§ 2.43 p.m.
§ LORD HACKING
had given Notice that he would call the attention of His Majesty's Government to the efforts now being made to attract tourists to the United Kingdom; ask whether the Government are yet in a position to announce full particulars of their new organization to deal with tourism, home holidays and catering; and move for Papers.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion which stands in my name on the Order Paper. The last time that I introduced the subject of tourism into your Lordships' House was on February 19 of this year—ten months 713 ago. I then spoke of the value of tourists from two points of view—firstly, as a means of contribution to the future peace of the world, and, secondly, as an invisible export capable of providing for this country no less than £100,000,000 a year on international account. Ten months ago I asked the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, who was then replying in your Lordships' House for the Board of Trade, what was the Government's long-term policy regarding tourism, that is to say, on whom would be placed the permanent responsibility for building up and maintaining this very important export. Lord Pakenham, replying, was exceedingly generous in praise of the work of the existing organization—namely, the Travel Association, and he was also complimentary to myself as Chairman of that Association. I suppose the noble Lord felt that after such a eulogy, I could not possibly complain however unsatisfactory his answer might be. I am bound to say that owing to his flattery, coupled with his well-known diplomacy and skill in debate, he succeeded in giving to your Lordships very little information as to the Government's plans for the future. I am sorry that the noble Lord is not in his place to-day. I had the courtesy to send him a note to say that I was going to mention his reply. But, as he was replying on behalf of the Government, perhaps the Government will receive this odium and not the noble Lord himself.
I want to make three quotations from what the noble Lord said in his reply. He spoke about the Government's desire to help and in column 731 of Hansard for February 19 he is reported as saying this in reference to me:But he can be assured that the Government, to put it quite simply, is at least as keen as he is (and that is, I know, very keen) on promoting visits to our shores.Then, in reference to the Catering Wages Commission's Report—and it will be remembered that the Chairman of that Commission and the man really responsible for the Report was Sir Hartley Shawcross, the present Attorney-General—Lord Pakenham said:the appearance of this Report marks, in our view, an epoch in the history of the catering and tourist trade in this country. We attach enormous significance to this Report.Your Lordships will note the expression "enormous significance." Lord Pakenham went on to say: 714It is, at the moment, being studied by a Departmental group of officials who are working intensively upon it,"—I would like those words to be underlined—and I feel sure it will not be very long—I cannot mention a date; the noble Lord has experience in these matters—before we are in a position when we can speak much more frankly and fully as to what the Government's practical proposals in that field will be.That quotation is taken from columns 732 and 733 of Hansard for February 19.
Finally, in column 734, the noble Lord, who was speaking in respect of the suggested investigation of the Licensing Laws and also in regard to improvements in hotels being disregarded when hotels are reassessed for rates and taxes, is reported as saying:I will say straight away that the two specific points he mentions, as well as all the other points which arise—and as he knows there are a great many arising from the Catering Commission's Report—are being investigated at top speed by the group of officials to which I have already refetrred.I hope that the noble Lord will be asked to refer to those parts of the speech which he delivered in this House ten months ago. Now, I just want to emphasize these words: "enormous significance," "working intensively," "not be very long," and, finally, "investigated at top speed." I would like to ask the noble Viscount, Lord Hall, who, I understand, is going to reply to this debate to-day, whether there has, in fact, been any inquiry, any investigation at all, either at top or at second speed, into the existing laws or into the assessment of hotels for the purpose of rates and taxes. I doubt it. But if there has, may we know this afternoon the results of such investigation? Can the noble Viscount who is going to reply honestly reconcile those promises which were made ten months ago with any performance on the part of the Government?
I think that, possibly, it is fortunate that Lord Pakenham is no longer responsible for answering on behalf of the Board of Trade in this House. I hope that I may be pardoned for believing that the Government really had sufficient information at their disposal ten months ago to enable them then to settle the big question as to the future organization to deal with this vital industry of tourism. For, let it be remembered, at least two long and detailed inquiries had been already held. 715 Apparently, there was still more data which the Government wanted, and, after a delay of a further five and a half months after the last debate, another investigation—again I suppose at top speed—was ordered. The noble Lord, Lord Inman, was appointed as the Government adviser on the future of tourism, home holidays and hotels, and he was invited to make still another Report. I am not complaining about that appointment. Far from it. From what I have seen of it the noble Lord, Lord Inman's inquiry has been most searching, thorough, prompt and exceedingly business-like. He has taken great pains to discover exactly what the Travel Association was doing, by visiting, personally, our headquarters more than once, and examining and re-examining members of our staff. Finally, my Board of Management were privileged to wait upon the noble Lord, at his invitation, and we were allowed to state our case fully and completely. I am bound to admit that the noble Lord exercised the greatest possible patience in the face of stringent and prolonged argument.
I pay this compliment to the noble Lord, Lord Inman, the more freely because he is not in his place this afternoon. The noble Lord sent me a note to say that he was sorry he could not be here. I do not know why he is sorry; I think he ought to be glad. It is I who ought to be sorry that I am in my place. But I pay him this compliment quite deliberately. Noble Lords on this side of the House may wonder why I am praising at such length a supporter of His Majesty's Government. It may seem especially strange, as I do not know what the noble Lord may have said about me or my Association in his Report. Seriously, I hope the expression to which I have just given voice may be considered as just one further indication that tourism is something far removed from Party politics or Party manoeuvre. I am sure that we all desire to advance the two great principles for which tourism stands—namely, greater friendship amongst nations, and greater prosperity at home.
May I now ask the noble Viscount a few questions? I understand that the Report of the noble Lord, Lord Inman, has been in the hands of the Government for some weeks. Will the noble Viscount tell us the date upon which it was received? 716 May I ask him, too, whether the Report will be published and, if so, when? May I further ask the Government, just once more, when they will be able to state their decision in respect of a permanent organization to deal with tourism, home holidays, catering and hotels? In reply to a question asked in another place, the Government have already indicated that any new organization to be set up would be non-Governmental in character. I believe that to be a step in the right direction, and if the Government can announce their final decision today, will they further say whether legislation will be necessary and, if so, what possible delay would be entailed by such legislation. I ask—I beg—the noble Viscount to say that there should be as little further delay as is humanly possible in setting up the permanent organization.
