HC Deb 30 October 1952 vol 505 cc2093-5
29. Miss Burton

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that prices being asked by some London hotels for rooms on the Coronation route are driving dollar-tourists and would-be visitors away; and if he will set up a committee to make recommendations on this matter.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

There is little evidence that visitors from abroad are being deterred from booking accommodation in hotels on the Coronation procession route because of charges or for any other reason. But reports of over-charging, even if without substantial foundation, injure the hotel industry and could have a very damaging long-term effect on our tourist trade.

I am confident that the best course is for the hotel industry itself to assume responsibility for safeguarding its good name, and I have asked the Coronation Accommodation Committee what measures they propose to this end.

Miss Burton

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, because I think it is damaging to the hotel industry for these statements to be made, but may I ask him whether he is aware that some travel agents in America are stating that prices are fantastic and are quoting £1,000 for one room for one week? [HON. MEMBERS "Oh."] Hon. Members opposite may disagree, but that is a fact. Is the President aware that the best step would be for the hotels to publish a list of the charges which they intend to make at the time of the Coronation? Would he consider that suggestion?

Mr. Thorneycroft

If the hon. Lady has specific cases in mind and will let me know of them, I will, of course, draw them to the attention of the Coronation Accommodation Committee, together with the other suggestion which she made.

Mr. Bottomley

Can the President say whether a register of private householders has been kept and shown to overseas visitors as places where they can stay at reasonable prices?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Yes. The Coronation Accommodation Committee have some accommodation of this kind of which they know, and applications can, I understand, be made to them.

Mr. Woodburn

If the Government change their mind and recommend that more of the proceedings should be shown on television, could it not be made known to dollar-tourists that they will find warm hospitality in this country and be able to see the Coronation in more comfort on the television screen?

32. Mr. Braine

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will give an assurance that all possible steps are being taken to ensure that accommodation at reasonable prices will be available for Commonwealth visitors to the Coronation.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

Commonwealth visitors who have any difficulty in securing accommodation at reasonable prices should get in touch with the Coronation Accommodation Department at 88, Brook Street, London, who will make every effort to help them.

Mr. Braine

Surely my right hon. Friend will agree that it is highly undesirable that people in the Commonwealth wishing to come here should be discouraged from doing so either because they learn that there is a lack of accommodation or high prices are likely to be charged? Are there not householders in this country who would be willing to help in this matter if a lead were given them, and whence should the lead come if not from the Government?

Mr. Thorneycroft

My answer was not intended to discourage them, but to show where applications should be made for assistance of this character.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any further information about the proposal that suitable vessels should be moored in the Thames to provide additional accommodation and to prevent the exploitation that might otherwise take place?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Would not the President ensure that the Accommodation Committee study what was done by the Finns with such great success in Helsinki last summer in providing accommodation in private houses and in controlling prices and conditions?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I will certainly draw the right hon. Gentleman's point to the notice of the Committee.