been taken by the Licensed Establishments Board, because amended regulations have been put forward. But, as "The Times" has said, these amendments are really of very little help. The spread-over—that bugbear of the regulations—has been slightly altered and extra pay for holidays has been slightly reduced; but they are still, as "The Times" says, far too complicated, and it uses, even of the amended regulations, the very strong words that they present "staggering complexity." On top of that, similar types of regulations are to be applied to un-licensed establishments. There could be no more unsuitable community to which to apply this type of regulation than the small unlicensed hotels and boarding houses, yet these new and extremely complicated regulations are to apply down to establishments with four bedrooms. The regulations are so complicated that the great majority of people running these 112 establishments, and who belong to no organisation, will not be able to carry them out and, indeed, most will not try. There is also the tendency, therefore, for the law to be brought into disrepute.
As I have said, the majority of these small boarding-house and hotel people are not members of any association. How, then, are we to know that they are adhering to the regulations? I understand it will take the existing staff of officials something like ten years to examine all those which are known to exist but many of which do not belong to an organisation. Is it intended, therefore, that this number of unproductive officials shall once again be increased and the country have to bear the burden of all that extra cost of examination?
Apart from the complexity of these regulations, other objections still remain. In view of the time at my disposal, I will merely outline them; the hon. Gentleman who is to reply, however, is well aware of their complexity. There are the questions of the spread-over, of customary holiday pay, and, most important of all, of the rigidity of the regulations themselves. Let me give a simple example of how Scotland is suffering in this matter; I dare say that England is suffering similarly. In many cases it is customary for a rest day or a day off to be given from 1 p.m. to 1 p.m., so that the employee can have his rest day, including the night, at home; but the regulations say that the rest day shall only count from the commencement of his normal hours of duty. Therefore, this system, which has worked admirably and in no way affects pay, is to be abolished because of the very rigidity of the system, thereby penalising those who can benefit by being able to get home.
As the Knox Report says, it is from the rural and holiday hotels that complaints chiefly come. Yet it is on exactly those small hotels that the tourist industry depends for the holidays of inhabitants of this country. It is just those small hotels which cannot institute a shift system. First of all, in many cases, trained employees are not available for them. In any event, as there are no houses for the trained employees, these hotels are forced, by following the regulations, to make bedrooms in their small establishments available for members of their staffs. The ratio between guests and employees is one of very 113 delicate balance. If it goes a little too far the wrong way, the hotel starts to run at a loss. Not only that, but every bedroom taken in this way is a bedroom of which the public are deprived.
It is clear that, with all these difficulties and with the regulations as they stand—it is difficult enough to get a chance of debating them—the public are suffering, which was not the intention of the Catering Wages Act. Nothing is more certain than that the service to the public is deteriorating. Yet the Travel Association, in their Report for 1948, say that more good hotels are needed. At present they might just as well cry for the moon. Instead of being increased, hotel accommodation is being diminished. I will not repeat the pregnant words of my right hon. Friend on the Report of the Travel Association. It is impossible at today's building costs to build a new hotel and have any chance of making it pay, particularly with the burden these regulations so often impose.
Another factor which makes it impossible to increase hotel accommodation is the development charge made under that fantastic Measure, the Town and Country Planning Act. The other day a suitable building was negotiated for in Peebles-shire but, just as the purchaser was about to turn it into an hotel, he discovered that he would be called upon to pay £4,000 development charge, and the project was knocked on the head. That hotel, which would have been useful to the public, has had to be abandoned. Under the Finance Bill, which we are to discuss in a short time, no allowance is made for depreciation. We say that these conditions, too much rigidity and too little flexibility, are penalising England and, even more, Scotland.
The problems of Scotland are not always understood and sometimes hon. Members imagine that we Scottish Members try to overload the case of Scotland asking for its own organisations. I can assure the Committee that in Scotland there is a body of opinion which is demanding autonomy with increasing vehemence. Is it realised that Scotland has its own legal system, its own land tenure system, its own licensing system, and that its rating system is different, its religion is different and its statutory holidays are taken on different dates in the year? The concentration of the holiday 114 period is often more compressed than in England. It has its own independent Scottish Tourist Board and the local spring and autumn holidays very often mean nothing in Scotland.
There is a custom of varying the hours of work and rates of pay in the hotel industry as between Winter and Summer, but now that custom will be abolished, although everyone benefited by it; the tourist had a constant service and the employee was employed all the year round. If these regulations are continued some hotels will have to close in the Winter with consequent loss of employment. We claim that there is a tremendous case for a separate wages board in Scotland. The Government Review of Industry and Employment in Scotland states:The Scottish tourist trade will be able to play a full part in the development of tourism in Great Britain and, given reasonable support, it can make a great contribution to the country's industry.We contend that it is not being given a reasonable opportunity. The chance of its playing its full part is being strangled by ridiculous regulations which are inflexible. This is the most unsuitable industry on which to impose dogma-ridden regulations. We ask for our own catering wages board. We have not adequate representation on the existing board and in any case all our problems are different. We have plenty of precedents for such a board. We have our own Tourist Board and our own wages councils, notably in the jute industry. We have our own Department of Agriculture. In this complicated industry, where conditions vary from county to county, we ought to have a body of men who can provide for our needs.
I ask that Scottish interests should be consulted again on a most widespread basis. The trade have put forward simplified proposals which, starting on a simple basis, could be built upon. Rather than planting a highly complicated network on the whole industry, let these more simplified suggestions be tried out. We have no battle with reasonable minimum wages, nor with the payment of overtime, but the industry is being poured into a mould for which it was never suited. The Organisation for 115 European Economic Co-operation states in its Report:Participating countries should make every effort to improve the quality of accommodation they can offer tourists and should consider all methods of increasing the facilities available.These regulations have completely forgotten that. They are concerned—and it is one of the things we have to bear in mind in all our considerations—not with the public, who are suffering all along the line, but only with the employees. They have forgotten the injunction of the Catering Wages Act, wherein they were charged with inquiring into how the public could be given better and fuller facilities. Once again the consumer has been sacrificed in an attempt to benefit the employee and the Government are not even succeeding in doing that.
§ 7.26 p.m.
§ Mr. David Grenfell (Gower)
I am delighted to have had the opportunity of listening to this Debate. I do not recall an occasion in recent years when a subject has been debated with more thoroughness and a greater anxiety to concede the virtues of the report before the Committee and to exercise the full right of criticism which this Committee possess on all subjects. I am interested because for some time I have been in close contact with the work done by the Ministries concerned and with the multifarious but complementary organisations throughout the country that form part of the general plan.
The Committee must not assume that the whole of the issues involved in this discussion are technical, although I confess I have enjoyed speeches today strictly dealing with technical points in the construction and operation of the various bodies concerned. I am convinced that we cannot single out parts of this general scheme for complete approbation to the neglect of other parts equally important. This Committee is engaged on the discussion of a combined plan of operations for a very specific and narrow purpose, that purpose being the winning, gaining and earning of additional currencies from all over the world without which we cannot continue to live at the standard we desire.
It is admitted in the report that this is the most effective way of getting foreign 116 currencies, and the way to secure those currencies with the minimum of risk of loss or dispersion on the way, is to allow the tourist to come in with the currency of whatever country he comes from, paying as he comes. The tourist comes with the dollars or continental currencies we require and they will be converted for the general purposes of world currencies and equalisation of our exchanges and the restoration of the balance of purchasing power. This is the most important single item among the operations which we must pursue to build up the standard of living in our country.
It is wrong to suggest that we are asking for help. I should like to dispose of that idea altogether so far as lies within my power. We have something to give which has not been fully advertised. We belong to the most beautiful country in the world. There is no other country like the four countries which together make up these islands. I am quite willing that they shall be distinguished, for I am a Welshman. There are Scots friends of mine who never fail to put in a plea for Scotland on any subject, and I congratulate them. I do not mind the Ulsterman making his claim; I would not mind Eire coming in. All I say is that when one has added together all the lands that lie between the surrounding seas of the British Isles, there is no fairer spot on earth than these islands. It is worth while for people to come and see them; they acknowledge that when they come here; they are pleased that having seen the land in which we live, and, when we are on our ordinary decent behaviour, they are pleased to see us.
I recently spent a week in an international gathering in North Wales. Also, as some hon. Members know, I have had the advantage of seeing all the countries of Europe, with two exceptions, and talking to the people of those countries in their own lands. There is much to admire: there are fair counties in all parts of the world. We have not in the past been accustomed to regard our country as one which has natural beauties to exhibit. We have been accustomed to talk in terms of the balance of trade or millions of tons of exports of this commodity and that and the large volume of essential imports which we must somehow obtain. Our 117 exportable material goods are declining in volume and value but there is this particular asset for which the world is willing to pay. We have for centuries been prominent in the affairs of the world, and never more so than for the last 10 or 15 years. The world wants to see us.
I recently had the advantage of going to the United States and Canada for ten weeks. I talked to 80 congregations there of different kinds of people; they wanted to hear something about Britain. I do not believe that acquaintance can be made with this Britain of ours, which we love so much, unless Britain itself is seen. The beginning of the building up of our contribution to international good-will is to be found in our being visited, in being seen, talked to and seen living our own lives in our own way in our own country. That is what is felt by people who have come.
Before we get people to come to this country we must devise convenient means of travel. The first objective of the Board, working with its many associated bodies, should be to build up the best lines of communication possible between this country and the lands from which our visitors must come. Flying into England is now easy. I add my compliments and congratulations to those which have been already uttered as to the value and wonderful service of B.O.A.C. I flew to America without fatigue, discomfort or delay, and within less than 24 hours I was marching on my own feet on the other side of the Atlantic. I returned in even quicker time. That is the way to travel quickly, and that is the way in which people can travel and leave themselves the maximum time in which to see the country that they have come to visit.
In these islands many of our visitors travel by train, and one of the most important tasks of the Board is to improve the quality of our rail service. I make no complaints nor condemnations: it is a sad old story. Railways were not planned for their present purposes or for the needs of passengers in relation to the directions in which they now travel; they were planned to suit the conditions of over 100 years ago; they are inconvenient. We must make the fullest and most effective use of our internal transport system, both rail and road.
118 In regard to the points which have been discussed this evening, I will utter no opinion on the merits of this or that catering board, but I feel sure that if we want people to come here the journey must be made convenient for them, and if we want them to stay we must provide reasonable accommodation while they are here. Catering and hotel accommodation are matters of fundamental importance and it is not with any intention of uttering a derogatory word about our caterers and hotel keepers that I say that they are not in every place good enough. Let us be gentle in any criticism of them, however. We have heard of a conference of people drawn from rural parts of Britain, who came to London the other day to complain about the backwardness of the state of water supplies in the rural areas. There are many almost first-class resorts that have nothing better than a third-class water supply for the permanent population and for the visitors who go there.