The present uncertainty is far from satisfactory. The Travel Association has been officially appointed by the Government to continue its work of publicizing Great Britain overseas only until such time as some future plan is settled. On the one hand, if the Association is to be appointed permanently, as a definite unit, to undertake the tasks which it is at present performing in a temporary capacity, then we ought to be so informed as quickly as possible. As we are now, we do not know whether we are to be idolized or led to the slaughter; and I am sure that noble Lords in this House would not like to be placed in that position; if, in fact, they are not so placed at the present time. To carry out our work properly and effectively we are undertaking all sorts of commitments which will be a financial charge on someone for years to come. I refer, for example, to the opening of information centres in London and in other large cities, both at home and overseas. There have also been film commitments, and even printing and publishing contracts, which have to be settled many months before the actual distribution takes place. I must also mention the question of a pensions scheme for our staff, a scheme which is of great importance to them. All these matters, and many others, are both urgent and important, and decisions must be taken on them almost at once. At present, we do not know where we stand. These commitments will go on after we have left, or after we are appointed to continue, and 717 we ought to know now what is to happen to them.
Assuming that the Government do intend to make a change in the set-up of the present tourist organization, then again, we ought to know our fate without any further delay. If, for some mysterious reason which I do not understand, this is not yet possible, then I do press the noble Viscount to say now, during this debate, that the Government, or any future board which may be established hereafter, will accept and take over those obligations which I have mentioned, and possibly many others, which have been entered into in good faith by the Travel Association as part of its legitimate work. I repeat that by force of circumstances—and, incidentally, by good management—we are compelled to enter into commitments and to spend money now from which there will be little or no return until, certainly, next year, and possibly some years after. We are entitled to know that we are financially secured in our commitments for the future.
We are grateful to His Majesty's Government for placing in our hands, for purposes of investment (for that is what it amounts to) far larger sums than any Government have ever given before—even though, of course, those sums do not go quite so far as they used to do, owing to rising costs. Our total income for this financial year will probably amount to about £175,000, of which the Government will have provided approximately £100,000—the balance being collected from other sources. I would suggest to the Government that their share of the total, which is insufficient for our work to be carried out really efficiently and effectively all over the world, is a pretty sound investment, especially when it is estimated that in 1947 about 250,000 overseas visitors will come here and, in so doing, enrich the country to the tune of at least £25,000,000. That is, an expenditure of £100,000 by the Government should enrich the country to the tune of £25,000,000—a good investment. I am sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer must wish that all his other expenditure yielded so good a return. If it did, he might be paying us Income Tax, instead of it being the other way round.
Your Lordships may be interested in three recent developments in the existing organization—and it will be realized that 718 the question of the existing organization does form part of my Motion. The first I would mention is that we are seeking to enlist the influence and support of individual citizens who, by becoming citizen associates at a small nominal subscription and receiving certain of our publications, agree to extend friendly welcome to the overseas visitor and to assist him in any way possible. This will, I hope, help to get our people more tourist-minded, and I am sure your Lordships will agree that that is very necessary.
The second new development is a poster campaign for young people. Youth organizations, students of art schools, and pupils at day and boarding schools will be given the opportunity of preparing designs and of presenting their country to the world in the form of artistic "Come to Britain" posters. The Royal Society of Arts has agreed to judge the competition. Members of the Travel Association have provided very generous prizes. The Association will distribute the winning posters throughout the world. I pay tribute to the association of girls' clubs and mixed clubs who were largely responsible for the idea and who are working with us in this scheme. I am certain that youth will be proud to play its part in the great work of encouraging world travel, and, consequently, of creating better understanding and more friendliness between the people, especially the young people, of different nations.
A third interesting development has just taken place. Two months ago the Travel Association organized an international conference of national tourist organizations. It was held in London. Delegates were present from forty different countries, and two other countries were represented by observers. All sorts of resolutions were discussed and voted upon. The conference was mainly concerned with the increased freedom of world travel, how, in fact, the restrictions and regulations which now make international travel a difficult and irksome business, could best be removed. The remarkable thing about this large conference was that practically every resolution was passed unanimously—a good example of how international conferences should be run.
I wish I could tell your Lordships more about the practical work carried out by the existing organizations, but my time is limited. I should like to tell your 719 Lordships, for example, how we are dealing with 5,000,000 pieces of literature now in preparation for distribution to the world's travel agencies. That is only one item of our activities. As I say, to describe in detail the other numerous activities would take far longer than the time I have at my disposal this afternoon. But I would invite any members of your Lordships' House who are specially interested to visit our administrative headquarters at 6, Arlington Street, or the new Information Centre at 66, Whitcomb Street, which, although not yet officially opened, is I am sure sufficiently advanced to create a favourable impression upon your Lordships' minds.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has spoken recently and frequently of the vital necessity of procuring more dollar exchange. A few days ago he said that the central problem facing this country was our shortage of dollars, and yesterday, in another place, the Chancellor of the Exchequer again indicated how necessary it was for us to receive more dollars in this country. What an opportunity presents itself here in the development of our tourist industry! The majority of visitors in the years immediately in front of us will undoubtedly come from the hard currency countries, and I beg the Chancellor of the Exchequer to remember that every penny, or perhaps I should say every dollar, that a visitor from overseas spends here is net profit to the country. In this industry no cost of import of raw material has to be offset against the export value of the finished article, as is the case with manufactured goods. The invisible export of tourism, in the main, sells service, and, even if we can only procure £25,000,000 from our visitors during 1947, that means that the country will be better off by exactly that amount.
Let me just add this. When we are in a fit condition at home to accommodate larger numbers—and I hope that the Government will continue to do all they can to see that we are at the earliest possible moment in a fit condition to receive more people—and when, in consequence, we are able to build up this invisible export to a total of £100,000,000, of which a large proportion will assuredly come from Americans in the form of dollars, where will the American loan stand? The £35,000,000 a year, which will be due from us in payment of interest and sinking fund on the 720 American loan, will be more than paid for in advance, generally speaking, by the American visitors themselves. What a happy and encouraging thought that the Americans, in their desire to visit us, may of their own volition actually be repaying their own loan!
There is, one request that I would make of the noble Viscount, Lord Hall. I wonder whether he would be good enough to restate the functions of the Tourist. Catering and Holiday Services Division of the Board of Trade. I ask this in view of possible misunderstanding that may have arisen owing to certain newspaper reports. I only wish to ensure full and complete co-operation and no overlapping between the Division and the Travel Association. I gave the noble Viscount notice that I was going to ask him this question, and I hope that he may be able to reply. In passing, I should like to commend the Minister in charge of the Division, and the Division of the Board of Trade itself, upon the interesting and helpful answer given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Export Promotion Department of the Board of Trade, if that is still his title, as to which I am not quite certain. I should like to commend his answer which dealt with the equipment priority scheme for the hotel industry, especially those hotels which encourage tourists. If that scheme is put into operation with force I believe it will help very much to encourage hotel-keepers to take a bigger interest in tourists.
