HC Deb 13 November 1952 vol 507 cc1103-5
20. Mr. Albu

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to improve the facilities for visitors at the British Industries Fair at Birmingham.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I am not aware of any widespread dissatisfaction. But the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, who have so successfully organised the Birmingham section of the Fair, and with whom the responsibility for the management of the section rests, will, I am assured, gladly consider any suggestion for improvement.

Mr. Albu

Is the President not aware that grave dissatisfaction has been expressed by foreign buyers, at both the restaurant and lavatory facilities at Birmingham; that in a recent inquiry of the National Union of Manufacturers 95 per cent. of the replies expressed the opinion that the facilities were absolutely deplorable, and that one manufacturer said that the catering facilities could only be compared with the British Army's incompetence in the First World War?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I believe that the vast majority of people, buyers and others, who visit that Fair are impressed with the extraordinarily good exhibition that is organised. But if the hon. Gentleman has any specific examples or instances to suggest, I am quite satisfied that the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce would be very happy to consider them.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the most important contribution which would be made to improving facilities at these fairs is a direct railway service from Earl's Court, London, to Castle Bromwich, outside Birmingham, with wholesome carriages and decent dining cars and buffet cars to enable foreign visitors to travel easily and comfortably between the two places?

Mr. Usborne

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the implications of this Question are not that the exhibits at the Fair are inferior but that the feeding and other facilities for visitors are deplorable? I know, speaking as a Member representing one of the Birmingham constituencies, and frequently having gone to the Fair, that the criticisms contained in my hon. Friend's supplementary question are entirely justified.

Mr. Nabarro

And mine.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I have assured the hon. Gentleman that if specific examples are drawn to my attention I shall be happy to look into them.