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London Visitor And Convention Bureau

Volume 113: debated on Tuesday 31 March 1987

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5.

asked the Paymaster General what information he has on the amount of income that has been generated by tourism in the London Visitor and Convention Bureau area in each year since 1978.

Tourist spending in the London area increased from £1·8 billion in 1978 to over £3·9 billion in 1985. That is a rise of over 14 per cent. in real terms. A table giving full information has been placed in the Library.

I thank my hon. Friend for his interesting reply. Does it not illustrate that there is considerable scope for getting tourists away from the golden triangle, of which London is the centre, and into areas such as historic Newark-upon-Trent and the east midlands? How would my hon. Friend propose to reverse that trend?

The substantial increase in the section 4 grant expenditure under the Development of Tourism Act 1969 that was announced last year by the Government was principally to encourage the dispersal of tourists, particularly from the London area, into the regions. A very good example of that is the major tourist development that has been supported by the Government in the constituency adjoining that of my hon. Friend, which is known as Center Parcs.

6.

asked the Paymaster General whether he will state the figures for youth unemployment in 1979 and 1986 in the Sheffield travel-to-work area.

In 1986 the average number of unemployed claimants aged under 18 years of age in the Sheffield travel-to-work area was 3,980. Comparable figures for 1979 are not available because of changes in the way figures are collected. However, in 1979 the average number of unemployed registrants aged under 18 years in the Sheffield travel-to-work area, as defined in 1978, was 1,790.

Given the decline in manufacturing employment in Sheffield, the continued inequalities in the regional economies and the fact that the Budget is dependent upon a general upturn in the national economy, is the Minister aware that those figures are unlikely to be eased except by micro measures? Will he therefore look at Sheffield's employment plan, which can create 25,000 new jobs and training places and can therefore take more than 17,000 people off the unemployment register?

I accept that Sheffield has a difficult unemployment problem. There has been a slight but welcome fall in the overall level of unemployment in Sheffield over the last six months. We have a number of measures to tackle unemployment. Two job clubs are being opened today in Sheffield. They will bring the total number of job clubs in the Sheffield and Rotherham travel-to-work area to about 16. As for the Sheffield city council's plans, they are, in our view, very expensive, and their cost would have to be borne by ratepayers and taxpayers.

Will my hon. Friend look at the figures and remind the House of the level of unemployment in the Sheffield area between 1974 and 1979? Will he tell us of any time when a Labour Government have brought about a reduction in unemployment? Is it not a fact that every Labour Government have gone into a general election campaign committing themselves to a reduction of unemployment and that while they have been in office every Labour Government have seen a rise in unemployment?

The Minister says that the plans of Sheffield city council are expensive. Does he not think that it is expensive for 600 more workers, who were laid off in my constituency just recently in one of the main steelworks in Sheffield, to be on the dole and to pay them money for doing nothing when all they want to do is work? What kind of plans do the Government have that are not expensive for working people?

We are proud of the fact that we are spending nationally about £3·5 billion on overall employment and training measures. We are spending a lot of money. All I am saying is that the plans of Sheffield city council would, over and above that, be particularly expensive and would be borne by ratepayers and taxpayers. That would involve further job losses and industrial closures in Sheffield.