HC Deb 24 July 1969 vol 787 cc2163-83

Lords Amendment No. 1: In page 2, line 36, after "Acts" insert: but subject to subsections (2A) and (2B) of this section".

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. William Rodgers)

Reluctant as I am to agree with an unrepresentative second Chamber on anything, I beg to move, That the House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment, which is a drafting Amendment.

Mr. John Peyton (Yeovil)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I had always understood that there was at least a convention that the decencies were observed and that one House did not go out of its way to slander and denigrate the other. The Minister, without any trace of apology for the headlong haste to which my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Peter Emery) has called attention, rose to his feet with this gratuitous slur upon another place which at least has the distinction of not commanding united support on that nasty Front Bench opposite.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harry Gourlay)

It is a tradition and practice of the House not to refer to proceedings in another place during the current Session, unless it is to a Ministerial statement.

Mr. Rodgers

On a point of order. I do not think that it was a slur on the other place. I said that I found it instinctively difficult to agree with it, which is true; I referred to it as an unrepresentative second Chamber, which is also true; otherwise I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Mr. Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)

I wonder whether the Minister will be repeating his remarks about another place on every one of the eight Amendments from another place, because I expect—I may be taking a risk in so expecting—that he will ask the House to accept them all. Perhaps it would put his remarks into perspective if I pointed out that some are Amendments put down by his noble Friends. It is a pity that the Minister did not explain to the House the purpose of the Amendment. Does he propose to give an explanation of Amendment No. 3 when we reach it, because it would be useful for those hon. Members who have not been following the proceedings closely to be given such an explanation?

Mr. Rodgers

I will give to the House whatever explanation is required. This is a drafting Amendment, and I hoped that I was saving time by waiting to give the explanation on the substantive Amendment.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords Amendment No. 2: In page 2, line 44, at end insert: ( ) to establish committees to advise them in the performance of their functions;".

Mr. William Rodgers

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

The Amendment states a specific power for the Tourist Boards to establish committees to advise them in the performance of their functions. The Tourist Boards will have to maintain close links with many interests concerned with providing tourist facilities and amenities as well as with trade, travel and consumer interests. We discussed the matter at length in Committee. They will obviously have to establish appropriate consultative and advisory machinery, and their powers under the Bill as originally drafted were adequate for the purpose. While there is no need to provide a specific power for them to establish committees, I do not suggest that we should disturb this provision which has been inserted in the Bill in another place.

Mr. Blaker

I am glad that the Minister proposed that we should agree with this Amendment, which was put down by Opposition Members in another place and accepted by the Government spokesman in another place. The point has been in the minds of my hon. Friends and myself during the various stages of the Bill. The relations which will be established between the new Boards and the industry are of central importance, as we said from time to time. The matter is of particular importance because the British Travel Association is about to disappear. It is useful not only to have the powers in the Bill but to stress the importance of the committee system. For that reason, I welcome the Amendment.

Mr. Emery

May I intervene on a point of order? As Mr. Speaker made no announcement in the negative, I assume that the three Amendments in my name to the Lords' Amendments will be called in due time. It would be possible to introduce part of the subject of one of them on this Amendment. I do not want to do that if I can leave it to the appropriate time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I thought that Mr. Speaker had given an indication. If he has not, I will now state that in fact the three Amendments have not been selected for discussion.

Mr. Emery

That puts hon. Members in an extremely difficult situation. We have had little notice and have had to do our homework, as Mr. Speaker indicated, late into the night to get the Amendments down. That is due to the indecent haste, and quite unnecesssary haste of the Government. Now we are in the very difficult position that we are not even given the possibility of voting on them.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

This point was dealt with by Mr. Speaker, who suggested that the hon. Member could make his representations to the appropriate quarter. It is not a point of order for the Chair. Perhaps he will resume his speech on the Amendment before the House.

