A PETITION calling for a government minister to represent the hospitality industry will be debated in parliament today.

MPs will debate the e-petition later this afternoon, to decide whether a new minister for the sector is necessary.

Signed by more than 204,000 people, the plea says: “The UK hospitality industry. Responsible for around 3 million jobs, generating £130bn in activity, resulting in £38bn in taxation. Yet, unlike the Arts or Sports, we do not have a dedicated Minister.

“We are asking that a Minister for Hospitality be created for the current, and successive governments.”

Almost 1,000 people from Bolton signed the petition, with most of the support coming from people in the Bolton West and Bolton North East constituencies.

Catherine McKinnell, Chair of the Petitions Committee, will open the debate, whilst Paul Scully, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets will respond.

Gareth Mason, a local chef, backed the petition, and called for someone to stand up for the industry.

He said: "We don't seem to have any one who represents the hospitality trade – there's no one who defends the industry.

"It's a big contributor to the economy and we need someone to stand up for it.

"Last year we were bullied the whole year with everything portrayed as the hospitality industry's fault and that was just ridiculous.

"I saw the boxing day sales and everyone queueing up at the Trafford Centre and that shouldn't be allowed. You can queue up in your hundreds to get a good deal but can't go to a restaurant?

"I just feel like it's a bit disappointing. There's so many businesses that are struggling and then this stuff isn't helping. We're just really up against the odds."

Currently, the hospitality sector falls under the departments for business, energy & industrial strategy, and digital, culture, media & sport.

The debate will start at 4.30pm, and is set to last around 90 minutes – giving MPs the opportunity to question ministers on the issue.

Visit parliamentlive.tv/Commons to watch the debate live.