Industry leaders and opposition MPs have hit out at the Government for delaying publication of the Lyons Inquiry report - expected to propose the introduction of a bed tax - until next spring.
Sir Michael Lyons's report into local government funding was due to be published this month but it will now not appear until the time of 2007's Budget, in March. It has been delayed because Chancellor Gordon Brown and Local Government Minister Ruth Kelly have asked Lyons to consider the implications of the Eddington report on transport, the Barker report on planning and the Leitch review on skills.
Lyons will also use the extra time to "further refine and polish his recommendations", although some experts believe Brown and Prime Minister Tony Blair have ordered the delay because they are reluctant to publicly respond to potentially controversial taxation proposals before the local election campaign, which starts in April.
Grant Hearn, chief executive of Travelodge, criticised the delay of the report, which was commissioned in July 2004.
"Lyons wants to publish his findings after three years' work, and the Government has a responsibility not to block or delay him," he said. "Likewise, the tourism industry, the only sector singled out for direct town-hall taxation by both Lyons and Sir Peter Burt in Scotland, has a right to know what it can expect in the future."
Anne Milton, shadow tourism minister, said that by delaying the report the Government is "sending out all the wrong signals to the tourism industry". "The Government's refusal to clarify its position over a bed tax is causing huge uncertainty," she said. "This can only be bad for UK tourism."
Sir Michael Lyons published a short discussion document on Monday seeking views on the key areas in which the recommendations of the Leitch, Barker and Eddington reviews have implications for local government.
For details on how to respond, go to www.lyonsinquiry.org. Responses will feed in to a series of round-table discussions to be held in the new year.
By Daniel Thomas
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