I hope that I have said enough to convince your Lordships that a great deal is at present being done by the existing organization to further and advance the important invisible export of tourism. A lot more remains to be done, for up to now we have really only scratched the surface. The Government must—and I believe they will, now that they are fully seized of the importance of this industry—contribute much more, in general encouragement, such as the derequisitioning of hotels and other accommodation, the re-equipping of accommodation, and in other ways, and also give much more financial support to any central organization which is responsible for this export. I have played some part in the creation and in the building up of the existing organization, which now possesses an enthusiastic and most capable staff, but I can assure your Lordships that the past means little to me. I want to state—and 721 am sure it will be accepted—that my one and only desire is to see this tourist industry, with all its many ramifications, flourish in the days to come.
Having said that, I beg the Government, in reaching their conclusions regarding the future, to hesitate before unduly curtailing the Association's present freedom and rapidity of action, to pause before clamping down its imagination, its flair and its enthusiasm. I beg the Government not to weaken the present authority possessed by the Association, and above all—and I think this is vitally important—to see that there is still maintained within the framework of any new scheme that excellent and happy relationship between the Travel Association and its many supporters, whether the supporters be individuals, companies, associates, local authorities or other public or semi-public bodies, for these are the component parts which in combination with the Association advance its national objectives by placing at our disposal great practical experience, sound advice and, moreover, a considerable measure of financial support. If by any action on the part of the Government these knowledgeable, practical and experienced people cease to take an interest in the machine which at present binds them together, then I am convinced that the country will fail to reap the full benefit which can accrue to them by the serious and orderly development of a great industry.
Subject to that warning, which I trust will be construed in a perfectly friendly way, my own personal desire is to assist in any way I can and most certainly not to hinder or obstruct the Government in their plan for reorganization. I am sometimes suspected of having been a Conservative. I will not deny that there may be some element of truth in that suspicion, but I repeat with all sincerity that this industry of tourism does not lend itself to Party conflict or Party wrangling; it is, or should be, a great national endeavour in which members of all Parties can combine in wisdom and experience in order to achieve the maximum results. I apologize to your Lordships for having spoken at such length. There was a lot which I wanted to say, and I fear there is still a lot which I have left unsaid. I do, however, share with your Lordships the one hope and the one expectation that after to-day I may remain completely 722 silent on this subject for very many months to come. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.13 p.m.
My Lords, I am sure noble Lords in every part of this House will be grateful to the noble Lord who has just sat down for the great work and enthusiasm which he has given over a number of years to this interest of his and, indeed, of everybody in the country. I hope that his efforts will be crowned with the success that he desires. I confess that, listening to his own account of what the Government have done for him, it did not seem to me that there was a great deal to complain of; I thought that on the whole the Government had been fairly generous to him. No doubt his detailed questions and criticisms are worthy of consideration, and on those points I do not attempt to speak. There are, however, one or two points which I would like to bring to the attention of the noble Viscount who is to reply.
I do hope that more attention will be paid to attracting Dominion, Colonial and American visitors to this country than to trying to draw Europeans here. At the present moment, as your Lordships know, we are not likely to get many Europeans visiting this country as tourists. A good many of them would not be very welcome, and a good many of them have not got very much money. What we want are the people who are welcome, the people who have got sufficient funds to spend in this country, and the people who share a common interest and a common language with those who live in England. I am quite sure that the average American, the average South African, the average Australian and the average Canadian finds much more of interest in this country than does, say, the Spaniard, the Italian or the Russian. We shall no doubt be very glad to see many of these Continentals, but there are great difficulties at present, and there always have been, in attracting them to this country. We have not got the same way of life; very few of our hotel-keepers, for instance, talk Spanish, which is most important, and we do not cook in the way to which they are accustomed. It will take us a long time to learn to do so.
I agree that a good deal more could be done by establishing abroad in the capital cities small offices such as used 723 to be maintained in Paris before the war. Many of your Lordships will remember the name of Mr. Henry Noble Hall who I think represented the British Council at that time.
The Travel Association. One could go there and be given brochures telling one where to go, what hotels to stay at, and what the cost would be. A good deal more of that sort of thing ought to be provided abroad for this country, so that a man who thinks of coming over here could go in his own home town, in Marseilles or wherever it was, and ask: "How much will it cost me? How shall I get there? What are the places I am likely to be interested in?" I do not think we do enough of that. I have no doubt that we do something in the Dominion capitals, but I do not think we do nearly enough on the continent of Europe. Particularly, I suggest that this should be done in the large ports of disembarkation for visitors coming from overseas, Havre, Bordeaux, Genoa and Naples. I think we ought to have some sort of English officers there who would tell Americans or visitors from the Dominions how to get to the places they want to see in England. We ought also to pay more attention to the South American continent, which has such an enormous amount of capital in it. People there are becoming very travel-minded and they buy very expensive articles. I happen to be interested in books. I can assure your Lordships that thirty years ago an Argentinian or a Brazilian never bought a book at all in this country. Now they are among the principal buyers of some of the most rare and expensive books. That is only one particular item. If we could devote ourselves to attracting and entertaining the South American, the Dominion, the Colonial and the North American visitors, I think we should find that by so doing we derived the quickest return.
It is quite clear that at the present time, with a great proportion of the people of this country needing houses, we cannot expect the Government to give priority to the building of expensive hotels, or even of good hotels which are not expensive, which is even more difficult to do, in order to supply the continental 724 visitors with the sort of accommodation and food to which they are accustomed. I think that if we were content with a short-term rather than a long-term policy we should get better results. I believe the Government have this whole question in mind. It was suggested to me that the answering of this question was remitted to the noble Viscount the First Lord of the Admiralty because the Government were all at sea about it; but I am ready to take a more optimistic view, for I believe it was because he was a very distinguished Secretary of State for the Colonies a short time ago.
