Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North Catherine McKinnell, alongside a number of other MPs, voiced her support of a motion after it was debated following more than 200,000 people signing a petition calling for a dedicated minister for the sector.
The parliamentary debate took place following the success of the #SeatAtTheTable campaign, which was backed by celebrity chefs such as James Martin and pub operator Tom Kerridge.
As part of the liaison committee last week (Wednesday 13 January), McKinnell asked Boris Johnson if he would meet with petitioners to discuss the possibility.
Community heart and soul
She said: “We have a petition in parliament at the moment and the hospitality industry, it’s a major employer in this country.
“Not to mention the heart and soul of many communities and they have suffered, more than most, from the Covid disruption.
“Given we spent two days debating in the summer, whether a Scotch egg is a substantial meal or not and dealing with the consequences of the ill-thought out 10pm curfew, would the Prime Minister agree to meet with petitioners who believe it’s time the Government had a dedicated minister for hospitality to fully understand the diverse nature of this sector and get things right for this industry through this crisis and beyond.”
However, Johnson did not directly answer McKinnell and instead, outlined the financial support the sector has been offered.
He said: “She’s right to identify the particular troubles of the hospitality sector. They have been through a very, very difficult time.
“We are doing everything we can to support them. The Chancellor, the business secretary and I, meet regularly with representatives of that sector.
“We have given them all the grants, the recent increase in grants that you know of, the recent £3,000 grants specifically for the hospitality sector, on top of the CBILS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme), the Bounce Back Loans, the furlough scheme and many, many other forms of support.
“But the best thing for the hospitality sector is really that we all work together to defeat the virus in the way I am absolutely certain we can with disciplined action and the vaccine roll out and get them back on their feet.
“That, I’m sure, is the best thing for them.”