Britons must do their bit to boost the economy by taking holidays in the UK and returning to pubs as soon as it is safe, MPs have urged.
The call was issued as Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden described last week’s Budget as a “booster shot” against economic ruin.
Speaking during day three of debate on the Budget, Conservative Steve Double thanked the Government for helping the hospitality sector during the pandemic.
Mr Double, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group for hospitality and tourism, said: “Does (Mr Dowden) agree with me that what we now need is, as soon as it is safe to do so, for the British people to do their bit, take holidays in the UK, to go back to our pubs and restaurants, to go back to our theatres and cinemas and get our economy rolling?”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, in reply to the MP for St Austell and Newquay, said: “I, of course, agree with (Mr Double) and I very much look forward to visiting Cornwall again myself.
“I spent many, many happy childhood summers on Crantock Beach and indeed have taken my own children there.”
Mr Dowden earlier reiterated the Government has extended the VAT cut, extended the period for business rates relief and is offering loans to help restart firms.
He told the Commons: “If last year’s package of support was the vaccine against economic ruin, this Budget is the booster shot.
“These measures allow us to put Covid in the rear-view mirror and start looking forward to a brighter future.”
Shadow culture minister Alison McGovern (Wirral South) accused the culture secretary of “an obsession with that which we have inherited rather than the opportunities demonstrably that there is in the next generation”.
She said: “We know that from this Budget the Government has fallen well short of creating an environment for growth for creative and cultural businesses which altogether contributed £225 billion to the UK in 2018, accounting for 12% of the economy.
“The Culture Recovery Fund that he trumpets saves buildings but it does not do enough to save jobs and support the growth that’s needed in the creative industries right across the whole country. The secretary of state gave the game away when he said it himself, it is there to protect the crown jewels.”
Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Budget announced by Rishi Sunak was “shameful”.
Labour’s Mr McDonnell told the Commons: “The Conservative manifesto, like the Labour manifesto in 2019, pledged no rises in income tax, VAT or national insurance for basic rate income payers.
“This Budget breaks the pledge that over 550 members of this House were elected upon.
“Many low-paid workers are in rent arrears, household debt or have taken mortgage holidays accruing more debt interest. We should not be legislating to cut their take home pay.”
Conservative Sir Robert Syms (Poole) expressed concern about the impact of possible inflation.
Sir Robert told MPs: “I think, once restrictions are lifted and the vaccine degree of confidence goes through our country … I think things will go very rapidly indeed.
“I think if there is a problem it is that there is so much money flowing through the system that we may have that chasing too few goods and we may start to have inflation. I don’t think inflation has been banished and I do think it is something that we have to keep our eye on.”