HC Deb 02 July 1968 vol 767 cc1305-7
Q8. Mr. Milne

asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the fact that an adverse figure was recorded in the balance of payments returns for June 1968, he will reconsider his decision not to set up a separate Department for Tourism.

The Prime Minister

If my hon. Friend is concerned with the effect of tourism on the balance of payments he will be glad to know that the number of foreign visitors arriving in the United Kingdom in the first four months of 1968 was 18 per cent. higher than in the corresponding period of 1967. As to a Department of Tourism, my view is still as I expressed it in reply to a Question by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) on 29th February.—[Vol. 759, c. 414.]

Mr. Milne

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is precisely for this reason that the necessity to appoint a Ministry of Tourism arises and, to take advantage of this rapidly expanding industry, it is essential that it be placed under the control of one Minister?

The Prime Minister

I think that the most satisfactory solution is the present position where the President of the Board of Trade and his Minister of State are directly responsible not only for tourism, but also for overseas travel both by sea and by air. I think that this is a much more helpful way of encouraging tourism. As I say, the results so far this year have been extremely encouraging.

Mr. Tapsell

Will the Prime Minister accept, in the context of our balance of payments, that the first essential for the restoration of the national credit is that he should resign?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir, and I pray that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition will not either.

Mr. Kelley

Will my right hon. Fiend avail himself of this opportunity to inform the House that if we solve our balance of payments problem by any means we are creating a balance of payments problem for someone else and they will probably take the same opportunity to rid themselves of the encumbrance?

The Prime Minister

I think that, in a global sense, my hon. Friend is no doubt expressing a great economic truth. It is the job if this Government to look after our own interests.

Sir J. Rodgers

If, according to his priorities, the Prime Minister thinks it desirable to have a Minister looking after sport, is it not far more desirable to have a Minister looking after tourism in view of our balance of payments situation?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend in the Department of Education and Science has other responsibilities besides sport. The hon. Gentleman will recognise that the Minister of State, Board of Trade, is employed virtually full-time on the related questions of tourism, civil aviation and shipping. From my own experience—and the right hon. Gentleman who had experience of responsibility for these matters will probably confirm— I think that this is probably the best arrangement in order to maximise our tourist earnings and the number of people coming to this country.

Several Hon. Members rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. Mr. George Thomson to answer several Questions together.

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