I trust that one small matter will be in the minds of the Government and of the Travel Association. I read in the Press yesterday that a number of complaints were being received by quite an important body (I think it was the Automobile Association) of the lack of courtesy on the part of hotel keepers in this country. Of course, hotels are very full and it is not easy to get accommodation at short notice; but there are two ways of telling an intending visitor that no accommodation is available. It would be a great pity if any idea got about that in this matter we were discourteous. It has been my lot in life to live abroad a great deal. I should think I have spent ten years on the continent of Europe. I have lived in a great many hotels and I can only remember one occasion on which I met with discourtesy on the part of a hotel keeper. That was in Bosnia, in a far-off and little known place, and I dare say the complaint may not have had any very great force behind it. The Government are fortunate in having such an enthusiastic protagonist as the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, who suggested he was not so much a Conservative as he was once thought to be. In these matters I think we want someone who is very liberal and who looks forward to what can be done. I hope the Government will be able to meet his detailed criticisms in the manner most beneficial to the industry.
§ 3.22 p.m.
§ THE DUKE OF RUTLAND
My Lords, this is the first time I have addressed your Lordships' House and I would, therefore, ask you to extend to me the indulgence always shown to a beginner. I decided to speak this afternoon in order to bring before your Lordships some idea of the sort of difficulty which the hotel 725 trade is facing to-day. I would like to stress that although this is a personal matter I am only bringing it forward as an example. I am the owner of a sixteenth century hotel in Derbyshire, in the Peak District, and I have been trying to put this hotel into working order so as to attract foreign visitors to the country. Before the war the hotel did a lot of trade with visitors from abroad.
On July 10 of this year I applied for a licence to modernize the hotel—to make it habitable and completely up-to-date. On August 15 I was informed that a licence was refused. I then got in touch with the Travel Association and after a few weeks the Travel Association managed to persuade the Board of Trade to send down a Ministry of Works official to look into the matter. On October 23 an official came down and went over the hotel with the local Medical Officer of Health, and the licence for which I had applied was there and then granted. The licence having been granted, I got everything ready to start the work on the hotel when suddenly, on December 5—over a month after the licence had been granted—I received a letter, on the direct instructions of the Minister of Works, saying that owing to the shortage of labour and materials the licence was withdrawn.
That is an incredible state of affairs. The whole negotiation has taken over five months. The licence was refused, granted and then withdrawn one month after it was granted. I might have been sued for breach of contract because in the period between the granting of the licence and its withdrawal I had given verbal orders for the work to be started. The Government are supposed to be great planners, but if they are, why did not the Minister of Works know on October 23 that there was not sufficient labour and materials to enable the work on this hotel to be carried out? This sort of thing is going on throughout the whole of the hotel and catering industry, and I feel that until we get rid of this muddle and inefficiency which is caused by excessive Government control we cannot expect the hotel industry to put its house in order and attract foreign visitors. If this is an example of what is happening all over the country as regards hotels, then no wonder the foreign visitors who come over here are extremely uncomfortable. I would ask the noble Viscount who is to reply to do all he can to help the hotel trade 726 to get these licences and to put its house in order. Let us modernize the hotels and give foreign visitors decent service and decent accommodation. If we do that, we can expect them to come again next year, but otherwise they will go elsewhere.
§ 3.28 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I owe your Lordships an apology for intervening in this debate, not having been present during the whole of the speech of my noble friend Lord Hacking. I was, however, aware of the remarks he intended to make to your Lordships. I know your Lordships will be more ready to forgive me for not having been here all the time when I take upon myself the pleasant duty of welcoming my noble friend the Duke of Rutland to our debates and of congratulating him on the forceful, penetrating and very definite way in which he put his points. I know your Lordships will look forward to hearing an equally positive, definite and, we trust, reassuring reply from the noble Viscount who is to speak for the Government.
I think this drive to attract visitors to Britain can be termed an All-Party effort to assist our export drive, because the war has depleted our income from overseas investments and here is a way of earning foreign currency. Every visitor who comes to this country from the U.S.A., for instance, is a net gain to this country in dollars. Therefore I hope that the noble Viscount will be able to tell us that the previous attitude of past Governments and past Chancellors (which has been in effect that when the Treasury has made a grant it has, as it were, written it off), will be no longer maintained and that the Government will say that if the Treasury makes a grant of £100,000,000, or whatever sum is necessary and agreed upon, it will look upon it as a capital investment, for it may well earn many times its capital value in visitors coming to this country.
It seems to me that in approaching this problem we want to get one thing clear in our minds, and that is what sort of life we are going to offer foreign visitors when they come here. We must make up our minds whether we are going to offer them the sort of standard of life that the citizens of this country cannot enjoy, and give them the standard of luxury which naturally they would welcome, or whether 727 we are going to say to them "We will do all we can for you but we will not run a dual standard of life in this country." That seems to me to be the fundamental problem in this connexion. My own view is that it would be a mistake from many angles to try to run an entirely dual standard of life in this country. I believe that we should tell visitors when they come here that we will do all we can for them and rather more than we do for ourselves, but at the same time we will not set up an artificial standard which is alien to this country at the present time. Having said that, I believe there is much the Government can do, within the boundaries of our own standards of life in this country, to attract visitors. The noble Lord, Lord Hacking, and other noble Lords who have spoken to-day, have made certain suggestions as to what could be done in those particular directions.
I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Mersey, when he said that we cannot expect priorities to be given for building great new hotels when our people are still wanting homes. On the other hand, do not let us take that too far. Do not let us deny to the hotel industry a very reasonable measure of help to which they are entitled at the present time, and which would cost really nothing in the housing effort as regards depriving other people of houses—help which, if granted, would certainly enable many hotels to open which are at the present time closed. Could not the Government speed up the derequisitioning of hotels and other accommodation throughout the country at a much greater pace than they have been doing hitherto? One also hopes that they will be more generous in the compensation to those who have been dispossessed, In order to allow them to re-equip.
The President of the Board of Trade, in another place, has foreshadowed a new organization and has said that it is to be free from Governmental control. If the Board is set up, may we hope that it really is going to be composed of business people, non-Governmental in its attitude and non-Governmental in its administration, and that it will not be the commencement, or nucleus, as it were, of a new sub-department of Civil Service administration with unnecessary authorities, unnecessary files and unnecessary "Passed to you, please, for action in due course." Let it be an organization of 728 business people who know their job, who are given a certain amount of money and assistance by the Government and allowed freedom to get on with the job.
There is just one other point which I would like to put to the noble Viscount and to which I think the Government will agree—and that is that the tourist trade cannot be a one-way business. A nation which itself does not travel abroad cannot expect to attract visitors to its own country. Therefore, while we welcome the information given in the debate in another place on the Exchange Control Bill, in particular in relation to tourists from this country, we do hope that the £75 travel allowance is going to be increased in due course. The restrictions which at present surround anyone venturing to take a journey abroad, the number of papers one has to sign and the number of certificates one has to give, really engender so much fatigue as to make the journey scarcely worth while. Could we not cut away the red tape which surrounds people leaving this country, and which surrounds people coming into this country? The Treasury, by delegation under the Bill, will be able to relax restrictions, and I hope that tourism on a two-way basis is going to loom very large in the minds of the Chancellor and the Treasury officials when they come to administer the Bill, which, if all the delegated powers given to the Treasury under that Bill are used, could indeed drop an iron curtain on this country and prevent anybody from coming in or going out.
