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Tourism: LIBOR Funding

Volume 617: debated on Wednesday 23 November 2016

1. What discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the amount of LIBOR funding available to museums, galleries and tourist attractions in Scotland. (907316)

Lots of good causes across Scotland have put bids in to the Treasury for the next round of allocations from the LIBOR fund, but I am afraid we will need to be patient and wait for the Chancellor’s autumn statement this afternoon to hear which have been successful.

The Secretary of State knows that there is no greater cause in my constituency than Holmwood House, a fine piece of Alexander “Greek” Thomson’s architecture. Next year is the bicentenary of his birth, and the Secretary of State knows how keen I am, and the Alexander Thomson Society is, to promote that, both around the UK and internationally. Will he assure me that the full weight of his office is behind making that happen?

The hon. Gentleman is to be commended for his efforts in promoting the bicentenary of Alexander “Greek” Thomson, who is perhaps an underappreciated icon of Scottish architecture. I can assure the hon. Gentleman—especially after my own visit to Holmwood House and meeting the Alexander Thomson Society—that the UK Government will do all we can to support and promote that bicentenary.

I have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggesting that LIBOR money could be used to help fund opencast coal restoration in Scotland. Has the Secretary of State had any similar discussions with the Chancellor, or has he done nothing about the opencast pledge in the 2015 Green Book?

The hon. Gentleman knows that I—and, indeed, the UK Government—have done a great deal to work with East Ayrshire Council to ensure that opencast restoration could proceed in that area following the collapse of various companies involved in opencast mining. We continue that dialogue with both the Scottish Government and East Ayrshire Council to try bring the matter to a satisfactory resolution.

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Scotland has some wonderful tourist attractions, many of which are in the border region and Cumbria. Does the Secretary of State agree that there are real opportunities to promote tourism in the border areas, but that that will involve close co-operation between councils on both sides of the border, and is not just about finance?

My hon. Friend knows that I am very keen to promote cross-border working between Cumbria County Council, his own local authority, Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council. That is why I am a very big supporter of the so-called borderlands initiative to bring those councils together to try to secure economic development for the area, in which tourism would play a very important part.