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Volume 33: debated on Monday 6 December 1982

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asked the Minister for Trade if he will publish the evidence he receives in the course of his review of tourism in Great Britain; and if he will make a statement.


asked the Minister for Trade if he will make a statement on the progress of his review of tourism as it relates to the responsibilities of central Government.

I have received a wide range of views from organisations and individuals in the course of my review. I expect to complete the taking of evidence by Christmas. I have encouraged everyone who wished to give me their views to be frank in their comments. It would be wrong to publish detailed evidence given to me on this basis of confidence, but I would expect to state the main themes that emerged from my consultations when I am in a position to make known the conclusions of the review in the new year. Some of the issues that have been raised with me affect the responsibilities of other Departments, and I am pursuing them with my right hon. and hon Friends.

In case some members of the British Tourist Authority board have not been as frank with my hon. Friend as they might have been, may I point out that with its present structure it spends an inordinate length of time on unprofitable arguments among representatives of England, Scotland and Wales rather than doing the job for which it is well suited? If the review shows that legislation is needed to improve matters, will that be undertaken in this Session of Parliament?

I am well aware that others hold the same view as my hon. Friend. His point has been well taken into account in the review. We shall consider when legislation should be introduced when we see whether it is required.

In this important review, will the Minister bear in mind the recommendation of the Stoddart committee to the effect that the Scottish Tourist Board should be free to promote Scotland overseas without going through the United Kingdom agency?

I shall bear that in mind. I am seeing Mr. Devereux in the near future and doubtless he will put the same view to me.

In his review, will my hon. Friend take into account the fact that the Yorkshire and Humberside tourist board has achieved a self-made operating income as a proportion of its total income that is higher than that of any other tourist board? Will he ensure that such effort is properly rewarded, by maintaining the level of grant from Government funds?

The Yorkshire and Humberside tourist board has every right to be proud of its achievements. We shall bear what my hon. Friend says closely in mind in any conclusions that we reach.

Will the Minister bear in mind the fact that regional airports are a key factor in promoting package tours.

I certainly shall. I hope that Manchester feels pleased with the Department's recent decisions.

Is the Minister aware that in the last year of the Labour Government the surplus on tourism was almost £700 million, while for the current year there will be a deficit of about £300 million? What is his explanation for the massive loss of £1,000 million? Does it not show that Britain on the dole is not the most attractive place to visit?

It shows no such thing. The hon. Gentleman's figures are inaccurate. The figure for last year was £286 million. This year we hope to do even better, the main reason being the value of sterling. The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to hear that as a result of the strengthening of the dollar this year we expect a 7 per cent. increase in tourists from America.