HC Deb 27 February 1981 vol 999 cc1108-44

Order for Second Reading read.

11.56 am
Mr. Gordon Wilson (Dundee, East)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

During proceedings on the Horserace Betting Levy Bill the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison) referred to his success in racing as the owner of one leg of a horse. The proposition in my Bill is that the Scottish Tourist Board, which has only one leg, should be given a second leg so that it can perform its duties more effectively.

Under the Development of Tourism Act 1969 responsibility for the overseas projection of Scotland for the purpose of attracting tourists is vested in the British Tourist Authority. The Scottish Tourist Board is enabled to project Scotland only domestically within the country or within other parts of the United Kingdom. That arrangement was devised 12 years ago, since which time the position has changed quite remarkably.

The Highlands and Islands Development Board is able to promote the Highlands and Islands abroad. The Scottish Tourist Board should be able to do that in relation to the country as a whole. Naturally, the Scottish Tourist Board endeavours to co-operate with the British Tourist Authority, but for a number of years under different chairmen and directors the board has claimed that it should have the right to project Scotland abroad and to have much more influence over the way in which Scotland is portrayed.

Apparently there is no reason why that should not happen. The British Tourist Authority would still have responsibility for the projection of Britain as a whole and the Scottish Tourist Board would be able to do for Scotland what the Highlands and Islands Development Board and the Scottish local authorities do to project Scotland to the rest of the world. The House does not seem to realise that these areas have the power to promote their own parts of Scotland abroad.

Unfortunately, the Scottish Tourist Board has not been given the opportunity to market Scotland as an entity and to back up the valuable work done by the Highlands and Islands Development Board and the regions and districts concerned.

Some regions might be happy to promote their own regions abroad. Indeed, the Bill would not seek to prevent them from so doing. However, it would rectify the imbalance, because the country as a whole is unable to be marketed. There is a trend of opinion that that should be done.

Some areas feel that they have been hard done by in relation to what they should do. Some of the bigger regions have the capability of going overseas and producing material. However, I should like to quote from the Annandale Observer of 8 February last year. It states that the executive committee of the regional tourist association is to write to the hon. Members for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) and Galloway (Mr. Lang) to try and change the law which prevents the Scottish Tourist Board from promoting Scotland abroad. The association seemed to think that the smaller regions and districts of the country were placed in an invidious situation because they did not have the ability to market in the same way as the larger regions. That is their particular objection.

The Earl of Mansfield—who naturally is unable to be in this House but who is represented by the Undersecretary of State for Scotland—in a speech at the Albany hotel in Glasgow some time ago, said: There is also a conviction that the promotion of Scotland abroad is ill-organised and insensitive and it is not sufficiently under the influence of those who have a direct knowledge of Scotland's needs. The Earl of Mansfield went on to say that he believed that perhaps some of those criticisms had been overstated. But he felt that it was time that the tourism omelette in Scotland was unscrambled.

There are reasons why there should be a considerable change. Athough the tourist industry has given the impression and appearance that it was going from success to success, since 1979 there has been a drop in trade. Indeed, 1980 was a particularly bad season for tourism.

The tourist industry is substantial. It employs about 110,000 people and attracts spending of about £600 million. I understand that in 1979 only about 9.5 per cent. of the tourists who came to Scotland were overseas visitors. That is one area of concern which affects the tourist industry. Scotland, despite its many attractions, gained perhaps no more than its population share of tourists from abroad. Nevertheless, we should put on record the fact that almost 29 per cent. of the revenue attracted from spending by visitors to Scotland came from overseas visitors. Therefore, the element of the overseas trade is substantial.

The House will also be aware that the pattern of domestic tourism is changing. Many more people go abroad. There is less of a market in terms of fashion and trend available to the tourist industry from those who live in Scotland. Therefore, greater pressure must be put on the attraction of overseas visitors to make up for the loss which might be sustained on the domestic market.

The past two summers have been extremely bad. Staying at home on holiday is for some people almost a masochistic exercise. There is the perennial optimism that at some time during their holiday the sun will shine and they will have lovely weather. However, the attractions of Scotland go beyond our climate. Indeed, they have to make up for some of it.

