Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle Upon Tyne North
UK MPs have voted to back the creation of a Minister of Hospitality, following a debate at Westminster Hall yesterday.
The topic was discussed after a petition which proposed the motion began circulating in October 2020 – it has now gathered over 207,000 signatures.
Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle Upon Tyne North, led the debate, stressing the need for the sector, which provides over 300 million jobs, to have a voice at the heart of government that has an in-depth knowledge of the industry.
McKinnell emphasised the mental health strain people in the industry are currently facing with the constant change in restrictions, where they are forced to go to work with no proper idea of how long they’ll be able to maintain their job.
Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East, suggested even the temporary creation of the Minister role to see out the pandemic and then see in due course if the role needs permanent involvement. However, a Minister of Hospitality is something the industry has wanted for some time, and is not just as a result of the pandemic.
Responding to the 90-minute debate, for the Government, Business Minister Paul Scully did not appear to support the motion, and argued that “the sector is represented across Government”.
Despite this, the motion had an overwhelming level of support. While this doesn’t result in any direct action as a consequence, it will hopefully put pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seriously consider the proposal.