HC Deb 29 February 1968 vol 759 cc1751-2
Q2. Mr. Blaker

asked the Prime Minister what steps he is taking to coordinate the responsibilities of the Board of Trade, Ministry of Agriculture, Home Office and Treasury with regard to the tourist industry.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

My right hon. Friends already work closely together on all matters of common concern, and no further measures of co-ordination are needed.

Mr. Blaker

Is not that a rather curious reply in view of the fact that the Minister of State at the Board of Trade told the House in December that an inter-departmental working group was considering the question of improving co-ordination between these Departments? What Departments are represented on that working group, and when will it report?

The Prime Minister

It would be rather unusual to answer questions of that kind, but this is one reason why I said that we are working closely together on matters of common concern.

Mr. Heath

As in the last seven years this country has been fourteenth out of 15 countries in the degree of increase in revenue from overseas tourism, is it not time for the Government to make a major, positive, imaginative effort to help those catering for tourism in Britain and attract tourists from overseas?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman can, no doubt, speak for his own period when he was in charge of this at the Board of Trade—[Interruption.]—and that went back quite a long way. Certainly we are considering—and this was made clear in the statement made by my hon. Friend the Minister of State—what further can be done. There is a great development in hotel accommodation and consideration is being given to what further can be done; but I do not think it would be helpful if I were to say more at this stage.

Sir G. de Freitas

Would the Prime Minister consider designating a Minister for Tourism so that the people engaged in this industry can look to one Minister in these matters?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend the Minister of State at the Board of Trade has special responsibility for this and also, of course, for shipping and air travel, three subjects which are very closely connected one with another. He is the Minister to whom my hon. Friend should make his approaches.

Mr. Blaker

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter again.