One factor which has affected domestic trade has been the cost of internal travelling. The increasing cost of petrol has an inhibiting effect on tourists and on the bed and breakfast: trade. If the British Tourist Authority's target is to attract tourists and if they are brought in through London, which tends to be the point of access for most tourists, there is a disinclination by overseas visitors to extend their journey to other parts of the United Kingdom, especially as air fares are so high. In order to get overseas visitors to Scotland, we must try to get them to travel direct to achieve lift-off in that sector.

There is considerable dissatisfaction with the British Tourist Authority. Undoubtedly, the BTA tries to fulfil its role, but it has to look to the biggest market. After I decided to go ahead with this Bill, I received through the post a copy of the British Travel News, the autumn 1980 edition, No. 71. On flicking through it, I noticed that there was very little in the British Travel News that referred to Scotland. There were a few small paragraphs, but nothing very much. However, it was headed with portraits of Mr. London accompanied by two dolly girls, and there were five other pages on the same theme. Most of the main headings related to London in one form or another.

London forms an important part of the trade that the BTA wishes to attract to Britain. The BTA's main object is to attract people to Britain. It has as a secondary aim the object of spreading the largesse as widely as possible.

According to the British Travel News, Sir Henry Marking, the chairman of the BTA, in the annual report, said: In this context … it is as well to recognise the inestimable attraction and value of London as a world communications and commercial centre. Nearly 20 per cent. of Britain's incoming travel movement is for business reasons. London has become the premier centre for international conferences. This segment of the travel market, which expanded on all fronts in 1979, has great potential. London must undoubtedly be one of the principal centres for the tourist industry in the United Kingdom because of its attractions for tourists. It is a very large city with many historic monuments, and so forth. However, it does not do the Scottish tourist industry much good to have this kind of obsession on the part of the BTA with the city of London almost to the exclusion of other parts of the United Kingdom.

I am sure that other hon. Members could point out that Wales, the North of England, the Midlands and so on had been bypassed in this magazine. It may be that this magazine is not typical, but it is significant that that should appear to be the BTA's obsession at this time.

There is dissatisfaction about the way in which Scotland is marketed by the BTA as an appendage to English attractions such as Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament and Stonehenge. Folk are worried that the BTA, by its nature, is unable to cope with the needs of areas such as Scotland.

I was amused that when the forthcoming marriage of the Prince of Wales was announced some commentators said that it was exactly the fillip that the London tourist trade needed. Perhaps I could do as much good for my Bill and the promotion of tourism in Scotland by attempting to get the marriage transferred to a another centre, thereby relocating the tourists who will swarm in for the great event.

Mr. Donald Stewart (Western Isles)

It could be held in Edinburgh.

Mr. Wilson

My right hon. Friend suggests Edinburgh and the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) might add that it should be in St. Machar Cathedral. We shall wait and see what the competition is.

Evidence collected by those involved in the industry in Scotland who do spot checks on BTA offices abroad shows an unacceptable mental attitude in the selling of Scotland. There is much ignorance about Scotland and many staff do not have detailed knowledge about particular areas. A member of the STB consultative committee recently called at the BTA's New York office to ask for information on Scotland. After searching, a staff member eventually found some STB promotion literature in a closed cupboard. That was not exactly an encouraging visit for the consultative committee representative.

There is also evidence of a low success rate in getting visitors to Scotland as part of United Kingdom holidays. Visitors from the United States and Canada arriving directly in Scotland account for nearly 25 per cent. of all overseas arrivals in Scotland. Another recent growth sector, visitors from Australia and New Zealand, accounts for another substantial proportion. Most of those visitors come to see families or friends and have not been attracted by BTA marketing in their home countries.

The number of visitors who come as a result of earlier contact with the BTA or because they have been influenced by its advertising abroad is probably a small proportion of the holiday traffic. It is difficult to estimate the proportion, but that seems to be the indication. If that is correct, it represents a poor return on the public money allocated to the BTA to promote Scotland.