We must begin with the fundamentals—good hotels, hot and cold water, good roads and accommodation for motor cars, because man does not travel as he did in the old days. Time is expensive and we buy time by rapid travel from one place to another. Then we get back to the question of catering and hotel accommodation. I am full of enthusiasm for the possibilities of which I have for some time been convinced. I am satisfied that we can do ourselves no better turn than to invite here as many people as will come. I do not care from whence they come—not even if they come from Soviet Russia. I should like to see battalions of them coming to this country to see our efforts to build up life on our own lines here. I should like to welcome them all and to see them shake hands with us. We must provide suitable opportunities for them to do so. Scotland is to have a wonderful exhibition. The Scots always do things well. If I were to give nations marks for self-advertisement I would give Scotland full marks.
I have come from a national Eisteddfod which was attended by people of diverse political opinions and social conditions, people who cannot understand each other's ordinary conversation. But they understand and know of art, of music, and they have gone back better friends of this country than they could have been as the result of any other experience which they could have had. I believe 119 that this tourism will contribute to and polish, furbish and improve our international relations. The more people come here to see us, and the better we behave in every way when they come, the better are the chances of international peace and understanding. This is more than political, it has an international significance; and we must play a leading part so that people who have come to live here if only for a few days or weeks can go home and spread good reports from whatever direction they may have come.
§ 7.41 p.m.
§ Sir Henry Morris-Jones (Denbigh)
I do not intend to follow the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell), although I know he is doing very good work in connection with the tourist industry in Wales. He made reference to the fact that England—and of course in this context by "England" we mean Great Britain—was a draw in itself, because of its beauty of scenery and its historic associations, and so forth. We agree entirely with that, but it is not sufficient in view of the competition we have to face in the modern world. Dean Inge, who is generally regarded as a gloomy and pessimistic individual but who cannot be ignored altogether because he has a very remarkable brain, says in one of his essays that in another 30 years this country will be largely a pastoral country with a very much smaller population. He says that we shall see some of our big industrial cities covered with grass.
We may not agree with the Dean in some of his gloomy prophecies with regard to the economic future, but he did go on to say that whatever happens this country will be the spiritual home of an ancient, if declining civilisation, and for many years or generations Great Britain will be the Mecca of visitors from all parts of the world. In the present circumstances it is highly important that we should do everything we can for the tourist industry apart from the immense importance of the dollar exchange and the currency question and so forth, and the importance of bridging the gap.
It is very unfortunate that at this particular juncture the catering trade of this country is faced with difficulties of two sorts. First, we have never had a great catering industry in this country. We 120 have been cocks of the walk in the world. We have travelled all over the world. The British people have been everywhere. Now we are circumscribed in our movements. Other people have more money and more facilities—certainly those from the dollar areas. We have to transform what was not a great industry in this country. As a nation, and compared with other nations, we are not very good at catering for the visitor, and we have to re-adapt our psychology in that regard if we are to be successful. It is rather unfortunate that the catering industry in this country, which would in any case have been facing difficulties inevitable after a great war, has at the same time had to live with a revolution of the Left which came in 1945 with the advent of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the Committee.
No one on this side of the Committee will contest the pleas and arguments attested by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the Committee that everyone employed in the catering industry was overworked and underpaid. But the matter has now gone to the other extreme, where the demands are so great as to make the tourist industry impossible of survival under conditions as suggested at the present time. The arguments brought forward by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Glasgow (Colonel Hutchison) showed conclusively to the Committee that these regulations which have recently been framed by the Catering Wages Board, no doubt with the very best intentions in the world, are difficult to understand. It is difficult for people who read these regulations to appreciate that some of the people who recommended them are conversant with the industry at all. And yet we are informed that they are.
The regulations suggested for the non-licensed hotels and boarding houses are very complicated. I am a layman and not a lawyer, but I have been in the House for 20 years and I may claim to have some acquaintance with Acts of Parliament. However, after reading these regulations very carefully, I find I cannot understand them. How, therefore, can we expect them to be understood by a poor boarding-house keeper who may herself have been in domestic service before setting up in this industry? They are regulations of so complicated a nature that even hotel accountants have difficulty 121 sometimes in understanding them. Yet they are put forward for an industry which is struggling hard and which is admittedly essential to the improving of our trade and economic position. It does rather baffle one's comprehension that a body should be set up by Act of Parliament and present to the public regulations of this kind. I am very glad they are going back to be revised and will be presented again, but I hope that, for the sake of the visiting population and the catering industry, they will not be represented during this season.
The President of the Board of Trade referred to the fact that there are many factors which help to build up the catering industry, including the welcome which we give to our visitors. I agree entirely. He mentioned the question of friendliness and courtesy and the willingness to serve our guests. My hon. Friend the Member for Gower—I call him my hon. Friend in every way except politically—referred to the international assembly which took place last week and of which I was president. It took place in my own constituency—at Llangollen. I refer to the International Musical Eisteddfod. There we had thousands from nearly every country in Europe and the United States competing in this festival. In that little town many of the people opened their homes and gave hospitality to the visitors because it was quite impossible to get them all into hotels and boarding houses.
The point I wish to emphasise to the President of the Board of Trade is that some of those choirs from Europe arrived in this country penniless on account of exchange difficulties. The local committee had to help them and give them what money they could. The Foreign Secretary has expressed the wish that the day may come when a person can go to Victoria Station and take a ticket to any country in the world without restrictions of any kind. We are very far away from that day. If the Atlantic Pact and Western Union are to be worth while, we must abolish a lot of currency and exchange restrictions which impede the movement of people in both directions. I trust that the Socialist Government will pay attention to that aspect of the problem. We cannot get a current of movement into this country without having a current of movement in the opposite direction. It must be a mutual 122 exchange. I hope that the Government will concentrate on this question of better exchange and travelling facilities.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Mack (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
I am happy to think that there has been a general tendency in this Debate to help one another and, indeed, to help the Government in doing what is a most important job. I know that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is not only ardent and active but that he has had his whole heart stirred by the possibilities of extending this kind of export trade to the greatest possible limit. I was somewhat alarmed at the figures he gave. He told us that only a little over half a million foreign visitors of all kinds had come here in the last year. I presume that it is intended to step up that number to 560,000 visitors this year. A mere matter of an increase of 10 per cent. is entirely inadequate.
Our slogan should be, "A million foreigners …"—though I do not like that name, because it sometimes conveys a wrong connotation—"A million visitors from all over the world to Britain by 1951–52." We should aim at that target. The Government, supported by Members from all parts of the House, should subscribe to it wholeheartedly. I see that a mere 75,000 United States citizens came here in 1948. I know that there are many arguments to account for our difficulty in accommodating them—we have had a war; our country has gone through very difficult times; we have heavy commitments; we have not enough ships; hotels are inadequately staffed and there are not enough of them. I know that, to a certain extent, these are good and valid arguments, but the fact remains that only one for every 2,000 American citizens visited us in a whole year in spite of the fact that we have a common language and a common outlook on life, and even though many Americans look to this Parliament as the mother of all Parliaments.
There is a link between America and this country which is greater than that which exists between us and most other countries. My hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell) did an excellent job over there. He seemed dispirited and disappointed with what he saw there. Nevertheless, there are not the facilities to bring people over in the way in which 123 they should be brought. When I was a lad I used to try my hand in a competition called "Bullets." I wanted to win £500. I tried hard but did not will anything, and I looked for some examples. There was one winning example which I shall never forget. It was "Father's holiday" and the winning line was "Investment showing healthy return." A holiday for father, mother or anybody else is an investment which invariably shows a healthy return.
Today people are holiday-minded. The worker is no longer content to go to Blackpool, salubrious though that may be, unless it is for a political conference. The youngster today seeks foreign fields. Some of these boys have fought in other lands during the war. They have seen other countries in a devastated condition. They want to see Paris, Milan, Geneva, Spain and other countries of which they have heard so many romantic stories. The result is that they are willing to spend money to go abroad; and so will American people spend money to come here, in spite of a possible slump.
We must be prepared to receive them. Not only are tourists a valuable export; they export something more besides. They export good will. They go back to their homes and they spread our story. They are propagandist agents for us in the highest sense of the term. They say, "We have seen the British in their own home. We are able now to give you the truth." In the vast majority of cases they speak well of us, as anyone who has been to America will admit. The small-town American—I do not say that disrespectfully—the "hick-town" American, as apart from the big business man, the millionaire or the film star who comes here, wants value for money. He is a hard bargainer. He has been brought up in a world of hard work, and he expects to see something good when he comes here. What does he see? If he were to go to Liverpool, where I was born and for which city I have a great deal of sentiment, he would find only one possible hotel, somewhat dingy and dilapidated by comparison with what it was before the war. Certainly it is not comparable with hotels in other countries in cities with a population of a million. If he were to go to Manchester, to "Cottonopolis," a centre of three million 124 people, he would find only one possible hotel with a spattering of one or two secondary hotels.
Our hotels are not good enough. What else is not good enough? Our cities are not sufficiently well lit. I know that there are difficulties. I have every sympathy with the Government in their efforts to overcome them. I would not be averse to spending £1 million or £2 million, if necessary, to brighten and pep up London. There is a song which was quoted when the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Spearman) raised this topic in a Debate some time ago to the effect that we want "to get lit up when the lights go up in London." Take the lights of Piccadilly. One could almost snuff them out as one would a candle. We do not want a Broadway made out of Piccadilly but we do expect a few bright, breezy lights along Piccadilly so that the people of London, as well as the visitors, can go there with their souls full of enthusiasm, and so that they will say, "Bless my soul, this is excellent." People will work harder for my right hon. Friend if they have some inducement. I know that we must not be profligate, but money spent in that way would be a good investment.
Another factor is the cooking in hotels. An hon. Member has already said that the cooking is not good enough. The ingredients are good but the manner in which the food is served is not good enough. I do not believe that when the visitor comes here he should devour gargantuan steaks and satisfy a capacious maw with all the fine gastronomic fare while our people are going without. As a decent visitor he would not like that, and we do not like to see it because it is an unedifying spectacle. We ought to be able to organise our hotel industry more effectively in the next few years. In saying that, I pay great tribute to the hundreds of thousands of hotel workers who have been doing, and still are, a good job for the country. Politeness is another factor. That is an ingredient which we can give freely. It is not material; nevertheless it is most important. We all like politeness, and I hope that we shall not forget to show it, though, unfortunately, we suffer from a good deal of reserve.
