HC Deb 16 January 1978 vol 942 cc20-1
19. Mr. Holland

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether, in view of the similarity in terms of reference and activities between the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourist Board, economies in public expenditure could be affected by eliminating the English Tourist Board as a separate organisation.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade (Mr. Michael Meacher)

The premise in the Question is incorrect. The British Tourist Authority is mainly concerned with overseas promotion in respect of the whole of Britain whereas the English Tourist Board directs its different and specialised expertise towards encouraging tourism in England, both in promotion and the provision and improvement of tourist amenities and facilities.

Mr. Holland

Does the Minister consider that the United Kingdom is so unprepossessing that it requires no fewer than four national bodies, with four separate secretariats and four budgets, to promote tourism both in and to the United Kingdom?

Mr. Meacher

Yes. The functions of each of the bodies are quite different. The three national tourist boards have very different functions from that of the BTA. As to the size of the budget, the total tourism budget is under £20 million, and our earnings from overseas tourism are £2,000 million, so it is a very good buy.

Mr. Adley

Is the Minister aware that the proposals in the Scotland Bill radically change the constitution and will therefore radically change the role of the BTA? Many people in the industry are very concerned about this, particularly the possibility of this matter going through the House without there being any debate whatsoever. Will the Minister use what influence he has to ensure that the matter is debated in the House at the earliest opportunity?

Mr. Meacher

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will do all that he can to ensure that the matter is debated, although I think that that will partly depend on the Opposition. The role of the BTA is not changed by the Bill. We are talking now about the structure of the board, and that is a matter for discussion within the House.

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