16 JANUARY 1948, Page 4

I was looking forward with some interest to the Birmingham

plebiscite on the two proposals, carried by large majorities on the City Council, to provide municipal furniture for tenants of munici- pal houses and to acquire or construct hotels and run them. The interest is considerably diminished by the fact that less than 7 per cent. of the qualified voters troubled to take part in the poll, but it is reasonable to assume at least from that that the odd 93 per cent. felt no enthusiasm for the scheme. The 7 per cent., who declared by overwhelming majorities against both proposals, were therefore no doubt fairly representative of the whole population. On the furniture question I think they were right. Private traders are getting squeezed out too fast as it is, and any further move in that direction needs decisive arguments in its favour. About hotels I am not so sure. What the position in Birmingham is I don't know, but if the shortage of hotel accommodation there is anything like what it is in London and other large cities then public action may very well be necessary. The experiment of .-a semi-austerity hotel, providing all essential amenities and no luxuries, plain but well-cooked food, and paying particular attention to service and cleanliness would be .well worth making.

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