Published 13 January 2021
by Harriet Prior
Last updated 14 January
Tom Kerridge, Angela Hartnett, Jason Atherton and many more leading industry figures threw their support behind a petition calling for a minister for hospitality. By the time the debate took place in Westminster Hall, the petition had been signed more than 200,000 times.
So, it was encouraging news that following a lively 90 minute debate yesterday, the MPs voted in support of the motion to create a Minister of Hospitality. Led by Labour MP Catherine McKinnell, both sides were united in expressing the difficulties currently facing the hospitality sector. Hospitality is currently represented (if you can call it that) jointly by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.
McKinnell opened the debate by urging the government to recognise the sector needs representation in government and “genuine recognition of its diversity.” She stated that a minister for hospitality “would be in the government’s interest to put in place.”
Similarly Labour MP Lucy Powell criticised the Government for its “scattergun approach” to its support for restaurants and bars, arguing that the variety and different forms of hospitality are not being understood. Powell also noted that both an economic plan and a clear route map to reopening were required.
Meanwhile Conservative MP Greg Clark focused on the financial necessity for a minister for hospitality, saying “if they manage to survive, they will thrive in the future” and “repay the sums that have been set aside these last few months.”
Representing the Government, Paul Scully was quick to note the support that hospitality have received, including furlough, grants and the Eat Out to Help Out initiative. However, he did acknowledge that the industry is at “the heart of the community” and needed to be supported.
There will be no action taken as an immediate consequence of the debate, but we hope that it will encourage Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take the proposal – and the hospitality industry – more seriously.
Following the debate, during the PM’s questions Catherine McKinnell asked Johnson to meet with petitioners in order to understand the challenges they face and why there is a need for a Hospitality Minster in government. “Given we spent two days in the summer debating whether a scoth egg is a substantial meal or not and dealing with the consequences of the 10pm curfew, would the prime minister meet with petitions… and get things for this industry through this crisis and beyond?”
Johnson replied “we are doing all we can to support them”, adding “the best thing for the sector is that we work together to beat the virus with disciplined action.” While he hasn’t agreed to meet with Seat At The Table, McKinnell said she will be following up and taking further action. We’ll keep you updated with all developments.