Hospitality Industry: Government Support

Jim Shannon Excerpts
Monday 11th January 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Catherine McKinnell Portrait Catherine McKinnell
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The right hon. Gentleman makes an important argument. More than 200,000 petitioners are calling for a Minister for hospitality, and I am sure they will be pleased that there are alternative suggestions if the Minister does not agree to that today.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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I mentioned wedding venues to the hon. Lady before the debate. Orange Tree House in Greyabbey in my constituency employs 60-odd people and generates turnover for the whole community with not just bed and breakfast but many other things. When we call upon the Minister to look after the hospitality sector, does the hon. Lady agree that it is important for all regions of the United Kingdom, including Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, to be part of that strategy so that we can work together and help one another?

Catherine McKinnell Portrait Catherine McKinnell
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I absolutely agree with and endorse what the hon. Gentleman has said, which adds weight to the argument for a voice at the heart of Government who can represent the interests of not only all aspects of hospitality, but all areas of the UK.

I want to put on record that my husband works in hospitality, so I live with its daily ups and downs, not to mention the huge challenges of covid-19. It is not just an interest or concern here in Parliament. The petition speaks to a concern that many hon. Members will have heard time and again from local businesses in their constituencies: that the Government lack a deep understanding of the nature of the hospitality industry and its diversity. The petitioners argue that that is why we need a Minister with responsibility for hospitality to be a voice for the sector at the heart of Government.

The hospitality industry is the third-largest UK employer. It is responsible for about 3 million jobs, generates £130 billion in activity and results in £38 billion of Government revenue through taxation. For levelling up, it is one of the few industries to reach every part of the country, and it will be crucial in our recovery from the present crisis. Unlike the arts or sport, however, it does not have a dedicated Minister.