When a man comes to England, what does he wish to see? Nine-tenths of his 125 interest is concentrated in London. He may be a busy man from Omaha or Des Moines, or somewhere like that. He has a look at London and gives a sniff, sometimes contemptuously. London with 10,500,000 people is the biggest and finest city in the world. When you take a stroll on the Terrace, Mr. Bowles, you must have thought of those wonderful lines of Wordsworth:Earth has not anything to show more fair:Dull would he be of soul who could pass byA sight so touching in its majesty.Not only have we Westminster Bridge, St. Paul's and the great City of London, but there are historical edifices of every kind in the poor as well as in the richer and middle-class parts which exalt the soul of any observer. The people who won the Battle of Britain are worthy of being seen. I do not mean that they should be examined as zoological specimens through the bars at a zoo. They should be seen as human beings so that they can be understood. In the international field we are working for understanding between one nation and another. How better can that be brought about than by human propinquity and association in the way in which this industry provides?
When a visitor looks at London, he thinks of Paris, a city of between 3½ and 4 million people, and of people walking across the spacious Place de la Concorde and along the magnificent Avenue des Champs Elysées. How Frenchmen exult when they think of them. We were not lucky enough in that respect, because our forefathers did not have the foresight or perspicacity to build these magnificent avenues and to create a city as beautiful as Paris, and here let me pay tribute to the French nation. When the American visitor goes to Paris, he finds open air cafés. Why in the world cannot we have an open-air restaurant in The Mall, for example? It runs right up to Buckingham Palace from Trafalgar Square, and is the spot which would be very attractive to most people, particularly Americans, who are very sentimental in certain respects.
How delightful it would be if we were to have a beautifully illuminated open-air restaurant there, with a nice orchestra, to attract the people of London and the overseas visitors as well? Bless my soul, 126 have we lost all imagination? Are we going to have deadly dull uniformity inflicted on a magnificent people for hundreds of years? I would like the President of the Board of Trade to take a hint from the bright ties worn by Americans, because these ties, psychologically considered, are only the expression of American life, because the American likes to be colourful and to have lightness and colour in his life.
What does the American visitor do when he comes here? Fifteen per cent. of our lives is spent on Sundays. Sunday is a holy day, but there is no need whatever to make in a joyless day, when it should be a day of happiness on which the people who want to play games in-the right way should be allowed to do so. Go into any town of half a million people in this country. They present the most deadly dull and soul-effacing kind of spectacle ever seen. Hon. Members know it only too well it is the kind of Sunday which they are used to seeing. On the contrary, one can go into a French town, some of which have been battered and shattered until 30 or 40 per cent. of their buildings have been destroyed, but, one will still find one or two bright cafés and little spots where people may go in for harmless relaxation. I would not mind seeing a Fôlies Bergére show put on in London, with certain modifications. I would sooner see foreigners enjoying themselves than people listening to a Bach fugue in a deadly dull stuffy concert hall on a sunny day. We want something to enthuse the people, something to give them vim, vigour and vitality, pep, punch, zeal, and zip. I could go on and have a real good do on this, because these are some of the things that have wanted to be said in this House for a long time.
What does the American admire in Britain? He admires our fundamental stability, our fitness as a nation. Every American who comes here wants to see London. He may go to Glasgow or Edinburgh, or Oxford or Cambridge, if he is of an erudite turn of mind or has a wrong sense of direction. He may possibly go to see Stratford-on-Avon if he has educational or poetical interests, but, broadly, the American comes here to see London and he soon gets fed up and goes off to Paris. He has a certain time schedule, which he wants to keep to, and he is a 127 man who is used to moving about the country and who believes in the saying, "When in doubt, shout and shout," and in advertising himself.
What are the lessons to be learned from this? Let Britain wake up. Let the welkin ring and let us tell the world that we have something to show. Let our target be a bigger one still. We can make this nation the happiest and best in the world, with everyone possessing a contented and peaceful mind, and if we can do that in this country, with common sense and good Government, and with good support from the Opposition if we can get it, we can overcome all our difficulties.
Therefore, I conclude by saying that, under the Export Guarantees Bill, which raises the limit for major risks on overseas trade from £300 to £500, whether the exports are invisible or not, we should use some of that money to help to provide better hotel services and a more efficient tourist industry generally. That is the way to do it. Let us go into this with a target for £100 million from tourists visiting this country, so that, if in 1952 he still occupies the position of President of the Board of Trade, I shall be able to have the joy and privilege of hearing my right hon. Friend announcing to an astonished but gratified House that we had achieved that target for this vital industry, which exports not only bonhomie but international peace and understanding all over the world, with lasting repercussions for humanity.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Sir Ian Fraser (Lonsdale)
I hope the eloquence of the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Mack) will not be lost on the wearied Front Bench to which we have become accustomed and down whose necks he has been blowing. I hope the electors of Newcastle-under-Lyme will rejoice when the hon. Gentleman is President of the Board of Trade, if ever, and is able to bring them the kind of Sunday which he thinks they would like.
I want to be extremely brief, because the subject of the Debate has already been very widely covered. I shall not therefore argue the question of earning dollars, but shall merely state it. This 128 is the industry which is capable of earning more dollars than any other single industry in the country. It therefore calls for the attention of this Committee and the goodwill of the Government, and it is true that the Government have not been lacking in their duty in continuing a policy of supporting industries which can earn dollars. Indeed, the President of the Board of Trade said in this House on 11th April that he would do everything that lay in his power to encourage the dollar-earning industries. He was, of course, particularly speaking of manufacturing industries, but when the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) asked the right hon. Gentleman if what he had said applied to the tourist industry, the right hon. Gentleman said that it did. He also said that he would give open favouritism where he was satisfied that dollars would be earned.
There is, therefore, a substantial case, which has been made out already by many hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, for favouring this industry and these services which we can render to people from overseas, and particularly to people from hard currency countries. I think that is generally accepted. It is clear that, if we are to put ourselves in a position in which we can receive and entertain people from overseas, we must have a strong home market behind us. That, of course, applies to every other industry as well. We cannot keep our hotels open entirely for overseas visitors; we must first please the home visitor, for it is upon the overhead charges which we bear as the result of the home visitor that we are able to entertain and give enjoyment to the overseas visitor.
As I have so little time at my disposal, I am going to devote it to two classes of hotel and boarding-house keepers to the exclusion of others, though much that I have to say applies to all of them, and they all have my sympathy and support. The particular classes to which I propose to make reference are the very small boarding-house keepers such as one finds in seaside towns like Morecambe and Heysham, and the hotel keepers in rural areas where distances are great, such as one would find in the Lake District of England.
129 It has been pointed out that the Catering Wages Act and regulations which followed it were difficult for substantial hotels and restaurants to administer, so much so, indeed, that the first drafts have had to be amended and are still not satisfactory. It has been found difficult to apply rules and regulations for employment familiar in factories to hotels and restaurants because people do not lead their ordinary lives, and especially their holiday lives, according to rules which allow of fixed hours for this and that. All that has been said by way of indicating how difficult it has been to apply this system of regulated wages and hours to the licensed hotel industry which, in the main, consists of the bigger units, makes it abundantly clear what extraordinary difficulties we are going to get into when we try to apply it to the scores of thousands of very small units, the small boarding-house with five or six rooms capable of accommodating eight or ten people, which have no catering licence, and which deal with the visitors rather as one would deal with people who come to one's own house.
These places are only open for a few weeks in the year and the people who run them are quite unaccustomed to the record keeping which is difficult enough for bigger organisations which can employ staff for the purpose. We are going to apply a system involving regulations, form filling, the classification of staff, and all these extraordinary difficulties to scores of thousands of small boarding-house keepers. We cannot but fail in such an operation. We shall either create a condition in which many thousands of them do not understand and do not carry out the regulations or else we shall involve them in expense which they cannot afford in filling up forms, which they will do inaccurately, and altogether cause them enormous worry.
I know that certain small units below four bedrooms and eight beds will be excluded, but there still remain scores of thousands throughout the country—at any rate, in towns like Morecambe and Heysham I know from personal experience there are very many—who will have to undertake this job. I do not wish to deprive a domestic worker or a worker in a hotel of the best possible wages which the industry can afford to pay, and which his or her skill can command. They are entitled to that, and Parliament is entitled, 130 where bad conditions of labour are known to exist and where action can promote better conditions, to intervene to achieve that end, but we must intervene in the right way. If the result of Parliament's intervention is to put these people out of business and to cause unemployment, as I think will be the result, and if this is to be applied to these thousands of small enterprises, then we must think again.
So long as a considerable measure of employment continues, and so long as there is enough money in people's pockets to enable them to afford holidays, so long will they take holidays and so long will the small boarding-house keepers employ help. They will have to pay the market value for the help which, in turn, will depend upon the state of the labour market. Therefore, it seems far more sensible to adopt a policy which continues to aim at high employment and a taxation system which leaves as much money as possible in the pockets of the citizens so that they can afford a holiday at a fair price and thus enable the boarding-house keeper to employ good labour and pay fair wages. That policy is opposed to the system of regulations and planning which is the essence of Socialism. My own belief is that it produces better results for the public who want holidays, for the employees in the industry, and for those who own the boarding houses. Therefore, in the interest of all, I plead that as many as possible of these small enterprises should be left out of the proposed regulations, and that such as must be regulated should be regulated as simply as possible.
As regards unemployment, there is, of course, some unemployment in seaside holidays towns in the winter time. It is a great problem which exercises our minds all the time. I do not know of any easy solution of it, and in any case this would not be the time to debate it. However, I want to ask that where there is genuine unemployment arising from the seasonal nature of the occupation, difficulties should not be put in the way of the unemployed persons when they apply for the unemployment allowance, and also whether some way could be found whereby the present appeal to a tribunal could in many cases be curtailed or done away with, because I am sure that would give very great satisfaction.
What is wanted in the seaside towns and in the holiday areas generally is, of course, a longer season, but in view of 131 what has been said already today I will not develop the arguments or the reasons why a longer season is so valuable. They speak for themselves. As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour told us that the Staggered Holidays Committee—of which, I believe, he is chairman—had specially considered alterations in the dates of Whitsun and the August bank holiday, and as any such proposal can only be put into effect in a country where these dates have a traditional meaning if there is an abundance of good will shown towards it, I would like to say, for my part, that I will do what lies in my modest sphere to explore the possibility of such a change and see how the people concerned react to it. The right hon. Gentleman asked hon. Members if they would do that. For my part I should be very willing to do it because I see the force of the argument that if these dates of public holidays, at present fixed, were spread a little more widely, that in itself would contribute towards increasing the period over which holidays might last.