Mr. Emery

If I have to deal with it in that way—

Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

Would not the solution be for my hon. Friend to address the House at considerable length while the Leader of the House is sent for in order that representations may be made to him, because it is not within the power of a junior Minister to alter the order of Government business.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It is in order to discuss only the Amendment before the House—nothing else.

Mr. Emery

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop)—my hon. and in many instances learned Friend—for his suggestion. Even the Leader of the House cannot alter the selection of Amendments. I am aggrieved that we are not to be able to debate some of the new factors which have arisen and which were dependent on the action which another place took.

Their Lordships' Amendment permits the establishment of committees to advise the Tourist Boards. This is of major importance. On Report and Third Reading, we pressed the Government to do it. We had to accept that we were in difficulties in Committee because of the Government's reasonableness in accepting Amendments put down by the Opposition on the establishment of an English Tourist Board—a proposal supported by some hon. Members opposite because of the logic of our case. It was agreed by both sides of the Committee that the type of advisory procedure which would be used in the Bill would not be debated in Committee. The difficulty then arose that many of the Amendments dealing with the advisory procedure were not selected on Report, so that even at this late stage it can be said that debate has not taken place on the establishment of the type of committee which ought to advise the Boards in the operation of their duty. This Amendment, therefore, takes on considerable importance, and the Minister of State has not given adequate information on the way in which he expects the Amendment to work.

I must refer to consultation with regional tourist committees, a point which I should not have mentioned had my Amendments been selected. In my area of the South-West, there was a strong feeling that there ought to be a South-West Tourist Board with statutory authority. I could not support that proposal because I felt that if it were accepted, equally valid arguments could be advanced for statutory tourist boards in every region, and I am against statutory boards being proliferated like waste paper throughout the land. However, once we have an English Tourist Board, it is of the greatest importance to ensure that they consult tourist authorities or committees in regions to obtain regional advice. A number of us tried to have that put into the Bill. May I have an assurance from the Minister that the system envisaged in the Lords' Amendment will provide for a committee with responsibility to consult and co-ordinate the views of the regional tourist authorities or committees and of all the other regional tourist activities? The Minister himself referred to that—many columns of HANSARD are devoted to his speeches—as essential for the proper working of the Act. While we will not have been able to spell out in the Bill the need for consultation, and although assurances from the Despatch Box have not the power of the written word in a Bill, it would nevertheless be of help to have an assurance from the hon. Gentleman that he will do his best to ensure that, in the establishment of these committees, there is the type of regional grouping of which I have spoken.

5.0 p.m.

Committees have played a major part in the working of the B.T.A. I seek an assurance from the hon. Gentleman that the type of committee structure used by the Association is that which is envisaged in the Amendment. I remind the hon. Gentleman of the work done, for example, by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke) on the Historic Buildings Committee of the Association, and of the work of a number of other people, well known in this House and elsewhere, on the publication Committee, the Historic Buildings Committee and other committees. They have been of immense assistance.

What we have never had from the Minister is an absolute assurance that he wishes this sort of committee structure to be carried on in the new set-up, because, through it, we can draw upon the learned advice and considerable experience of so many people from different walks of life. It is essential to have such an assurance at this time because the new structure will entail small executive managements which will not have the wide experience in executive responsibility enjoyed by the whole Council of the B.T.A. It is specifically because of this factor that it is essential to ensure that this extra advice is available to the Authority and the boards through the type of committee structure I have been advocating. If that is what the Amendment is intended to do, the House will be more than pleased.

Mr. Robert Cooke (Bristol, West)

I had not intended to speak but my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) made a kind reference to my membership of the Historic Buildings Committee of the British Travel Association. I believe that Committee be of such importance—my membership of it is purely incidental—that it must be fitted into the new structure, and I would like an assurance from the Minister of State on that point.