It was significant that the committee of inquiry into local government in Scotland, under the chairmanship of the Right Hon. Anthony Stodart, a former Member of the House, which was appointed by the Scottish Office, went out of its way, almost in excess of its terms of reference, to deal with the problems facing the tourist industry in Scotland. It said: There were frequent and favourable references in evidence to the arrangements operating under the aegis of the Highlands and Islands Development Board in the Highlands and Islands (in respect of which the Board has an agreement with the Scottish Tourist Board about the extent of its activities in the field of tourism). So we decided to look closely at the structure which exists there. As I mentioned earlier, the HIDB has the power to promote its part of Scotland abroad and no one has suggested that the board, or the regions and districts, should have that power removed. We are involved in coordination and promotion and there is an obligation to ensure that there is no duplication. The Stodart report states that marketing: has both United Kingdom and overseas aspects. Most local authorities with an interest in tourism take part in promotions and exhibitions within the United Kingdom. Overseas promotion is undertaken by the British Tourist authority, with some regions and a few districts participating in major exhibitions in Europe. The Scottish Tourist Board has no powers to operate abroad. It goes on: In their evidence to us the Scottish Tourist Board noted that it was well known that in overseas markets a Scottish region as such has little relevance unless it forms part of an overall Scottish effort, and that expenditure on promoting a specific region was unlikely to be productive. Moreover, by the same token, individual districts had little impact in United Kingdom markets unless they linked up to work across a much wider front in attracting holidaymakers. We agree that marketing on a wide scale requires a cohesive, carefully orchestrated approach which would in our view best be secured if one central body had a coordinating role; and we consider that the Scottish Tourist Board should be given this task. The interesting report adds: We are aware of the arguments for giving the British Tourist Authority responsiblity for promoting Scotland overseas along with other parts of the United Kingdom. We are however convinced that the distinctive attractions of Scotland and its high dependence economically on tourism merit a separate promotional effort abroad. We are in no doubt at all that this can best be done by the Scottish Tourist Board. Indeed such an extension of the Board's powers is clearly logical when the Highlands and Islands Development Board already has them and uses them with such success. We recommend very strongly, therefore, that the Scottish Tourist Board should be given overseas promotional powers in its own right, and be solely responsible for promoting Scotland abroad, after consulting district councils, (In saying this, we reserve the position of the Highlands and Islands Development Board, as we make clear in paragraph 154)". There is no reason why the STB should not have those powers and enter into an appropriate agreement with the BTA in relation to the promotion of Scotland overseas. There is obviously a United Kingdom dimension, but there is no reason why, with proper co-operation, an agreement should not be worked out.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)

The hon. Gentleman has raised an important point which the Bill does not clarify. As he indicated, the Stodart committee suggested that the STB should have the sole right to promote Scotland overseas, but he will be aware that the effect of his Bill, even though he may not have intended it, will be to give the STB power to promote Scotland overseas, but it will not change the power or functions of the BTA.

Will the hon. Gentleman clarify whether it was his intention that both the BTA and the STB should carry out that function or whether, as Stodart appeared to suggest, the STB alone should have that function, so that there would be no continuing need for the BTA to be involved in the promotion of Scotland overseas?

Mr. Wilson

For drafting reasons, my Bill seeks to provide for dual responsibility. As the Under-Secretary is probably aware, it would not have been possible to have a Scottish Bill that sought to dismantle or change the British Tourist Authority. The object of the Bill is to give power to the Scottish Tourist Board to promote Scotland abroad. That would leave a joint responsibility, which would be an improvement on the present situation.

I should welcome the full implementation of the Stodart report, though even if it were implemented the BTA would clearly have an interest in how Scotland was promoted as part of the overall promotion of the United Kingdom. Indeed, the STB may wish to reach agreement with the BTA to use its facilities overseas.

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman says that for drafting reasons the effect of the Bill would be to give a dual responsibility to the BTA and the STB. His case is that the STB should have sole responsibility for promoting Scotland overseas and that the BTA should have no need to interest itself in tourism to Scotland or the promotion of Scotland overseas. It would be helpful if the hon. Gentleman would clarify that that is his objective, even if it is not the technical consequence of the Bill.

Mr. Wilson

The hon. Gentleman has put the matter fairly. For technical reasons it was not possible to exclude the BTA from involvement in the promotion of Scotland abroad. I accept that it has a role in the projection of Britain abroad and that has an impact on the tourist industry in Scotland.

I suggest that there should be an agreement, which need not be couched in statute, between the board and the authority to allow the STB to undertake the projection of Scotland abroad. The Bill would enable that to happen and would give the Scottish Tourist Board a greater leverage in its dealing with the BTA. There has been considerable concern in the Scottish Tourist Board in the past about what the present chairman has termed the "unmovable bureaucracy". I am judging this from statements by Mr. Devereux. The board seems to feel that the BTA is not responsive to the urgings of the Scottish Tourist Board, and the remarks I quoted from Lord Mansfield earlier tended to bear that out.