I have two other suggestions towards increasing the length of the season, which is the most important single thing any of us can achieve. One is to run excursion trains over a longer period than the short season to which we have become accustomed—possibly even to cheapen travel at the beginning and the end of the period so as to add an inducement to people to take holidays in May and September. So far as the area for which I speak is concerned, a great deal of trouble is caused in that very many of the passengers going to Morecambe for a holiday have to change either at Preston or Lancaster, or both. This is no doubt a matter which is of interest to many others in their own local situations, and I therefore make no apology for mentioning it. I ask that my observations should reach the railway authorities so that they can consider this practical proposal to make travel easier, extending the excursions over a longer period and possibly cheapening them at the beginning and at the end of the season.
Another suggestion which I make is that the increased amount of petrol which has been granted for June, July and August should obviously he continued 132 over September and October and an announcement to that effect should be made at once because, small as that concession is, it has brought a considerable improvement to hotels by the seaside and, in particular, to hotels in the rural districts. Unless hon. Members have become familiar with it because of the situation in their own constituency, or unless they are in some way connected with this industry, they cannot be aware how disastrously the restriction on the use of petrol by the private user has affected the hotel and the boarding-house business. This is especially the case in places like the Lake District and, I have no doubt, in Scotland and other widespread areas where the very living of the hotels depends upon just enough petrol being allowed to make it worth while.
A substantial sacrifice of dollars in providing petrol would, I am certain, be recouped by the earning of more dollars if our hotels in all grades—not only the expensive hotels but also the pleasant smaller ones which abound—were made more accessible to our own people at home so that they might provide a higher standard for the entertainment of visitors from overseas. When a visitor comes from overseas and brings his car—which, of course, attracts freight, generally on a British ship—he gets, enough petrol for 250 miles. If he hires a car here he gets unlimited petrol. That is a ridiculous anomaly. The American likes his own type of car and his own car and wants to bring it here and take it to Europe. He can get all the petrol he wants in Europe. It is surely crazy not to give him more petrol to go around this country.
Let me end by stating that, short as is our hotel and boarding-house industry of so many things which would help it and which the Board of Trade could place in its way, it is not short of courtesy and consideration. In spite of much that is said about them, the staffs one meets in hotels are, in my opinion, a courteous and kindly people. If only the industry were given a better chance to show itself off, to revive its one-time freshness and to give its visitors a more practical welcome to add to the genial welcome now given, I think we should find that our own people, as well as our dollar balance, would greatly benefit.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. McKinlay (Dumbartonshire)
I intervene for only five or six minutes in view of the fact that the hon. and gallant Member for Central Glasgow (Colonel Hutchison) has dealt with part of the theme about which it had been my intention to speak. I was a Member of the House in 1943 when the Bill which is now an Act went through the House. At the time Mr. Johnston, was Secretary of State for Scotland, and a Member of the Government, but in private conversation—and one of the peculiarities about Scotsmen is that they do speak to their colleagues when they become Members of the Government—he said that he had very grave misgivings as to what would happen in Scotland. It is quite obvious to anyone that a wages and conditions structure determined by conditions prevailing in the southern parts of the country simply make nonsense when taken north of the Border. I question very much if regulation is the proper way to do this, but it is the way which is being adopted. One of the objections to the regulation is that it is rigid; there is no flexibility. The regulation says, "a, b, c and d and there you are"; and you have had it.
The Parliamentary Secretary has supplied the best argument, in my view, for a separate Wages Commission in Scotland. He was dealing with the question of staggered holidays and the almost insuperable difficulty they present, as some of the holidays in England, apparently, are fixed because of some religious celebration. Scotland is a deeply religious place, but it is the magistrates who fix the statutory holidays up there—it may be a sordid way to do it—and staggered holidays have been arranged through the ordinary, negotiating machinery between employer and employee.
Who will argue that in a hotel in Melvich, in Pentland Firth, in the Western Isles or even in the northerly parts of Perthshire, or in Angus, or in my own constituency, there is any similarity in either residential conditions or anything else with places south of the Border? We have hotels at lovely beauty spots in Scotland 200 miles from cities of as many as 100,000 people. The beauties of Scotland are told of in song and story. There is no football fan in England who at 134 some time or other at Wembley has not sung of the bonny banks of Loch Lomond. That is in my constituency. Come to Loch Lomond and we will guarantee to send you to bed suffering from night starvation. The catering conditions are so difficult in hotels far from the cities, even in normal times, that the rigidity of the regulations, this lack of flexibility, makes it impossible for the caterers even with the best heart in the world, to satisfy the needs of people travelling from London and arriving at night, every night of the week including Sundays.
The people who come to Scotland to see how generous and kind nature has been to Scotland—not to see the garish white paint on the shore fronts, but to see this land of legend and story—are sent to bed at 11 o'clock at night suffering from night starvation—with this difference: that one can always get "booze." That is the remarkable thing. There is always someone to look after the bar, and if the barkeeper is not on duty it is because the boss has taken over himself. I speak with feeling about this. I know something about the catering industry, and I know that tips were the excuse for paying low wages. I do not want the industry to go back to low wages. Surely it is not beyond the wit of the Government to devise a method whereby, if they cannot give us, at least, a separate wage structure in Scotland, they can give us some machinery of direct appeal against decisions of the over-all Wages Commission.
As the Secretary for Overseas Trade is to reply to the Debate, there is another matter that I would mention. Perhaps he does not know that there are no more emotional people in the world than Scots absent from their homeland. As one who sailed for years from the Port of Glasgow I want to know whether we have to beg the liberty to be permitted to have passenger-carrying open liners call directly at the banks of the Clyde instead of putting passengers from across the Atlantic down at Southampton. Why should passengers wanting to come to Scotland from America and Canada have to be diverted to Southampton? That is enough to spoil their holidays at the beginning. To enter the Mull of Kintyre and the Firth of Clyde as the dawn is breaking, is worth a trip from America or Australia.
135 Compare such an arrival in Britain with arriving on the mud flats of Liverpool or Southampton. Shipping companies operating passenger-carrying ships are prepared to have their vessels call at Greenock as often as circumstances warrant. It is not asking too much to ask that they should be allowed to do so. We have been informed that it is a Ministry that is standing in the way. We want that barrier removed. There will be no difference between Tories and Socialists from Scotland on this issue. Moreover, this is not a question of narrow Scottish nationalism. We build the ships on the Clyde. We send them away from the Clyde, but by edict of the Government they must not come back, not even for what they call colloquially in the shipyards "a hair-cut and shave."
My main purpose in intervening is to ask the Government to review the whole structure of the Catering Wages Act in its relation to remote places in Scotland. It would be interesting to know who were the people who said they did not want the Catering Wages Board. I could make a good guess and almost put my finger on them. Five said they were in favour and five said they were against, and Professor Knox's recommendation was not accepted. If advice is wanted on this matter, I say take the advice of the man who I believe to be one of the greatest Scotsmen, a man who served in this House and who knows more about the tourist industry in Scotland and what it requires than any present Member of the Government. I do not say that at all offensively. I hope the Government will give serious consideration to the two points I have made. I also emphasise the right of shipping companies to put passengers ashore on the Clyde when circumstances warrant it.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
The hon. Member for Denbigh (Sir H. Morris-Jones) and others have spoken of the formalities that visitors have to undergo when they enter this country. It always seems to me that visitors from overseas must think it rather strange to read advertisements sponsored by one Government Department urging them to come to this country and to spend their money here, and yet on arrival to be met by officials of another Government 136 Department who herd them into long queues, bombard them with questions, many of which must appear to be very irrelevant, and belabour them with innumerable forms which they have to fill in. They must feel that they are not the welcome visitors they were encouraged to believe they would be, but rather undesirable aliens who have to be endured. In justice to His Majesty's Government, perhaps I should add that that feeling is not peculiar to this country.
I want this evening to speak on the administration of the Catering Wages Act. I believe that this Act was originally devised in anticipation of heavy unemployment occurring at the end of the war when there was demobilisation of the Forces, and in anticipation that that heavy unemployment would bring about exploitation of the workers in hotels. The prevention of that exploitation was, of course, an entirely laudable object which we can all support, but in actual fact I believe it has turned out to be superfluous, because there has been no unemployment in the hotel industry.
I suggest that, on the contrary, this Act may create unemployment, and I want to outline how I think that may occur. First of all, it is obviously a considerable burden upon the hotels. It not only has increased their costs a great deal but has increased their difficulties of administration. I know of many instances where hotel companies have been influenced not to extend their activities, not to build, if they were allowed to do so, new hotels because the proposition of hotel keeping is so much less attractive now than it was before. Secondly, those of us who are familiar with the hotel situation in holiday resorts know that in the off season, when there was very little business, many hotel proprietors kept on their staffs the whole year. Now, under these conditions, many of them are unable to do that, and consequently the hotel staffs are finding a lack of the security they had before.
Thirdly, the increased costs of hotel keeping are tending to shorten the season. Again, those of us who are familiar with conditions in the holiday resorts know that it is generally a profitable proposition to open during the Easter period, but there is almost certainly a time of loss between Easter and Whitsun. Therefore, the advantage of opening at Easter is a 137 rather narrow margin. Profits are good at that time but are followed by a loss. I am afraid a good many hotels are going to say that costs are just that much more that it is not worth opening at Easter. I could give instances of many hotel companies which have definitely announced that they are not going to open at Easter. I was talking to the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) who is interested in this business, and I learn that holiday camps did not open at Easter for this very reason.
Therefore, I suggest that this Act as it is being implemented may damage the very people whom it is designed to help. Furthermore, I think it must lower the standard of service in the hotels. Those who travel about the country know that it is impossible now, except in the very expensive hotels, to get a meal if the train is late or something else has happened to delay one a little beyond the normal time of the meal. How different is the situation abroad. I was lucky enough to go to France last week, and there I saw in a small country hotel a car load of people arrive for luncheon at 4.30 p.m. They were not provided with a cold snack, indeed when I saw them an hour and a half later they were still eating and, lucky people, drinking. There was no difficulty put in their way at all. So it is in many other countries in Europe. At any hour of the day meals can be obtained.
Secondly, I fear that this Act is tending to reduce that give and take between staff and management which is so vital if a really effective service is to be given. It must be a question of the staff feeling that they are part of the show, they put all they can into busy times and benefit when times are less busy. My hon. Friend the Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher) told us that the hotel business cannot be run on factory lines. The hotel population just does not live an 8-hour day, and if we are to maintain our services there has to be some given and take and flexibility which we have not got now. I have hitherto found, in spite of the difficulties the hotels of this country have put up with, they can make visitors more comfortable than the more richly endowed hotels on the other side of the Atlantic, just because our service is so much better and the 138 staff are not thinking all the time how much they are entitled to, but feel that they are part of the show.
