§ Nick Harvey
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what measures her Department has taken to introduce a grading scheme for hotels and guesthouses; and what assessment she has made of them since their introduction. 
§ Dr. Howells
The harmonized National Quality Assurance Schemes (NQAS) for hotels and guesthouses were successfully launched in September 1999. The English Tourism Council has co-ordinated various forms of ongoing assessment at an operational level, including the reaction of both industry and consumers. The Government consider that more emphasis is also required on improving quality at the bottom end of the scale and will pilot a new fit for purpose initiative to address the problem of unsatisfactory hotels and guesthouses. Total membership has of the harmonized schemes has risen, with benefits in occupancy levels for members, but not as much as had been hoped. Therefore, a two-stage review of NQAS is being planned. The first stage will start very soon and consider harmonizing the schemes across Great Britain. The second will relate to England and look at matters such as the efficiency of inspections and the level of promotion.