The Scottish Office partly went along with what the board said when it agreed to the appointment of an overseas director. But that director will have no statutory power to operate abroad on behalf of the STB. That halfa-loaf suggestion was criticised by The Scotsman in an editorial when it said that the understanding was that: Overseas co-ordination is to take place, but it looks as if it will stop at Gretna Green; the STB's director will co-ordinate all Scottish efforts but will be unable to do the same for the BTA's campaigns. The Minister's solution resembles nothing more than a recipe for confusion. Because he did not go for the only answer that would work—giving the entire job to the STB—Lord Mansfield may have injected a new element of friction into the Scottish tourism trade. I would have preferred to go for the complete solution, which has administrative simplicity, of giving to the STB responsibility for dealing within the United Kingdom with tourism matters in Scotland. It at present has that under the Development of Tourism Act 1969, but it would have a statutory right to go abroad and project Scotland there if it were dissatisfied with the package put forward by the BTA, or if it could not reach any agreement with the BTA. At the moment it is prevented from obtaining such agreement because it has no independent right to project Scotland abroad. My solution would be a step forward in clarifying the position.

I see this happening as follows. Far from the STB putting itself at arm's length from the BTA, it would use its new rights to negotiate an agreement with the BTA on better terms than now exist for the projection of Scotland abroad and for a better use of BTA facilities abroad.

Mr. John G. Blackburn (Dudley, West)

I am particularly concerned about a point in the hon. Gentleman's last few sentences that has confused me. Perhaps other hon. Members share my concern. It is about the financial implications of the dual responsibility between the two boards. I note that there is no financial memorandum to the Bill. Will the hon. Gentleman indicate the likely cost of his proposal over and above the £7.93 million already allocated, since that would help us in our judgment on the Bill.

Mr. Wilson

Any hon. Member who, in a Private Member's Bill, seeks to spend public money will find himself in real difficulty. The vote of the network of legislation is what can be changed.

The BTA has within its present budget an allocation for advertising Scotland abroad. The argument advanced—not just by myself but from within the tourist trade in Scotland and by the Scottish Tourist Board, although I accept that that is more likely to be a case of special pleading—is that the money that the BTA has for developing Scottish tourism, as differentiated from its promotion of Britain as a whole, is not being used well at present. The resources are therefore being wasted.

The way round this is for the two boards to come together. However, the Scottish Tourist Board—I have to put this bluntly—has found the BTA in the past to be nonco-operative. If that had not been the case, it would not have found it necessary to press for the powers in the Bill. The previous chairman and director of the STB pressed for the powers. After the general election when the Conservatives came to power they appointed a new chairman, having just appointed a new director of tourism at the Highlands and Islands Development Board. These gentlemen have pressed the Government hard to grant these powers.

I suggest that there is no substitute for properly organised national promotion of Scotland, and who better than the Scots to know how best to project their country abroad? On that basis I ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading.

12.26 pm
Mr. Iain Sproat (Aberdeen, South)

I begin by congratulating the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) on his good fortune in having the opportunity to place the Bill before the House, good fortune which is the more remarkable since his right hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) had a similar opportunity but two weeks ago. We are all deeply envious on this side of the House, and we wonder how they exercise such enormous power in this place—at least, power over the fates or over good luck. I certainly congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his good fortune, if not on a great deal of what is in the Bill.

Before I deploy the main themes of my speech, perhaps I should comment on one aspect that strikes me as extraordinary and, I dare say, will strike my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary in the same way. Among the sponsors of the Bill I see the hon. Member for Dundee, East, the promoter, and the right hon. Member for Western Isles. That is natural and proper. I also see, however, the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson), and the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston), the latter representing the Liberal Party, one presumes, and the former representing one of the many parts of the Labour Party. However, neither hon. Gentleman has chosen to be present in the House today. That is a most extraordinary reflection on the Liberal Party, because it holds Inverness touristically to be one of the most important parts of Scotland.

Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones (Watford)

Where are the Opposition Front Bench?

Mr. Sproat

I shall come to that in a moment. My hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones) asks an important question. Inverness is not represented here today. The Leader of the Liberal Party, the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel), represents the Borders—country redolent of Sir Walter Scott and the border ballads and the glories of Melrose Abbey. No doubt all the Border abbeys would wish to have their natural beauties paraded in prose form before the House of Commons, yet the right hon. Gentleman is not here today.