The Committee evolved because it was felt that the tremendous tourist potential of the historic buildings in various hands—whether private, public or the National Trust and so forth—was not being properly exploited. I use the word "exploited" advisedly because such houses are a great advantage in attracting visitors from abroad and providing enjoyment in this country. A number of people were called together and others were added later. They eventually became a formal committee of the Association. Under a distinguished independent chairman, all the interests were represented—the owners, the National Trust, the Ministry of Public Building and Works and others who could be helpful with advice and in the co-ordination of the work.

Without the existence of the Committee, we should never have been able to attack—I mean tackle—various Ministries. I used the word "attack" inadvertently and so I may have given the impression that we have had trouble. We have had trouble occasionally with various Ministries, particularly the Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Transport with regard to signs and so forth. But all these things have been thrashed out in the Committee with the Ministries concerned and reasonably satisfactory results obtained. It could not have been done without the assistance of the Committee. The B.T.A. could not have done it on its own because it would not have had the know-how to set about it.

I hope that the Lords Amendment means that the work of this Committee and others like it will be continued and that the fund of advice and knowledge built up will not be lost. We have had vague assurances but I hope that, following what my hon. Friend has said so powerfully and what I say more diffidently, we shall get an assurance from the Minister of State even at this late stage, because this is a vital matter.

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

My hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) has given valid reasons why the Minister should give us an indication of the guide-lines on how this part of the Bill will be applied. Our fear about the Bill as it stands is that the small boards which are preferred by the Government will tend, by reason of their very smallness, to be bureaucratic and rather separate from the industry. By implementation of this addendum, by the use of committees, this danger could be overcome.

The existing set-up does not suffer in that way. It broadly expresses the views of this very big and diverse industry. If these committees are employed as we hope they will be, I should imagine that any dangers arising from the smallness of the boards and the fact that they will not be representative of the industry will be overcome. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will give us an assurance along these lines.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

I, too, want to know from the Minister of State what he has in mind as the functions of the committees proposed in the Amendment. Secondly, I am anxious to avoid unnecessary duplication. Everyone will be desirous of that. For instance, it would be a mistake to have a regional committee set up where there is already a regional body such as the South-West Travel Association, because this would mean an unnecessary expense and a duplication of functions. We would arrive at a slightly anomalous situation where there were regional committees for some areas and not for others, this corresponding to the fact that some areas have regional travel associations of one kind or another and others do not. Therefore, I seek an assurance that, insofar as it is within his power to give advice, the hon. Gentleman will press the merits of using existing voluntary organisations where they exist. This would avoid the expense of a new secretariat for regional committees. It would avoid the possibility of conflicting advice from regional committees formed in one way and from regional travel associations formed in another way, a conflict which could only confound confusion.

Although I have the greatest desire to see specialist functional committees set up, I am not in favour of area committees. If an area wishes to be represented, if should do so via a voluntary travel association, tourist board, or whatever it may be called. If it has so little interest in its own tourist trade that it canont be bothered to put together such a local tourist body, I do not see why the English, Scottish or Wales Tourist Board should be bothered to do the job for it. In other words, the motive should be to help those who help themselves, not to provide an alternative for people who do not help themselves. That must be the rule right the way through. It is a rule for economy of administration as well as of finance, and it should be observed.

In local government there has been a tendency towards greater proliferation of committees which then become so diverse that co-ordinating committees have to be set up. There is a danger that that sort of thing can happen with other bodies with a large territorial focus, as, for instance, the British Tourist Board—or British Tourist Authority as it now is. The name has been changed again and again, and I cannot imagine how anyone will remember the correct names of all these bodies. It would Lave been better if the Government had left well alone as the Bill came out of Committee, where it was so exhaustively discussed, instead of introducing the confusion which we now have.

