The hospitality sector has welcomed the cross-party support it has received for the creation of a Minister of Hospitality role after a debate was held yesterday in parliament.
It was good news for the industry as MPs spoke out at the official debate held yesterday afternoon, voicing their concerns that the hospitality sector does not have adequate representation in government, despite all that it contributes to the economy and society.
The petition for a Minister of Hospitality was started in October and spurred on in November when Robin Hutson launched his seatatthetable campaign. When the petition went to debate yesterday, it had reached more than 200,000 signatures.
Prior to the debate, Catherine McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle North met virtually with Claire Bosi, creator of the campaign, Robin Hutson, chef Tom Kerridge and Angela Hartnett to discuss the challenges facing the sector.
She spoke at the debate, saying: “We’ve heard time and time again that the government lacks deep understanding of the nature of the hospitality industry and its diversity. This is why we need a Minister for Hospitality to be the voice for the sector at the heart of Government. The sector is one of the few industries to reach every part of the country.”
She stressed that hospitality was the third largest employer in the UK, responsible for 300 million jobs and £130bn in activity.
McKinnell said operators had been going ‘all out’ to adapt during these ‘strange times’, giving real examples of F&B businesses launching new ventures to bring in revenue.
She also mentioned how the ‘stop, start’ nature of the lockdowns was impacting the mental health of hospitality workers, and the stress of having to ‘turn on the charm’ for customers when they don’t know if they will be able to hold on to their jobs much longer.
Following the debate, Robin Hutson confirmed on Twitter that a question will now be raised in the House of Lords in February regarding progress.
“This was never going to be a quick fix, it’s just the start, we will plot next steps, but a question being asked in the Lords on 3rd Feb to HMG on progress so that’s the next date for your diary.”
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “It was incredibly positive to hear so many MPs being vocal advocates of the hospitality sector. There was unanimous recognition of our importance economically and socially. It was particularly pleasing to hear parts of the sector like nightclubs, wedding venues and conference centres being lauded – businesses that have not grabbed headlines in the way that other sectors have, but are no less important, as the debate recognised. There was also welcome recognition for our critical supply chain.
“It is striking that, in the end, the petition got more than 200,000 signatures. We all understand the importance of what we do and it is good to see the Government recognise the importance of working closely with the sector to ensure that we are properly supported, not just during this crisis but more generally.”
To view the debate, click HERE