asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will give urgent consideration to the establishment of a Government inquiry into the travel industry, with particular reference to its economic and operational structure, bonding and consumer protection.
I share my hon. Friend's concern that there should be adequate protection of travellers and others in the tourist industry. Action is already in hand by the Association of British Travel Agents to provide new codes of conduct for tour operators and retail agents. In these circumstances I should prefer to await the outcome before considering the case for a major inquiry.
I remind my hon. Friend that the travel industry is highly vulnerable and that the closures and anxieties of 1973 left considerable scars. I hope that he will consider compiling the findings of all these reports and ultimately agree to an inquiry.
Is my hon. Friend aware that that is the type of answer we have had from the Front Bench by successive Governments and that his answer does not go nearly far enough? Does he realise that the time has now arrived for the Government to look for a solution of the problem with a view to introducing legislation?
There is a new factor. We now have the Fair Trading Act and the Director General of Fair Trading. He is in consultation with the trade about measures which may be needed to tighten up the precautions to protect the travelling public against the sort of things which have been going on for the past year or two. We should give these new arrangements a chance to work before considering further action.
When considering the action of the travel industry to try to encourage more people to have holidays at home, and particularly in the South-West, will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that one of the problems facing smaller hoteliers when trying to keep down their prices is the cost which they are having to bear over a short period in meeting the requirements of the fire regulations? Will he consider the possibility of extending the period over another two years?