HC Deb 30 January 1969 vol 776 cc1505-6
18. Mr. Gibson-Watt

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has for giving a further grant to the Welsh Tourist Board in 1969.

Mr. Ifor Davies

My right hon. Friend is at present considering this matter taking account of the Government's proposals for a new statutory organisation for tourism.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

With respect, that does not answer my Question. Has the hon. Gentleman seen reports that the Welsh Tourist Board is at present, in the short-term, running out of funds in this important year? What are the Government's plans for coping with this problem?

Mr. Davies

The Government have already announced plans on tourism; they were announced by the President of the Board of Trade recently, and my hon. Friend must await the Bill which will shortly be brought forward. No Government have done more for tourism in Wales than the present Government, who have recognised it as an important industry. I am sure that I carry the hon. Gentleman with me when I pay a warm tribute to the present Board, under the leadership of Mr. D. J. Davies, for what it has already achieved.

Mr. William Edwards

But is not my hon. Friend aware that the situation is that the Welsh Tourist Board must either get the new statutory powers this year or more cash this year?

Mr. Davies

The answer is, of course, as I have said, that the new Board will be appointed this year, and the whole matter will be then considered.

Mr. Gower

But will the hon. Gentleman take into account the fact that Mr. D. J. Davies has said that the financial position of the Board is really desperate? Surely there is power for the Welsh Office to help the Board at this stage before legislation?

Mr. Davies

Yes, I am aware of what Mr. Davies has said, but I want to pay tribute, as he himself has done, to what the local authorities have done. A great deal can be done by local authorities. It is for them to continue to support the Board in the interests of their own areas.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Could the hon. Gentleman pay further attention to one part of my Question? Admittedly, we shall have to wait for legislation in the long term, but what do the Government intend to do in the short term, in view of the comments which the hon. Gentleman admits?

Mr. Davies

The research grant which the Government gave three years ago is continuing. It has been a valuable contribution to the Board, which has produced, as a result, some excellent literature which cannot be bettered by that of any part of the United Kingdom.