Monday, May 29, 2006

Do the LibDems Still Believe in a Tourist Tax or Not?

From ePoitix.com...

A review of local government funding should not give councils the power to levy a hotel 'bed tax', the Liberal Democrats have said. The option is reported to be under consideration by Sir Michael Lyons, who is reviewing the future of local government finance. But the Lib Dems warned that such a move could be "disastrous" for the UK tourism sector. "We have got a problem and anything like a bed tax that would put people off from coming to this country would be a real disaster," culture spokesman Don Foster told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "In the UK, tourism is already the most heavily taxed, with the exception of Denmark, in Europe. "Tourists contribute £12bn to the UK economy. "When you think that VAT on tourist-related activities in this country is 17.5 per cent, whereas in the rest of Europe it is 8.5 per cent and in countries like France 5.5 per cent, these tourists use services, but they are certainly already paying for them."

Well, I agree with every word of that. The only trouble is that in 2002 the FibDems adopted the policy of imposing a hotel bed tax at their autumn conference. In fact, I believe it is still listed on their national website. At the time it was reported that "Liberal Democrats want to introduce a new charge on hotel bills to pay for their numerous rural spending commitments. They note that ‘the state of Florida has a strong state tourism association funded by a small sales tax on accommodation bills’ hence they would ‘help the local rural environment via a small levy added to accommodation bills’ (Liberal Democrats, Rural Futures, Policy Paper 52, August 2002, p. 29-30, ratified as Official Policy at Liberal Democrat Conference, September 2002).I remember raising this when I was candidate in North Norfolk. The response was: "Ah yes, it may be on our website but that doesn't mean we would do it." Plus ca change.

12 comments:

James Schneider said...

That's the problem and strength of the LibDems: the electorate can pick and mix their policies to match their personal political beliefs. I quite like the orange book, which I see you are reading (any chance of a review or your opinions on it?), for example. Unless they grow in size and are put under real policy scrutiny they will probably bob around the 18% mark (depending on the unpopularity of the other two). Shame they can keep people like yourself out of Parliament. Having said that, I voted LD on 4/5.

Jonathan Sheppard said...

The Kentucky Fried chicken of British politics..... a franchise in every town - but with Kentucky fried chicken you can be sure of a consistent high quality product thoughout the country...

Peter Black said...

I don't recall that ever being our policy though I would welcome you pointing it out on our website as I cannot find it there. There was a motion passed in 2004, which is our most up-to-date policy on tourism and which largely applies to England only but that does not refer to such a tax.

Noel Slevin said...

But just because they say they wouldn't do it doesn't mean we believe them or that they're telling us the truth!

Anonymous said...

How can Conservatives criticise the LibDems for not having a specific policy on a matter immediately?
They elected their leader months AFTER the Tories did, and we're still waiting for their glorious 18 month reviews.
Surely one can give the same patience to Ming and his advisers (carers?) to do the same?

Iain Dale said...

anonymous, it's a fair point but totally irrelevant to the one I was making! Thier culture spokesman made a definitive attack on such a tax and yet it appears to still be their official policy. Isn't that at best odd, and at worst hypocritical!?

Anonymous said...

Agreed, and I know the LibDem constitution means that members make the ultimate policy decisions but surely the new leader writes the slate clean until Conference, in principle even if official policy remains the same.
The decision over the Royal Mail part-privitisations that sandals can be made to walk in particular directions if the leadership wants it.
It does highlight the shortcomings of the constitution though, I guess.

Andrew B said...

Under the Conservatives, there will be: No student fees, cutting student debt by £9,000 – almost in half
Conservative Education Manifesto, 2005

We're going to have to keep student fees...students are going to have to make a contribution
David Cameron, 2006

And yes, the manifesto is still on the website. The LibDem proposal was 'policy' in 2002. The Tory one was policy in...erm... 2005.

Please don't accuse the LibDems of having two conflicting policies four years apart when the Tories reverse policy after 8 months.

Iain Dale said...

Hmm. One minute you're accusing Cameron of not having any policies, then you find one which you don't like (which, incidentally, the LibDems are about to flip flop on too). Cameron was totally upfront about this policy right through the leadership contest so I'm not quite sure what your point is. Having said that, I don't agree with him on it.

Anonymous said...

The point is that leaders change and policies will change. Collegiate responsibility means that of course MPs and Ministers (Shadow or otherwise) will support the party line until they become leader themslelves and can change the message.

Cameron and Ming are both trying to impart THEIR policies on unwilling grassroots. Give them both time to make their mark and set their own agenda.

Peter Black said...

Mmm, I see that you didnt publish my comment in which I asked you to point out where on the Lib Dem website this policy was. Never mind, musn't let the facts get in the way of a good story.

cymrumark said...

Ian....thanks for this I have run it on my blog but credited it to you.....both my readers will enjoy it.....