HL Deb 22 July 1969 vol 304 cc885-947

8.45 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee (on Recommitment) on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee (on Recommitment).—(Lord Brown.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The Lord Champion in the Chair.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [General Functions and Powers]:

Lord BROWN moved Amendment No. 1: Page 2, line 36, after ("Act") insert ("but subject to subsectons (2A) and (2B) of this section").

The noble Lord said: I hope it may be acceptable if, in moving Amendment No. 1, I speak also to No. 3. I propose to speak briefly, giving a longer explanation later if it proves to be necessary. The effect of these two Amendments would be to change the conditions under which national Boards are permitted to advertise overseas, from the existing situation in the Bill, where they can do it with the agreement of the British Tourist Authority, to the new situation (if the Amendments are passed) where they would advertise overseas on behalf of the Authority. The reason for this is that it seems sound that the Authority should be regarded in the eyes of the outside world beyond our shores as the body responsible for attracting tourists to this country. It would permit the national Boards to approach the Authority, and it is agreed that they should take part in these special forms of advertising particular to their own areas on behalf of that Authority. I beg to move.


We are grateful to the noble Lord for having put down these Amendments, which go a long way towards meeting points that we made in Committee elsewhere. I think perhaps in talking of advertising he is drawing it a little too narrowly. After all, what we are here talking about is encouraging people to visit Great Britain as a whole. But we take his point entirely, and I do not think we need delay or ask him for a further explanation. Those of us who were on the Committee know what he is talking about, and if anyone else wishes for an explanation I am sure the noble Lord will be willing to give it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 2, line 44, at end insert— ("( ) to establish committees to advise them in the performance of their functions;").

The noble Lord said: This is a point that we discussed in Committee elsewhere. Subsection (2) gives the Tourist Board power to do anything for the purpose of discharging the functions conferred on it by this clause, or which is incidental or conducive to the discharge of those functions. Then it goes on to mention three powers which they could not possibly do without and which, therefore, it seems somewhat unnecessary to mention. To these I am adding one which they could do without but which I believe they ought to exercise. We attach a great deal of importance to it.

May I refer to the Countryside (Scotland) Act. I am afraid that I do not have the comparable Act for England, but I am more familiar with the Scottish Act. Clause 4 says, much more elaborately: The Board shall have the following powers"— and (a) is the most important one— (a) where it appears to the Commission that it would assist them in the exercise of their functions to establish, promote or assist in the establishment of committees or other appropriate bodies to promote a system… I have put down this Amendment in the shortest possible terms. If the noble Lord would prefer me to say: to establish, promote or assist in the establishment of committees I would willingly move a manuscript Amendment for that purpose. But it seems to me that this is an Amendment which we ought to move because we think it ought to be in the Bill. I beg to move.


Much of the concern in the travel industry arising from the presentation of this Bill to Parliament has been that the new British Tourist Authority might live in an ivory tower remote from the industry itself. It is of the greatest importance in the running of the tourist industry that there should be constant contact between the authority responsible and the trade as a whole.

I am sure that this Amendment, if approved, would give a great deal of encouragement to the industry that they will be brought into consultation and still be a part of the machinery directing the industry of which they are a part. I support the Amendment.


I hope that this Amendment will not be pressed. We are all agreed that the Tourist Boards will need to maintain very close links not only with interests concerned with providing tourist facilities and amenities, but also with a wide range of trade, travel and, I should emphasise, consumer interests. For this purpose, the Tourist Boards will obviously have to establish appropriate consultative and advisory machinery. In fact, it would be impossible for the Tourist Boards to carry out their functions effectively without wide co-operation and generally accepted consultative machinery. It was with this point very much in mind that subsection (4) was added to the Bill in another place, which calls upon the Tourist Boards to establish consultative machinery.

If we are not careful other Bills which do not give power will be construed as producing a situation where the body concerned is not permitted to set up committees. It is quite clear, and I do not think noble Lords on the other side are arguing, that the Boards have power to set up committees; there is no argument about it. I take it that the object of the Amendment is to make it amply clear that they can set up committees, but if one has to put into every Bill where people have powers a special clause to say that they have, I suggest we are embroidering the legislation unnecessarily. I hope we can avoid a Division on this and get on with the rest of the Bill, because it is really unnecessary. That is my total plea against this Amendment.


I think the noble Lord has to some extent hoist himself with his own petard in this argument. As I have shown we have already something in the Countryside (Scotland) Act; and I have no doubt in the Countryside Act as well. If this is the argument, we ought to put it in the Bill, because it is in the Countryside Act and unless it is in the Bill it may be thought that they do not have the powers here. So the noble Lord's argument rather recoils on him, but I quite understand that his brief was written before he had heard my argument.

I think the noble Lord ought to give way on this. There is no reason why he should not. It may be that, strictly speaking, the words are unnecessary, but so are (a), (b) and (c)—"to promote or undertake publicity in any form"—how could they do without that? "To provide advisory and information services"—how could they do without that? "To promote or undertake research"; that is of the very essence. We are asking for something that we think it is important to highlight. We think it is something they may not be ready to do unless it is in the Bill.

It is not true to say that subsection (4) covers this. That talks about consultation with persons and organisations. They can do that one by one. We want to have something similar to the British Travel Association, which is a very widely based body representing any number of different interests. We want a similar body in each of the three countries. We cannot for the life of us see why the noble Lord should be so obdurate about this. I am sure the noble Lord will make very much better progress if he can give way occasionally on points like this. He may say that it is unnecessary. He must admit it will do no harm. We think it important. Surely he can give way.


As the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, knows, I feel a great deal of sympathy with a number of the Amendments down in the name of himself and his noble friends, but in my view this is not really important one way or the other. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Brown, that the Boards have powers, and that they will use them. The Amendment does not make the powers mandatory; it does not mean that they are any way more likely to be used because they are in. Judging by the fact that the Government quite clearly see that committees should be established, and presumably will pass their views on, even if they are not read in the Reports of our proceedings and those of another place, I with great respect urge the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, that we might drop this and move on to some of the really important matters in the Bill.


I am sure that the trade would greatly appreciate the inclusion of these words, and those men and women who are going to be asked to sit on these Committees will feel, human nature being what it is, if these words are in, that they are being asked to do something more important and they will take more trouble, and it will be of great advantage to everybody.


To end the argument I am prepared to give way. It does not make the least difference to the Bill. I was trying to prevent something quite unnecessary going in. But as the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, says, it is not mandatory. I just do not believe that it will make a whit of difference to those who sit on these Committees; I doubt whether anybody who sits on Committees looks to see if the Bill appointing the statutory body has powers to do it, let alone a permissive power like this. If others are agreed, I am prepared to accept the Amendment in order to get on to the more important parts of the Bill.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 3 which is consequential.

Amendment moved—

Page 3, line 5, leave out from beginning to ("none") in line 10 and insert— ("(2A) Only the British Tourist Authority shall have power by virtue of subsection (2) of this section to carry on any activities outside the United Kingdom for the purpose of encouraging people to visit Great Britain or any part of it but this subsection shall not prevent the other Tourist Boards engaging in such activities on behalf of the Authority. (2B)").—(Lord Brown.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I will deal with this Amendment, No. 4, very briefly and give a longer explanation if required. Subsection (4) of Clause 2 requires all four Tourist Boards to have regard to the need for appropriate consultations with other persons and organisations, including regional and area travel associations, when exercising their functions under Clause 2. This Amendment takes account of the criticism in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, that subsection (4) of Clause 2, as drafted, could not be taken to cover consultation between the Boards themselves in addition to their consultations with other organisations. This Amendment will meet his point. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 27, after ("consultation") insert ("with the other Tourist Boards and").—(Lord Brown.)


I would say how grateful I am to the noble Lord, and for accepting the last Amendment. It is very gracious of him and we thank him.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 5:

Page 3, line 27, after ("with") insert— ("(a) the other Tourist Boards, and any of the Tourist Boards may agree together to establish common services, where it appears to them desirable in the interests of economy or efficiency or for the maintenance of common standards throughout Great Britain; (b)").

The noble Lord said: The Committee will see that the first words of this Amendment as printed are identical with those that have just been inserted, but the Amendment goes on further. I hope that perhaps the Deputy Chairman will be good enough to assist us by accepting a manuscript Amendment to delete the words that we have already inserted. This Amendment would then read: (a) any of the Tourist Boards may agree together to establish common services, where it appears to them desirable in the interests of economy or efficiency or for the maintenance of common standards throughout Great Britain;". We were agreed in Committee that there would be need for common services to be established, but (I paraphrase the Government's objections; the noble Lord may even think I parody them a little) the Government objected to the Amendment we put down on the ground, first, that it was unnecessary because the power to establish common services already existed in the Bill; and, secondly, that somehow or other it was derogatory to the authority and the independence of the three country Boards to mention common services at all.

My noble friend Lord Geddes moved an Amendment which would have allowed the four Boards to establish common services by agreement between each other. This of course implied that all the Boards would have to be involved in each such common service. My noble friend established that some common services will be desirable, and I think that this was accepted. There is however a danger that the Boards, in their desire for independence, will fight shy of establishing any common services. This is a danger. We think they should establish some of the common services to which my noble friend referred in Committee, and that it is right to say so in the Bill. This is the purpose of the Amendment. I beg to move.


I think I should tell the noble Lord that I can accept a manuscript Amendment only if in fact I have a manuscript in my hand. I think the first thing I had better do is to put this Amendment and then accept the manuscript Amendment as an Amendment to this particular Amendment.


Before the noble Lord opposite speaks, I wonder whether I can ask for guidance, because the unfortunate thing is that we have just carried an Amendment. Ought the Amendment to relate to the Bill as it is now, after we have just amended it or to the Bill as it was before we amended it?


Clearly, we can only amend the Bill as it has already been amended. So that any manuscript which the noble Lord hands in must have relevance to the Bill as it now stands.


I wonder whether we could have a little give-and-take over this. I have just moved an Amendment in response to comments made in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, to draw attention to the need for the Boards to consult together. I do not think there is any dubiety or argument at all that there is under the Bill as it stands a situation where the Boards, with or without this Amendment, may indeed get together to run common services. That is not in dispute. So that we have a similar sort of point that we had on Amendments Nos. 1 and 3; it is a question of whether we should put it in the Bill. I wonder whether the noble Lord would not think it better to leave it to the common sense of the Boards to get on with it.

As we have already agreed to put into the Bill words saying that the Boards may consult together if they so choose, would it not be sufficient to leave it at that and not further to embroider the Bill with another permissive clause drawing attention to something that common sense will dictate they will do, especially with a bit of nudging from the Authority on which the Chairmen of the four Boards sit together, if they think this seems appropriate? They have only to read this debate to know that it is entirely in order for them to provide these common services. I think that if we are going to get sensible members of these Boards it will at once occur to them to do so. I would ask the noble Lord whether he would not see fit to withdraw the Amendment so that we can get on with the more serious part of the Bill.


To put ourselves in order, I am quite prepared to move as an Amendment to my Amendment, to leave out "the other Tourist Boards and". However, I think that on a little give-and-take basis we can agree not to press this. We have made it clear that the Boards will be expected to set up common services. After all, I take it that at the end of the day the appropriate Ministers can get together and make the Boards get together and set up common services by direction. In these circumstances, I will ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 [General schemes of assistance for tourist projects]:

9.5 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 6: Page 3, line 42, after ("Board") insert ("and with such organisations as are mentioned in subsection (4) of the preceding section").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment concerns a point that arises out of an Amendment that was moved by the noble Lord, Lord Crowther. In Committee he wanted to know with whom hotel proprietors would have to deal in regard to general schemes for tourist projects. It emerged that after the schemes were made they would have to deal with the appropriate Tourist Board, but it was still not clear how they would be consulted when the British Tourist Authority had a general scheme under consideration under this clause.