At a later stage—it would be out of order now—I shall direct attention to a conflict between a provision which the Government propose to insert and one which they intend to leave in. But sufficient unto the day be the conflict thereof. At this point, I want an assurance from the Minister that the giving of power to set up specialist committees, however well-intentioned, will not result eventually in the setting up of a large number of nonspecialist committees overlapping both with one another and with regional and local tourist bodies and travel associations which already exist or which will be set up in the future.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

In my view, this Amendment from the other place is unnecessary because the Clause as it stands gives full powers to set up committees in any case. Obviously, the setting up of a new authority does not mean that we shall have an authority without committees. I believe that one of the reasons put forward by the present British Travel Association for changing its own structure was that it wished to improve its committee organisation it felt that it was somewhat hidebound in its committee structure and scope. I understand that it has about seven main committees and several others.

What concerns me is that by the Bill as amended in the other place we shall be inviting the Authority to set up committees. Authorities are very good at setting up committees without our invitation, and by inviting this Authority to do so we are likely to call forth a proliferation of committees and a growth in the structure around them, since more people will be required to service them and more expense will be entailed.

5.15 p.m.

Mr. Gower

Does not my hon. Friend appreciate that we have throughout taken the view that the new boards will be rather small and remote bodies unless they are serviced by committees of this kind? I hope that he does not take a contrary view.

Mr. Lewis

I am taking my own view. My hon. Friend must know that right from the beginning I have been against a great deal of the Bill, I voted against it on Second Reading. Now that we are at the end of the road, I do not intend to take another line. I am prepared to let it go, but nevertheless—

Mr. Robert Cooke

My hon. Friend challenges the idea of committees on the ground of cost. Does he realise that under the present committee system of the British Travel Association—the committees we are talking about—all is adequately paid for by the subscriptions of the members whose interests are involved? The cost of those committees is well covered by subscriptions from members of the individual groups.

Mr. Lewis

I have some doubt about that. The amount of money given to the British Travel Association by the Government is much greater than that provided from the regions. One of my complaints about the Bill is that, now that we have—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harry Gourlay)

Order. The hon. Gentleman is making a speech more akin to a Second Reading speech than one directed to the Amendment before the House.

Mr. Lewis

We are near the holiday period. Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I allowed myself to be led astray by my hon. Friends. I was answering my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke). The present committee structure needs a good deal of improvement. But, apart from the possibility of increased cost, I wonder whether my hon. Friends in the regions have considered that the invitation extended by the new subsection to set up committees may lead to a situation in which the new central powerful authorities set up committees and inflict those committees on them in their regions, where they greatly value the independence of their own committees. Those committees are desirable links with the major authorities, but they may find that there is inflicted upon them a central authority committee which is unrepresentative of their area and which does not provide the sort of publicity services and the like which they want to maximise the number of tourists coming to their area.

The invitation to set up committees is such that one might almost suggest to the new Authority that there was every justification for having a committee to push the attractions of Rutland as a tourist area. We already have many tourists coming to visit us, but we might well feel that there was need to promote our tourist interest further, and for that purpose there might be a committee. Admittedly, that is not a serious comment, but it highlights the point which I am making. My fear is that we shall have too many of these committees as a result of the invitation which it is proposed to extend.

I hope that, when the new Authority is set up, it will conform pretty nearly to the kind of committee structure which I envisage, though with certain changes which will probably be an advantage, and that there will he no temptation to overdo the number of committees. The board can work much better if it does not blow itself up with an over-organised structure. I hope that my hon. Friends will recognise that.

Sir John Eden (Bournemouth, West)

The Minister of State in another place appeared to believe that this proposed Amendment was unnecessary and that it added nothing to the Bill. Yet the Government, through the Minister of State in this House, has thought fit to advise this House to agree with the Amendment. From that I must conclude that the Government have had second thoughts and decided that there is some valid reason for incorporating the Amendment in the Bill. They must therefore have some valid idea of the function of these committees. I should like to have more elucidation on that from the point of view of hoteliers in my constituency, many if not all of whom are throughly disgruntled about many of the requirements of the Bill and want to have as much clarification as possible of its provisions.

