Opinion

'We need to go beyond just a minister, we need a whole department'

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Little weight carried: 'the pandemic has shown that what happens in Parliament and the decisions taken by the Government are somewhat divorced'
Little weight carried: 'the pandemic has shown that what happens in Parliament and the decisions taken by the Government are somewhat divorced'

Related tags: Legislation, Parliament, House of commons, coronavirus, Hospitality

While I welcome the fact the issue of a minister for hospitality was debated in the House of Commons last night (Monday 11 January), the cynic in me wonders if it will have any impact whatsoever.

The pandemic has shown that what happens in Parliament and the decisions taken by the Government are somewhat divorced. Boris Johnson and his team seem to set the rules, regardless of the views of elected officials. 

In fact, at one point, he was making the rules without any oversight from Parliament, and while that was eventually stopped, it seems to have little impact on the reality of the situation as the Government blunders from fiasco to fiasco.

While it was heartening to see MPs vote en masse to back a motion to appoint a dedicated minister, the vote carries little weight beyond adding pressure to the Prime Minister to make the move, but as we’ve seen, when it comes to hospitality, pressure seems like water off a duck’s back to Johnson.

Alarmingly, the argument was made, by the Minister for Small Businesses, Consumers and Labour Markets, Paul Scully, that hospitality was already well represented across a range of areas in Government. 

Well, Mr Scully, I don’t recall seeing that representation resulting in any positive decisions for hospitality.

The fact of the matter is there is no foc,us on an industry that is far bigger than many others that do have direct representation.

And we need to go beyond just a minister, we need a whole department for hospitality to bring focus and support to an industry that employs millions and provides billions in tax.

The pub and bar sector has bent over backwards to support the Government’s ever-changing rules when it was allowed to trade - in sharp contrast to other industries.

Only now are we seeing announcements from the supermarket groups that they’re going to enforce mask wearing and limit numbers into their stores. 

Well done guys, it’s to be applauded. Of course you’re nine months late to the party, and pubs were doing that the moment they reopened, but there you go.

Johnson and his team need to wake up, recognise what our sector has achieved and provide the support it needs both in funding, but also through a dedicated hospitality department.

I won’t be holding my breath though.

Related topics: Legislation

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