Clause 2 (4) says that the Tourist Boards shall have regard to the desirability of undertaking appropriate consultations with persons and organisations, including those mentioned in the last foregoing subsection, who have knowledge of, or are interested in, any matters aflecting the discharge of those functions This Amendment would place an obligation on the British Tourist Authority to consult those organisations, including those mentioned in subsection (3); that is to say, organisations discharging functions corresponding to those of the Boards in relation to particular areas within the countries for which the Boards are respectively responsible. The Authority would be placed under the obligation to consult those organisations "who have knowledge of, or are interested in," the particular tourist project under consideration.

This is the purpose of this Amendment. We think there should be such a duty, because we do not see how the British Tourist Authority is going to be able to prepare these schemes without such consultation; and we think that it is right to lay down in the Bill that, just as they have to consult with the three Country Boards, so they should have to consult with the national organisations, as well as with the country organisations concerned, if it comes to that, if they are separate from the national organisations. I think the Amendment makes sense, and I hope that the noble Lord will be able to accept it. I beg to move.


This is a rather more serious matter. Again I will speak shortly. This Amendment imposes on the Authority a requirement to consult, and they would have to consult an extraordinarily wide range of bodies since there would be an obligation to consult any and every organisation with knowledge or an interest in anything affecting the Authority's proposals, regardless of whether particular organisations in fact wished to be consulted on this particular matter. It is the word "knowledge"—


May I intervene, just to ask the noble Lord whether that would be so in every case? He is saying that in this particular case the British Tourist Authority would have to consult everybody who is interested in any of the matters affecting the discharge of their functions. That cannot be the meaning. That cannot be the meaning of subsection (4). It must mean that in each case the Authority would consult on a particular issue with those interested in that particular issue.


If you talk about the Tourist Boards you have to read Clause 2 (4). That does not lay an obligation, but by the terms in which this proposal comes forward there would be an obligation. It is a rather serious matter to put the Tourist Authority in a situation where they would have to choose among the organisations. They could not see them all, and it would then be open to one which they had not consulted to claim that the authority was ultra vires. I am warning the noble Lord that this could be serious. Clause 2 (4) is a permissive power, but this Amendment imposes an obligation, and I suggest that it is rather a serious thing for the British Tourist Authority, when it comes into existence, to be saddled with this obligation. I think it will cause them a great deal of bother. The wise thing is to leave the clause as it stands and leave the Authority to decide with whom to consult. I think we can trust it to do that.


I begin to think that we are in Alice in Wonderland in this Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Brown, has given way on an Amendment where one would have thought that any sensible person looking at the Bill would have known they could set up committees. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has given way on what seemed to be a much more important point, and not so obvious at all, about consultation in regard to setting up joint services, which is not by any means to be taken for granted. On this particular point it seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Brown, is absolutely right. Clause 3, as amended by this Amendment, means that for any scheme provided for the giving of financial assistance, the Board have to consult all the organisations which have been mentioned in a previous subSection in a purely permissive way. I urge that this Amendment be withdrawn.


With great respect, so do I. These seem to me to be entirely different matters. In subsection (3) of the previous clause the obligation is only to have regard to the desirability of co-operating, and so on, but here we are dealing with general schemes of assistance and there is going to be an absolute condition in regard to that. It is really a fantastic condition. It is reasonable to provide that you ought to have regard to the desirability of cooperation with organisations, and so on, undertaking appropriate consultation with persons and organisations, including those mentioned in the last foregoing subsection, who have knowledge of, or are interested in … but if you are going to make that a condition of taking action you will spend all your time consulting with organisations who may be said to have some quite slight interest in the matter. I suggest, with great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, that he is asking for something which is practically impossible. I am sure he and his noble friends want to see this Bill through and want to make it workable, and they left it quite workable so far as Clause 2 is concerned. In my submission this would make Clause 3 quite impossible in a large number of cases.


I have listened to these arguments, and it seems to me that this Amendment has been drafted rather too widely. I hope the noble Lord, however, has taken the point of it, and in deference to the arguments that have been put I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Execution of particular tourist projects]:

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 7:

Page 5, line 9, after ("except") insert— ("(a) after consultation with the company in which the shares or stock are held, and (b)")

The noble Lord said: This is a matter that we discussed on the Committee stage, and the Amendment we then put down was thought to call on the Government actually to pass legislation which in fact was illegal. I appreciate that point. Subsection (2) says: Financial assistance under subsection (1) (a) of this section may be given by way of grant or loan or, if the project is being or is to be carried out by a company incorporated in Great Britain, by subscribing for or otherwise acquiring shares or stock in the company, or by any combination of those methods. Subsection (4), which this Amendment seeks to amend, says: A Tourist Board shall not dispose of any shares or stock acquired by it by virtue of this section except with the approval of the relevant Minister and the Treasury.

The point, which I am sure the noble Lord thoroughly appreciates, is that if for example a Tourist Board had taken shares in a company which amounted to, say, 25 per cent. of the equity, and was then proposing to dispose of them, it might be giving effective control of the company to the people to whom it disposed of the shares. After all, it does not follow that the shares would be sold on the open market; they might easily be disposed of in a block.

I thought of putting down an Amendment in more complicated terms, to say that if there were equity shares involved a special resolution of the company should be obtained, and that in any other case the approval of the company as well as of the Treasury should be required. But it seems to me that the least one can ask here is that there should be reasonable consultation with the company, to make certain that the Tourist Board is not going to embarrass the company by the way in which it disposes of the shares. One hopes that this would be the intention of the Government, in any case, but intentions do not always work out properly. I appreciate that in some cases there is a need for secrecy. On the other hand, it seems to me only fair that, as the money has been provided in consultation, there should also be consultation when the Government get their money back through the Tourist Board's disposing of the stock or shares.

I hope that, even if the noble Lord is not able to accept these words, he will be able to give us an assurance on this matter, because it could be of very serious concern to a company. It would be very odd if the Government had set out to help a company and then by the way in which they liquidated that help, were to do grave harm to that company. I beg to move.


I think I can positively assure the noble Lord that the Government have a say in this matter, and that they will insist that if a Tourist Board owns shares in a company it should discuss the disposal of those shares with the company before doing so, because that is obviously a sensible thing to do, even from a pecuniary point of view. With some little experience of business myself, I should never think of disposing of a packet of shares in a company without first going to the board of that company, because it might very well mean that one did a deal which was marginally above the market price. They might be prepared to agree to that in order to ensure that the shares were placed in hands which were friendly to the management of the company. I have absolutely no doubt that a Tourist Board will behave in this way, and if that assurance is satisfactory I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw the Amendment.


I think the assurance is very satisfactory, so far as it goes; but is there any reason why the Amendment should not be made?


I think that this is a very marginal matter and, in view of the fact that it has received further support from the Liberal Benches, I will say that we accept it. The only reason I had against putting it in is that it puts the Government in quite a different position from the ordinary equity holder in such a company, and puts an obligation on the agent of the Government to consult, which is not normal in the case of share-holders. However, it is a marginal point and I think it would be a good thing to insert it, so I am prepared to accept the Amendment.


I am very grateful to the noble Lord.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 5 and 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Grants for provision of new hotels]:

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 8: Page 6, line 31, leave out ("hotel") and insert ("project")

The noble Lord said: This is an Amendment which also follows a point raised during the Committee stage, when we on this side expressed doubt about the phrase, "after the completion of the hotel". We are talking about the time when the person who has incurred eligible expenditure shall be entitled to receive a grant—and he is entitled to receive it "after the completion of the hotel". We expressed doubt about whether the phrase was sufficiently clear because we felt that an hotel might be built in several stages, and that the first stage might be sufficient to qualify for a grant. It is the first stage which is "the project" that we are talking about. Admittedly, of course, there has to be an hotel in being before grant is payable because of the way in which Clause 7 is drafted, and that is quite right. But the phrase "the hotel" suggests that the hotel must be in its final form before grant is payable.

This is not a point we have thought up: it is a point which has been put to us. The people who have put up an hotel which would have qualified for grant want to make certain that they will get the grant even although there are further stages before the hotel is finally completed. So we suggest that it should be sufficient to have completed "the project", and to avoid any confusion we should prefer to see the word "project" substituted for the word "hotel". I beg to move.


Before the noble Lord replies, may I ask a question which I hope he will deal with in the course of his remarks. Objections were raised to another word in this clause, which at present refers to an entitlement "after the completion of the hotel". The point was made in Committee that the word "after", also, is rather vague, and the suggestion was made that it should be replaced by the word "on". The noble Lord, Lord Brown, undertook to look at this point as well as the other one. From the fact that there is no Amendment down in his name I deduce that his looking at it again has not led him to think that any alteration is necessary, and he must therefore think that the word "after" in this context bears the same meaning as the word "on".

For the benefit of noble Lords who did not hear the discussion on Committee, I would point out that this is not just a matter of idle semantics; there is a point of real substance here. It is now 14 months since the White Paper was issued encouraging the hotel trade to undertake expenditure in the expectation of grant. Indeed, any company or person who builds an hotel in expectation of grant has to bear the heavy expenses of financing it until it is complete because—and I do not dispute this—grant is not payable until that time. The point at issue is that any such person may be very anxious indeed to borrow on the expectation of his entitlement, and for an entitlement to be a security that can be borrowed upon it must be precise. I shall be content if in reply the noble Lord would say with sufficient definiteness, and we have it recorded in Hansard so that we can wave it in the eyes of recalcitrant or dilatory Boards, that the intention here is that grant shall be paid as soon as may be on the completion of the project or hotel.


I am sorry to intervene again, but I really do not understand this Amendment. I am not sure what "the project" is meant to be. There is an hotel mentioned at the beginning of the subsection, but "the project" descends out of the blue. What is "the project"? Is it a half-baked hotel, or is it an hotel plus something else? I really do not understand. I am only speaking as a lawyer; a sort of draftsman, I suppose. When we come to the rest of the clause, it seems to me perfectly clear that if the authorities are satisfied that the hotel would comply with certain conditions, they can give a grant before the hotel is open, because the alternative is quite clearly stated in the text of the subsection. I am really not trying to get in the way, and I am not trying to be obstreperous over something which I think we all want to see put through—at least, that is what I gathered from Lord Drumalbyn's attitude. I would say that I regard this particular Amendment as thoroughly unsatisfactory, and likely to lead to a lot of trouble that is not intended; and if I may be allowed to say so, I rather hope that my noble friend will not accept it.


I wonder whether I could deal first with the point raised by Lord Crowther. The provisions of Clauses 7, 8 and 9 are not directed to the actual time when a person is to receive a grant but rather to the circumstances which give rise to his entitlement to grant. After completion of the new hotel (or extension, as the case may be) there will be entitlement to a grant; and an applicant will be paid as soon as the administrative processes of checking the application and verifying the expenditure will allow. There is no question of thinking that "after completion" may mean any time up to the end of the century. The provisions in these clauses are not dealing with the actual time of payment but with the point of time from which the entitlement will exist. As there will be an entitlement as a matter of law, people will be able to compel payment of the money if there is any unreasonable delay on the part of the Boards in paying. This means, in effect, that immediately after completion—and what we mean by completion is what is set out in the Bill—the entitlement immediately arises. Delay that is unreasonable thereafter can be made a matter for the courts. He has a legal entitlement to it immediately if the conditions are met. I hope that that statement will meet the noble Lords' desires for reassurance for hoteliers.


I am entirely content. I propose to have the noble Lord's words framed.


I return to the Amendment. I do not wish to be derogatory to Lord Drumalbyn's drafting power, because I have good reason to know that it has been very potent, if I may use that word, in the past. But this Amendment with respect, would have no practical effect whatever. My noble friend Lord Mitchison is right. To say that this entitlement arises after completion of the project only raises the question of what is the project. To this, the answer could only be that it is the new hotel, which is what subsection (1) already says.

