HC Deb 08 April 1963 vol 675 cc918-9

69. Mr. Mayhew asked the Lord Privy Seal what measures he now proposes increasing the flow of visitors to Great Britain from Communist countries; and to what extent this flow is checked by shortage of sterling.

Mr. P. Thomas

We should welcome an increase in tourist exchanges between the United Kingdom and communist countries but no special measures appear to be required on our part to facilitate this. We do not consider that shortage of sterling is a serious impediment to the development of tourism.

Mr. Mayhew

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the very sharp falling off of tourism, particularly from the Soviet Union last year? Will he, in the case of genuine tourists, students and others wishing to visit this country from Iron Curtain countries, look into the possibility of making sterling available in view of the political advantages of these visits?

Mr. Thomas

I agree that there was a sharp fall in the number of Soviet tourists to this country last year. I expressed disappointment at this decline to Mr. Romanovsky, leader of the Soviet Delegation at the recent Anglo-Soviet cultural negotiations. He said that the decline was due to the Soviet Government's shortage of foreign exchange. But the Russians have a substantial sterling surplus in their trade with the United Kingdom.