In addition to the Liberal Party being absent, it is extremely reprehensible that the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian, a sponsor of the Bill, has chosen to absent himself. Most extraordinary, however, is the fact that there is no representative on the Opposition Front Bench—

Mr. Rifkind

Or anywhere on the Opposition Benches.

Mr. Sproat

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary is correct. There is no member of the Council for Social Democracy, no Trotskyite, no middle-of-the-road Labour Member, and even the surrogate hon. Members for Afghanistan have chosen to absent themselves from the debate. It is worth pointing out—and I bow to the hon. Gentleman in this—that for a place as important as Scotland—no doubt my hon. Friends will wish to point out later in the debate that it is as important, by implication, for Wales and England—not a single representative of the official Labour Party Front Bench is present.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Horse racing received much more attention from the Labour Front Bench than the Scottish tourist industry is receiving.

Mr. Sproat

That opens up an interesting line of thought. After all, we have racing in Scotland. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State represents Ayr. He will know the lines from Burns: (Auld Ayr wham ne'er a town surpasses For honest men and bonnie lasses). And, I dare say, for bonnie horses as well. Kelso is another famous racecourse in Scotland. However, the hon. Gentleman must not tempt me into divergent lines in what I am sure he will find an extremely focused and concentrated speech—concentrated on his very brief Bill.

I say in passing that when the Gaelic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill was introduced by the right hon. Member for Western Isles he did us the courtesy of explaining why there was no Conservative sponsor. He said that he had not sought to embarrass us. We appreciate his courtesy, as always. I am sorry to see that the hon. Member for Dundee, East also has no Conservative sponsor. I do not know whether I should have been willing to be a sponsor. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. MacKay) has strong views on the Matter. Perhaps he was asked.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

I did not ask the hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. MacKay), but I did ask another member of the Scottish Conservative group. There was a lack of enthusiasm. I forbore to point that out in case it embarrassed the hon. Gentleman, of whose attitude I was not sure until he began to speak.

Mr. Sproat

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that explanation, although I am disappointed at not having been asked. Had I been asked, I could have told him in advance some of the reasons why I could not support the Bill. That might have led to an improvement in the Bill before it came before the House, perhaps even resulting in its gaining my support.

I wish to mention one point in passing, before I turn to the main themes of my speech. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the wedding of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to the Lady Diana Spencer. It appeared to me that he was critical of the wedding taking place in London, and not in St. Machar's cathedral in Aberdeen, or in Edinburgh, or Stirling or Inverness. I must point out that, contrary to his wishes, we are a united kingdom, the capital of which is London. It is perfectly proper that the marriage of the Prince of Wales xhould take place in London. I hope that it will do a great deal of good for the tourist trade in London. However, it will not only be London. I went into a souvenir shop between the House and my office in Norman Shaw North earlier this week. I was purchasing something there, and the lady from whom I was purchasing it told me how much good the marriage of the Prince of Wales was doing for tourism in London. But she also mentioned that Belfast had guaranteed to have 30,000 tea towels with the heads of Prince Charles and Lady Diana on them in the shops by the end of next week. That is trade for Northern Ireland, not only London.

Mr. Matthew Parris (Derbyshire, West)

My hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones) has come back into the Chamber. Had he been present during the past two or three minutes I am sure that he would have wished to have said that, rather than the marriage taking place in London, there was a better case for it taking place in Wales.

Mr. Sproat

That is a pertinent point. When my hon. Friend rose to his feet I thought that he was about to make out a case for Derbyshire—

Mr. Garel-Jones

What about Watford?

Mr. Sproat

Indeed, what about Watford? However, the Prince of Wales was formally invested at Caernarvon. Keen as I am to promote Scotland—as will become apparent later in my speech—I am not sure that we are wholly justified in criticising the Prince of Wales for marrying in London.