I think the noble Lord is worrying unnecessarily about what is meant by "the completion of the hotel". Obviously, in the context of this Part of the Bill the words relate to the completion of the hotel for which grant is sought, which may be the first part of what will later be a bigger hotel. I appreciate, of course, that an hotelier may have plans to extend a new hotel at a later stage. Let us suppose, for example, that a developer plans to build an hotel in two phases, the first containing 50 bedrooms and the second containing another 25 bedrooms. He can apply for a grant on completion of phase 1 on the basis of a 50-bedroom hotel. Provided that the establishment is opened as an hotel and complies with the requirements of subsection (2) of Clause 7, he would get his grant. Phase 2 would then constitute an extension to this 50-bedroom hotel, which may or may not attract grant, depending upon whether it is carried out during the qualifying period of he incentives scheme, as defined in Clause 15. So if by "project" the noble Lord means a half-completed hotel, something which is not usable as such, then grant could not be given because the criteria for grant would not have been met. Grants are a shot in the arm to get more hotel bedrooms quickly, and "project" would serve a useful term in the Bill only if it were construed to mean hotel. With this explanation, and I hope assurance, that part-hotels, if they are in fact operable as hotels, will rank for grant, I hope the noble Lord will withdraw his Amendment.


I am obliged to the noble Lord. I am bound to say that I cannot think of anyone who would have as a project to half-build an hotel. I think the purpose of putting down this Amendment has been served; because the noble Lord has kindly explained both to Lord Crowther and to myself the points which were worrying us. I would say that I used the word "project" because the noble Lord, Lord Brown, himself used the word at Committee stage and I thought it would do. As apparently it will not, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.30 p.m.

Lord BROWN moved Amendment No. 9: Page 6, line 41, after ("provided') insert ("at reasonable times").

The noble Lord said: With permission, I should like, in discussing Amendment No. 9, to refer to another Government Amendment to subsection (2); namely, Amendment No. 13. The requirements in subsection (2) of Clause 7 amount to a definition of the kind of hotel which is to be eligible for assistance under Part II of the Bill. These requirements are to apply in the case of grants for a new hotel under Clause 7 and for extensions and improvements to existing hotels under Clauses 8 and 9; and also for consideration for loan assistance under Clause 13. I should say, in passing, that it is not material whether the establishment is actually called an hotel; what is essential is that it should satisfy these requirements. If it does, it is immaterial whether it is called an hotel, a motel, a guest house or something else.

The requirement in paragraph (b) is that breakfast and an evening meal are provided on the premises for persons staying at the hotel. The hotel "must" have facilities—not "may" have—and the equipment for this purpose on the premises which may embrace more than one building. The requirement is intended to exclude from eligibility establishments which provide only bed and breakfast or some catering facility or merely make arrangements for guests to eat at a nearby cafe which is not part of the hotel premises. It is the hotelier who is to provide the meals on the premises even if he employs the services of a contractor in this connection. By limiting assistance to hotels which provide such meal facilities no criticism is intended of other kinds of tourist accommodation.

Concern was expressed in Committee that the requirement in paragraph (b) might mean that hoteliers were required to serve breakfast and an evening meal at unreasonable hours. My assurances that no such construction could be put on paragraph (b) did not convince the Committee, and I was persuaded to agree to the words which now appear at the end of subsection (2) in lines 9 to 11 on page 7. Having given further thought to the subject we consider that the concern about the provision of meals being required only at reasonable hours could best be allayed by adding such words to paragraph (b) as are proposed in Amendment No. 9. As a consequence, Amendment No. 13 proposes the deletion of lines 9 to 11 on page 7. They will no longer be necessary in relation to the question of reasonable times (which I think was the noble Lord's major point; in fact possibly the only point he made in Committee) and they have other defects which I did not fully cover in Committee.

The words and for the purposes of this and the next following section would imply some difference in the application of the requirements in paragraph (b) as between the grants as announced in Clauses 7 and 8, on the one hand, and grants under Clause 9 or loans under Clause 13, on the other. The words "on request" in line 11, on page 7, could also imply that meals need be provided only if they are ordered before booking accommodation at the hotel. I can assure noble Lords that if Amendments 9 and 13 are made, there will be no doubt that paragraph (b) in subsection (2) will simply mean that the Tourist Boards will have to be satisfied that breakfast and evening meals will be provided somewhere on the premises at reasonable hours for those guests who wish to have them. I emphasise "for those guests who wish to have such meals", because I am assured that there is no possibility of the requirement being construed to suggest that such meals have to be provided for all guests staying at the hotel, whether or not they wish to have them.

I am afraid that I have had to read a long note on this Amendment because it is a little complex. What I am saying is that I accepted an Amendment originally to incorporate the phrase "at reasonable hours", and in accepting it I inadvertently left out the idea of having meals on the premises. I also accepted an Amendment which, if it is reasonable for this clause, should also apply to others. My Amendments now put right the deviations which I did not see in the Amendment I accepted in Committee. I hope that noble Lords will accept this Amendment because it fully meets their original point.


I think that what the noble Lord, Lord Brown, has said, covers the main point. We were hoping that the definition of "provided" would go a little further than this and enable provision to be made by someone else though under the same roof. I am not sure whether or not this is still so.


If the hotelier gives a concession to somebody else to provide meals in his dining room, that would be all right. It is not a question of sending guests to a restaurant across the way or ordering meals cooked across the way. He is allowed to farm out his catering as a concession, but the meals have to be done in his own premises.


I think this is a reasonable interpretation of the word "provided" and we raise no objection to this. The noble Lord has been generous with our mistakes and we will be generous with his.

On Question. Amendment agreed to.

Lord BROWN moved Amendment No. 10: Page 7, line 1. after ("establishment") insert ("(but including in every case the cleaning of rooms and making of beds)").

The noble Lord said: I wonder whether I need speak to this Amendment. I think this is a nice compromise between the arguments we had on Committee. The noble Lord succeeded in getting an Amendment inserted referring to the provision of "appropriate" services. We had some misgivings about this, because it left out such things as the cleaning of rooms and the making of beds, which is something to fasten on to when seeking for criteria for hotels. This Amendment incorporates the cleaning of rooms and making of beds and leaves undisturbed the magic word "appropriate", which the noble Lord was keen to see inserted in the Bill. I hope that the noble Lord and his colleagues will see fit to accept this Amendment.


If I had an hotel room for one night, I would not mind very much if the bed was not made, but I would not stay a third night, if it was not made after the first night. Obviously, this is common sense and this is what we meant in Committee, although the words were allowed to fall out. I agree with the Amendment.


May I briefly say, from the point of view of the industry, that Amendments Nos. 9, 10 and 13, taken together, would put the Bill in a much more satisfactory state, by the combined efforts of the Government and the Opposition, than it was to begin with.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

9.37 p.m.

Lord BROWN moved Amendment No. 11: Page 7, line 3, leave out paragraph (e).

The noble Lord said: In devising the Hotel Development Incentives scheme in Part II of this Bill, we had to settle requirements for the type of establishment to qualify for assistance. This we have done in Clause 7 (2), which governs the minimum size of hotel in relation to the number of letting bedrooms and, thinking of overnight and short term visitors—particularly overseas visitors—we are requiring hotels to provide breakfast and evening meals on the premises, to provide lounge space, and hotel services such as the cleaning of rooms and the making of beds. We have seen no grounds for subsidising investment in bed and breakfast establishments or selfcatering accommodation, useful though such accommodation obviously is for tourist traffic.

We sympathise fully with the view that improved standards of facilities, particularly as regards bathrooms and lavatories, are very desirable. But we have stopped short of prescribing qualitiative standards calling for so many of this or that kind of facility. Instead, we strike a ratio of bathrooms to bedrooms, which is quantitative. The incentives scheme was devised for a range of hotels from the very modest one to the more luxurious. If we had tried to work out qualitative standards over such a wide field, we would probably still be working on the subject.

There is every incentive for those providing new hotels or extending existing hotels to attract grants under Clauses 7 and 8, to provide adequate bathroom and lavatory facilities, and other amenities, because the eligible capital expenditure to which grant is related can normally include all constructional expenditure and expenditure on the purchase and installation of all kinds of fixed equipment.

Even where no additional bedroom accommodation is provided, it is possible for an existing hotel to obtain a grant under Clause 9 for the purchase and installation of fixed baths, showers, bidets, wash-hand basins and fixed lavatory equipment. We have not in these oases been able to accept extra grant expenditure on building rooms to house such equipment but the provisions of Clause 9 will be of help to those existing hotels, who cannot extend their premises, in modernising their bathroom and lavatory facilities and providing better washing facilities in their bedrooms.

But the requirement in paragraph (e) could operate harshly, and not only for hotels which have gone ahead with projects on the strength of the White Paper and the Bill as originally published last February. It could also operate harshly on those existing hotels which cannot readily be altered to meet the arbitrary standard in paragraph (e), because it requires the application of this standard not only to additional letting bedrooms, but also to those already in existence.

There are many ways in which adequate bathroom and lavatory facilities can be provided, depending on the standard of service and the amount of expenditure which the hotelier intends to provide. At the minimum, one would like to think that every new letting bedroom had at least a hand basin with hot and cold water. Going further, it is quite possible in existing accommodation frequently to provide a shower and—for the benefit of overseas visitors particularly—a bidet, even though it is not practicable to provide a completely separate bathroom. When it comes to the number of public bathrooms, this depends not simply on how many bedrooms are provided with completely private bathrooms, but how extensive the facilities are in the bedroom itself.

So on all counts I am sure that we should delete paragraph (e) from subsection (2), and leave judgments on the scale and quality of investment to hoteliers and developers. If in some cases an hotel's bathroom and lavatory facilities are not fully comparable with this standard, it can nevertheless provide reasonable comfort and efficient service to attract those whose requirements are modest or with limited purses.

I could give some examples to support what I have said, but I think I have said enough. Quite apart from the arguments of those who committed themselves under the terms of the White Paper, and who would be, so to speak, disenfranchised from grant by this Amendment, to add this criteria at this stage I think would be bad, because it involves quality standards which we have avoided like the plague throughout the Bill. I beg to move.


It is very disappointing to hear the noble Lord suggest that the one reference to a bathroom, except a reference in Schedule 3, should now be deleted from the Bill. He spoke a minute or two ago about this Bill being a "shot in the arm" to get more hotels quickly, and he spoke about accommodation for overseas visitors. I would submit respectfully that what overseas visitors find in this country is not only a shortage of hotel bedrooms, but also quality of a standard below that which they seek.

This Bill, apart from its many good points, has two considerable defects. The first is that in its zeal to encourage the building of new bedrooms it has entirely forgotten, or omitted to do anything to take advantage of, the opportunity to raise the standard, albeit in a very modest way, of the hotels of this country. It would be very pertinent in many cases to have some bait in this direction, or for some attention to have been paid to this.

The noble Lord referred to putting people under disadvantage, and he referred to the White Paper. Incidentally, I am glad that the White Paper has not been mentioned as often in this Committee stage as it was before. When I drafted this paragraph (e), I tried to ensure that it should not impose any burden on any reasonable hotelier, and that if it did exert any pressure on anyone it would be on the proprietor of an hotel which in the opinion of us all fell far below the standard that we should expect.

During our debate on the previous stage the noble Lord pointed to a defect in the drafting. He will see from Amendment No. 12 that I have tried to remedy this. I cannot see why he makes such a heavy burden of what I should have thought was a most useful addition to the Bill. It places no serious burden on any reasonable hotelier, but it gives an indication of the necessity of raising quality in this sphere of our hotel industry where it is most needed.

9.45 p.m.