The psychological effect of this Act is the very reverse of that. The staff may suffer and the public interest may suffer by this Act; more particularly small boarding-house keepers, will suffer as a result of the chaotic conditions brought about by having to spend their valuable time filling in these forms and trying to understand the incomprehensible regulations. These people have to cram their profitable period into three or four months, and during that time they work night and day. They simply have not the time to learn how to fill in these different forms.
Therefore, I say that if this Act is to be an asset instead of a liability, it must be administered with greater flexibility so that allowance can be made in the holiday resorts when the season is so short; it must be made much simpler so that it can be easily understood and does not require clerical staff which the smaller boarding houses simply cannot afford; and the burden must be less so that a high standard of service can be maintained. I believe that full employment in the hotel industry depends in the long run, not on Government regulations, restrictions and Acts of Parliament, but on the general economy of the country. If the country is prosperous and there is high level of employment, then the hotels will be busy and labour can bargain to get its rights. I feel that that is a far healthier way for the hotel staff to get proper treatment, to creating conditions whereby they can protect themselves rather than be dependent upon regulations.
I am afraid that the situation now is very different; I am afraid that we may be facing the prospect of unemployment, not coming through a glut through having more than we know how to consume—which we know how to deal with now—but through our inability to buy raw materials with which to keep our factories busy. No Government restrictions can help hotel staffs to be fully employed if these sort of conditions exist. The only way the Government can help is to enable more to be produced at lower prices, so that we can export more and therefore can buy more.
139 The Government are fond of talking about their planning. Planning is admirable when everything can be adequately foreseen, but it is very often disastrous when the wrong calculations are made. Planning should be judged not by the extent of the detailed interference it provides but rather by its quality, by the Government creating conditions by which prosperity can be maintained. If the Government would give up planning with their emotions and start planning with their heads then the community as a whole, and the hotel industry in particular, would benefit very much.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. John E. Haire (Wycombe)
I find myself largely in agreement with much that has been said by the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Spearman). He and many other Members have drawn sufficient attention today to the Catering Wages Act to justify the Government agreeing to review it at no remote date. I want in the few minutes at my disposal to bring discussion back to the foreign tourist side of this important industry. I think it will bear repetition even at this late hour to say that today we have been discussing an industry which is our biggest exporter. Indeed, the news that some £47 million was made in this industry in the past year, and that a large percentage of it was in dollars, is sensational. As a dollar earner we ought to congratulate the Tourist Board and the Government on the way in which the industry has been handled. It has been handled at a total expense to us of some £400,000, which is a very small investment for such a large return. I also understand that this has been done at the very low administrative cost of about 2 per cent.
I would like to congratulate all concerned on the success of this industry, though it is clear that we must not allow our success to stop there. I hope we shall do everything possible to reach the target of £62 million which we hope will be the return from this industry in 1952. Certainly, if we go the right way about it—and I believe the Tourist Board are doing so—we can make Britain the tourists' Mecca of the world. I want to put forward a few suggestions about the way in which we might get more tourists to this country. First, we must create more publicity. I was in the offices of the 140 Tourist Board recently, and was most impressed by the efficient way in which they sent large quantities of literature on British tourism to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and other places in the world. The Board is a most important organisation, but I want them to do still more. I also feel that we ought to take the opportunity when abroad, especially hon. Members on the other side, to tell the story of this country as a tourist centre, and not go out of our way to belittle its post-war possibilities in this respect.
I think, too, that we must increase our tourist facilities, and I would like to draw attention to some of the matters—which may not have been mentioned already—connected with our transport, hotels and catering. But first, we must arrive at a full appreciation of the new type of tourist who is coming to this country. Do we realise fully that no longer are we catering for the rich pre-war Riviera class of tourist; that people today come to find us as we are, and that to some of them our post-war difficulties and situation are part of the attraction? Therefore, I disagree with hon. Members who seem to think that we ought to dress ourselves up specially for tourists; that somehow we ought to provide them with different rations or hotel arrangements. We do not fully appreciate that holidays with pay have been applied outside this country as well and that many foreign workers are willing to come here to enjoy their holidays. Nor do we fully realise the large number of young people now coming here on holiday. Before the war many youths came here only as students; now, many others are given facilities. As a nation, we must become much more Swiss-minded with regard to tourism and realise that what we have to offer will not only provide them with a good holiday but also a good return for their investment.
I said that I would make one or two points about what I thought were failures in transport. Tourists arriving from the United States and from the Commonwealth must find it extremely expensive to pay the initial fare to get here. Since most of them, therefore, are forced into the lower-fare classes of the shipping lines, I should like to see the air companies—our own and others—trying to provide a tourist class in the air. If that were done we should attract many more visitors because of the short time such 141 a journey would involve. Many of them cannot afford to spend seven or ten days in both directions across the Atlantic, whereas they certainly could afford the 12 hours each way of the air journey. I am glad to see that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation is here. I hope that he may be able to do something about this, particularly the provision of the cheaper tourist fare in the off season, when there are seats on many aircraft which could be readily filled. I favour the idea of air-lifts from the Commonwealth. I do not mean hitch-hiking from, say, Australia; what I mean is that we could, in a rather spectacular way, do something like organising a tour of, say, 5,000 Australians by air to Britain this year and run them in some sort of massed airlift, provided, of course, that we could muster sufficient aircraft, which is now much more possible.
One or two points need examination concerning the arrival of tourists at our ports. I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade say that many improvements had been made, but I should like to see officialdom at the port still further humanised. I deplore the fact, for example, that on arrival at the port foreign visitors are divided into the category of either "Aliens" or "British." Could it not be so arranged that all passengers to this country, whether by air or by sea, went through the normal formalities without any such division? I should like to see more literature distributed at the port head to advise visitors what they can achieve here and what they can see. This little card, "Welcome to Britain," is an excellent idea of the Tourist Board, and tells visitors where they can get further information; but I do not see why more tourist literature cannot be distributed.
The surrender of sterling causes great vexation. As most hon. Members will know, sterling in excess of £5 has to be surrendered; at present it is confiscated. Could there not be an insertion in a passport that a visitor to this country who had surrendered £3, or whatever the amount, was to be entitled to a refund of that amount on leaving the country? I can see no administrative difficulty. Attention should be drawn to the fact that visitors to our country find it extremely difficult to distinguish between 142 tipping and surcharge in hotels and restaurant bills. They get a bill on which are the letters "S.C." and they regard that as a service charge and do not tip. A certain amount of unpleasantness has been the result. Could anything be done to clear that up? I realise that it is largely a matter for the hotels concerned.
I hope that when visitors come to this country we will do everything we can to get them off the beaten track, and away from the established tours which go from A to B and C. I would like to see more local hospitality committees set up in various areas by which visitors could be made welcome in our homes and thus get an appreciation of the people and their problems. We must get a right attitude to tourism. We have been rather materialistic today. We do not want visitors to come merely so that we can fleece them of their dollars. We want them to come for a holiday and to get to understand us and our social, economic and political developments at first hand. In turn, by helping us to get to know them they will assist in breaking down international barriers which must remain one of the prime reasons for our encouragement of tourism.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. C. S. Taylor (Eastbourne)
As is customary, I hasten to disclose my personal interests in the tourist industry. I have the honour of being Vice-Chairman of the British Hotels and Restaurants Association, I am on the board of management of the Travel Association and happen to be a director of Grosvenor House, Park Lane. I am speaking for none of those bodies, but purely as a Member of this House, and the views I express are my own. I wish to say how much I appreciated the remarks of the hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher) about the excellent work of the officials of the Travel Association. I think its publicity is magnificent. I know that the Association would be pleased if hon. Members could afford time to pay them visits from time to time to see what is being done. The annual report of the Travel Association in 1948 stated that the tourist trade "is more valuable than any visible export."
It is worth remembering at this time that the industry we are talking about 143 exports services and not goods manufactured from raw materials. It is a very cheap form of export. I do not think it necessary to stress the value of the tourist trade any further because I am certain that the Government are well aware of the importance of this industry. It is good to know that more Americans are booked to come to Britain this year than ever before in history, but the tourist industry does not rely solely on visitors from overseas. It must have a steady cushion of home tourist trade in order to be and remain prosperous. Our case today has been based on that fact.
Looking back to the immediate postwar period, we find that hotels and boarding houses throughout the country experienced considerable difficulties. There were delays in de-requisitioning and in removing barbed wire and concrete battlements from our sea fronts. There were delays in supplying equipment. All linen, materials for curtains, chair covers, towels, etc., were devoted to the direct export market at the expense of this industry, which we say is a very large direct export market in itself, although invisible, and very little of these materials were devoted to the home trade. In addition—I think this point is extremely important and I hope that the Board of Trade will look into it—hotels and boarding houses have had to pay Purchase Tax on all the materials which are the only raw materials they use in their industry, the sort of materials which I have mentioned—kitchen equipment, glass, cutlery, china, linen, etc. I suggest that the Board of Trade should really consider that the hotel and boarding-house industry is just as important as the direct export trade.
Had all these things been done at that time, our hotels and boarding houses would have been able to get off the mark more quickly, at a time when thousands of Americans wanted to come over to England to see the spots where their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers had been stationed during the war. I mention last but by no means the least the over-worked and over-strained war-weary workers in Britain who wanted to have the holiday which they deserved after the trials of a five-year war. These were the people who needed rejuvenation at that time so that they could switch from the heavy 144 work which they had been doing in war production to the equally heavy work of making materials for the industries of peace and for the export trade.
I do not wish to address myself any further to what has happened in the past. I will now concentrate upon the present problems which afflict us in the tourist industry. I must first mention petrol. From time to time we have been promised more petrol for home holiday makers, but little has been done. I get pathetic letters not only from hotel and boardinghouse keepers but from shopkeepers and amusement caterers in the more remote holiday areas saying that whole communities are being faced with bankruptcy. I do not think that these complaints are exaggerated. I believe that there are whole communities in the more remote holiday areas which will once again lose their means of livelihood, as they did during the war. One must remember that in holiday resorts it is not only the boarding-house and hotel keepers who will suffer if hotels and boarding houses are empty; it is the shopkeepers, the cinema proprietors and the business people in the community; in fact everyone who exists within the community is bound to suffer. In my constituency of Eastbourne I always feel that if hotels and boarding houses are doing well the community as a whole will prosper.