Scotland has benefited from Royal patronage in an enormous way. Had Queen Victoria not chosen to settle in her castle at Balmoral, the Scottish tourist trade—if I may put it in such a cheap and vulgar way—over the years would not have benefited to the extent that it has. The glories of Royal Deeside, in which I am privileged to live, would not be so well known to the world as they are. The Scottish tourist trade certainly owes as much to the genius of Sir Walter Scott and the residence of Queen Victoria as to many other factors within our national boundaries.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East referred to the Stodart committee. Those of my hon. Friends who followed with intense and avid interest the deliberations of the Stodart committee and its possible recommendations, never expected it to come forward with recommendations to promote Scottish tourism in New York, San Francisco and Tokyo. None the less, it did so. The hon. Gentleman said that he was slightly surprised that the committee had chosen to widen its remit in that way. None the less it did, and it made some valuable and interesting points about Scottish tourism. But this Bill, although it would undoubtedly implement in part one of the principles that the Stodart committee expounded, would not answer many of the other problems that would arise were the Stodart recommendations accepted. It would be extremely unwise of the House to seek to implement that part of the Stodart report by this Bill. The report must be considered as a whole. There are many different implications of giving the Scottish Tourist Board power to set up overseas. Although the Stodart committee mention of that is interesting, it cannot weigh substantially with the House at this stage. We have not had a chance to debate that report.

The hon. Gentleman raised one other point with which I have some sympathy. I wish to comment on it before I come to my arguments. He mentioned the question of travel within Scotland. He mentioned two aspects of it—first, petrol and secondly, the price of air fares. I was not quite sure what point he was making about petrol. When I drive from Aberdeen to Westminster, which I do not do very often—perhaps half a dozen times a year—because it is a 500-mile drive, I am struck by the fact that the petrol that I purchase in Aberdeen is always cheaper than the petrol that I purchase on the motorway in England. If the drift of the hon. Gentleman's argument was that, somehow, petrol was more expensive in Scotland, I must say that the cost of petrol differs all over Scotland, all over England and, indeed, differs within different garages within Aberdeen. I do not think that it can be used as an argument to say that, somehow, Scotland is disadvantaged. I dare say that my hon. Friend the Member of Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) could tell us that petrol in certain parts of Derbyshire is extremely expensive.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

I think that the hon. Gentleman is making more of my remark than was intended. He is knocking down a straw man. Some areas of Scotland, such as the Highlands, undoubtedly have higher petrol costs. As the hon Gentleman points out, different areas have their own price differentials. One would find variations when travelling between Dundee and Stirling. But overseas tourists coming from Heathrow and driving to Scotland would face substantial bills from motorway garages. The hon. Gentleman should appreciate that my main remark was that the higher cost of petrol overall has had an effect on the tourist trade. I am sure that he would not deny that.

Mr. Sproat

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for clarifying that point to some extent. It is true that if one lands at Heathrow or Gatwick and drives to Aberdeen, the cost of the petrol will be a substantial part of the holiday. It may actually be cheaper than taking an air fare, but I shall come to that in a moment.

On the other hand, if one flies from Texas to Aberdeen and decides to go to Stratford-on-Avon or Chatsworth, no doubt one will find the journey to England extremely expensive. In other words, I do not think that this is an argument that leads to the disadvantage or advantage of Scotland or England.

It depends on where one starts from. In so far as most tourists in this country start from London, no doubt Cornwall, Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling and Chatsworth all have problems. In this vale of tears we all have problems. I do not think that this in the past has stopped or will stop people from believing that a tour of Scotland by car is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding touristic experiences that one can have. The main point is that touring in Derbyshire or in the Grampians will cost a lot of money for petrol. But there are parts of the United Kingdom where it will cost even more.

On the question of air fares, I think that the hon. Gentleman has a point. I cannot off the top of my head give him the air fare from London to Paris, but I believe I am right in saying that mile for mile it is probably cheaper to fly from Heathrow to Paris airport—Charles De Gaulle is it called these day, I do not know?—than it is to fly to Dyce, Aberdeen or Turnhouse, Edinburgh. But there are ways of dealing with that.

I dare say that the hon. Gentleman would also find that mile for mile it may be more expensive to fly from London to Paris than it is to fly from London to Newcastle. Really what the hon. Gentleman is saying is that internal United Kingdom air fares are too high or that they are more than the customer wishes to pay. It may be that the airlines do not think that they are too high. What he cannot say, if this were his intention, is that somehow Scotland is militated against in this way.

