HC Deb 15 July 1974 vol 877 cc24-5
21. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is his Department's policy for the tourist industry.

26. Mr. Anthony Grant

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what proposals he has to encourage tourism in Great Britain; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Deakins

Our policy remains to promote the development of tourism both to and within Great Britain. To that end provision has been made on the Votes of the Departments concerned for expenditure in 1974–75 under the Development of Tourism Act 1969 totalling £22 million.

Mr. Adley

I must first declare an interest in the hotel industry. Is the Minister aware that there is, or perhaps has been until his statement this afternoon, a vacuum in the absence of any definitive policy or statement by his Department on the tourist industry? As he has referred to the Development of Tourism Act, will he now recognise that that Act failed to give sufficient regional incentives in some parts of the country and gave too much incentive in London? Will he, for instance, now consider the proposal that has been put to his Department that tourism development areas as distinct from industrial development areas could be considered?

Mr. Deakins

On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I should like to mention that he was, unfortunately, not able to be present, although he tried to be present, for an Adjournment debate on this matter early last Wednesday morning when his hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young) raised this subject. I did my best to reply to the debate.

On the second part of the question, I am aware of the arguments for extending assistance under Section 4 of the Development of Tourism Act more widely than the present policy of confining it to development areas where the need is greatest. I shall certainly bear in mind the points raised by the hon. Gentleman, but I cannot give any undertaking as yet that they can be accepted as decisive.

Sir George Young

Is the Minister satisfied with the present division of responsibility between the British Tourist Authority on the one hand and the national tourist boards on the other hand? Does he see no risk in splitting the functions of marketing and development between the two completely autonomous bodies?

Mr. Deakins

I took the hon. Gentleman's point in the Adjournment debate to which I have referred, and I take it again. There is a problem between marketing and distribution. The two major problems which may require—I do not yet know—some reorganisation are tourism strategy and Exchequer support, and these are problems to which we are bending our minds.