Lib Dems back our bed tax campaign

01 June 2006
Lib Dems back our bed tax campaign

The Liberal Democrat party has become the latest high-profile backer of Caterer's Say No to Bed Tax campaign, agreeing to oppose the measure as official party policy.

Don Foster, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath and shadow minister for culture, media and sport, said: "A bed tax would be a disaster for tourism."

Caterer launched its campaign against the possible introduction of bed tax last month. It has the backing of the Tourism Alliance, Travelodge, the British Hospitality Association and Premier Travel Inn. A bed tax is being considered as a potential money-raising tool for councils as part of the Lyons inquiry into local government funding, and Caterer plans to deliver readers' signed petitions to the inquiry later this month.

A briefing paper on bed tax produced by the Liberal Democrats highlighted that visitor numbers plummeted 10% in the eight months following the imposition of a bed tax of *2 per person in the Balearic Islands in 2002.

At the same time, 31 MPs from across the political divide have backed an early day motion (EDM) launched last week by Tory MP Nigel Evans opposing the tax. The EDM called on the Government "to make an early announcement that this proposal will be rejected". "This tax is ridiculous and could harm millions of small businesses up and down the country," said Evans, who represents Ribble Valley, Lancashire.

With the EDM gathering strong support, a bed tax appears unpopular irrespective of party lines.

Dr Rudy Vis, Labour MP for Finchley and Golders Green, branded the tax "a ludicrous idea" that would create "an administrative nightmare to raise very small sums of money".

Richard Younger-Ross, Liberal Democrat MP for the Devon resort of Teignmouth, is backing the EDM. "I have seen the local hotel trade decimated over the years because people can go abroad cheaper," he said.

The EDM has also attracted support from two members of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, who fear Ulster would swiftly follow England and Wales in adopting a bed tax.

By Angela Frewin

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