The Motion we have been discussing has an important bearing upon the tourist traffic. I conclude by saying that we approach this problem in a non-Party spirit, but it is the Government of the day who are responsible for seeing that action is taken. Here is a golden opportunity for the Government to please not only their own supporters but supporters of all political Parties and of none, in seeing that we have a brighter Britain, easier for people to come into, easier for people to get out of, and a Britain which is far more able to smile than unfortunately at the present time we seem able to do.
§ 3.36 p.m.
§ LORD DARWEN
My Lords, although a very young member of your Lordships' House, perhaps you will allow me to echo appreciation of the speech made by the noble Duke, the Duke of Rutland, and to 729 welcome his joining in our debates. I want to echo the words of the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, who opened this debate, about the tremendous importance of international travel towards deepening and increasing the understanding between nations. I want to suggest a line which has not yet been mentioned in this debate, and that is the importance of international travel for working people. International travel was increasing very considerably before the war under the Workers' Travel Association, and to some extent under the Youth Hostels Association. The Youth Hostels Association is making very big plans now for a tremendous development in international travel, and there are also many other workers' organizations which have been engaged in that work and are planning to develop it a very great deal. Holidays with pay have now made that a good deal easier. Travel abroad has always been more reasonable, I think, for people going from this country than for people coming into this country. A friend of mine recently went on a £25 Travel Scholarship. He went to Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland on £25. That is a pretty big tour for that amount.
In this country there is a very great shortage of accommodation at a price the workers can pay. I have myself been running a guest house since 1911. We began by charging 18s. a week and we have now got up to three guineas a week, so I know that it is possible to do it. I think facilities for that kind of accommodation could and should be very much increased. We, in this little guest house, have been very much overcrowded during the last few years, and from the way the bookings are coming in it looks as if we will be very much overcrowded for the next year or two, at any rate. There is definitely a shortage of that kind of accommodation, and I hope that this new Government organization will do its utmost to increase the facilities for working travellers coming to this country. There is also a need for the consideration of the difficulties arising from lack of equipment. There are places I know where they have been obliged to refuse guests, not because they have not beds but because they have not sheets. The laundries take so long in dealing with sheets that beds have actually been kept empty because sheets were not available. That is one of the small things which is making difficulties in this very very im- 730 portent industry. I believe that this organization which has been set up by the Government is going to do a very big job of work. I would just like to say that I do hope that facilities for workers to travel abroad will be helped in every possible way.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (VISCOUNT HALL)
My Lords, I greatly appreciate the manner of the approach to this interesting and important matter by the noble Lord who opened the debate. No one can disagree with him as to the importance of it, or that its importance far transcends Party policies or Party manœuvres. I trust that the proposals of His Majesty's Government will be considered in this light, for that is the wish of the Government. I should like the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, to know how much His Majesty's Government appreciate the services rendered by him to the tourist movement, a movement with which he has been very closely associated for so many years. Indeed, it can be said that the inception of the Travel Association in 1929, when he was Secretary to the then Department of Overseas Trade, was largely due to his efforts. Since that time he has rendered very good service both to the Travel Association, about which he said so much this afternoon, and to the United Kingdom by the work he has done.
I trust that, although he may feel some regret for the effect on the Association of the merging of the tourist activities into a wider national association—which I hope to announce in the course of my remarks—there will be no reluctance on his part to extend to the new organization the good will, the friendliness, and the ready assistance which he has so generously given to the Travel Association for such a long time. I thought the noble Lord was unduly critical of my noble friend Lord Pakenham and, indeed, somewhat critical of the Government in not announcing its long-term policy before this date. It will be fully appreciated that money has not been the hindrance to receiving large numbers of people into this country since the cessation of hostilities. There has been the difficult question of transport during the period of demobilization, the question of accommodation in this country, and, last but not least, there has been the very great difficulty of the scarcity of food.
731 I also thought the noble Lord was just a little critical in his reference to not receiving assurances that there would be some changes for the hotels in the Licensing Laws, and in their assessment and rating situation. I am sure he will know, as one who has had a very long experience of public life, that you cannot give preferential treatment to any body such as the Hotels' Association without giving very serious consideration to the matter, and that you cannot single out an industry of this kind without causing very many anomalies among other industries. All I can say to him concerning this matter is that I have no doubt that, if the existing laws are a hindrance to the provision of the necessary accommodation for bringing visitors from overseas, the authorities responsible for this industry will take these matters into consideration.
§ LORD HACKING
I am loath to interrupt the noble Viscount. I said I knew of the difficulties in changing the law. What I was objecting to was the statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, when he said these things would be investigated at top speed. I thought "top speed" meant something a little bit quicker than ten months.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
It is all a question of degree and the preoccupation of those charged with the responsibility of examining the position. Whilst it may be a very long time in the minds of the critics on the Opposition side, it is a very short time taking into account the vast number of problems with which any Government would be faced during the first year or two of the post-war period after a six years war. His Majesty's Government fully agree as to the importance of the tourist industry to the nation. In 1938 it was estimated that tourists spent no less than £38,000,000 in this country, and, as the noble Lords have already mentioned in their speeches, it is believed by those competent to judge that this figure might well be very largely increased in the near future. I do hope, with the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, that these figures are not too optimistic. In any case, this potential increase of invisible exports would be a very welcome addition to the great effort which is now being made to balance our Trade Budget. In addition to this trade advantage, there is, as the noble Lord who preceded me rightly said, 732 the great value of foreign visitors coming to this country, not only to see the beauties of our land and its historic places, but also to meet our people and to get an understanding of the British character and way of life and our British institutions, of all of which we are rightly proud. This understanding should be mutually valuable to ourselves and to visitors from all parts of the world.
We must ensure, as was rightly pointed out by the noble Duke, the Duke of Rutland, that such visitors are provided with suitable accommodation in up-to-date hotels. May I join with the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, in congratulating the noble Duke upon that very forthright speech which he delivered here this afternoon. I have not any information about the case to which he referred, but I will make inquiries into the matter. I promise him that after doing so I will write to him as to any result which might be achieved, and I trust successfully, as a result of his intervention in the debate. We must ensure that such visitors are provided with suitable accommodation in up-to-date hotels which will provide them with reasonable amenities, otherwise unfavourable comparison might well be made with conditions which they might well enjoy in hotels in other countries.
