HC Deb 21 May 1979 vol 967 cc691-3
19. Mr. Anthony Grant

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the policy of his Department on tourism; and if he will make a statement.

22. Mr. Rees-Davies

asked the Secreary of State for Trade if he will take steps to ensure that tourist resorts shall qualify equally as industrial development areas in cases of special need or high unemployment.

30. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will propose some new initiatives to increase the importance of tourism in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Tebbit

We are well aware of the important contribution tourism makes to our economy. We shall be considering whether to make changes to the ways in which Government support the industry, but we have not yet taken any decisions.

Mr. Grant

I am glad that my hon. Friend recognises the massive importance of tourism to our economy, without which, in recent years, we should have been sunk under the bleak economy that we have had. When my hon. Friend considers the matter, will he recognise the importance of encouraging tourism away from the main cities such as London into other parts of the country, and that the best way to do that is to allow those people who know about tourism to decide where best this can be deployed rather than civil servants and Ministers in Whitehall?

Mr. Tebbit

I shall certainly take note of my hon. Friend's advice, not least because he himself has held ministerial responsibility for the tourist industry in the past, and we would welcome any further suggestions that he has for our consideration.

Mr. Rees-Davies

Further to what the Minister has said, and in relation to question No. 22, will the Minister and the Government carefully consider the need now to bring the tourist areas where there is considerable need and high unemployment within the scope of industrial development areas, for at present areas such as Scarborough and Newquay have had immense benefits conferred on them which are denied to those of Thanet and many other areas where there is both high unemployment and special need?

Mr. Tebbit

I am well aware of the sense of grievance to which my hon. and learned Friend refers. Of course, we shall consider that, as with every other matter, in our review.

Mr. Smith

Is my hon. Friend aware that not enough has been done in recent years to promote tourism as a major British industry? Echoing the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Grant), may I ask whether the Minister will make sure that those areas outside London and Scotland get a fair share of the Government's encouragement?

Mr. Tebbit

I take note of what my hon. Friend has said. But, for an industry which, as he said, has not had enough done to help it, it has done extraordinarily well. Perhaps in some matters we might conclude that industries which are not over-helped by a Government do rather better than some of those which receive too much attention.

Mr. Heffer

Since the Merseyside county council is run by the Conservative Party and it has set up a committee to encourage tourism in Merseyside, will the Minister assure the House that the Government will enter into negotiations and discussions with the county council positively to help tourism on Merseyside?

Mr. Tebbit

We are willing to talk to anyone. I am even willing to talk to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), and there could be no broader statement than that. If a council, whether a Conservative council or one of any other political party, wishes to take action to spend money from the rates to support local industries, that is a matter for that council rather than for Her Majesty's Government.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the European regional fund already is giving substantial help to tourist infrastructure projects in Lancaster and Morecambe and could do so in many other tourist areas if it was approached by the authorities concerned?

Mr. Tebbit

I have no doubt that those concerned with these matters in the other areas will have heard what my hon. Friend has said and can take the hint very well.

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