I now turn to the licensing laws, which I regard as being completely archaic in many instances. I know that there have been some attempts in the Licensing Bill to amend some of the licensing laws and the more stupid regulations. I know also that steps have been taken to legalise certain evasions of the law which we know have been taking place. I feel that very much more can be done to make holidays in Great Britain more attractive and less unattractive. For example, it is perfectly legal for anyone living in an hotel who wishes to have a drink to have one at any time of the day or night; if he takes in an American visitor he himself can have a drink but he cannot offer his American visitor a drink. The American visitor looks round and sees at the next table that other inmates of the hotel are drinking to their hearts content, and the American visitor is very angry.
I feel that the licensing laws need to be overhauled. I do not know whether it would be possible for a commission to 145 sit on the licensing laws at the present time and make a report, but I think it might be valuable. I am told that in Australia the pubs close at 6 o'clock. At 5 o'clock or 4 o'clock there are queues outside the public houses and at 6 o'clock there is a great deal of drunkenness. But in France, where drinking establishments are open all day, there is little drunkenness.
I must mention the Meals in Establishments Order, that is, the order which limits a meal to three courses and the price of a meal which may be served in an hotel, restaurant or eating-house. The first Meals in Establishments Order was made in 1942 to prevent what was termed luxury feeding in time of war. No sooner was that order made than a house charge was added to the 5s. meal limit to combat what had been called "the inescapable overhead charges" which the hotel or restaurant had to meet. While there is a shortage of food it is obviously undesirable for those who can afford it to guzzle large quantities of food in hotels and restaurants. But it is ridiculous that an American who wishes to buy, say, asparagus out of season, or caviare which comes from Russia—and is willing to pay for those additional luxuries which will not affect the housewife in the least degree—cannot be served with them, and that dollars are thereby lost because the Ministry of Food will keep on this useless Meals in Establishments Order.
I do not believe that meals generally in the smaller establishments would become more expensive. Because 5s. is the maximum permitted charge at the present time it automatically becomes the minimum charge. I believe that if we could see free competition and a bit more enterprise, a great many more of the smaller establishments would be prepared, and indeed would have, to reduce their charges. Incidentally, I should mention that the proportion of rationed foods in hotels and restaurants at the present time has been calculated at one-fifth of 1 per cent. of the total rationed foods available—not a very substantial figure.
There is one thing which may destroy my argument about the reduction in the price of meals and that is the tremendous increases which have been made in wages due to the spread-over arrangements, the high overtime rates and the treble time 146 on bank holidays and so on. I understand on good authority that even now the British Railways serve lunch or dinner in the restaurant cars at 4s. a meal. Out of that 4s. 2s. 1½d. is estimated to be paid out for wages, the staff working a 44-hour week. If my arithmetic is correct that leaves 1s. 10½d. to cover linen, cutlery replacements, glass breakages and, last but not least, the food for the customer. I do not think that we shall get a Dover sole and sweet and cheese on railway cars and still hope that they will make a profit if these figures are correct.
That brings me to the various regulations in the Catering Wages Act. I admit that I was one of the Conservative members who thought fit to oppose the Catering Wages Bill when it was put before Parliament in 1943. In spite of our opposition the Bill was passed; but all the difficulties which we foresaw then are now becoming apparent to all and we submit that the hotel and catering industries are being saddled with an order which is very complicated and almost unworkable.
I must make a vigorous protest about what was said today by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour. He said that the hotel industry were complaining because they had to pay out more in wages. It is true that they have to pay out more money, but we are complaining because of the high overtime rates, the spread-over arrangements and the treble time on bank holidays which are most important periods to the industry. We are complaining that tipping has not been taken into consideration; mostly we complain that it is all so complicated. The British Hotels and Restaurants Association issued a guide to the wages regulations because those regulations were so complicated. It is a most valuable document which runs to 59 closely printed pages and as the regulations are so complicated the Ministry of Labour asked the Association whether they would be prepared to let the Ministry's inspectors have copies, presumably because they could not understand the regulations themselves. We replied that we would be delighted provided they paid for them. The industry does not oppose minimum rates of wages. We want simple minimum rates of wages, and we suggest that tipping should be taken into consideration.
147 It is significant that 80 per cent. of the restaurants in the West End of London were closed during Whitsuntide and Easter because they could not afford to keep open and to pay treble wages. What did the Americans do then? And what did the employees do? Did they benefit because of the ridiculous and complicated regulations proposed by the licensed establishments board? I would have had more to say about the working of the boards but, because the last speaker exceeded his time, I now have little time at my disposal. One would have thought that the unlicensed establishments board would have seen the errors made by the other board, and that the regulations proposed for the unlicensed establishments would have been more simple and easy to follow. We must remember that these are only small establishments, 85 per cent. of them having 20 rooms or under with only four or five employees. However, I understand that the regulations will probably be just as complicated and rigid as those for the licensed establishments.
A friendly disposed Government could do a great deal to help the hotel industry which could do an enormous amount to increase the flow of dollars from America. Those who are carrying on the industry as a business are prepared to do their part but they expect and demand greater help than they have had up to now from the Government otherwise, with the greater freedom of travel overseas, our tourist and holiday resorts will lose some of their popularity.
§ 9.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
Judging by the speeches we have heard, it seems to be generally agreed that the initiative of my Liberal National friends has been worth while and that this Debate has been regarded by the Committee as serving a useful purpose. We seem to have achieved something which we seldom experience in this Committee. We have had a broadly based, good tempered but incisive Debate on nonparty lines dealing with a matter of first class national importance. It is a great pity that we cannot have this kind of Debate more often. Ministers will have noticed how praise and criticism have come in equal proportion from both sides of the Committee. It was natural to expect some criticism from the Opposition, but I observed that sometimes the 148 strongest and most pungent criticisms came from hon. Members on the Government side of the Committee.
The junior Member for Preston (Mr. Shackleton) demanded in the strongest terms that more consideration should be given by the President of the Board of Trade and his colleagues to ways and means of generally developing the tourist trade. The hon. Member complained, I think fairly strongly, of the lack of hotel accommodation in different parts of the country, and he urged a series of very interesting and I thought quite necessary reforms. The hon. and gallant Member for Great Yarmouth (Squadron-Leader Kinghorn) thought that the importance of the tourist industry called for a much greater effort from the Government than was now being shown. He criticised the transport provisions of this country and the reluctance of the Government to offer facilities for more hotel accommodation, and he also criticised the effects of the Purchase Tax. The hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay), as we might have expected, was perhaps the most pungent critic of all, and he took up a Scottish line which I shall endeavour to pick up in a moment. His point was that the Catering Wages Board system, as applied to Scotland, simply does not work, and, in fact, discourages the development of the tourist industry.
I hope the Government will take note of what has been said in the Debate today, for indeed this is a matter of vital concern to the welfare of our country, and failure to tackle it will react upon all of us, not least upon the Government themselves. Like the President of the Board of Trade, I have just returned from a lengthy tour of North America. I went from coast to coast of Canada and also spent some time in the United States, returning only a few days ago. I think the President did not have time to go into the United States, but he will have full reports on the situation there, and I am sure he will agree with two conclusions which I have formed from that visit.
The first is that, throughout the whole of North America, there is the strongest sentimental attachment to this country by all kinds of people who admire what we have done, who love the characteristics of our country and want to help us, and who particularly want to come here themselves and see the people of that 149 nation which stood alone in the darkest hour of the war. That sentiment is universal throughout North America, and there is no doubt that it applies to Americans and Canadians alike, great numbers of whom would like to come here if they could and if they would be well looked after.
There was another impression which I formed and with which I think the President will also agree. In the United States at present, there is very strong criticism of the increasing expenditure of the Government and the resultant increase of taxation. The fact is that Congressmen have been pressed from all quarters to effect drastic and early cuts in expenditure. I am not going off the point; that is only an illustration to my general theme. It is inevitable that, under such pressure, Congressmen are going to look for the biggest single wad of expenditure which they can tackle, and I am very much afraid that Marshall Aid may be the subject of their first attack on expenditure.
What will be the result of that? We are going to suffer immediately, and that is just where the importance of this tourist business comes in. The President was engaged in a wide field, as I was engaged in a narrow one, in trying to get increased sales of British engineering products in Canada. I do not take the same optimistic view as he does about the possibility of a tenfold advance, and I do not see that happening, but here in this tourist trade we have got something the development of which will, first of all, gain us more immediate dollars than any other single enterprise in the country, and also supply something which Americans and Canadians are most ready to accept.
Surely, it is folly of the worst possible variety to neglect this immense national asset, and that we are now neglecting it there is no doubt at all. Of course we are doing things, and of course action is being taken. Tribute has been paid from all parts of the Committee to the Travel Association and to the boards. Tribute has been paid to the efforts of the hotel and boarding-house keepers, to the railway men, and so on, and with such tribute I and my hon. Friends associate ourselves. But that is not enough; it is no use pretending, as Ministers did today, and I must say I was disappointed with the President of the Board of Trade. I 150 greatly admired what he did in Canada; I heard him make an excellent speech in Vancouver, his energy was terrific and he did a great deal of good.
But today his performance has seemed heartless. I heard no ring of enthusiasm from either the President of the Board of Trade or the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour. I got the impression that they were attempting to bat on a difficult wicket and were attempting to push off criticism rather than accept it. The whole theme of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour was that everything proposed by hon. Members was impossible to carry out. That way of attacking this problem is a hopeless one. Ministers should be ready to welcome constructive proposals such as have come from all parts of the Committee today.
There is no doubt that there are a great many things wrong with our tourist industry at the present time. For example, there is the staggering contrast which every tourist from abroad experiences between the accommodation, the service and the food which he finds on the ship and which he finds in the British hotel when he lands here. I am not saying that we should try to reconstruct our London or Edinburgh hotels on the luxurious lines of the "Queen Mary" or the "Empress of Canada." That, possibly, is out of the question, but the contrast is really too great, and I cannot believe it to be right or necessary that an American tourist going into some of our luxury London hotels should still be bound by this absurd 5s. limit when we know that the Government permit those same hotels to add on all kinds of charges in order to get a reasonable return.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
How would the hon. Member distinguish between an American tourist and anybody like ourselves?
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
I would not do anything so stupid. The present system is absurd; one cannot have more than 5s. worth of food.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
I will answer the question which, if I may say so with respect, is a particularly stupid question. It is surely absurd that an American— 151 I am not talking of the frightfully wealthy American, but of the ordinary American—who goes into a hotel cannot eat more than 5s. worth of food. But that is not his total bill. Added to that is a house charge permitted by the Government, an oyster charge, and an entertainment charge. The whole thing is fantastic. Hotels should be able to offer to their visitors such meals of unrationed foods as the visitors want. Surely, that is elementary.
