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Scottish Tourist Board

Volume 958: debated on Wednesday 15 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what annual increases in the rates of pay of the chairman, deputy chairman, and members of the Scottish tourist board have been introduced since April 1976; and what were the expenses claimed by each during the last 12 months for which figures are available.

The salary of the chairman of the Scottish tourist board was increased by £125 and £462 on 1st April 1977 and 1978 respectively to £5,085. Other board members have received one increase of £100 from 1st January 1978 to £1,100. Information about the payment of expenses to board members is not held centrally.

Can the Minister justify the expenditure of £2 million to £3 million in total to enable an amateur body to duplicate work already carried out most effectively by the professionals in the tourist industry in Scotland?

I doubt whether the hon. Gentleman's arithmetic is correct. Those of us who have experience of Scottish affairs appreciate the splendid work carried out by the chairman and the board members of the Scottish tourist board. Judging by the murmurs of assent on the Opposition Benches, I would say that that view is widely shared in the House.

Will the Minister reject the aspersions in the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question? I wish to declare an interest, since I was a member of the Scottish tourist board from 1974 to 1976. The House should take note that last year 30 million tourists in Scotland contributed more than £500 million to the Scottish economy and supported or created more than 116,000 jobs. Therefore, will my right hon. Friend increase the assistance and encouragement to the board and its activities?

I think that we are all conscious of the important part that tourism has to play in the Scottish economy. In company with my colleague my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, I shall do all that I can to encourage tourism in Scotland and to encourage the Scottish tourist board.

What representations has the Minister received from the chairman of the Scottish tourist board about the disgraceful fact that the board is statutorily forbidden to advertise overseas the tourist attractions of Scotland?

That is not so. The work is done through the British Tourist Authority, which the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well.