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Clause 1. — (Machinery and Plant.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Industrial Development Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th August 1966.

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Photo of Mr John Eden Mr John Eden , Bournemouth West 12:00 am, 11th August 1966

My hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Mr. Hall-Davis) made a powerful case and I suspect that the Government will find it very difficult to resist it. I wonder why the Government should wish to resist it in any event and why they are asking the House to reject the Amendment. I would have thought that they would welcome the opportunity provided by the other place to correct some of the errors of their policy in dealing with the hotel industry. They have been given a welcome opportunity to put right some of the wrongs which they have already done to the industry.

I gather that one aspect of the Government's argument is that it would be invidious to single out one service for special treatment. But the hotel industry has already been singled out for special treatment, unfortunately, for special adverse treatment. It has had imposed upon it the Selective Employment Tax and it has also had removed its assistance, the investment allowance procedure. The Government have already gone some way to recognise that it is an industry meriting special and singular treatment.

Watching over the industry with benign assiduity is the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State at the Board of Trade, who has under his wing the interests of the industry and the furthering of the tourist trade generally. Now the Government have singled out this industry in another way by the introduction of the new proposals for development loans for major capital expenditure on structural work or fixed equipment, when that will play a significant part in attracting overseas visitors. My hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale has most graphically pointed out how ineffective these proposals are likely to prove.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, when he replies, will give the House some further information as to how this scheme is to be operated, and in what way he thinks that this justifies the refusal of the Government to accept the Amendments which have been proposed by another place. How is it proposed that the hotels, which are to attract overseas visitors shall be earmarked before they are constructed or before the new equipment is installed? I should have thought that it was perfectly clear that unless we have new and modernised hotels throughout the country we are not likely to continue to attract visitors to the extent that we have been doing.

Secondly, I should have thought that there was some relevance in what might be called the negative side of the coin, namely, the desirability of providing adequately for the rising standard of demand of holiday-makers within the country. These are important points which should be dealt with by the Minister. I cannot understand how he will determine what capital expenditure will attract overseas tourists and why, although I accept the balance of payments point, apart from that, he should disregard the aspect of keeping in the country those who would otherwise go abroad.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman and the Board of Trade Ministers, of all Ministers, will not be too inflexible on these matters. They should not lend themselves to the diktat of the former First Secretary, who laid down a rigid law from which he appeared to be totally unprepared to depart. The right hon. Gentleman and the Board of Trade Ministers are dealing with the realities of our industrial and commercial life and they, above all, must be aware of the need for flexibility and of the need to adjust regulations where it is manifestly in the national interest so to do. This is clearly the case with the hotel and catering industry and I hope that the Government are prepared to reconsider their attitude on the Amendment.