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Tourism: Yorkshire

Volume 604: debated on Thursday 21 January 2016

8. What plans his Department has to increase the level of tourism in Yorkshire from domestic and foreign visitors. (903148)

The Government are supporting an increase in visitor numbers to Yorkshire through the work of VisitBritain, VisitEngland and the GREAT campaign. Yorkshire received record inbound tourist numbers in 2014, and we are continuing to work hard to attract domestic and international visitors to the county. That is why the Prime Minister has published his five-point plan on tourism and why at the recent spending review we secured a new £40 million Discover England fund.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that when a heritage item is movable, there is a case for occasionally placing it on display outside London and the south of England? Is he aware that Hull is our city of culture next year, and that many people in Yorkshire have been expecting that the aeroplane used by the Hull-born aviator Amy Johnson will be on display in the region? However, the London-based Science Museum has refused to give its permission, saying that the plane must stay in London. Will he join me in asking the London-obsessed Science Museum to think again, and will he agree to meet me to discuss this matter?

I am very much aware that Hull is to be the next city of culture; I recently had a meeting with the organisers, as did both my ministerial colleagues, to discuss that. I quite understand why Hull should want to celebrate the life of Amy Johnson, who was born in the city. I know that there has been a lengthy dialogue about the specific issue that my right hon. Friend has raised and that the Science Museum is concerned about the delicate state of the aeroplane and the potential cost of the move, but I am happy to look into the matter further and I am of course willing to meet my right hon. Friend to discuss it.

I am sure the Secretary of State will be delighted to know that Hull now ranks in the top 10 cities of the world to visit, according to the “Rough Guide”. On that basis, I am very pleased that one of my constituency neighbours, the right hon. Member for East Yorkshire (Sir Greg Knight), has supported the bid to bring Amy Johnson’s plane to Hull. Also on that basis, will the Secretary of State press the Treasury to fill the £5 million gap that has resulted from the Arts Council turning down an application for funds to refurbish the New theatre in the city? That refurbishment needs to go ahead in time for the 2017 celebrations. I make this request in the light of the fact that the Treasury has found £78 million to pay for a new theatre in Manchester.

The hon. Lady is quite right to highlight the autumn statement and the settlement that was achieved, which included money for arts institutions across the country. I am aware of the issue relating to the New theatre in Hull, and of course I am keen to support as much as possible in the city during this very important year approaching. I am happy to continue to press the case, but obviously she will understand that there are a lot of competing bids. We are determined to make Hull a success as the UK city of culture.