This has been a very useful Amendment that we have put into the Bill on the Select Committee stage. The object of the Bill is to define those kinds of hotels which should receive these grants, and it seems to me that this is worth while.

As the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, said, we dealt in the Committee with this question of the understanding which people have been acting on as a result of the White Paper. I should like to say, perhaps even more forcibly than the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, that I do not think noble Lords should pay too much attention to this particular argument. I am very much in favour of the Government's announcing their intentions in White Papers and consulting the public on Green Papers. I have also great sympathy with the Government, because they want to get ahead with something rather quickly. But the Government must remember that it is Parliament itself which must make the decisions, and that it is not for the Government to come and tell us that we cannot make alterations at this stage merely because they have published a White Paper. That is cutting too many corners.

There is one disadvantage to this situation as it stands—at least I think so—and that is where an hotel proposes to remedy an existing defect, and put in enough bathrooms to make up the original ratio. But that is something which possibly the Government can amend at a later stage. I hope that this Amendment will be defeated and that we shall leave paragraph (e) in the Bill.


My Lords, I rise on only two points. The first one is that there is another mention of bathrooms, and many other things, in Schedule 3 to the Bill. They are fixed equipment for grants eligible under Clause 9. I only wish it applied here in this House, because there are quite a lot of things that are mentioned in that Schedule which would be rather useful in this place, including more air conditioning and so on.

The second matter that really worries me (and I know I was not on the Committee), from the point of view of one of the people who may have to work under the Bill, is the "Alice-in-Wonder-land" arithmetic of the Amendment. I just cannot follow it. I know that one can be very stupid over this—and I really mean "stupid". But, if on page 7, at the end of line 6, we insert the words on the Order Paper, then how will it read? It will read that there should be one water closet, for instance, "for every five bed-rooms", and "for any less number of such bedrooms above a multiple of five". What exactly is intended? Does it mean you can do it for every five bedrooms, or for every 11 bedrooms, because that would be above a multiple of five, but not for every seven bedrooms? Is the noble Lord thinking strictly in terms of a multiple not necessarily by a whole number? If he is thinking that he ought to make it rather clearer. All I can say is it sounds a bit "Alice in Wonderland" to me. I am sure the noble Lord wants his bathrooms to be installed and also the Bill to read sensibly. It does not read sensibly if this Amendment is inserted.


I have to attempt to make the Committee agree that this Amendment should not be passed. It is really very important indeed. May I deal first with the White Paper argument? I know this question of the quoting of the existence of a White Paper—


May we get the Record right? This is an Amendment of the noble Lord. Is he suggesting it should not be passed?


I am sorry; I was looking at the wrong document. I am trying to argue that this Amendment should be passed. May I deal with the argument? Every Government are in a desperately difficult position over certain types of things which attract grant. If consultation does not take place with bodies, the likelihood is that the Government produce a very bad Bill, and rightly are criticised for it very heavily in the House. In any case, if the time between publishing the Bill and its passing is lengthy, then if there is a possibility of grant being paid subsequent to the passing of the Bill there is an interregnum during which people will not carry on with their business as is customary and will wait for the Bill to be passed to obtain the financial assistance.

If, on the other hand, one consults, it becomes known, and one may as well publish a White Paper to let everybody know formally what the position is. In that case, from the date the White Paper is published to the date the Bill becomes an Act, if you do not indicate that you are prepared to pay people for the buildings, or whatever it may be, on which they have spent money, then in fact you produce a stalemate with the industry that is producing this particular sort of building—it grinds to a halt. It is no good saying that we should not put the White Paper to you in this House. These are the facts. We are unable—and no Government are able to escape this—to act in matters of this kind without bringing into the Bill clauses which make payment restrospective to a date before the Act comes into force.


I weep for the Government. I deeply sympathise with the noble Lord, but I still maintain that, in spite of the terrible difficulties the Government find themselves in, it is for Parliament to make these decisions, and you cannot go ahead with this proposal.


I quite agree; I am not saying that Parliament should not make its own decisions. I am just trying to prevent Parliament from making an ass of itself; that is all.

May I now turn to one of my examples to demonstrate just how stupid it can be if it goes ahead and denies me this Amendment. Let us take this example: an existing hotel with forty bedrooms, all with hot and cold water in them, but only five public bathrooms and five lavatories. That is not an extreme example and there may well be a number of hotels in just this situation which have gone ahead in the light of the White Paper and the expectation of this Bill's being passed.


Would the noble Lord allow me?


It would be kind if the noble Lord would let me finish. It is rather difficult.


I am sorry.


To get an extension grant under Clause 8 for five additional bedrooms added to the forty I have named, the hotelier would have to provide at least four more bathrooms and four more lavatories in an extension for five more bedrooms. But he may not have done it. Why should he? He did not know of paragraph (e) in the Bill. It was not there. There was No intention of having it in the original Bill. It was tee stage this provision was added to the Bill, this hotelier is going to lose the not published. So, because at Commit- grant which was the basis of his going ahead to extend his hotel. He is going to think it extremely unjust. He is not going to be very happy about Parliament, which has put him in this position.

If he put a private bathroom and a lavatory with each of the new bedrooms, he would still have to provide three more public bathrooms and three more lavatories to serve his existing accommodation. So if he put five more bathrooms and lavatories in with those five new bedrooms, he would still have to go on to provide three more separate public bathrooms and three more lavatories to meet the terms of the paragraph I now wish to have deleted.

I am pleading with your Lordships not to put those who have gone ahead in that position. It would be very serious indeed. We are not arguing about the advisability of putting more emphasis on the provision of bathrooms and lavatories. I agree entirely with the noble Lord. But we did not set out in this Bill to stimulate that in particular; although, as I have pointed out, any hotelier who builds an additional five bedrooms or more, and chooses to build five bathrooms along with them, will get grant for those bathrooms. It cannot be said that we have not given some encouragement in this direction if we are prepared to pay grant on the bathrooms. But, for the reasons I have given, we do not wish at this stage to make it a requirement of this Bill. I beg noble Lords not to reject the Amendment I am moving.


I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Brown. I freely confess that in the previous Committee I was one of those who assisted the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, to insert in the Bill the words that the Government are now attempting to remove, but on further consideration I have come to the view that the Government are quite right, for two reasons: first, that in the rather intricate matter of business, if you put the various clauses together I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Brown, is entirely right in saying that it could lead to some highly anomalous situations if these words were inserted. But there is a further consideration of a kind which I hope will appeal to the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood. Either the paragraph which he wrote into the Bill, requiring a certain bathroom provision, has some effect or it has not. The only way in which it can have effect would be by removing from the ambit of grant an hotel which would otherwise get one. If it does not do that the words are meaningless and have no point at all.

Who would these people be who would be likely to be removed from the ambit of the grant if these words stand part of the Bill? They would certainly not be any of the large public companies on behalf of which the noble Lord sometimes accuses me of speaking. None of them would dream of providing bedrooms, in this Year of Grace, without a private bathroom for each one. The only people who would be cut out of grant—if there are any at all—if these words stand part of the Bill would be one or two small operators up and down the country who happen to have gone ahead with a project which would now just fall outside the ambit of grant and which would otherwise have been within that ambit. The only effect of leaving these words in, if they have any effect at all, would be to deprive one or two small operators of grant that they would otherwise have expected to receive. I support the noble Lord, Lord Brown, in his suggestion that the Bill would be better without these words in it.


The way the argument has gone I think there is no doubt that we have to allow the noble Lord his way in this, but I must say that we do so without much sympathy for the Government. I say that for two reasons. In the first place, if they had wanted to they could have mitigated the difficulty very greatly by amending Clause 8, so that the number of new bathrooms to be added would be related to the number of bedrooms to be added for an extension, and not to the total amount. They could have done that quite easily. The second thing—I know there has been only a short time but again this is not the fault of the Opposition, it is the fault of the Government—that is surely now an object lesson to the Government not to make these announcements of intentions in Parliament until they have the room for them in the legislative programme.

I believe that the Government intended to introduce this Bill last Session and they were not able to do so. Nothing else makes sense. If they had done that. the plans would not have been far enough advanced for there to be any real difficulty such as the noble Lord, Lord Crowther, has referred to—and I agree with him that there would be hardship for some people if the Bill were to stay as it now is. But if the Bill had been introduced soon after the announcement was made in Parliament, at the same time as the White Paper, and carried through, it would have made sense. But, somehow or other, the Government keep getting into these administrative difficulties. In particular they keep getting their Parliamentary programme muddled up, and the result is that we simply cannot get sense cut of these things.

I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, that Parliament has every right to change these things if it thinks fit, but we are bound to take into account—I would not say this to my noble friend because I am sure we all agree that the Government ought to have provided some qualitative test so far as bathrooms are concerned and this is a different kind of qualitative test from others—that if Parliament were to do this now it would cause hardship. Parliament is bound to take that into account at the present time. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Brown, that we very much deplore this way of proceeding, and the Government must bear in mind that Parliament has every right to change these things if it thinks fit. The Government must not always expect that if they announce something in March of one year they can get their legislation through easily, without criticism, by July of the following year. It just will not do.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


In the Division on the Housing Bill the number of Contents was announced as 53; this should have been 52. I gather that the decision is not altered by that announcement.

I cannot now call Amendment No. 12 to the Bill that we are now discussing. Amendment No. 11 having been agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 13.

Amendment moved— Page 7, leave out lines 9 to 11.—(Lord Brown).

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8 [Grants for extension or alteration of existing hotels]:

Lord INGLEWOOD moved Amendment No. 14: Page 7, line 24, leave out ("five") and insert ("four")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 14. In my view, the second great shortcoming of this Bill is the line of demarcation which the Government have chosen between those who qualify for grant for work which they may do by way of additions to hotels and those who are excluded. I entirely see that some such line of demarcation must be drawn, and that there would be endless difficulty were it possible for every bed-and-breakfast establishment to claim to be a small guest house. It would clearly be difficult to know whether the work they were doing genuinely came within the work we all have in mind.

Nevertheless, the line the noble Lord has chosen, the minimum of five bed-rooms, means that the vast majority of small hotels in this country are bound to be excluded from any help at all, while there is no limit for those who wish to invest £1 million or more in a hotel drawing the 20 per cent., provided they satisfy the conditions. I must not say any more about bathrooms. I hope that the noble Lord will not come back and say I am here opening the door to all sorts of small miscellaneous establishments, because I am entirely at one with him here, and I will not make use of the dirty word he used in the Committee. All I am asking is that he should consider bringing the boundary line down from five to four.

I do not know whether all noble Lords will have worked out what this means. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Crowther, does not think anything I have said about larger companies is critical because they are naturally leaders when it comes to standards; but small hotels as well as large establishments now try to include private bathrooms where they can. To build on five bedrooms and five bathrooms, and some water closet accommodation (though the noble Lord in a previous debate seemed to think that if 20 were double bedrooms, five water closets would be sufficient for 60 people) is surely going to run the proprietor into something like £20, 000—and it could be more. I should have thought a scheme like this ought to endeavour, especially with no limit at the top, to have at least the floor level brought down to include as many genuine hotels as it could.

I suggested in Committee a minimum of four instead of five extra bedrooms. Better still would have been three, plus two bathrooms, but I have not tried to repeat that on this occasion because I think there could be arguments against it. But I feel that the arguments in favour of four are sound, and I hope that the noble Lord may be favourably disposed towards this. I hope, too, that he will see how careful I have been on this occasion not to do anything which conflicts with, or puts any extra burden on, anyone who has been carrying out work in accordance with the provisions of the White Paper. The White Paper argument just does not come into the question. It is a common-sense argument and it is fair. I beg to move.

10.5 p.m.