I dare say that people who want to fly to Leeds—Bradford, to Newcastle or to Mancester feel just as aggrieved on the mile-for-mile cost: basis as those who wish to fly to Aberdeen, Edinburgh or Glasgow. That is because the total amount of the fares is greater because the distance is greater. It does not lessen the irritation among those who find that the mile-for-mile basis is greater within the United Kingdom than it is outside the United Kingdom.

There is another argument that should especially appeal to my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland and that is the magic word in any compendium of Tory philosophy, "competition". Recently we have had in Aberdeen a classic example of this that will appeal to the hon. Gentleman's tourist interests.

Until about a year ago last November there was only one major airline that one could use to fly direct from Aberdeen to London, and vice versa, unless one hired a charter plane, and that was British Airways. There were endless complaints about how expensive the tickets were, how frequently delayed, late, cancelled or postponed the flights were and about the poor quality of the food. In particular, the food was always cold. It was not meant to be hot; it was served as cold food. Many people complained to me and I complained to British Airways. I said that this was damaging the tourist trade in Aberdeen and all points of the tourist trade for which Aberdeen is a starting point, but I was told "Nothing can be done. The fare cannot be cut, the delays cannot be rectified, and the food cannot be improved". Therefore, as so often in any situation where there is a nationalised monopoly, we had to sit back and accept it. We did not like it, but we had to lump it.

Then what happened? Along came a brave operator, in this case Dan-Air, and a year ago last November Dan-Air started up. What did we find? Were the fares the same or even more expensive? No, the fares were not. Dan-Air found that it could cut the fares by, I think, about 15 per cent. Was Dan-Air late more often than it was on schedule? No, it was not. It has a remarkable record for being on time. I cannot remember the last occasion I flew Dan-Air when it was late—and it had hot meals, extremely good meals.

Hon. Members from the North-East, who I am glad to say are now mainly Conservative—I mention that because the hon. Member for Dundee, East, when he was in the last Parliament, had round him a whole gang of 11, was it, or 12 or 13—anyway 11—

Mr. Rifkind

There were 11.

Mr. Sproat

My hon. Friend says that there were 11 SNP Members. The country saw sense and now they have all lost their seats except for the right hon. Member for Western Isles and his hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East. All Conservatives and one or two Labour Members, and now a member of the Council for Social Democracy, travel up to Aberdeen from London. They find that they get hot breakfasts, which are very welcome on cold winter mornings, and newspapers are supplied, not only the London newspapers and the national newspapers but even local newspapers. We get a copy of The Aberdeen Press and Journal with the yellow band around it. That is the sort of service that tourists appreciate.

What has been the effect of this? Of course, I hope that it has had a good effect on the profits of Dan-Air, but it has also affected British Airways, because suddenly the food has substantially improved on British Airways. It still cannot manage to serve hot meals, but instead of getting that awful veal and him pie going mouldy round the edges—I should say not "mouldy", but very hard and unappetising—they now serve shrimps and even bits of salmon. Anyway, the result has been that, following the competition provided by Dan-Air, we have better food, we have better service and we have cheaper service.

My agreement with the hon. Member for Dundee, East—one of my, alas few points of agreement with him—is that air fares are a deterrent. Many people do not like spending more or less the whole day driving up to Aberdeen from London, which is what it takes, although these days there are motorways and dual carriageways pretty well the whole way, certainly up to Perth; and, thanks to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, we shall have a dual carriageway from Perth to Aberdeen within the lifetime of this Conservative Government, yet again opening up Aberdeen, the Grampians and the Highlands beyond to an even wider tourist trade.

The point about expensive air fares is well made, but it is not one that applies to Scotland more than to England. Certainly competition is the best way to seek to bring down the fares; and that is not theory but practice, as proven by the Aberdeen experience.

Mr. Parris

It is true that the high cost of internal air fares within the United Kingdom will discourage tourists from abroad whose principal purpose has been to visit England and Wales and thereafter to extend their tour to visit Scotland. However, these fares will equally discourage tourists from abroad whose principal purpose is to visit Scotland from bothering to travel down to England and Wales. I do not think that there is any disadvantage to any one of these three member parts of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Sproat

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. It is a point very well worth underlining. It is certainly true that Scotland is more distant from that city within the United Kingdom to which most tourists come for the beginning, namely, London. But one of the attractions of the Highlands of Scotland is that they are far from London and from the great centres of habitation. If Ben Nevis were in the middle of Buckinghamshire, I do not think that it would attract as many tourists as it does in its present place in the middle of Scotland. It is the loneliness, solitude and natural grandeur—it depends on solitude to a great extent—that attract the tourist. On the one hand, there is the advantage of solitude and grandeur, and on the other hand, there is the disadvantage of the distance from London.