I was rather surprised that in the course of all the speeches to-day, with the exception of the speech made by the noble Lord who preceded me, so little was said about holidays for our own people in our own country. Any organization which is set up, and which will be set up, to deal with tourists and holidays certainly must take this factor into serious consideration. Noble Lords will fully appreciate the tremendous increase which has taken place in this country recently in the matter of holidays with pay. I asked the Ministry of Labour to give me the figures and I must say that I was greatly surprised when I learnt from the return which I received that about 10,000,000 industrial workpeople, who are covered by industrial agreements made under collective bargaining and Statutory Orders, are now receiving, many of them for the first time in their lives, holidays with pay. In addition to that number there are about 10,000,000 shop assistants and about 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 other individuals, mainly clerks, not covered by collective agreements or Statutory Orders. That 733 means, that in all, in this country something like 15,000,000 persons, plus their dependents will now be able to enjoy a holiday with the breadwinner receiving his pay for the period of his holiday. That is a departure which I know is very warmly welcomed by the industrial worker.
I spent many years of my life in industry, and from the time I commenced work in industry until I came out of it and began what was, in effect, a non-productive job, never was I in a position to enjoy a holiday free from the worrying thought of losing a day's pay, a week's pay or a fortnight's pay. Noble Lords will realize that here is a great departure—something quite new which is going to mean a great deal to the catering industry in this country. Any organization which is set up by the Government to deal with this matter will have to take into consideration this question of holidays with pay. The introduction of this system has considerably increased the demand for facilities for home holidays. I am definitely of the opinion that most of those holidays should be spent away from the drab towns and industrial villages in which the majority of these industrial workers live.
It will be seen that, as I have said, all this will mean a very large extension of the facilities for holiday making in this country. These demands were rightly visualized by the Coalition Government, who passed the Catering Wages Act in 1943. Under Section 2 (1) (b) of that Act, the Commission were given authority to make such inquiries as they might think fit, or as might be directed by the Minister of Labour and National Service, into the needs for meeting the requirements of the public, including, in particular, the requirements of visitors from overseas, and also for developing the tourist traffic. In pursuance of these powers, the Commission, after inquiry, furnished two Reports, one in November, 1944, and the other in September of last year. These Reports dealt with the rehabilitation of the catering industry and the development of the catering, holiday and tourist services. The second of these Reports also dealt with the long-term arrangements for developing the services in question, and the Commission's proposals formed the basis of consideration by the Government of plans for dealing with these problems. I think it was the noble Vis- 734 count, Lord Mersey, who dealt, and rightly dealt, with the difficulties that arise in connexion with bringing people from the Continent. I understand that he thinks that we should concentrate more on the Dominions and Colonies and America—including of course both North America and South America. We entirely agree with the noble Viscount—not that we would, in any way, put any obstacle in the way of visitors from any part of the world coming into this country. They will all be very helpful.
Reference has been made by Lord Hacking to Government Departments. A number of Government Departments have responsibility for different aspects of this problem, while certain functions devolve upon the Catering Wages Commission. Special central machinery was necessary if the problems relating to the functioning and development of the tourist, catering and holiday services were to be tackled resolutely and efficiently. Noble Lords will remember that the Prime Minister announced in the House of Commons on June 7 last that His Majesty's Government had decided to place with one Department—namely, the Board of Trade—the responsibility for co-ordinating Government action in this field. As a further measure of co-ordination, an Inter-Departmental Committee, representing the Departments mainly concerned, was set up under the Chairmanship of the Secretary for Overseas Trade. In July he announced that the Government had decided to bring into being a non-Government organization to foster and develop the trades referred to, and that before reaching any conclusions as to its structure, discussions with the interests directly concerned would be undertaken.
I would like to assure the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, that the need for those discussions was one of the causes of the delay. He has rightly said that the noble Lord, Lord Inman, to whom I shall refer later, has held lengthy conversations with representatives of the Travel Association.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
Yes. But it was not only with the Travel Association that the noble Lord, Lord Inman, had to hold conversations. It was necessary, having had these conversations, that some time should be devoted to acquiring a full 735 understanding of the difficulties and problems with which these organizations are confronted. As noble Lords will be aware, in early August it was announced that Lord Inman had accepted the invitation of the Secretary for Overseas Trade to be his principal adviser in the establishment of this new organization. On behalf of His Majesty's Government, I wish to join with the noble Lord in paying a warm tribute to the very valuable services rendered by Lord Inman and to the energy and ability which he has devoted to the task entrusted to him. Not only has he made contact with a great number of the interests concerned in the industries, but he has also conducted his discussions in such a manner that we confidently hope for the co-operation and support of those interests for the new organization. He worked with the utmost speed. He has made recommendations which His Majesty's Government are able to accept and His Majesty's Government will proceed forthwith to their full implementation.
The noble Lord asked me when this Report was received by His Majesty's Government. The Minister received the Report on October 31. The noble Lord also asked whether the Report was going to be published. In answer to this, I should explain to your Lordships that this Report was a personal report to the responsible Minister by the personal adviser of the Minister, and it is therefore felt that it would not be appropriate to publish it. As a result of the recommendations of the Report it has been decided to set up, early in 1947, in the form of an unincorporated body, a Tourist, Catering and Holiday Board, consisting of twelve members, together with a Chairman and a chief administrative officer. The names of the Chairman and the members of the Board will be announced as soon as possible, and I can give the noble Lord an assurance that those persons who are actively engaged in the industry will not be overlooked when the Board is being set up. It is intended to include on the Board representatives of the industries concerned—the tourist, catering, home holiday and hotel services—as well as representatives of Scotland and Wales, the Trades Union Congress, the Co-operative Movement, and representatives of the wider national and consumer interests.
736 Apart from the Chairman, and the chief administrative officer, the members of the Board will not receive salaries. They will be appointed for a period of two years by His Majesty's Government, and after that time one third will retire annually and will be eligible for reappointment. The executive functions of the organization will be carried out by four main divisions, dealing respectively with tourist, catering, holiday and hotel services. Each division will be supported by a committee which will be appointed by the Board, and which will be representative of the appropriate service and of consumer interests. The position of the existing Travel Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland calls for special attention.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
Before the noble Viscount passes to that, would he say if the establishment and functioning of that new body will require special legislation, or under what powers it is to be established?