Is it in the mind of the hon. Gentleman that these committees should be set up to advise the board in carrying out any functions that may be given it under the new Clause which now forms part of the Bill in connection with registration of tourist accommodation? Should the Board seek advice on such matters as annual fees for registration or the display of signs? The whole idea of compulsory registration is absolutely abhorrent to hoteliers. It is nonsensical that they are to be required to pay a fee and to be subjected to penalties of up to £200 if they fail to accord with these provisions. Would advice be sought on this from outside bodies such as motoring organisations, food guides, and regional authorities which are already in existence? If that is the type of advice the board would seek, the establishment of these committees would be wholly acceptable because it could avoid further trampling on the rights of hoteliers and not be subject to the threat of having to pay fees.

Mr. William Rodgers

I shall not respond to those rather provoking strictures made by the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir J. Eden). It is not a case of having had second thoughts but of showing generosity. As I tried to suggest earlier, my instinct is not to show generosity to Amendments made in another place, but, that having been said, let us all get together and make as reasonable a structure as we can.

I agree with the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) that this Amendment is rather unnecessary. I would have said so had it been moved in Standing Committee. It does not give us further powers, but, if it makes men happy, on this occasion I am prepared to accept it and recommend it to the House. I am sure that the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke) is an admirable member of an admirable committee. Perhaps that is the committee which sits under the chairmanship of Mr. Hugh Wontner, and I have no doubt that it does excellent work. Although we may have different views about the new structure, I think it right to set up the Boards and let them get on with the job. I hope that they will not duplicate work properly done on a voluntary basis. I said that in Committee and on Report. These are new statutory bodies which will rely to a substantial extent on voluntary contributions in the industry and on a regional basis.

Mr. Robert Cooke

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the committee to which he referred is a national committee covering England, Wales and Scotland. If we were to haw an advisory committee for each country we would get into a mess. We should be able to look at the matter nationally. Will the same work be possible under the new structure?

Mr. Rodgers

I take the point and I hope that now we have decided on three boards that will not preclude co-operation by which the purpose will be best served.

As the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) and the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) said, we have established compact, functional boards. They will succeed and tourism will prosper in direct proportion to the way in which all those who are authoritative and play their part in this matter are consulted. In reply to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West, I see no reason why the boards should not find it desirable to consult on matters which he had in mind.

I cannot see why there should be a separate committee to consult with regional bodies. I cannot give the absolute assurance asked by the hon. Member for Honiton. I do not think he would expect the old B.T.A. structure to be envisaged. We are anxious to get the best structure. I hope that the board will note what has been said today and what was said in Committee, on which there is a large measure of agreement.

Mr. Emery

Will the hon. Gentleman comment on the regional question? I spent a considerable time dealing with the need for regional consultation. So did my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop). A number of people carrying out day-to-day activities in tourism are concerned about this. The Minister should try to give an indication that the new board will do whatever is possible to co-ordinate work with those people on a voluntary basis.

Mr. Rodgers

I am absolutely sure that it will do so. I thought I had suggested that in relation to what was said by the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop).

Question put and agreed to.

Lord's Amendment No. 3: In page 3, line 5, leave out from beginning to "none" in line 8 and insert: (2A) Only the British Tourist Authority shall have power by virtue of subsection (2) of this section to carry on any activities outside the United Kingdom for the purpose of encouraging people to visit Great Britain or any part of it but this subsection shall not prevent the other Tourist Boards engaging in such activities on behalf of the Authority. (2B)".

Mr. William Rodgers

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

This Amendment was proposed by the Government in another place following some detailed discussion. I think it has presentational advantages although I cannot say that it adds substantially to the Bill. There has never been in our minds any question that the three country boards would be unable to prepare publicity material, not only for use in this country motion missions organised by the British Tourist Authority. We have envisages them being able to join in overseas promotion missions organised by the British Tourist Authority. The three country boards could play a part in overseas promotion activities as agents of the new B.T.A.

