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Industrial Strategy

Volume 649: debated on Tuesday 20 November 2018

7. What the timetable is for bringing forward a tourism sector deal under the industrial strategy. (907697)

Sector deals are part of our industrial strategy and vital in building strategic partnerships with the Government and mutual commitments to boost productivity in specific sectors. We have already concluded seven and we are working on more. Under the auspices of Steve Ridgway, whom I thank for his leadership, we have a lot of interest from the tourism sector in exploring a sector deal and we are doing so.

Could my hon. Friend elaborate on whether there will be a similar deal for the hospitality industry in the new year?

Before I saw the light and went into politics, I spent 25 years in the tourism and hospitality industry, and there is nothing I would like more than to conclude a sector deal with it. I have met with officials and industry leaders, have the full support of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and look forward to concluding a deal in the new year.

Tourists spend a lot of money in this country in tips, yet it is two years since the Government said they would act to stop rogue bosses swiping tips. I raised this at Business questions last week, and it was suggested that I come here, raise it with the Minister and ask when the Government will bring forward primary legislation to stop bosses swiping tips that should be going to hard-working staff.

I am delighted to confirm to the hon. Lady that we are definitely introducing legislation on this subject. We will do so as soon as we possibly can within the parliamentary timetable.

In his first answer, the Minister said that seven sector deals had been concluded. How many are still under negotiation and why are they taking so long?

Actually, I correct my right hon. Friend. I said that six sector deals had been concluded and more are in the pipeline. They are very complex. They involve a lot of industry money and many industrial partners who have never been involved in deals with the Government before. I would be delighted to meet him at any time to discuss how I am pushing these on as quickly as I can.

Is the Minister aware that tourism, just like the manufacturing sector, particularly in Yorkshire, is finding it very difficult to get skilled people, especially as more Europeans go back to their home countries in fear of Brexit? What is he going to do about attracting and retaining skilled workers in tourism and manufacturing?

I am very aware of the hon. Gentleman’s point. Only last week, I met with Hilton Hotels and Resorts, a big employer in this sector, while the Grove, in my own constituency, has raised exactly the same point. The industry has a high turnover of labour and, as he says, has depended for some time on labour from abroad. I hope that more UK people will enter the hotel and hospitality industry, but the fact is that in many areas there is almost full employment.