§ VISCOUNT HALL
If the noble Viscount will allow me, I am coming to that. It is essential that the existing Travel Association should play an important part in the new organization, under the general authority of the new Board. It is important to maintain continuity, and, indeed, to preserve the valuable experience which the Travel Association has accumulated and the good will which it has increasingly built up with the interests concerned. I hope that the details can be worked out in friendly discussion, with the object of maintaining the support which the Association increasingly enjoys. All the industries covered by the Board are, or may reasonably expect to be, prosperous; that is our wish and our hope. Therefore, there is every reason why they should bear the major part of the cost of the new organization, the success of which will benefit them all. At the same time, His Majesty's Government recognize that financial assistance from the Exchequer will be necessary in the early stages, and they are considering what form this can best take.
In his opening speech, the noble Lord asked whether, if there is to be a change in the organization, the Travel Association could know that obligations entered into in good faith will be taken over by the new body. I want to assure the noble Lord that commitments already entered 737 into with the approval of the Board of Trade, will, of course, be honoured. The noble Lord also asked—and the question was repeated—whether legislation will be necessary in the setting up of this new Board. Legislation will not be necessary, and there should be no delay in its setting-up.
The noble Lord's speech related not only to the long-term problems but to the efforts now being made to attract tourists to the United Kingdom. Of course, His Majesty's Government are closely concerned with these efforts. The Tourist, Catering and Holiday Services Division of the Board of Trade, which was set up to fulfil the Board's responsibility for co-ordinated action, is working with other Departments, so that all the necessary steps on the part of His Majesty's Government are taken in good time for the forthcoming holiday season. Apart from assisting in setting up the new organization, the functions of the Division are specifically directed to preparations for the attraction of tourists to this country next year, and the increase of facilities for home holidays during the same period. I was asked whether the facilities or restrictions which now apply to persons entering or leaving the country could be removed. I am pleased to say that an announcement was made recently, for the information of the shipping companies, travel agencies and so on, that British Passport Control Officers, and, in certain cases, His Majesty's Consular Officers, have been authorized to grant visas to tourists from any country, except to former enemy nationals, who desire to visit the United Kingdom.
I would like to point out to your Lordships that there is still a limit to the number of foreign visitors who can be provided with transport, but it is believed that the number will be sufficient materially to assist our foreign exchange position. That number has been calculated on existing information, and careful consideration has been given to the arrangements that can be made for the supply of equipment to certain classes of hotels, boarding houses, holiday camps and similar establishments, which would be able to cater not only for foreign visitors but for those at home who need to enjoy a period of recuperative leisure after their strenuous efforts during and since the war. In this connexion, I would draw the 738 attention of any persons who are interested in this matter to the reply given to a question put to the Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade in another place on December 5.
Reference has been made to the de-requisitioning of hotels, and to reconstruction work on hotels, which are almost as important for the attraction of foreign visitors. The action of His Majesty's Government in these difficult matters was stated recently in another place, but it would be as well if I repeat the figures which were then given by the Minister. He stated that 86 per cent. of the hotels, boarding houses and restaurants held on requisition on January 1, 1945, had been released by the end of September last, the number held being reduced from 4,190 to 558. Rapid progress is being made in releasing the remainder. The rate of release has been at an average of about two hundred per month during 1946. This rate must, of course, decline as the total number of holdings is reduced. Hotels are given a considerable priority of release, every Department realizing the importance to the economic life of the country of this type of accommodation. It is expected that the number of such premises held on April 1 next will not greatly exceed 300. In addition, Regional Licensing Officers of the Ministry of Works, in common with Regional Officers of the Ministry of Food, the Board of Trade and other Departments concerned, have been instructed to give urgent and sympathetic consideration to all projects, whether they relate to derequisitioned establishments or not, which will benefit tourists and holiday services, paying particular attention to schemes in areas most likely to attract overseas visitors.
I trust that I have given your Lordships sufficient information to indicate that His Majesty's Government are fully seized of the urgency of these problems, and I desire to take this opportunity of appealing to all concerned in the tourist, catering and holiday services to give their support and co-operation to the new organization. Its creation does not represent either in form or intention any endeavour to nationalize these great services. The industries will continue to administer the services, but it is confidently believed that, by being welded into a great co-operative national effort, and by being provided with an organization which can ensure that full consideration will be given 739 to the innumerable inter-related problems continually arising, they will be enabled, in ever-increasing measure, to improve and expand their services to the advantage and benefit of themselves and of the nation as a whole.
§ 4.14 p.m.
My Lords, I do not propose to say more than one or two words on this question. I think all of us have listened with very great interest to the important and, I think on the whole, sympathetic statement that has been made by the noble Viscount who has replied for the Government. What he said with regard to holidays for our own people will, I am sure, evoke a very warm response in this House, because as your Lordships know, whatever may be thought outside, this House is an extremely human body, and we welcome anything tending to relieve the drabness of the life of the ordinary industrial worker. We also welcome the recognition by the Government of the importance of having foreign visitors—a matter which has become much more important to us now than it was before the war—and also the desirability (which is perhaps not quite so universally recognized) that they should have comfortable entertainment when they come here in order that others may be encouraged to come to this country.
In particular, I think the announcement of the noble Viscount with regard to the granting of visas to foreign travellers from all but ex-enemy countries will receive the warmest approval from all quarters of your Lordships' House. That should tend, apart from anything else, to remove the "iron curtain" which is supposed to be beginning to separate one country from another. The noble Viscount said that tourism is one of the greatest of our invisible exports. Of course, that is absolutely true. I think that is why the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, above all other reasons, urged the importance of it to your Lordships to-day, and that is why we regret the delay that has taken place in bringing about arrangements for the greater encouragement of tourists. I know, as the noble Viscount has said, that the Government have many other matters which they have to consider; but this is not the least important of those matters with which they have to deal.
740 Of course, the most important passage of his speech was with regard to the new plans which His Majesty's Government are initiating for the better organization of this traffic—above all, the Tourist, Catering and Holiday Board, of which he has given your Lordships some details. He said, as I understood him, that the executive functions of this Board would be allotted to appropriate committees. Inevitably perhaps the noble Viscount was somewhat vague as to what those functions were to be. As a Conservative, at one time I was a little nervous whether the object of this Board would be to control rather than assist private effort. But the concluding passages of the noble Viscount's speech removed that anxiety. If I may make a suggestion to the Government it would be this: Would they consider the possibility of preparing a White Paper on this question, which would provide an opportunity for a rather fuller exposition of their ideas than was practicable for the noble Viscount this afternoon? I am quite certain such a White Paper would be widely welcomed, and it might lead to the Government receiving suggestions with regard to this subject which would be of value both to themselves and to the country.