I make that point because there is a question of delicate balance here. After considerable discussion, it was agreed that it was the rôle of the British Tourist Authority to promote Britain as a whole and there would be a danger if separate boards adopted a fragmented approach. By accepting this Amendment we would show clearly the rôle of the British Tourist Authority while not excluding a rôle for the boards of the kind I have described.

Mr. Gower

I am grateful to the Minister for what he has said. He has pointed out that the Amendment makes the general statement that only the British Tourist Authority shall have power to carry on activities outside the United Kingdom. As a general statement, I do not object to that. On the other hand, it is deemed desirable in certain conditions that the tourist boards should have the power to do some of this work on behalf of the Authority. Does the Amendment mean that they will be able to do such work only by direction of or with the permission of the Authority?

5.30 p.m.

This could lead to difficulties. The Scottish Council (Development and Industry) or the Welsh industrial development body might contemplate a major trade exhibition in the United States or elsewhere overseas. Surely it would be advantageous if the appropriate Tourist Board were able to co-operate with the trade or industrial undertaking. If a trade or industrial exhibition were held in New York or elsewhere in the United States, it might be of the greatest benefit to tourism if the appropriate board had a hand in it. In such a case, would it be necestary for the board to obtain the permission or approval of the Authority? If so, would it readily be given?

It would be most unfortunate if the boards were not able to co-operate at an opportune moment in an industrial or trade exhibition overseas. I want an assurance either that it will not be necessary for them to get the permission of the Authority or that the Authority will readily give permission.

Mr. William Edwards (Merioneth)

I must make one reservation about handing over power to the Welsh Tourist Board. We do not know who will be on the board. Before giving greater powers to the board and expecting it to carry out advertising abroad, we wish to be sure that there are on it people who are capable of presenting the tourist industry as members of the industry in Wales want it to be presented.

In the past, the Welsh Tourist Board has, with the exception of one or two names, been totally unrepresentative of the tourist industry. There have been far too many nominees from local government and by the Government on the basis of political and other allegiances and not on the basis of expertise in the industry which they are supposed to administer. If the make-up of the board which we are to have in Wales is the same as the make-up of the board which we have had in the past, I assure the Welsh Office that the people in the tourist industry will not want their industry to be promoted abroad by it.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

I should like to say a few words about the clumsy way in which the Bill has been drafted and in which it is being amended. There is a conflict between the part of Clause 2 which appears on page 2 of the Bill and the part which appear at the top of page 3. It is always undesirable to have conflicts in Clauses.

Clause 2(2) provides that one of the functions of each Tourist Board shall be to promote or undertake publicity in any form". That is an all-embracing function. On the next page, the Bill provides that only the British Tourist Authority shall have power by virtue of subsection (2) to carry on any activities outside the United Kingdom for the purpose of encouraging people to visit Great Britain or any part of it … There is an obvious conflict between the two parts of the same Clause.

As originally drafted, there were paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) in subsection (2). It is now proposed to insert subsection (2A), which modifies subsection (2) (a). We can imagine the fun which somebody will have in referring to this provision in court. It is an absolute drafting nonsense.

The Government should have put the proposed restriction after subsection (2) (a) in line 42. It is wrong to lay a statutory duty on the three Boards to promote or undertake publicity in any form", which is a clear, all-embracing statutory duty, and to provide that each Tourist Board shall have power to do anything for the purpose of discharging the functions conferred on it by this section and then to say, in this strange restriction, that the Clause does not mean what it says because only the British Tourist Authority shall have power to do this outside the United Kingdom, although it goes on to say in what will be subsection (2B) that it can do it if it acts as agent for the Authority.

There is a good living for lawyers here; there is no doubt about that. But this is not the way in which we should legislate. We should legislate clearly and explicitly. But to get involved in this sort of dog's breakfast whereby we put forward an all-embracing proposition and then on the next page proceed to knock it down is not the way to pass legislation which is likely to be with us for some time, because in the queue for legislation tourism will not come up again for several, if not many, years.

