HC Deb 09 February 1976 vol 905 cc18-20
14. Mr. Hicks

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he is satisfied with the present operation of Section 4 of the Development of Tourism Act 1969 and the additional condition of restricting grants for approved tourist projects to those within development areas.

Mr. Deakins

Within present financial constraints, I am satisfied that the greatest benefits under the scheme can be obtained by concentrating resources on the development areas.

Mr. Hicks

Does the Minister agree that there are regions in the United Kingdom, outside the formal industrial development areas, that require investment by the tourist industry? Would not much more locational selection be possible if the Government were to accept the concept of special tourist development areas?

Mr. Deakins

The present development areas already identify areas of economic development. They are not limited to industrial areas. It is the development areas that need assistance, including tourist assistance. If we were to do what the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members would like us to do—in other words, to spread available funds over wider areas—we would do so only at the expense of the development areas in which we feel the need is greatest.

Mr. Heffer

Does my hon. Friend accept—I speak as an hon. Member who represents a development area—that there are areas which are not development areas but which could be assisted from the point of view of tourism? I was convinced during my time at the Department that that matter should be pursued. Will my hon. Friend re-examine the situation?

Mr. Deakins

I am aware of my hon. Friend's interest in this matter, particularly because, as he said, he represents a development area. Nevertheless, although we have had many representations from a number of bodies and individuals, we feel that our policy on tourist guidelines announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade in November 1974 is the right one. We should allow time for that policy to be worked out and then see how well it operates in practice.

Mr. Adley

Does the Minister accept that since 1969 more and more people who take an interest in the tourist industry have concluded that, in terms of need, requirements vary in different areas? Therefore, will the Minister consider the points raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Bodmin (Mr. Hicks) and Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker)?

Mr. Deakins

We are always willing to listen to representations, but we seek to cater for the needs not only of development areas but of rural areas.

Mr. Warren

I wish to press the Minister on this question. Although I would not wish to go to the constituency of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) for my holiday, I can assure him that there are many other places——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows the rules by now.

Mr. Warren

Does the Minister agree that there are many areas other than development areas in which unemployment is over 10 per cent. and in which we need to see some tourist activity, though not connected with present legislation?

Mr. Deakins

This is a matter for regional and national tourist boards. The Question is related to Section 4 of the Development of Tourism Act 1969. Other forms of assistance are available. I would have thought that areas such as Hastings and Bridlington could be catered for by assistance in other respects.