I admire the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, for the fight he has put up in the Committee and now in support of some of the things that I think are dear to us all. Let us have more bathrooms, certainly. Everybody is emotionally completely with him, and I think objectively, in regard to the small hotel. We all like these beautiful old inns of England, and perhaps of Scotland and Wales, too. We want to give them a better share. But the fact is that we want to provide more capacity for tourists. That is the object of the Bill. We should have preferred a higher minimum figure than exists in the Bill now. Certainly it would have been more objective. We dropped it to the present level because of certain sympathy for the smaller hotel and the comments that were made during consultation that we ought to let the small man in.

Now the noble Lord is wanting to drop it still further, and I have some sympathy with him. But if we do so, there is no question but that it will increase the total cost of the scheme. I do not have an estimate of how much the increase would be, but it would be a very chancy estimate if one were to make it. But we are on a marginal point here, and it would need a considerable sum indeed. We are therefore most afraid of this Amendment on the financial prospects of greater expenditure. I am sorry in that I should like to have agreed with this, but when finance comes in at a time like this, when we are trying to conserve public expenditure, I am most concerned and I am afraid that I have to resist this Amendment, much as it emotionally appeals to me.


I have not a great deal of sympathy with the noble Lord on his point about public expenditure, because so much of the argument that we have heard is that plans would have had to be made already before anything was likely to qualify for grant, because of the time factor. Of course what the noble Lord has said is true, in that one thinks of a number and then the Government have generally to stick to that number.

I have a great deal of sympathy with my noble friend in thinking that it would have been better to have dropped the limit a little. After all, he is quite familiar with the phrase: Mony a mickle mak's a muckle and the lower you drop it the more you will get. That is the whole object of the exercise, to get more; and the noble Lord has told us time and again that the whole object of the exercise is to get more accommodation for the tourist. I think he put up the opposite argument on a previous occasion, saying that if you put the limit too low you were not going to attract so many tourists by a small number of bedrooms, as you would if you raised the minimum qualifying number to a higher number.


I wonder whether the noble Lord would give way for a moment, because I want to make quite clear my own position. We want more bedrooms for tourists, but we want especially more of the medium and large sized hotels. That is where the shortage lies in the provision of accommodation for tourists. There is a grave shortage there. There is not so great a shortage, if indeed one at all, in the very small hotels. So we have to give a priority there in regard to the somewhat larger establishments.


I appreciate the Government's point of view, which is diametrically opposed to that of my noble friend. This is the head-on crash. If you fix a low level you are going to get all the accommodation that will be provided proportionately anyway at the high level. The question is, how low is the level you are going to. The noble Lord says that expenditure is involved here. The Government can only make the shadowiest of estimates about what is the expenditure involved, and there is a lot to be said for what my noble friend wants.

If I could advise my noble friend, I think it would not be wise to press this Amendment in the present circumstances. My noble friend has made the point, and certainly he has put up a magnificent fight for the smaller hotels. But I doubt very much whether at this stage, because of the very short time factor, changing the number of rooms would have a big effect now. This is why I suspect the noble Lord's financial argument. I just do not think this is a runner. The real truth is that it is too late, as things have run, to make this effective.


Following what my noble friend has said, I think it is true that at this stage to-night it would be difficult for us to change this figure—not that I thought the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Brown, were very effective. I am prepared to give him a year to run, and if then, when he can give precise figures about the cost and the progress, he does not do anything, I shall introduce a Private Member's Bill. I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Before putting Amendment No. 15, I would point out that it appears that Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 are competing.

Lord BROWN moved Amendment No. 15: Page 7, line 41, at end insert ("and any bathroom or bathrooms appearing to the Board to be provided in association with the bedrooms").

The noble Lord said: Subsection (3) of Clause 8 provides the Tourist Boards with a necessary discretionary power as a precaution against abuse of the provisions of Clause 8. Under this clause, an extension to an existing hotel must involve the provision of at least 5 additional bedrooms in order to attract grant. Such an extension may be provided in new buildings, by the alteration of existing premises or by a mixture of new building and alteration. In the generality of cases, expenditure eligible for Clause 8 grants will include all expenditure which the Tourist Boards consider to be of a capital nature. Thus capital expenditure can cover not only constructional and fixed equipment costs of the actual bedrooms, but also expenditure on extending or improving other facilities such as bathrooms, lavatories, lounge, dining and recreation areas, and kitchens.

But, as I explained in Committee, it is necessary to guard against the provisions of Clause 8 being abused in order to obtain more grant for the mere improvement of hotel facilities than could be secured under Clause 9. A simple example would be the case of someone merely designating "staff bedrooms" as additional letting bedrooms in order to obtain grant primarily in relation to expenditure on other improvements to the premises. Subsection (3) provides the Tourist Boards with discretion to exclude expenditure not attributable to the provision of additional bedrooms in cases where they are partly provided by the alteration of existing accommodation. It is a necessary power, but the Tourist Boards will obviously want to see additional bedrooms provided freely since this is the main purpose of this hotel incentive scheme. Moreover they will recognise, as we do, the importance of adequate bathroom facilities to any increase in letting bedrooms.

However the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, expressed concern in Committee lest this discretionary power might be applied too tightly as regards bathroom facilities provided in conjunction with extra letting bedrooms provided by the alteration of existing accommodation. He withdrew an Amendment on the subject on the understanding that I would consider a suitable Amendment to cover the bathroom point without detracting from the essential purpose of the discretionary power in subsection (3). This Amendment is the result, and I commend it to the Committee. It makes clear that bathrooms associated with the provision of additional bedrooms provided by the alteration of existing accommodation will rank for grant. I hope the noble Lord is satisfied that we have done something in support of his plea for better bathrooms, and I beg to move.


I must thank the noble Lord for making this Amendment, and I am sure my noble friend is very grateful for it too.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 9 agreed to.

10.15 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 17: After Clause 9 insert the following new clause:

Appeals under Part II

Any applicant for a grant who is aggrieved at a decision of a Tourist Board in any case falling under Part II of this Act, as to

  1. (i) whether any expenditure which he has incurred is eligible expenditure;
  2. (ii) the amount of grant which he is entitled to receive;
  3. (iii) the date on which any construction or installation was begun or completed;
  4. (iv) whether or not the applicant was the occupier or lessor of the hotel in question at the relevant time; or
  5. (v) the repayment of a grant,
may appeal to the relevant Minister within thirty days of the said decision, and the relevant Minister shall, after affording the appellant an opportunity to be heard, either confirm the decision of the Tourist Board or give a direction to the Tourist Board as to action they shall take in accordance with this Part of this Act on the case."

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment is to give a right of appeal to the appropriate Minister. The noble Lord, Lord Brown, explained to us during the Committee stage that all appeals would have to be to the courts. He said that there was a legal title to the entitlement, and that any failure to provide that entitlement could lead to an appeal. Admittedly, appeals to the courts are normally given when there is a point of law involved. There may occasionally be difficulty about the meaning of a Bill, and it is right to leave to the courts a decision on a point of law: but that would happen anyway. Equally, and probably much more frequently, there is likely to be a dispute about the facts. A Board may quite easily be mistaken about the facts and, having made a mistake, is unlikely to budge from its decision, since nobody likes to admit that he is wrong. So there ought to be an appeal on fact to the Minister.

Of course, I cannot be sure that I have included all the points on which an appeal might arise. The worst aspect of this terrible way of legislating, taking all stages within one week, is that we shall have no opportunity of amending except by I a manuscript Amendment at this stage. But if, as is quite likely, some Amendment is needed, it can be made when the Bill goes back to the Commons. What is important is to establish the principle of administrative appeal under this Part of the Bill, rather than have all matters going to the courts. This is most unusual in legislation and we are well accustomed to the administrative appeal. I beg to move.


I was not on the Committee, but this Amendment raises a general point and I am rather surprised at its coming from the Party opposite. We are all now quite accustomed to the idea of leaving Boards of various kinds to run their own businesses, and it seems to me that that practice would be interfered with by this Amendment. In effect, it would transfer the decision from the Board to the Minister whenever the hotelier chose. We are always being told that there are too many civil servants, that the expenses of government are too great, and so on; but we put a frightful lot on Ministers and Ministries nowadays, and, in principle, it is sound practice, when one can define quite clearly what is to be done, to leave the day-to-day running to Boards, such as the Railways Board or, in this case, the Tourist Board. On the whole, we have corns to accept that nowadays. That is the main point raised by this Amendment, and I should regard it as a serious mistake if the Government accepted it.

I repeat that I am puzzled why the Tory Party should bring this Amendment forward, since it seems contrary to their usual line of practice. To take a decision away from the Tourist Board and to give a right of appeal to the relevant Minister at the choice of the hotelier is tending to increase public expenditure, tending to increase the number of civil servants and tending to increase the minor duties of the Ministry. It is something which ought to be done only for some very cogent reason, but I cannot see what the reason is. Perhaps I ought to lave attended the proceedings of the Committee. I should then have learned, and I would accept a rebuke that it is my fault if I did not go and listen. But, off-hand, I cannot see what can be the reason for this Amendment. I should have thought everybody wanted these Tourist Boards to be effective, powerful, competent bodies, and, once they are accepted as such, the reason for transferring decisions at the instance of the hotelier certainly tends to disappear. I therefore hope that my noble friend is not going to accept this Amendment.


May I perhaps enlighten the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison? I will not attempt to follow him into the doctrinal questions as between the Government Party and the Opposition Party, which do not concern me; but there are some very practical considerations which bear upon this issue and which it appears are not apparent to him. The Bill as now drafted allows the Tourist Boards, in deciding whether or not to give a grant, to impose any conditions they see fit. These Boards will not be in a state to determine what their conditions are going to be until, let us say, at the very earliest, about Christmas of this year, 1969. By then fully three-quarters—perhaps more—of those projects which are going to be entitled to claim grant by virtue of having started by March 31, 1971, will already have got beyond the point of no return. The hotel owners have gone ahead on the confidence of the White Paper that was issued in May, 1968; and relying on the good faith of the Minister. The purpose of this Amendment is to make sure that it is the good faith of the Minister that governs, and not the possible whims of Boards which are not yet in existence and will not be in existence until too late.

In the course of the Committee stage the noble Lord, Lord Brown, gave some fairly sweeping assurances (which went quite a long way to meet the fears that I and others feel about this matter), to the effect that if any of these Boards were to set conditions on grant that could not reasonably have been expected at the time of the White Paper the Minister would issue directions to overrule them. That, as I say, goes quite a long way towards reassuring those who are uncertain about this point, but I confess I shall be much happier with the complete assurance that this Amendment gives.

Nor, I think, subject to anything the noble Lord may say in his reply, can I see that the Amendment hurts the Government position in any way, because although it goes to a great deal of trouble to say so, it is really in substance saying that if the Minister does not think that his (the Minister's) word is being carried out by the Boards he will say so. I should much prefer to see it down in black and white than to rely upon even the quite far-reaching assurances that the noble Lord gave in Committee.


I know that the noble Lord, Lord Crowther, has No intention of misleading the Committee, but when he says that these Boards can make almost any condition they like about these grants, he is going too far altogether. The criteria for grant are laid down very clearly in the Bill, and the amount of discretion the Boards are able to exercise is extraordinarily small.


I am sorry if I misled the Committee. What I meant to say—and I apologise, although I think I quoted the Bill correctly—is that in giving grant they may make such conditions as they see fit.


The criteria for grants to hotels are laid down in the Bill. We have been talking about them all evening. I am sorry; there is some deep misunderstanding here—but may I go on?


If the noble Lord will forgive me, may I quote Clause 12: In making a grant under this Part of this Act a Tourist Board may, subject to any directions under section 18"— that is, directions from the Minister— … impose such conditions as it thinks fit".


