HC Deb 10 May 1967 vol 746 cc1471-2
4. Mr. G. Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will take action to encourage and assist the tourist industry in Scotland.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

My right hon. Friend has consistently done this, and will continue to do so, in consultation with the Scottish Tourist Board. The Countryside (Scotland) Bill is the latest evidence of our concern for the provision of tourist facilities.

Mr. Campbell

But would not the greatest help that the Secretary of State could give be to persuade the Government to abolish the Selective Employment Tax and to restore investment allowance for hotels?

Dr. Mabon

I would strongly advise the hon. Gentleman to look at the tourist industry today, when he will see that the assertions he makes about the Selective Employment Tax are not borne out by the facts. I would willingly challenge the Opposition to debate the health and prosperity of the industry, which has so far done exceptionally well.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Can the hon. Gentleman explain how the imposition of the Selective Employment Tax on the tourist industry can be logically related to the proposal of the Highlands and Islands Board to build hotels?

Dr. Mabon

Because the Selective Employment Tax is designed to strengthen the economy as a whole it is therefore bound to strengthen the tourist industry—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—and if members of the Opposition disbelieve us in this matter they are flying in the face of the facts.

Mr. Noble

Then will the Minister promise to answer the very large number of letters we are getting from those in the hotel industry, and satisfy them that the two points mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. G. Campbell) are not a deterrent to them? If he has been out and about in Scotland he must know that this is not the view of the hotel industry.

Dr. Mabon

I know that some hoteliers take this view, and I am perfectly willing to answer letters, as I always seek to do, but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the facts are in doubt here, obviously, otherwise he would not say what he has been saying. The sooner he refreshes his memory as to what is happening the sooner he will see that this, in fact, is a prosperous industry.