§ Mr. Blackburnrose——
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
I am afraid I cannot give way to the hon. Gentleman; I am trying to finish so that the Minister may answer.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
I am answering it. I am saying that there should be no distinction, as, indeed, there can be no distinction, between one visitor and another. I am asking for common sense to be applied in regard to all visitors, and even to the hon. Member himself if that is possible.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
By the measures I have just described. As I say, that is one staggering contrast.
Quite clearly there is ample room for a substantial, commonsense improvement in our whole catering regulations. Look at the Scottish situation. As we all know, we have there a country that is attractive to great numbers of people, particularly North Americans. They go there for the history and romance of it. They go to the Highlands for fishing, for ski-ing, for golf, for what you like. Take my own constituency. At St. Andrews there are enormous queues in the morning to get started on the Royal and Ancient course and if people want a game they have to be up early, but the St. Andrews hotels, on account of these absurd wages regulations, cannot give meals early. People come in from fishing in the Highlands late at night, but, again because of the absurd regulations, 152 they cannot be given supper late at night.
Surely these are the most futile and silly regulations anybody ever made. This is the kind of practical thing a sensible Government would undertake to put right. We are not asking for the complete change of the Catering Wages Act; we all accept completely that the Act must go forward.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
The hon. Member should not reveal his ignorance. In fact, the Catering Wages Act was passed when we were in the House, when we were responsible to it and, therefore, were in power. I and my hon. Friends voted for it. We did precisely what the hon. Member is asking. I say that the Act must stand, but I ask, as was asked by the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay), that its application should be altered.
I want to refer in a few words to the Scottish Board. Apparently the Minister of Labour is opposed to the demand that there should be a Scottish Tourist Board, that we should have a board to look after our own affairs. This is very interesting. It is in contrast with every action of every previous Government. It is an accepted principle of long standing that Scottish administration should be settled in Scotland. Is it to be understood that the Socialist Government is to break with that principle now? Because they have been forced to do so they have arranged boards for all the nationalised industries with sub-boards in Scotland. We have our own Minister, although I do not know where he is at the moment. We have our own Under-Secretary and I am glad to see him here. Why do the Government refuse to grant to Scotland the same principle in the case of the Catering Wages Board? Every Scottish politician is in favour of it. Every Labour Scottish politician——
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
If the hon. Member would permit me to intervene, it is 153 not a question of the Ministry of Labour refusing, for the Ministry of Labour have no authority in the matter. They are bound to refer this matter to the Catering Wages Commission whose decision is final.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
That may well be, but I feel pretty certain that if we were in power we should take some authority in the matter and see that the needs of Scotland were met. For the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour to produce that highly theatrical warning to us that we must not in any circumstances discuss in this House what was happening in the Catering Wages Commission was, I think, a little below the belt. [Interruption.] I see I am arousing the Opposition which I am loth to do, for I was hoping this would be a friendly Debate and, indeed, I have said nothing that was unfriendly.
As a Scottish Member I have the deepest personal interest in making this Tourist Board successful. It is true to say that we in Scotland depend more, in proportion, upon this trade than perhaps any other part of the country. I and my hon. Friends, and indeed all of us here, want to make the thing work. As it happens this Government is for the moment, and I hope temporarily, responsible. It is, therefore, our duty to put forward our strong views on the matter. I say that practical, early steps should be taken greatly to increase the efficiency and, therefore, the importance and dollar earning capacity of this great industry. Unless we can get from the Government tonight a clear answer to any of the questions put to them, abundant proof that the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues intend to take practical steps, we shall be forced to divide the Committee.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Bottomley (Secretary for Overseas Trade)
I think that hon. Members on both sides of the Committee can agree that the Debate today has been a useful one. I would not altogether commend the opening speech by the hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher). I think that he rather led us into a critical atmosphere, when it was obvious that the intention of the whole Committee was to be co-operative in an endeavour to see that this great industry received the necessary attention, and to present considered 154 views for further consideration by the Board of Trade.
Perhaps, I ought to explain immediately that the British Tourist and Holidays Board is a non-Governmental organisation. It is true that it works closely with the Board of Trade through the division of the Board of Trade concerned with tourism and holidays generally. Already it has been clearly shown that that relationship is a good and useful one, and enables the work of the Tourist Board to be done more efficiently and more speedily than might be the case if that division did not exist. Within the British Tourist and Holidays Board itself there are four divisions. There is the tourist division about which we have heard a good deal today. A lot of the work that it does has been quite rightly praised. I ought to add that the other three sections have done equal work. They are the home holidays division, the catering division, and the hotels division. These four divisions within the Board are made up of a cross-section of men and women who contribute much towards the holiday business generally, and the work they do is something we rightly recognise.
In connection with the British Tourist and Holidays Board, I ought also to say that Scotland has her own arrangements. She has her own Tourist and Holidays Board, a magnificent organisation equal to the British Board, and I am very glad to say also that recently Wales has established its own Tourist and Holidays Board. I am very glad that I took an active part in the establishment of that body which, under the chairmanship of the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell), is doing great work. In addition there is the Tourist and Holidays Board in Northern Ireland. These bodies together are doing a magnificent job, and tribute should be paid to all of them for the work they do. I would commend to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen the first report of the British Tourist and Holidays Board. It is full of detail and gives a glowing account of all that has been achieved by all these various bodies.
The Debate, as I have said, has been an extremely useful one, and I should like to deal with the points that have been made, and then cover further points of general interest. The hon. Member for Holland with Boston, who opened the Debate, made one complaint, that the 155 buildings going up within the neighbourhood of this great Palace were not for hotels, or for housing visitors from overseas, but were Government buildings for housing civil servants. What he failed to appreciate was that that very work in itself is making way for overseas visitors, because the hotels requisitioned by Government Departments for housing civil servants will thus be vacated; and in that way more accommodation will be made available for overseas visitors.
He also said that it would be very nice to have many attractions inside the hotels. Most of those suggestions have already been answered by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. He asked particularly for the provision of better crockery, referring—in which I agree with him to a large extent—to the heavy mugs used in some establishments. I am bound to say that although, as he rightly says, to have in use ornamental crockery or crockery with badges would encourage overseas buyers to purchase that kind of goods, there is a saying that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. We can sell so much of this pottery overseas for dollars that it is essential to keep up that very remunerative trade, making sure of dollars, rather than risking not getting the trade by having the goods on show in our own hotels and other establishments. We could only have that better crockery in the hotels at the expense of dollars already being earned by exports to dollar markets.
The hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Orr-Ewing) recognised, with me, the good work of the divisions of the British Tourist and Holidays Board, and said that if he had any criticism to make it was that that good work was not recognised by Government Departments, or that there was not enough consultation. I can assure him that that is not so; there is frequent consultation; I am constantly in touch with them myself, and there is an ever-open door for these representatives to come along and see me or my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. This in itself proves the value of having a division at the Board of Trade to see that all the service necessary is rendered.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
I am sure the hon. Gentleman would not wish to misrepresent what I said. I said, not that it was 156 a matter of consultation, but that the Government Departments concerned with the recommendations of these bodies appeared to do nothing about those recommendations.
§ Mr. Bottomley
We have carried many recommendations into effect, and I hope that as we proceed even further advantages will accrue as a result of the representations made by these divisions or by the Tourist and Holidays Board to the Board of Trade itself.
My hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Shackleton) said he thought the Government were not spending enough money on advertising, and argued that the more we advertised the more overseas visitors we could get. We are anxious to see that there is full publicity, and there is no restriction on advertising in order to earn dollars. We leave it to the Tourist and Holdays Board and the other associations to make applications for the necessary currency in order to carry out publicity. As far as I can see, judging from the statement made earlier in the Debate by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, excellent work is being done in that field, and there seems to be little room for criticism. Of course, in every case, whatever the task, greater and better things can be done, and that endeavour will always be made.
§ Mr. Shackleton
I am sorry that my hon. Friend has misinterpreted what I said. I did not say that the Government were not spending enough money on advertising. I said that the Government were not spending enough money on promoting the tourist industry generally. There is a big difference.
§ Mr. Bottomley
I am sorry if I misunderstood my hon. Friend. I can only say that again the answer is that the Government do all they can, and that has been acknowledged by persons competent to judge. My hon. Friend also queried whether the Travel Association had anything to do with the 1951 Exhibition Committee, and wanted to know its relationship to the British Tourist and Holidays Board. I have already dealt with the latter point. In connection with the first, the Secretary-General of the British Tourist and Holidays Board is a member of the Executive Committee for the 1951 Exhibition, so 157 that the Travel Association are able to make their representations.
The hon. Member for South Blackpool (Mr. Roland Robinson) used what is a very familiar argument to those of us who serve at the Board of Trade. He said that in order that overseas trade can prosper, we must have a firm home market on which to build. That may be true, but what an industry sells on the home market may sometimes be at the expense of the overseas market. Our job is to balance the two and make sure that we do not allow too much to be sold on the home market and spoil our chances of earning money from overseas. It is a valid point, and we try to arrive at the right decision.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Squadron-Leader Kinghorn) made reference to the remarkable recovery of the seaside resorts. I should like to join in paying tribute to what has been done. I had the privilege during the war of being a Deputy Regional Commissioner in the South-East. When one remembers how these seaside places were compelled to evacuate large sections of their population, how hotels were commandeered by the Army and the damage done by enemy attack, the comparatively short space of time it has taken to clear away the mess and get the hotels re-established again is a matter of credit to all concerned. I am bound to add that it has also been due to the active co-operation and work of the Government.
The right hon. Member for Epsom (Mr. McCorquodale), who held a high and responsible position and worked with such great distinction in the last Government, made many points which were answered effectively by my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour. There was, however, one point which he particularly addressed to me, and that was when he referred to the fact that more people in this country go abroad. That is perfectly true. Many more of our citizens go overseas than visitors from other countries come to this country. We are hoping to adjust that. The real reason is that by tradition we are great travellers, and long may it continue. It must be remembered that many of the countries our people visit also have a balance of payments situation something like our problem 158 in relation to the dollar countries, and that the greater opportunity we give them to re-establish their countries the greater the contribution that can be made to the recovery of Europe as a whole.
§ Mr. McCorquodale
If it is so important, then why is it that when we go abroad the amount of money we can spend is so limited?
§ Mr. Bottomley
There has to be some limitation. There are some countries which have a balance of payments situation that is unfavourable to us, and it would be unfortunate if we added to our burden by allowing visitors to go there from this country. We also have to be careful that we do not make soft currency countries hard currency countries by allowing too many visitors to go there.