That is under that particular Part, and that provides a discretion, but we have been discussing all the way through this Bill the criteria for grant, paragraph by paragraph. They are extraordinarily numerous. I said that there is some discretion but extraordinarily little in relation to the amount of prescription contained in this Bill as to the criteria for the sort of activities on which grant may be allowed. I was merely criticising the suggestion of the noble Lord, which I think I am quoting rightly, when he said that these Tourist Boards could do almost anything they liked in this respect—or words to that effect. I just wanted to remove that impression. I know the noble Lord did not mean to give that impression. There was no deliberate intention to mislead; I am well aware of that.

Coming to this matter of the appeal, we have here a sharp division of opinion. I want to put the case against the Amendment quite sharply because I should be very distressed if this Amendment were accepted. First, there is a sort of touching faith in the capacity of Ministers to take up the role of judges; to interpret Acts of Parliament. As a Minister I personally do not like the idea at all. There is no provision for proper representation or witnesses, and all the rules governing the procedure of the courts. I do not think that one should attempt to push Ministers into this position.

Secondly, supposing one did allow an appeal to a Minister by people who felt they had been aggrieved. I take it it would mean depriving people under this clause of the right to sue in the courts for money to which they felt they were entitled. Alternatively, if they are not deprived of the right to sue the Tourist Board in the court for that money, presumably what is intended is that, having taken the appeal to the Minister and lost it, they might then sue the Board—or is it the Minister?—in the courts. This is all very bothering to me. We cannot accept this Amendment to-night. I do not know where we end up with this sort of mix-up. I would beg noble Lords to think again before trying to pass this Amendment to-night. It is not clear what would happen. Even if this could be cleared up, the main argument, that one is putting Ministers in the role of judges in the interpretation of an Act of Parliament, remains. I hope that this Amendment will be rejected on those grounds alone.


I thought I made it clear that we were not putting Ministers in the position of judges on questions of law. This is clear from the way in which the Amendment is drafted. The points it mentions are all questions of fact, and not questions of law at all.


The noble Lord is well aware that the courts are just as used to dealing with questions of fact as with questions of law. They are dealing with questions of fact all the time, and many questions of fact go to the courts. Indeed, very often the procedure of the courts is necessary to deal with questions of fact which need interpretations just as much as questions of law.


May I far one minute thank the noble Lord below the Gangway for calling my attention to Clause 18? This seems to me to give the Minister a very considerable overriding power in proper cases, and I cannot see how these two things hang together. Clause 18 will allow the Minister to give the Tourist Board directions of a general character. It says in subsection (2): Subject to the provisions of any scheme … the relevant Minister may with the approval of the Treasury, give to a Tourist Board directions as to … This clause seems to me to deal quite properly—and I should have thought, with great respect to noble Lords opposite, much more in accordance with their own principles and practices—with the relations between the Minister, the Tourist Board and the people who are going to get a grant under this Act. I cannot understand how to reconcile the two. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, that I am not trying to be difficult. This is a real point and, I think, a rather important constitutional point.


There is no dispute that the Minister can decide as between an aggrieved applicant for the grant and the Tourist Board. The whole point of what we are arguing about is whether he will or not. What the noble Lord, Lord Brown, said seemed to me largely to underline the assurance he gave to the Committee. If I did not misunderstand him—and he spoke very clearly—he gave a flat assurance that if the Minister came to the conclusion that a Board was imposing conditions which could not visibly be foreseen, he would intervene; and all this Amendment does is to spell that out in black and white.

10.30 p.m.


I wonder whether I may clear up this point? These assurances were given with regard to practices developed by the Tourist Boards in principle or conditions imposed in general which the Government felt to be improper. That is one thing. This Amendment deals with individual appeals by individual applicants who think they have been ill-treated. That is a different matter altogether. To look at going questions of practices by the Boards, and for the Government to amend them if they see fit, is one thing; but to investigate all the details under which a single applicant wants to establish his right to an individual grant means, in my view, a proper judicial hearing. To impose this on Ministers would not, in my opinion, be a good thing.

It is the ordinary course of law that in Acts such as this Bill will become, if there are points of real difficulty of interpretation some of the unfortunates may have to take a case to court, and what is the proper interpretation of the law is established by a court decision. If there are these difficulties and one or two cases have been decided, the interpretation is made clear for the others. I hope that

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 [Rates of grant]:

10.38 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 18: Page 9, line 43, after ("and") insert ("(a)").

The noble Lord said: This was a matter which we considered in Committee but the Government were not very sympathetic. In this Amendment we are dealing with the higher level of grants that are available in development areas. The whole of Scotland is a development area, except Edinburgh, which is the main tourist centre in Scotland. Yet from the

there will not be such a need to have an interpretation by the courts. I cannot at this stage see any point at which this would be necessary; but if it is, that is the normal way in which these matters are settled in this country. Cannot we leave it like that, instead of plunging into something which might work extraordinarily badly? Minister as I am, I can say this: I think that if these cases go to Ministers regularly, some horrible mistakes are going to be made.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 17) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 29; Not-Contents, 35.

Auckland, L. Craigmyle, L. Gray. L
Beauchamp, E. Cranbrook, E. Inglewood. L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Crowther, L. Lothian. M.
Belstead, L. Denham. L. [Teller.] Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]
Bessborough, E. Drumalbyn. L.
Boston, L. Erroll of Hale, L. Nunburnholme, L.
Burton, L. Falkland, V. Rankeillour, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Falmouth, V. St. Oswald, L.
Conesford, L. Geddes, L. Sandys, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Gisborough, L. Vivian, L.
Addison. V. Gaitskell, Bs. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Archibald, L. Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor.) Segal, L.
Arwyn, L Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Serota, Bs.
Beswick, L. Hughes, L. Shackleton, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Birk, Bs. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Shepherd, L.
Bowles, L. Maclor, L. Sorensen, L.
Breckway, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Stonham. L.
Brown, L. Mitchison, L. Stow Hill, L.
Champion, L. Peddie, L. Strabolgi. L.
Collison, L. Phillips, Bs. [Teller.] Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Flummer. Bs. Wilson of Langside, L.
Energlyn, L. Raglan, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

point of view of grant Edinburgh is to be treated differently from every other city, town and hamlet in Scotland. Under Clause 11 … the grant payable under Section 7 or 8 of this Act in respect of any expenditure shall be of an amount equal to—

  1. (a) twenty per cent. of that expenditure; or
  2. (b) £1.000 for each letting bedroom.. whichever is the less;".

But in a development area, it is to be 25 per cent. or £1, 250 per letting bedroom, whichever is the less. Surely it is absurd to encourage hotels to be built just outside the Edinburgh city boundaries when they ought to be in the centre of the city. I feel that the Government must not be hidebound about this.

There is not the slightest reason why Edinburgh should be excluded from the higher rate of grant for the purpose of encouraging the building of hotels merely because it is excluded from the benefits of the Local Employment Acts. This is not a Bill to provide employment for persons living in an area; it is a Bill to provide accommodation for people coming from outside the area. Edinburgh is the nerve centre of Scotland for the tourist industry, and Edinburgh badly needs as much additional hotel accommodation as is likely to be encouraged by the higher rate of grant.

I hope that the noble Lord has had time to reflect on this, and will agree that for the purpose of this Bill the Scottish development area will include Edinburgh. I believe that this is absolutely right in these circumstances, because Edinburgh has been losing employment from the closing down of industries, apart from certain very specialised industries. But that is not the real point. The point of this Bill is to provide accommodation for tourists coming to Edinburgh, which is a totally different matter. Edinburgh, as I have said, is the centre of tourism in Scotland, and it is absurd that one small area in the whole of Scotland should be excluded from the higher benefits under the Bill. I beg to move.


I hope the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, will not mind my saying that I did not do justice to the arguments on this Amendment at the Committee stage. Let me recite one or two points. First of all, there has been a rapid development in the position of Edinburgh as a major tourist centre in the last few years. I will not bore your Lordships with the figures, but the number of tourists has gone up substantially. This development will be boosted still further by the holding of the Commonwealth Games in the city in 1970, to the cost of which the Government are contributing £750, 000. There is undoubtedly a process going on to some extent in Edinburgh whereby industry is being attracted to the areas adjacent to the city, because just outside Edinburgh the development area exists. The reason why industries are being attracted is that if they move to points not far outside the centre of the city they get twice the in- vestment grant; they get regional employment premium and they get relief from selective employment tax. These an: substantial effects. And there is no reason why industries should not move outside, because a factory does not necessarily need to be in one particular position to produce goods.

Now let us take the case of the hotel, which is rather different. I did not draw sufficient attention to it before. If a hotel moves into the development area, it will not get release from S.E.T.; it will not get twice the investment grant; it will not get regional employment premium. The only advantage it would get in financial terms for moving into the development area surrounding Edinburgh would be a grant of 25 per cent. instead of 20 per cent. Is it imaginable that a hotelier, who naturally wants to have his premises situated as near the centre of this city as possible, would move six, seven, eight miles outside in order to get 5 per cent. more grant? I do not think there is any possibility of his doing so. He would lose far more than that in the lower rates he could charge for tourists staying at his hotel. I do not think the financial incentive arguments work in this case. It would be a serious matter for the Government to begin nibbling the edges of quite different legislation for the purpose of this Bill. On this ground, I hope that the noble Lord will think twice about this Amendment.


I have thought about this Amendment for a very long time, and I have always come to the same conclusion. I do not think it can be said that we are in any way nibbling at the edges of the Local Employment Acts. All one is doing is to introduce a higher rate of grant for the development areas. I am not sure that there is any justification for that at all in the context of the tourist industry. What I am arguing is that if this is going to be done for the whole of Scotland, it should be done also for Edinburgh. It seems absolutely absurd to have a differential of this kind. Obviously, the Government are not going to give way on this, and: i we press the Amendment now it will merely be reversed in another place, so I do not propose to press this. I have expressed my point of view, and I shall leave it at that. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clauses 12 to 16 agreed.

10.48 p.m.

Lord BROWN moved Amendment No. 20: After Clause 16 insert the following clause:

Registration of tourist accommodation

"—(1) Her Majesty may by Order in Council make provision for the registration by the Tourist Boards of, or of any class of, hotels and other establishments in Great Britain at which sleeping accommodation is provided by way of trade or business.

(2) An Order under this section may in particular make provision—

  1. (a) as to the form and contents of the register or registers to be maintained under the Order and as to the establishments to be registered therein;
  2. (b) for requiring the person carrying on an establishment which is required to be registered to furnish, at such time or times as may be specified in the Order, to the body responsible for registering it such information as may be so specified;
  3. (c) for the charging of annual or other periodical fees for registration;
  4. (d) for the issue and display of certificates of registration and the display of signs indicating that an establishment is registered;
  5. (e) for the inspection of establishments and for powers of entry for that purpose;
  6. (f) for exemptions from any of the requirements of the Order;
  7. (g) for securing compliance with any requirement of the Order by the imposition of a penalty not exceeding a fine of £200.

(3) If provision is made by an Order under this section for the classification or grading of the establishments entered in a register, the Order shall also make provision—

  1. (a) for requiring the criteria in accordance with which the classification or grading is carried out, so far as not prescribed by the Order, to be determined from time to time by the British Tourist Authority after consultation with the English Tourist Board, the Scottish Tourist Board, the Wales Tourist Board and such other organisations as appear to the Authority to be representative of trade and consumer interests likely to be affected;
  2. (b) for the publication of any criteria so determined;
  3. (c) for enabling the person carrying on an establishment registered with any Tourist Board to make representations to the Board before any classification or grade is 932 accorded to the establishment and before its classification or grade is altered or cancelled.

(4) An Order under this section may contain such supplementary and incidental provisions as appear to Her Majesty to be necessary or expedient, and may authorise the Board of Trade, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Wales to make regulations as respects England. Scotland and Wales respectively for such purposes of the Order as may be specified therein: and the Statutory Instruments Act 1946 shall apply in relation to any such regulations as if they were made under powers conferred by an Act of Parliament.

