HC Deb 02 July 1979 vol 969 cc896-7
16. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what proposals he has for the regulation of hotels in order to control their admission and pricing policies.

Mr. Tebbit

None, Sir, and I have no power to do so.

Mr. Canavan

In view of my letter of complaint to the Secretary of State for Trade drawing attention to the fact that the Park Lane hotel refused admission to more than 90 customers who had made advance bookings during the week of the Scotland-England football international, and the unsatisfactory replies received from the hotel management and from the Minister, is it not time for the Government to step in to stop this kind of sharp practice—or is this yet another example of the Tory Government letting free enterprise get away almost with murder?

Mr. Tebbit

I would hesitate to seek powers to compel the Park Lane hotel to accept visitors from Scotland on the occasion of an international football match.

Mr. Costain

Leaving aside the Scotland-England football match, may I ask my hon. Friend whether he is aware that the powers of the tourist boards are limited in making complaints about hotels? Will he look into a case the details of which I shall be sending him, and say why there is lack of power to remedy the situation?

Mr. Tebbit

I shall look into the case which my hon. Friend intends to draw to my attention. If one is dissatisfied with the service in a hotel, I believe that the right course is to complain on the spot and, if necessary, to take legal action against the hotel.

Mr. Rooker

Will the Minister look into the case thrown up by the activities of the Savoy hotel group, which informs wages inspectors that it is paying its workers £70 per week while telling the Department of Employment that it is paying workers £25, thereby paying national insurance contributions on the smaller sum and defrauding the taxpayer of millions of pounds?

Mr. Tebbit

I might look into that if it were a matter for my Department. All I can suggest to the hon. Gentleman is that he should write to the Department of Employment, in whose purview the matter lies. In the meantime, he should accept no invitations to go to the Savoy for lunch.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Is my hon. Friend aware that a large number of English people spend their holidays in Scottish hotels? If he wants to destroy the tourist industry not only in Scotland but in England, I suggest that he should seek to regulate the hotel industry. That is the last thing one would want him to do.

Mr. Tebbit

I could not agree more with my hon. Friend.

Mr. John Fraser

On the subject of price regulation, will the Minister confirm that it is Government policy on hotels, petrol and all other prices to do nothing but to leave it to the market?

Mr. Tebbit

Recollecting that the hon. Gentleman was a member of a Government who took powers to control prices and that he continued as a member of that Administration when they more than doubled prices, I think that he might agree that it is better to allow competition to have its effect so that we may have the benefit of the prices charged in Sainsbury rather than those charged in the Co-op.