HC Deb 07 February 1968 vol 758 cc383-4
27. Mr. Michael Heseltine

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now announce the result of his re-examination of the hotel loans scheme.

36. Mr. Blaker

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now state the result of his consideration of the recommendations for encouraging investment in the hotel industry submitted by the Economic Development Committee for Hotels and Catering.

24. Mr. Miscampbell

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now take steps to provide investment grants for the hotel and catering industries.

Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu

The Government are examining the case for further assistance for the hotel industry and will announce their conclusions as soon as practicable.

Mr. Heseltine

Does the hon. Gentleman feel able to give us a more specific assurance as to when the announcement will take place? Does he intend to implement the suggestions of the little N.E.D.C., first, that it should not be obligatory for the hotel industry to satisfy overseas requirements before it can obtain grants, and, secondly, that there should be moratorium for the first three years before the repayment of grants?

Mr. Mallalieu

These considerations have been very much in our minds, but I will not anticipate the statement. I hope very much that my right hon. Friend will be able to make an announcement before the end of March.

Mr. Blaker

Is the Minister of State aware that the little N.E.D.C. Report itself refers to the need for very rapid action so that the foreign exchange potential of the industry can be realised? Will he bear in mind, when the announcement is made, the vital point made in the Report that the rate of return on investment at present is too low?

Mr. Mallalieu

Yes, I have that very much in mind, and also the need for urgency.

Mr. J. T. Price

Is my hon. Friend aware that, in the opinion of many travellers, particularly travellers in Europe, British hotel charges are the highest in Europe at present? In considering the injection of further Government money into the hotel industry, which I do not resist, will my hon. Friend ensure that steps are taken to protect the consumer so that he enjoys some of the benefit of the Government money which it is proposed to put into the industry?

Mr. Mallalieu

I do not accept that British hotel charges are the highest in Europe.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Does the Minister of State realise that in Wales the tourist industry, which is a valuable part of industry in Wales, would do much better if there were a return to the system of investment allowances and an abolition of the Selecive Employment Tax?

Mr. Mallalieu

That is another question.

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