(5) An Order under this section and any regulations made thereunder may make different provision for different cases and, in particular, provision may be made for an Order to come into force at different times in relation to, or to different parts of England. Scotland and Wales respectively.

(6) Any Order under this section shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament and may be revoked or varied by a subsequent Order under this section.

(7) A Tourist Board maintaining a register by virtue of an Order under this section shall have power to publish, or make available for publication, any information furnished to it by virtue of the Order and any information as to any classification or grade accorded under the Order to any establishment; and such information may be published or made available for publication cither gratuitously or for consideration."

The noble Lord said: There is, without question, a deep cleavage of opinion on the two sides of the Committee on this additional clause. It was Clause 17 in the Bill as originally drafted. I do not propose to cite all the reasons why the Government wish to see in this Bill legislation which will enable, if a decision is made after due consideration and consultation, orders to be made calling for compulsory registration of tourist accommodation. It would take a considerable amount of time at this late hour to explain all the reasons. Certainly, members of the Committee know that the Government think that enabling legislation to this effect is necessary because in the long run it would be of great assistance to the whole tourist industry. I know very well that members of the opposite Bench think differently about it. They succeeded in removing the original Clause 17 from the Bill on Committee stage. If my opposite numbers on the Conservative Bench stick to their original opinion, I would propose that without further ado we should divide on this matter and settle it, without spending any more time reiterating the very long arguments which we shall have on this matter if we proceed to argue it.


The noble Lord, Lord Brown, introduces a new and interesting principle to your Lordships' House; namely, that because we have had a chat on it in a Committee of your Lordships' House, there is no need to debate it in full on the Floor of the House. It is very important, as we have had only one previous Committee of this type in your Lordships' House—that on the Gaming Bill—that we should be careful to watch the precedents which, whether wittingly or unwittingly, we may establish. I think it is very wrong, if I may suggest it, for the noble Lord to say that there is really no point in having discussion on the Floor of the House on this very important matter because it has been debated in the Committee—where a very small number of noble Lords were able to be present, although I realise that those who were not Members of the Committee could have sat and could have spoken.

It is quite a different matter to debate this question in your Lordships' House, where of course the discussion is recorded in Hansard, which is far more widely read than the Committee Hansard, which is read by only a few people, if they are able to get hold of copies. I have had great difficulty in getting my own copies because Her Majesty's Post Office is not the establishment it used to be—but that is by the way. I think it is most important at this stage, this being only the second Bill to be considered in a Committee room (and a very hot, stuffy Moses Room it was, too, all last week), that there should be no truncating of debate in your Lordships' House on an important matter of this kind. So I do not propose to follow the noble Lord's invitation to be brief and say that all this has been debated before. Of course it has. And it is quite right that it should be debated again, because we are now on the Floor of your Lordships' House where these important matters should be debated.

It is a matter of great importance because we carried a vote against the Government, although we did not have the in-built Tory majority which has always been thrown at us in every debate. Here was an impartial Committee, drawn from all parts of your Lordships' House, and on the merits of the argument the vote went against the Government of the day. So I make no apology for detaining your Lordships for a few minutes at this late hour to-night—even though I, like most noble Lords, would much rather be somewhere else—in reiterating the arguments which caused us to defeat the Government on this particular Amendment.

I will now proceed to do so, without, I hope, being too long. First of all, there are a number of very good systems of hotel registration in this country undertaken voluntarily. The Automobile Association runs a very good hotels register; the Royal Automobile Club does the same. A number of bodies run very good registers of restaurants, such as the Good Food Guide, the Egon Ronay Guide. A number of local authorities are compiling registers; in particular, the local authorities in Cornwall are compiling a register of hotel accommodation on a voluntary basis, for those wishing to go to Cornwall. There is another very good one up in the Lake District, and there are others. But the Government, in this particular clause which they wish to replace into the Bill, want to have a statutory register of all hotels in the country, for purposes which they have never indicated very clearly. They will not allow anybody to stay out of the register. It is to be a compulsory register.

We know from our observations and experience that many a good little restaurant has been ruined by being written up, and there may be a number of hotels who say, "Thank you very much; we do not want to be on the register. We are running our little show and it is going very well. We don't want to be on the great big list and find we have coach-loads of people coming to us because we are registered. We want just to run our own little business in our own little way." We are told that we in this country must have a register because other European countries do the same. But in actual fact only four Western European countries bother to have a register; and nobody ever uses the registers, as we full well know. In the case of Italy, the register weighs 5½ lb. and is 8½ in. long by 8¼ in. wide; it is the sort of document no tourist travelling by air would think of putting in his brief case, even if he could carry it without having to pay excess baggage.

Advanced countries which do not have this absurd compulsory registration system include the United States of America—who are not a bad lot, really. They have not yet compiled a registration system for the moon, and I am quite sure they will not do—though if the noble Lord, Lord Brown, were there he would probably want it. Canada does not have it; Finland does not have it; Sweden does not have it; Holland does not have it. And Switzerland, probably one of the most advanced countries from the tourist point of view, which knows a lot about hotel management, does not have this system of compulsory registration. So there is no case in saying that other countries do it, therefore we must do it, too. None whatsoever.

Then we are told by the Minister that this is merely enabling legislation; that they are not actually going to do it. But, of course, when the next stage comes, that of the Order in Council, it will be subject to the Negative Resolution procedure, so that we shall never have a chance to debate it unless we raise a row about it: we shall be told that Parliament has already approved the concept. Enabling legislation to my mind, particularly when it is of a compulsory nature, is just as dangerous as actual legislation without the waiting period of an Order in Council.

So what we are doing tonight is to discuss whether every little hotelier in this country should be dragooned into being registered, compelled to pay a levy—of course euphemistically described in the Socialist Bill as a "fee". It is not a fee; it is a levy, and the Government might at least have the honesty to call it what it is. Then, finally, if some poor little chap says "To hell with this system!", he will be fined £200 for failing to comply. Why? Why must he be compulsorily registered and graded—that is the word used in the Bill: "graded". It is not merely a list of numbers of bedrooms, numbers of lavatories, price per room. The proposed register is going to include a grading system. Grading means "listing according to merit". It involves a qualitative assessment by a Tourist Board, which if this present Government survive will of course include Aubrey Jones, the proper quota of trade unionists and all the other people who go on this sort of bandwagon, who will agree, according to their concept of luxury or non-luxury, where an hotel should stand in the list, whether the hotel wants it or not.

I repeat: Why? Because the noble Lord, Lord Brown, tells us that other countries do it. Because Italy does it; because Austria does it; because Spain does it. What is so fascinating is that although this Labour Government dislike Spain so much they should quote Spain as an example of what we ought to do. Portugal does it—and they dislike Portugal almost as much as they dislike Spain. But when it comes to a compulsory comprehensive hotel register, because the present Government want it then everything these countries do is inevitably right.

But what is the point of this compulsory register? A dream; an unnecessary dream; a wasteful, expensive, bureaucratic exercise. If there are going to be qualitative assessments, as I think there ought to be in a field of this sort (and it is rather fun that there should be), let the A.A. book say that one hotel is 4-star, and the R.A.C. that it is only 3-star. This is all part of the fun, to have a bit of differentiation. The Oxford English Dictionary gives one definition of a word: Webster's Dictionary gives a slightly different definition. We do not want one single, central, compulsory compilation run by a Tourist Board. What is the point of it all?

We are told that the Government do not know how many hotels there are in the country. Why the hell should they know?—I beg the pardon of noble Lords for using that particular phrase, but I was feeling rather strongly about it, because I have met this point in other fields: this sort of compulsive desire to have a complete register, whether it be of machines for decimal conversion or of hotels or other things, and I submit to your Lordships that there is no need for a compulsory registration. By all means let those who are willing to be registered, who are willing to be regimented, who are willing to be graded, agree to it and pay the fee, or the levy. But it is the compulsory element to which we on this side of the Committee take the gravest exception.

11.0 p.m.


I was absolutely delighted with the performance we have just witnessed. The power, both in Second Reading and in this Committee, to whip up excitement over what one would have thought to be rather a humdrum affair, has never been surpassed in my experience. The noble Lord actually had me sobbing into my handkerchief at the end of his very moving speech about a man born to succeed being frustrated by the Society for the Preservation of Rural England and the Traffic Commissioners from putting up hotels. We have had a tremendously impressive demonstration of how you can make politics about what is really the Post Office Directory. We think you should not be able to have a telephone without being in the Post Office Directory. It is not a matter we feel very strongly about. I think the emotional case has been very enjoyable, but somewhat overdone.

There are three items in this Bill: the first is the setting up of an Authority, done frequently by the Tory Party and often done very well. The second is the giving of grants. As a farmer I am certainly not against that; I am surprised if there is any doubt about it. And the third is having a factual list of what is available. How one can make an ideological case against that I do not know. I have heard it done and I think it is marvellous, but it is absolutely extraordinary because there is No ideology in the matter at all.

I am in favour of a factual list—which is what we are talking about—for three reasons. The first is that the customer thereby can find out the facts. The second is that such people as the Good Food Guide and Egon Ronay, who do this admirable grading—we have never suggested that the Government should do it and I think it is absolutely wrong the Government should do it—will be able to do their work much more cheaply, and those who list general things, like the A.A. and others, will have to spend much less money. The Bill is an enabling Bill. If the Tourist Boards think it is too expensive to produce a register of this kind they will say so and will not be bound to do it. If, as we think, it can be done for something in the neighbourhood of £200, 000, they will probably say it should be done. I think that if grading were excluded it could be done inexpensively, and it would be a great help to the customer from abroad who wants to know what hotels there are, and also to people at home. I sometimes want to go to hotels and I never know where to stay because the facts are not clearly stated. I do not wish to cool off the atmosphere. I think we should try to continue to make this political, and I have done the best I could.


May I point out that the Amendment the Minister is proposing to introduce specifically says that the establishments shall be graded.


But it is enabling.


The noble Lord Lord Erroll of Hale, gave a truly histrionic performance, but I was not convinced by it. He objected to my trying to shorten the debate, and if he wants a debate we must have it; it is the right of the Committee to demand it. The proposals in this clause stem from the hard fact that the information about hotels in this country is inadequate. Our accommodation guides offer foreign travel agents and independent visitors a selection of some 8, 000 hotels if they look at enough guides, but there may be between 12, 000 and 17, 000 hotels with 10 bedrooms or more, and probably over 30, 000 if one takes account of the smaller hotels and guest houses. These are lost so far as the records are concerned; we do not know where they are or what they are. It is not surprising that people talk about shortages of accommodation and difficulty in making bookings. It is net surprising that even at the height of the tourist season there are hotels and guest houses operating at less than full capacity. It is because the visitor does not know where to find the capacity. And this is one of the benefits of having a register, to know of the existence of hotels of particular categories.

It may be said that we have managed so far. Perhaps we have, in catering for about 5 million visitors last year. But France and Italy each get some 12 million and Spain 17 million; so we are not at the top of the league by any means. During our discussions in Committee a great deal of emphasis was laid on the need to improve standards of hotels. Indeed, as members of the Committee will remember, an Amendment was proposed designed to withhold grant from hotels which did not meet certain standards. Comprehensive registration of all hotels offers a less harsh method of achieving improved standards. If details of facilities are published, hotels with poor facilities will have a motive for carrying out improvements.

Let me say a word about the question about grading raised by the noble Lord. I gave a quite clear exposition in Committee to the effect that the Government do not have in mind grading on the basis of subjective factors. Grading, to them, is a process of ordering the categories of hotels in the light of the existence of concrete things that distinguish them—so many bathrooms, so many bedrooms, and so on; but not on much subjective reaction to the taste of their food or the soundness of their wine, et cetera. The Government view this as being a very "dicey" thing to do, and I should be totally against it.