This is my protest against shoddy and confusing drafting. I do not say that if someone is learned enough and is paid enough to spend long enough studying the Bill enough he cannot eventually work out what it means. But the Bill could have been drafted in a much clearer and more specific way. I do not believe that any hon. Member, reading Clause 2 as it will be if we accept the Amendment, can believe that it is other than a piece of drafting which we should be ashamed to pass into statute law.

Mr. Blaker

This Government Amendment illustrates the force of the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) in an earlier debate about the difficulties which are caused to hon. Members by the speed with which we have been compelled to take the Lords Amendments. This is due solely to the mismanagement by the Government of their programme. I hope that the industry will take note that once again, while the Opposition Members commend but criticise the provisions of the Bill, we are, nevertheless, facilitating its progress in the interest of the industry.

The Minister says that the Amendment does not change or add to the position under the Bill. That is not my impression. Owing, however, to the timetable, I have not had time to check back on all our debates which are relevant to the subject. Hon. Members who have been following the Bill in the course of its debates will know that this has been one of the most important provisions which we have debated at all stages and that it was debated also in considerable depth in another place. It is a surprise to me to hear the Ministry say that the Amendment does not change the position under the Bill or add to it.

Mr. Emery

My hon. Friend will also, no doubt, agree that although we have attempted to obtain the right interpretation of this sort of Amendment, none of us has had time to go to the experts for their interpretation or to be able to consider or challenge what the Minister has said? There was no reason for this rush. It was purely the result of mismanagement by the Government Front Bench.

Mr. Blaker

I heartily endorse what my hon. Friend has said. The remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) about the drafting of the Bill simply confirm that it would have been valuable, in the interests or the industry and of good legislation, had we had reasonable time to consider these Amendments.

Hon. Members know that in Committee we put down and carried an Amendment, which was relevant to the point we are now considering, regarding the promotion overseas of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom. In another place, noble Lords on the Opposition side put down an Amendment which went less far than the Amendment which we in this House carried but which, nevertheless, went further than the Amendment with which we are now faced. However, I take the view that this is a step forward. It recognises that there will be occasions when the attractions of the constituent parts of Britain should be presented in their own right. Therefore, so far as it goes, I welcome the Amendment.

My final question to the Minister is to ask who will pay when the tourist boards engage in these overseas promotion activities on behalf of the Authority. Will the cost have to come out of their budgets or will it be the responsibility of the B.T.A.?

Mr. William Rodgers

I am sorry that everybody is upset about the speed with which the Bill is making progress. It is an important Bill. I understand that the industry wants it. We wanted to get it on the Statute Book by the time the House rose for the Summer Recess. Judging by the number of inquiries which we have had under Part II of the Bill, anybody would believe that in seeking to get it on the Statute Book we were acting in the interest of the industry.

We have had 70 hours of discussion of the Bill. Its passage through the other place might have taken longer than some people expected. In view of my sentiments about the other place, it is for me to complain about that. It is not for hon. Members opposite to regret that the Lords have done what they believed to be their duty.

Mr. Blaker

The hon. Gentleman is being less than fair, but this is uncharacteristic of him. He should not go into the question of who is filibustering at any stage of the Bill, because the only filibustering has come from his own side. Perhaps the Minister will concede that it is for the Opposition to criticise a Bill and make sure that it is a good one. When it becomes law, the industry may feel that it might have been better drafted. Nevertheless, we are doing our utmost to see that it becomes law as soon as possible.

Mr. Rodgers

I have complaints about no one. I thought that others had complaints about me. If they have, it is reasonable that I should seek to reply. I am not complaining at our discussion today or in Committee. The Bill is making progress, it is getting better all the time and it will be valuable for the inustry.

I think that there is a large measure of agreement on the Amendment. The position as the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) saw it was broadly correct. The Boards will act as agents for the British Tourist Authority. I certainly hope that there will not be sharp relations between the boards and the Authority in pulling different ways, nor do I believe that there will be difficulties with finance.

