2 Edward Timpson debates involving the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

Live Events and Weddings: Covid-19 Support

Edward Timpson Excerpts
Monday 9th November 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Westminster Hall
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts

Westminster Hall is an alternative Chamber for MPs to hold debates, named after the adjoining Westminster Hall.

Each debate is chaired by an MP from the Panel of Chairs, rather than the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. A Government Minister will give the final speech, and no votes may be called on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) (Con)
- Hansard - -

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Gray.

Dorfold Hall, Peckforton Castle, Combermere Abbey, Carden Park and Wrenbury Hall are just some of the stunning, romance-laden, fairytale wedding venues in Eddisbury, which are at the forefront of a thriving £10 billion-plus national industry that employs, as we have heard, over 400,000 people in around 120,000 viable and mainly family-run businesses across the country. I say “thriving”, but of course since March this sizeable chunk of our economy has been, to all intents and purposes, shut down.

It is important to recognise that the Chancellor’s significant financial support package has rescued many businesses from failure and kept other businesses, including in the wedding industry, on life support. However, since I spoke in the House in July and again in September in support of more targeted support for such businesses, I am afraid to say that the situation has only got worse. Indeed, the reduction on 22 September in the number of people allowed to attend a wedding to 15 saw 15,000 to 20,000 weddings cancelled and the loss of a further £450 million to £600 million in revenues.

If I look specifically at the Boutique Hotel Group, which is based in my constituency, I see that in 2020 to date it has had 432 weddings cancelled, and lost £7.8 million in sales and £3.7 million in net income. Dorfold Hall, which is near Nantwich, was only able to hold four weddings this summer, with the business closed for the greater part of the year. While the rest of the hospitality sector benefited from VAT relief and the eat out to help out scheme, wedding venues were in effect excluded.

As we have also heard today, that has also had serious consequences for nearly all the businesses that are in or around the supply chain for wedding venues. The managing director of the Boutique Hotel Group, Chris Naylor, told me that one of its suppliers—a florist—would usually turn over in excess of £200,000 from his venues alone, spread over 40 weddings a year, but it has provided flowers for only one wedding this year. The group’s recommended DJ and lighting company, which would normally turn over £350,000 from the group’s venues, has had no turnover since March. The photography company that the group uses, which would normally bring in around £1 million through 450-plus weddings at £2,000 per wedding, has not seen those sales coming in, and it employs photographers based across the north-west area. Significant hardship has been caused right across the wedding industry.

We have heard a lot about the road map, but it is time that we actually saw it realised, as something that builds from socially distanced numbers towards normal weddings, where situations and technologies allow. The wedding industry and many of the venues themselves are really well set up for that to happen. We can put them at the heart of the test and trace system, and we can also make sure that they have all the support they need financially, so that their cash flow can continue throughout what will continue to be a difficult time, because January and February 2021 are the most important months in which to sell 2022 weddings. That will also help with the cash-flow issues.

In the previous debate, we heard about a taskforce that has been set up to work towards spectators going to venues again as soon as possible to watch elite sport. We need a similar group for the wedding industry. I urge the Minister to do what he can to work with all those who have a keen and now urgent interest in making that become a reality, because there is hope. There is a lot of latent capacity within the wedding industry, a real chance to bounce back from what has been its worst ever year. There is an incentive for the Government as well, given the tax receipts that will flow as a consequence. I ask the Minister to continue to work closely with the wedding industry to ensure that we do not miss this chance to bring back a great part of our economy.

Regulatory Impact Assessments (Legislative Scrutiny)

Edward Timpson Excerpts
Wednesday 2nd September 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Paul Scully Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) for bringing this important issue to the House. Parliamentary debate and the exchange of views reflect the importance of parliamentary scrutiny.

When a policy decision is made, it is informed by an assessment of the potential impacts of a range of different policy options. The evidence and analysis informing these decisions will inform consultation and engagement with stakeholders, and for legislative proposals, it is usually presented to Parliament in a regulatory impact assessment alongside the legislation. In the UK, regulatory impact assessments present the outcomes of evidence-based processes and procedures that assess the economic, social and environmental effects of public policy on businesses and wider society. Their use has contributed to better policy making and reduced the cost to business, which is so important.

Our commitment to conducting such impact assessments remains strong. The analysis that goes into impact assessments ensures that Government consider the need for and likely impact of new regulations to support legislative change. They ensure that we consider how regulation will affect the operation of markets and best enable businesses to innovate, and, in line with the subject of this debate, they inform parliamentary decision making.

Where Government intervention requires a legislative or policy change to be made, Departments are expected to analyse and assess the impact of the change on the different groups affected. That is generally published in the form of a regulatory impact assessment. However, attempts to conduct regulatory impact assessments for public policy making, particularly in the current climate of the coronavirus pandemic, could be problematic. That is because responding to emergencies requires legislation to be introduced at a much greater pace than during normal times.

The Coronavirus Bill, introduced in March this year, provided powers needed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The powers enabled the Government to introduce temporary emergency legislation to respond to the pandemic. To allow the Government to deliver at the required pace, formal regulatory impact assessments are not required for better regulation purposes for the temporary measures put in place in response to the pandemic. Further flexibility in the approach to impact assessments is appropriate where permanent measures need to be enforced urgently.

My hon. Friend mentioned some specific examples where we have assessed the impact in a different way. He is right to talk about the importance of regulatory impact assessments. Some of the guidelines that he mentioned fall within my area. The specific residential landlord and tenant issue that he mentioned falls to my colleagues in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, but in terms of the commercial Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 changes, we found from listening and speaking to businesses over a period that some companies that were struggling to pay their rent were being wound up by some landlords, so we acted.

This is on the basis of detailed, long-standing conversation and engagement with businesses on both sides of the debate. In my short time as a Minister, I have had around 500 meetings with, I estimate, 3,000 to 4,000 businesses, so I think I have a reasonable handle on retail, hospitality, weddings and the beauticians who do eyebrows and beard trimming that my hon. Friend mentioned. It is a source of great regret that we are unable to allow wedding celebrations of more than 30 people to occur at the moment. I have seen at first hand and heard from people in the wedding sector, which is an enormous contributor to the UK economy, how badly they are suffering as a result.

Edward Timpson Portrait Edward Timpson (Eddisbury) (Con)
- Hansard - -

I know that my hon. Friend has been working hard with a range of different sectors, including the wedding industry. Will he reassure the House that work is ongoing to try to find a way for wedding venues to reopen more fully, beyond the current 30-person limit, so that they can see a future ahead of them?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am glad that my hon. Friend made that point. He has been working tirelessly with his local wedding venues in Eddisbury to try to get a road map. We continue to work and engage on that issue to make sure that the sector, which is a really important contributor to the UK economy, can reopen, and that people whose special day is being put off, and in some cases ruined, can come together.