§ Mr. Marples (Wallasey)
Is it proposed then to stop tourists to Italy because they have a favourable balance with this country?
§ Mr. Bottomley
Tourists can go to Italy subject to the limitations imposed. What I have said already applies in the case of Italy. We do not want to create an adverse balance.
My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Mack), in a vigorous and imaginative speech, such as is customary from him, said he would like to brighten up London. I thought we were doing it considerably. My hon. Friend said he would like to see the President of the Board of Trade wearing a dashing and colourful tie. If my hon. Friend had been at Blackpool one afternoon recently, when the President and I decided not to attend the Labour Party Conference, he would have seen my right hon. Friend in a tie which, I believe, he wore for the purpose of dazzling me in a game of golf. Perhaps some day my right hon. Friend will let the House see that tie.
On the question of building licences, it is difficult to try to meet what some hon. Members opposite have suggested. It is true that in the case of industrial buildings work can be carried out up to the value of £1,000 without a licence and that hotels must obtain a licence to do similar work. It is difficult, however, to distinguish between hotels and boardinghouses and houses where there may perhaps be one or two lodgers. If we allowed 159 all of these to re-decorate without a licence, it would be unfair, I think, to the private householder. We cannot freely permit building licences to be dispensed with, as we have been able to do in the case of factories, although each time I have made representations to the Ministry of Works on behalf of hotels they have been most generous in their treatment, which, I think, will continue. It is our desire to overcome all difficulties consistent with meeting our obligations, and to see that the private householder receives treatment similar to that received by others.
Petrol has been mentioned by many Members today, and although I cannot hope to answer for the Ministry of Fuel and Power, I can say what has been done as a result of our last Debate on this subject, in which I said that I was making representations to the Minister with a view to more being done to help tourism. I must tell the hon. Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) that some of his information is not accurate. Tourists' cars get sufficient petrol to enable them to go from their port of arrival to the furthest possible destination, and then back to the port of departure. There is an additional allowance for a further 600 miles of motoring during the first fortnight following their arrival. This is increased to 800 miles for the first three weeks, and to 1,000 miles for the first month. If a tourist stays longer, for a second and third month, an additional 300 miles motoring per month is permitted. There has also been an allowance, as from 1st June, of 250 miles motoring in cars which have been borrowed free of charge or bought second-hand.
Hire-car operators can get substantial coupon replacements of any petrol used in journeys in excess of 20 miles where tourists drive themselves or are driven, and petrol can be obtained for taxis. This position is a great improvement on that at the time of our earlier Debate. In the case of isolated hotels, an allowance of petrol is granted to those who have to get tourists or visitors from the station some distance away. If a hotel has fishing rights, it has an opportunity of getting extra petrol to take visitors from the hotel to the river or loch.
160 Much has been said about the need to improve our air travel, and particularly to bring down the price. It is true that B.O.A.C. are not running as many air services to the dollar countries as they were able to do last year. Then, they ran six services; this year there are five. The reason for this is that in order to save dollars we have had to remove to this country the base where repairs and servicing were carried out in Canada. Nevertheless, with the expansion now taking place, and the introduction of the Boeing Stratocruisers by Pan-American Airways, they, American Overseas Airlines and B.O.A.C. are able to ensure that every passenger—and, indeed, more passengers—can be carried; plenty of space is now available.
Following the wish of hon. Members, we have been concerned also with the question of reduced fares in the sense of having not only a first-class, but a second-class fare. This, of course, is a matter for the operators. Recently there was a conference of the International Air Transport Association at Nice, which recommended that for the period from 1st October next to 1st April of next year there should be no change in the standard fare between London and New York. The Conference went further and said that there should be a special off-season return fare to encourage visitors when the carrying capacity was easiest. These recommendations need Governmental approval but it is evident that at present operators are not prepared to come down to second-class fares while they can fill the space with first-class passengers.
A further point was made regarding passenger liners, of which we still do not have sufficient numbers. The capacity available is limited and I am bound to say, in reply to the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay) that, much as we share his view that there is a desire for shipping to go into the Clyde, the argument against it is, that we are earning the dollars by the methods already employed and that, short of additional shipping, there is no other way in which we can at present add to our dollar-earning capacity. That is our main concern. I can assure my hon. Friend that the Government have not interfered in preventing ships from going to the Clyde. That is a matter for shipping companies 161 to decide as and when they think necessary.
§ Mr. McKinlay
Am I to understand it is the policy of the Government that if shipping companies desire to discharge passengers on the Clyde no Government objection will be offered?
§ Mr. Bottomley
The best I can do is to repeat what was said to me earlier by the Secretary of State for Scotland, who perhaps is the best authority, to satisfy the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire. My right hon. Friend said that if any shipping company wished to go to the Clyde, they had complete right to do so. What the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) had to say is a matter between the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire and the hon. Member for Ipswich.
In connection with tourism generally, not only should we try and get a spread-over in the way of reduced fares on aircraft—for shipping we do not want that, because all the space is taken up—but there is a lot to be said for trying to spread the tourist season. The more that can be encouraged the better. I should like to pay a tribute to the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. C. S. Taylor) who, with others, has taken a great part in helping to get the International Hotels Association Conference to come to this country in November of this year. If more conferences of that kind could be held, they would not only bring dollars to this country, but would encourage those who come on these special occasions to return subsequently to see the excellent amenities we can provide both in and out of season.
The question of Purchase Tax on essential goods is a matter which has been decided by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. From what I can gather, to try to meet the expressed wishes of hon. and right hon. Members, legislation would be required and that is not a
§ matter for me to handle, but for the Leader of the House. Reference has been made to the personal export scheme. Thanks to the very bold action at a much earlier stage than some thought would have been possible, clothes rationing was removed and that enabled a free supply to be available. The personal export scheme now makes it possible for overseas purchasers from dollar countries to get goods without Purchase Tax. Contrary to what has been said by some hon. Members, all that the purchaser has to do is to put his signature to the form to which reference has been made. This was agreed upon between the traders and the Board of Trade and all that is required is for the purchaser to sign that he has purchased the goods. I wish to pay tribute to the way in which traders are co-operating in this matter—at some inconvenience, because work of this kind is not as simple as if no form had to be filled in.
§ Points raised by hon. Members in regard to the Catering Wages Act were dealt with earlier, by arrangement. They were asked by a distinguished right hon. Member, a former Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, and answered by my right hon. Friend the present Parliamentary Secretary.
§ The Debate generally has shown a common desire within the Committee to do all possible to help this great tourist industry, one of the greatest dollar-earning industries we have, which can help us a long way towards economic recovery. It is good that the Debate has taken place and I am sure that we have all gained greater knowledge and will pledge ourselves to do more for the development of the tourist industry.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 122; Noes, 216.165
|Division No. 165.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Cooper-Key, E. M.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Bullock, Capt. M.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.|
|Birch, Nigel||Butcher, H. W.||Crowder, Capt. John E.|
|Bowen, R.||Channon, H.||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Bower, N.||Clarke, Col. R. S.||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.|
|Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Drewe, C.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Eccles, D. M.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L.||MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Strauss, Henry (English Universities)|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Marples, A. E.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Marsden, Capt. A.||Teeling, William|
|Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Molson, A. H. E.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Head, Brig. A. H.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Hogg, Hon. Q.||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Hollis, M. C.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Touche, G. C.|
|Holmes, Sir J. Stanley ((Harwich)||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Turton, R. H.|
|Hope, Lord J.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Odey, G. W.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)|
|Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Keeling, E. H.||Pickthorn, K.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Price-White, Lt-Col. D.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Langford-Holt, J.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.||York, C.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Raikes, H. V.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Lloyd, Maj Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Renton, D.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)||Brigadier Medlicott and|
|Low, A. R. W.||Roberts, P. G. (Ecclesall)||Mr. Niall Macpherson.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Cove, W. G.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Crossman, R. H. S.||Horabin, T. L.|
|Albu, A. H.||Cullen, Mrs.||Hubbard, T.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Daggar, G.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Allen, Schotefield (Crewe)||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Janner, B.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Deer, G.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Delargy, H. J.||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Dodds, N. N.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Donovan, T.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Bacon,, Miss A.||Driberg, T. E. N.||Keenan, W.|
|Baird, J.||Dumpleton, C. W.||Kenyon, C.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Dye, S.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||Kinley, J.|
|Barton, C.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Lavers, S.|
|Battley, J. R.||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Leslie, J. R.|
|Benson, G.||Fairhurst, F.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Beswick, F.||Farthing, W. J.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Fernyhough, E.||Lipson, D. L.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Follick, M.||Logan, D. G.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Foot, M. M.||Lyne, A. W.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Forman, J. C.||McAdam, W.|
|Boardman, H.||Freeman, J. (Watford)||McEntee, V. La T|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||McGhee, H. G.|
|Bowden, Fig. Offr. H. W.||Gibbins, J.||McGovern, J.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Gibson, C. W.||Mack, J. D.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Gilzean, A.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Gooch, E. G.||McKinlay, A. S.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||McLeavy, F.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Grenfell, D. R.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Burden, T. W.||Grierson, E.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Callaghan, James||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)|
|Carmichael, James||Guy, W. H.||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Chamberlain, R. A.||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George|
|Cobb, F. A.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Hardy, E. A.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.|
|Coldrick, W.||Harrison, J.||Monslow, W.|
|Collick, P.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Moody, A. S.|
|Collindridge, F.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)||Morley, R.|
|Collins, V. J.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Cook, T. F.||Herbison, Miss M.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Holman, P.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)|
|Mort, D. L.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Timmons, J.|
|Murray, J. D.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Titterington, M. F.|
|Nally, W.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Tolley, L.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Royle, C.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Neal, H. (Claycross)||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Sharp, Granville||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby)||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Viant, S. P.|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Simmons, C. J.||Walkden, E.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Skeffington, A. M.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Paget, R. T.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Sorensen, R. W.||West, D. G.|
|Parker, J.||Steele, T.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Paton, J. (Norwich)||Stokes, R. R.||Wigg, George|
|Pearson, A.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Lambeth)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Peart, T. F.||Stubbs, A. E.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Popplewell, E.||Swingler, S.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Porter, E. (Warrington)||Sylvester, G. O.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Porter, G. (Leeds)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Willis, E.|
|Price, M. Philips||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H.|
|Proctor, W. T.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Pryde, D. J.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Rhodes, H.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Richards, R.||Thurtle, Ernest||Mr. Snow and|
|Mr. George Wallace.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ It being after Ten o'Clock and objection being taken to further proceeding, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.