HC Deb 02 July 1979 vol 969 cc899-900
22. Mr. Hannam

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has received from the tourist industry concerning cancelled bookings in United Kingdom holiday areas this summer; and if he will make a statement.

21. Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what impact he expects the increase in petrol prices will have on the tourist industry.

Mr. Tebbit

I have received a number of complaints from tourist bodies in popular holiday areas that some people have cancelled holiday bookings because of fears about petrol shortages. I know the industry is also concerned that the petrol price increases may harm their business. However, careful driving can easily reduce fuel consumption by 10 per cent. Income tax cuts will also counter-balance higher prices—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Obviously there are some hon. Gentlemen who have not yet had their tax rebates. I do not believe that domestic tourism will suffer.

Mr. Hannam

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the main causes of holiday cancellations is a fear on the part of the holidaymaker from another part of the country that when he reaches the holiday area he will be unable to obtain enough petrol to get him back home at the end of the holiday? Will he reassure holiday makers that the petrol situation is easing considerably in the resort areas and that they will be able to obtain enough petrol and therefore need not cancel their holidays?

Mr. Tebbit

I agree with my hon. Friend. Perhaps the best reassurance can be given by people such as my hon. Friend who represent West Country seats. Indeed, I understand that the local press in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade made it plain over the weekend that there was no shortage of petrol to deter tourists from visiting the West Country.

Mr. Mike Thomas

Is the study of mathematics included in the training of airline pilots these days? We now know that the amount of income tax rebate for any taxpayer who earns less than £10,000 a year is exceeded by the increases in VAT and petrol duty imposed by the Government. How many times are we expected to spend our income tax rebates?

Mr. Tebbit

I think what is being tested is the credulity of hon. Members in believing the propaganda issued from Transport House rather than my mathematics.