First Minister urged to drop ‘ridiculous’ tourism tax plans by Simon Hart
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford should “drop his ridiculous plans for a tourism tax”, Simon Hart has said.
The Welsh Secretary made the remark during a session of questions to the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales, where MPs also heard claims from Labour that some Welsh language passport applications are being sent to Peterborough for processing “causing huge delays, stress and additional cost”.
The Welsh Government has said it plans to consult on a tourism tax later this year, which if implemented could see councils have a say over how much they could charge visitors in their areas.
The Welsh Government has also proposed to control the number of second homes and holiday lets, which would include a new licensing scheme for people who want to operate short-term holiday lets, such as on Airbnb.
Conservative MP Simon Baynes said tourism is of “crucial importance” to his constituency of Clwyd South.
He asked Mr Hart to join him in “condemning the Welsh Labour Government’s plans to introduce a tourism tax, which will do great damage to the tourism industry across the whole of Wales”.
The minister said: “I think I can do even better than my honourable friend requests me to do by simply quoting the words of the chief exec of UKHospitality Kate Nicholls when she says: ‘The tourism tax is ill-thought through and proposed without any impact assessment.’”
He read out more of the quote and later in the session urged Labour MP Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) to encourage Mr Drakeford “to drop his ridiculous plans for a tourism tax, to drop his ridiculous plans for various other means of punishing successful businesses in Wales”.
He added: “If he did that, actually, perhaps we could create some lasting jobs in Wales rather than simply listening to his political protestations.”
With pressure mounting on Boris Johnson to quit as Prime Minister amid a long and growing list of Government resignations, Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts said: “It isn’t business as usual is it? When will he (Mr Hart) be going?”
The Secretary of State said: “It is business as usual in the Wales Office.”
Labour MP Alison McGovern (Wirral South) told the chamber: “It is a bit farcical to be asking questions of ministers – we have no idea if they will be at the despatch box by the end of the day.”
Elsewhere in the session, Labour shadow Wales secretary Jo Stevens brought up the issue of Welsh language passport applications being “sent to Peterborough for processing”.
Mr Hart said he would look into the matter and added: “It’s the first I’ve heard of it to be honest.”
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