That is all I wish to say to your Lordships this afternoon. Generally speaking, we warmly welcome the statement that has been made, and I feel sure that the efforts of the Government to attract foreign tourists to this country, and to bring foreign money to this country, will receive the co-operation of all in every Party who are anxious for the prosperity of our land.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Viscount for his very helpful words. He has made a suggestion. He will, of course, appreciate that I cannot make any promise at all—
§ VISCOUNT HALL
—with regard to the publication of a White Paper. But I will certainly consider it in conjunction with the Department, and see whether it can be done.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ LORD HACKING
My Lords, I am indeed very grateful to the noble Viscount who has replied for the Government. I should also like to express my thanks to noble Lords who have taken part in this 741 debate and to other noble Lords for attending, thereby showing the considerable interest that exists in this great industry of tourism. If I may, I should like for a few moments to deal with some of the points which have been made this afternoon. First of all, with regard to the noble Viscount, he asked for my co-operation in any future organization. I hope that he already understands that that is very freely given. Of course, that will still leave me free to say what I think in connexion with any new set-up. In other words, I hope that ray co-operation will not mean that I have pledged myself to complete silence. I hope that I shall never be described as a silent man or as a "Yes" man. Subject to that, I hope that I shall be able to give any assistance for which I am asked.
I should like to make one thing abundantly clear. In connexion with this matter of delay I am not sure whether the noble Viscount still thinks that I was in arty way criticizing the noble Lord, Lord Inman. Far from it. The noble Lord, Lord Inman, carried out his work with great expedition. What I was criticizing was the delay of five and a half months between the last debate we had in this House on this subject and the appointment of the noble Lord, Lord Inman. Lord Inman did the whole of his work in three months, whereas the Government were apparently thinking about this for five and a half months without doing anything. That was my criticism. I want to make that perfectly clear. I very much regret that there is not going to be any publication of Lord Inman's Report. I should like to repeat the request that has been made by my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition in your Lordships' House, that a White Paper might be published, which would give certain extracts from the Report of the noble Lord, Lord Inman, and provide us with the opportunity of knowing a great deal more about the new scheme than was possible for the noble Viscount to announce in his statement to-day.
There is one matter about which I am a little uncertain, and which I think might be cleared up fairly soon, even if it cannot be cleared up immediately by the noble Viscount. That is with regard to this appointment of chief administrative officer. I would like to know who appoints the chief administrative officer. I do not think the noble Viscount, Lord 742 Hall, told us whether he was appointed by the Government or by the Board.
§ LORD HACKING
By the Minister. In other words, the Board will not have any real control over the administrative officer who has to do the day-to-day work, which certainly seems rather strange and rather unsatisfactory.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
Surely the administrative officer of the Board, which is an unincorporated Board, can only be the servant of the Board and not of the Minister.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
I am of the opinion that he will be appointed by the Minister, but I would like to check that point.
Would the Government consider making the amendment that the Board might appoint their own administrative officer?
§ LORD HACKING
I desire to press that point. I think it is very important that the Board should appoint its own officers and that there should not be even that measure of control on the part of the Government. Did I understand correctly about the appointing of the individual members of the Board? The noble Viscount said that most of these members of the Board would be people who had knowledge of the various sections of the industry. I did not understand him to say who would appoint those members. Would they all be appointed by the Government on the recommendation of various sections? I do not press for an answer to that, but these are the sort of things which it is necessary to clear up and which reinforce the suggestion of having a White Paper to make things a little clearer than they are at the present moment.
There is one other matter which is of importance to the existing organization. Speaking about financial assistance and commitments, the noble Viscount said that our present and future commitments so long as we remained as a Travel Association would have to be submitted to the Board of Trade for their approval. I hope the noble Viscount does not mean by that that the day-to-day expenditure, 743 or things of that kind, will have to be submitted to the Board of Trade for their approval. The position now is that we have on the Board of Management a representative of the Board of Trade, and he has the opportunity, as a member of the Board of Management, of criticizing our work on behalf of the Government. He also reports to the Board of Trade as to any decisions we may take. I hope that there will not be any closer scrutiny than that of our expenditure, because, frankly, we do not want to be held up but want to get on with our job with as little interference as possible by Government Departments or by anybody else.
There is very little more I want to say. I would like to thank the noble Viscount for his speech. We are now in a clearer position than we have been before, and I repeat my promise to help the Government in any way that I can to make certain that this new set-up is a success. I just want to say one word in reply to the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Mersey. He spoke of the Paris office which was so successful before the war. The Travel Association had about six offices in various parts of the world before the war, and it is only because of our financial position that we have not got more of them reopened. I am glad that the noble Viscount was satisfied with the Paris office, and I am pleased to tell him that Mr. Noble Hall, whose services he so appreciated, was servant and was not employed by any other organization. As to the matter of courtesy which the noble Viscount, Lord Mersey, mentioned, the Travel Association was responsible for starting up the Courtesy Campaign which is at present in being in London, especially on the underground and the buses. I agree that it is vital that we should be a great deal more courteous to visitors from overseas, and should make them feel that they are welcome in our midst.
With regard to the speech of my noble friend the Duke of Rutland, I, of course, knew about his case and I am glad that he put it forward in such a forceful manner. I can vouch for the fact that his hotel is largely concentrating on visitors from overseas. That is why we would support his appeal. I was glad to hear the noble Viscount, Lord Hall, say that he hoped the appeal would succeed. I also hope that it will be successful.
744 Finally, the noble Lord, Lord Darwen, said that we must not confine travel to the rich people. He did not use those words exactly, but I think that is what he intended to mean. I absolutely agree that travel must not be confined to any one section or class; it must be general. If we are going to get a great friendly feeling between nations we must extend travel to every walk of life. I am glad that we are very closely associated at the Travel Association with the Workers' Travel Association which the noble Lord mentioned. The General Secretary of the Workers' Travel Association, as I think he describes himself, is a member of the Board of Management of the Travel Association. We comprise every political thought and every walk of life in our own organization, and that is why possibly we advocate it in general. I repeat that I am more than grateful to all the noble Lords in this House who have taken part in the debate for the sympathy which they have extended to me and and to my organization. In the circumstances, and in view of the probability of a White Paper being published shortly in connexion with the new scheme, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.