5.45 p.m.

To the extent that the boards act for the Authority, one would expect it to be on the basis of finance provided by the Authority. On the other hand, if there is action by the boards which the Authority is prepared to see but is not necessarily very enthusiastic about, it may be that the budgetary provision will be made elsewhere. This can be sorted out to the general satisfaction. Certainly, there will be no impediment of the kind mentioned by the hon. Member for Barry about co-operation with industrial and trade exhibitions overseas. This is important and worthwhile and I would hope to see it extended.

The hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) made a point with which, he may he surprised to know, I agree. Legislation as a whole is incomprehensible to the layman and I am sorry. I do not, however, think that the Bill is more incomprehensible than other Measures. On the contrary, it is rather easier to understand. The first of the Lords Amendments, which I accepted and referred to as a drafting Amendment, was designed to meet the point raised by the hon. Member, although I cannot claim that it necessarily met his full satisfaction.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords Amendment No. 4: In page 3, line 25, after "consultation" insert: with the other Tourist Boards and".

Mr. William Rodgers

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

The House will recall that the present subsection (4) of Clause 2 was inserted on Report in this House on 23rd June because we felt it important to draw the attention of all four tourist boards to the importance of consultation with the many interests and organisations concerned with tourism, an aspect on which we have commented earlier this afternoon.

To work successfully, all four boards will rely to a large extent on establishing close links with the tourist industry and other bodies concerned in every way with tourism, including the regional bodies. We expect the boards to consult one another. This is a matter of common sense, because they will have a great deal of common interest and concern of national importance and they can do so to each other's benefit. The fact that the chairmen of the English, Scottish and Wales Boards will he ex officio members of the B.T.A. will provide an obvious avenue for consultation and exchanges of experience, but this will not be the only way in which consultations take place between the boards. I hope that consultation will be frequent and continuous at all levels, not only at chairman and board level, but at chief officer level, too. As I have said before, harmonious relations of this kind, pulling together rather than apart, will produce the result which we all want to see.

It was, however, felt in another place that as subsection (4) points to the desirabilty of consultation wit h other organisations and interests, it should also refer to consultation being desirable between the boards. This I regard as an obvious point. As it is obvious, I see no reason in present circumstances to do other than suggest that we agree with the Amendment.

Mr. Emery

The insertion of these few words makes it clear that it will be possible to obtain consultation in this matter, not only to deal with the functions dealt with in the Clause but, because part of the Clause covers also Part III and Clause 17 of the Bill, it will also be possible for consultation to take place between the boards and the British Tourist Authority on the matter of registration and compulsory grading.

It is to me an extreme pity that their Lordships, who, in Committee, took out the whole of Clause 17, were persuaded to restore it on recommittal. This was their decision. I am sorry that we have not been able to debate that matter now because many of us feel that the compulsory aspect is one of considerable concern and much against the wishes of hoteliers and the restaurateurs. Therefore, it seems worth while making the point now that the discharging of the functions under this part of the Bill will allow consultations by the boards and the Authority with everybody on the matter of registration and grading. The Minister has himself said that, while he wishes these to be stand-by powers, they are not to be brought in unless on the advice of the new B.T.A. He will realise that the subjective judgment on the grading of hotels or the starring of hotels is open to considerable criticism if this is to be done by a nationalised Government agency.

Therefore, I hope it will be made quite clear that consultation can take place under Part III about the powers given in Clause 2 to ensure that the tourist boards will consult with the new B.T.A. on this matter. I feel very strongly that they will not only want to but will have to before any action can be taken on either registration or grading.

Mr. Blaker

This Amendment was made in response to a suggestion from the Opposition side in another place. This is a point to which we have attached importance all the way through our discussions on the Bill in this House. My hon. Friends and I put down Amendments which would have gone rather further than this one does. Nevertheless, so far as it goes, we welcome it.

Question put and agreed to.

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