I know, too, that some interests who themselves publish selective guides are concerned about how a national system of registration would affect them. I believe their fears are unjustified. Selective guides, such as the Michelin Guide, flourish in countries with comprehensive national systems, such as France. This country, too, will always need selective guides. But this House should know that there is a range of independent opinion which strongly supports this clause. Let me recite some of them. The existing Scottish and Wales Tourist Boards support compulsory registration. The British Motels Federation recommend the proposals. The British Federation of Hotels and Guesthouses Association recommend registration. The South-West Economical Planning Council recommend the proposals, and so did the Board of Trade Hotel Loans Advisory Committee. Very important indeed, the Consumer Council not only encouraged us to go ahead with these proposals at the time, but have recently reaffirmed their support for Clause 17 of this Bill. The voice of the consumer is most im- portant, and we ought to take account of it and to have a proper registration so that people can get accommodation of a much wider choice than they would have today. I personally would strongly commend this Amendment to the Committee for the reasons which I have given.


Surely the noble Lord is not right in saying that the Consumer Council want registration just by itself. Registration by itself cannot help the consumer at all; it is only if you have classification and grading, the whole thing. We have been told that registration may go ahead by itself, or there may be classification and grading as well later, but that the main thing is to get the registration done. We have been told that even that is not essential if the same effect can be achieved voluntarily. But it is perfectly plain to us all that if this clause goes through there will be registration. It is the easiest thing in the world for the Board to do as soon as they come in. This is a permissive power, and it will take place. They will immediately want to know how many hotels they have to deal with, so that they can make their projects for the future.

The difficulty about registration—and I think the noble Lord must sympathise in regard to this—is that as soon as you get this sort of registration and classification and the information that is required for the classification, then immediately you get people thinking, as the Scottish Board was thinking, of taxing the number of beds. That is what worries people. That is what happens It is a new way of raising taxes. It happens every time. This is what is feared, and the noble Lord must have sympathy with that fear. If we were to be given an assurance that this registration would be purely for information, purely for the preparation and assistance of hotels, purely for the benefit of the increasing tourism, we should be quite happy. But if we are going to have levies on beds or something of that kind in order to raise finance, or if some sort of tax system were to arise, something out of the blue like S.E.T., something wildly extravagant and improbable like that, we do not want registration. That is what it amounts to. We would rather not have it. Every time there is registration there is trouble. Look at the teachers in Scotland just now, for example. Registration means trouble. That is the fact of the matter.

Before the noble Lord says anything more I must say this. We all know why the Government are moving this clause back into the Bill at this time, and it is that they cannot be bothered to make the Amendments that would be necessary if it were kept out. Otherwise it could have gone as the opinion of the Committee to the Commons, instead of coming up at this impossible hour of the night when we do not get a representative vote. That is the point. I am bound to say that we do not like the handling of the Bill and we do not like this clause. However, it would be absurd for us to take this matter to a Division at this stage, and, in the circumstances, we simply have to agree to the Government putting it back.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 17 [Notification of prices of accommodation]:


Before I call Amendment No. 21, 1 thing I should point out that if this Amendment is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 22.

11.12 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 21:

Page 15, line 4, leave out subsection (2) and insert— ("(2) An Order under this section may in particular make provision

  1. (a) for the inspection of establishments and for powers of entry for that purpose;
  2. (b) for exemptions from any of the requirements of the Order;
  3. (c) for securing compliance with any requirement of the Order by the imposition of a penalty not exceeding a fine of £200")
(3) An Order under this section may contain such supplementary or incidental provisions as appear to Her Majesty, to be necessary or expedient, and may authorise the Board of Trade, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Wales to make regulations as respects England, Scotland or Wales respectively for such purposes of the Order as may be specified therein. (4) An Order under this section and any regulations made thereunder may make different provision in different cases, and in particular provision may be made for an Order to apply to the whole or any part of Great Britain or to come into force at different times in relation to, or to different parts of, England, Scotland and Wales respectively. (5) No Order shall be made under this section unless
  1. (a) a draft of it has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House;
  2. (b) The relevant Ministers are satisfied that the purposes of the Order cannot effectively be secured voluntarily.")

The noble Lord said: I had to draft this Amendment immediately after the Committee stage on Friday afternoon to get it down at all. At that time I did not know that the Government were proposing to move back the old Clause 17, and it was an attempt to do what we had some reason to fear the Government might not be prepared to do—to make sense of Clause 18. I do not want to pursue that aspect, but I should like to draw attention to two points which are included here and which were not in the old Clause 18—Clause 17 as it now is.

The new subsection (4) in my Amendment gives power for an Order, and any regulations made thereunder, to make different provision in different cases. In particular, provision may be made far an Order to apply to the whole or to any part of Great Britain. This may be covered (I do not know) by the phrase "different provision in different cases", but it is not what one would have in mind by the use of that phrase. It is too important an aspect, we feel, to be covered by that phrase. If this is what is intended, we think it should be stated specifically.

Then, instead of saying that any Order made under this clause shal1 be subject to the Negative Resolution procedure, we propose that it shall be subject to the Affirmative Resolution procedure. The second point (in my subsection (5) (b)) is one that was raised in Committee: that this particular clause, "Notification of prices of accommodation" should be brought into effect only if the relevant Ministers are satisfied that the purposes of the Order cannot effectively be secured voluntarily. As I say, we had some discussion about this in Committee, and I do not propose to go over this again; but I should like to know what the noble Lord's reactions are to this. He has put us in an impossible position by moving back the old Clause 17 again so far as the Amendments we would like to see to Clause 18, because we already had them down and it was too late to change them. He has put us in an impossible position, which is one of the reasons we do not like the noble Lord's putting back Clause 17. At any rate, perhaps he would comment on the special points we have raised.


I am sorry if we put the noble Lord and his friends in an impossible position: I can assure him that that was not the intention. On the first point, I assure the noble Lord that the Bill, as it stands, without this Amendment, meets the point he has raised about being able to differentiate between various parts of the country. I have gone into this matter very carefully and there is no question about that.

On the question of the Affirmative rather than the Negative Resolution procedure for an Order, the Government believe that the Negative Resolution procedure is appropriate on matters of this kind, because there may be a series of test Orders relating to private schemes in various parts of the country. We are very tentative about the registration scheme, although noble Lords opposite are apparently quite convinced that we are going ahead immediately on a wide scale. I assure them that what they believe is not the case. There might be a series of Orders gradually testing this out.


I think we are on a different point. The noble Lord is speaking as if we were now talking about the clause which he has just moved back. We are, in fact, talking about the notification of prices of accommodation.


I am sorry; that is quite right. Nevertheless, precisely the same point applies here: that there might be tentative Orders and it would be very embarrassing to deal with each of them, as we build up our experience, by the Affirmative Resolution procedure.

On the last point, I submit that it is unnecessary to ask the Government to assure Parliament that voluntary procedures will not work, because no Government would go to the trouble of making an Order in Council imposing a statutory duty to display prices if it were not necessary to do so. It is implicit in any Order imposing a statutory obligation that the purpose cannot be achieved except in that way, and the clause was intended to meet requests from all shades of opinion that hotels should be required to show their prices as a measure of consumer protection. If a hotel could opt out of the requirement to display its charges, it is implicit that the option would be exercised by the very sort of establishment against which the consumer needed protection. I have dealt rather cursorily with the points raised by the noble Lord, but I hope he is satisfied. At least he knows now what is the Government's attitude on this point.


I am grateful to the noble Lord, and I think he has met the points I had in mind. It was obviously tempting to me, when I had to put down this Amendment to make sense of Clause 18, to spell them out. But I do not propose to press this, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 17 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Schedules 1 and 2 agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Fixed equipment eligible for grant under section 9 of this Act]:

11.18 p.m.

Lord DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 23: Page 21, line 25, leave out ("and lavatory equipment") and insert (", lavatory equipment and extensions to sewerage necessitated thereby.")

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is on a point which my noble friend Lord Inglewood raised during the Committee stage, and the reply of the noble Lord, Lord Brown, was that this matter in the case of a new hotel would be covered under Clause 7. But I am not sure whether the question of equipment would be covered under Clause 9. These items should be covered in the sense that they are equipment, and I hope the noble Lord will be able to assure us that that is so. I beg to move.


Sewerage would not be covered under Clause 9, but it would be covered under the clause concerned with adding to the number of bedrooms in a hotel, if in the course of such an extension bathrooms were added which required additional sewerage. So hotels which need to add sewerage because of an extension in the number of bedrooms will get the grant, but hotels which simply want to add pieces of fixed equipment will not find themselves getting grant on sewerage, because they are not included in the list. I admit that this is somewhat arbitrary, but a limit as to what one allows by way of equipment has to be drawn somewhere, and sewerage being a difficult thing to define it has not been included. But hotels can get it when they extend their number of bedrooms by five or more.


The trouble is that sewerage is a very expensive item, and there is this upper limit on the expenditure per bedroom—the expenditure per bedroom or the 20 per cent., whichever is the less. But, subject to that, can the noble Lord assure us that it would be covered within the overall expenditure?



Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Schedule 4 agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with Amendments.

Then, Standing Order No. 41 having been suspended (pursuant to the Resolution of July 14):

11.22 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Report be now received.

Moved, That the Report be now received.—(Lord Beswick.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


My Lords, before we pass the Report stage, I should say that there was one Amendment, Amendment No. 22, which I now submit as a manuscript Amendment and which should have been moved on Committee stage. Despite the severely troubled look passing over the face of the noble Lord, Lord Erroll of Hale, I understand it is in order to move this Amendment on Report stage; therefore, on behalf of my noble friend, who would be glad to answer any questions concerning it, I beg to move this manuscript Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 15, line 5, leave out ("16A") and insert ("Registration of tourist accommodation").—(Lord Beswick.)


My Lords, is the noble Lord going to give us an explanation?


My Lords, this is now a purely manuscript Amendment, concerned with the wording of the Bill rather than any matter of substance. By Amendment No. 21, Lord Drumalbyn was proposing to revise the present subsection (2) to Clause 17. If he had been successful, the Government Amendment would have fallen. I had reasoned out that if we succeeded in getting "16A" into the Bill this would not be necessary. Having failed to move it, I then got a note from the Box saying that I ought to have moved it. I have not had time to reason out just why it ought to be moved. However, it is verbal in its effects. My note is quite useless to me. I ask noble Lords to accept that this is a necessary Amendment merely to put the Clause into good effect.


My Lords, we are very willing to accept the noble Lord's assurances.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Brown.)


My Lords, before we actually part with this Bill I should like to express on behalf of noble Lords on this side of the House our gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Brown. He has tried extremely hard—we are conscious of this—to explain different Parts of the Bill to us that we have wanted to question. In spite of some differences between us from time to time he has maintained his geniality and has been very helpful throughout. I felt that I should like to say that because, while we much regret that he found it necessary to move back this clause which caused so much confusion in a later stage, we feel that he has done his best to assist us in very difficult circumstances.

I do not think it would be right to pass this Bill without mentioning how difficult the circumstances have been. I think it was unfortunate that we had to have our second experiment with a Public Bill Committee in these very difficult circumstances. We have been under very severe pressure the whole time. We sat for five days up to Friday. Now, on Tuesday, we are carrying through the whole of the rest of the stages. We are, after all, supposed to be a revising Chamber, among other things. We cannot do our task properly under that kind of pressure. I hope that our efforts are appreciated on all sides. We have really done our best to facilitate getting this Bill through. I hope it is appreciated, but I cannot help feeling that we might have done a better job if we had had more time.


My Lords, I always enjoy conducting a Bill through the House when the noble Lord is sitting opposite. I am grateful to him for his kind remarks.

On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Amendments, and passed, and returned to the Commons.