In this world one cannot have everything one's own way. Scotland benefits and also disbenefits—as no doubt the American Secretary of State Al Haig would say—from such a situation. I am grateful to my hon. Friend who comes from an area where I imagine that tourism is in a healthy state and important to his constituency. He knows precisely the difficulties of which he speaks.

However, all that was by way of a brief preamble to the central arguments that I wish to deploy against the Bill. I hope to persuade my hon. Friends that they should not give the Bill a Second Reading today.

The Bill presented by the hon. Member for Dundee, East seems—perhaps in curious way—to have much in common with the Bill that the House considered a few weeks ago, put forward by his right hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles in connection with the Gaelic language. The connection is not just between Gaelic and tourism and Gaelic and Scotland, although those obviously are connections. The connection that struck me was that in both the case of the Gaelic language Bill and the case of this Bill there was, deep down, a principle of which we could all approve.

I do not know why hon. Gentlemen opposite are smiling, because I said so at some length in my previous speech. There is a principle very deep in both Bills, of which we approve. In the case of the Bill presented by the right hon. Member for Western Isles we all wished to see something that was an important part of the history of Scotland live—live, but not being foisted upon other people. That was the important distinction to draw there. The sadness of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill was that it had not been properly drafted and that it contained things of which he did not approve, as he willingly confessed to us on Second Reading. The right hon. Gentleman certainly said that. Clause 2 of his Bill says that authorities shall provide education in Gaelic. I think that I remember the words correctly. The right hon. Gentleman did not really mean that science and Greek should be taught in Gaelic. He meant that there should be the teaching of Gaelic, and that the substitution of "of" for "in" would be effected in Committee. If that is not a basic and substantial error in drafting, I do not know what it is.

I do not want to speak at length about the Gaelic Bill, except to say that there was a Bill worth putting before the House. But the right hon. Gentleman's Bill was not that Bill.

Similarly, the hon. Member for Dundee has put forward a Bill about tourism containing a principle with which we would all be in agreement. I say "all" rather hesitantly, because it suddenly strikes me that given that the number of tourists to the United Kingdom must be finite within a sense and that the amount of time that they can spend within the United Kingdom must be finite, in a sense, the more tourists we have at Scone Palace the fewer tourists we may, perhaps, have at Chats worth. So perhaps not every Member of the House is in favour of the basic principle. Certainly I would be in favour of the basic principle of the Bill, which I see as being the attraction of more tourists to Scotland.

At this point I shall interrupt myself and welcome to the Chamber the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles in whose constituency I lived for so long, whose natural beauties I know and love.

Mr. Rifkind

The constituency, or the right hon. Gentleman?

Mr. Sproat

I apologise if by a slip of the tongue I misled the House. I meant the constituency and the beautiful town of Melrose. We were all brought up on that famous quotation which, no doubt, the right hon. Gentleman will wish to quote: If thou would'st view fair Melrose aright, Go visit it by the pale moonlight; For the gay beams of lightsome day Gild, but to flout, the ruins grey. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will expatiate on the natural beauties of his area, if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Having made my little bow in the direction of the right hon. Gentleman, I say that the principle of attracting more visitors to Scotland is something with which everyone who has the interests of Scotland at heart will agree. However, I am not sure that this Bill does that. The most vast consequences flow from this very small Bill.

Mr. Nicholas Baker (Dorset, North)

I am glad that my hon. Friend has made a bow in favour of those who are concerned about the unlimited spread of tourism. Does not my hon. Friend see a considerable danger to Scotland, its natural beauty—on which he has expatiated in a most beautiful way—its environment and natural history from an unlimited increase of mass tourism?

Mr. Sproat

My hon. Friend has put his finger on one of the essential paradoxes and profound difficulties that we face—I was about to say, if we take a county like Argyll, but, sadly, we do not have any counties left in Scotland. They come under the bureaucratic, soulless and hollow nomenclature of regions. [Interruption.] I sadly confess that I did not oppose the Bill which brought that about in that case, or at least that part of the Bill. I wish now that I had done, although I had discussions with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland at the time. I wish to draw to the attention of the House the fact that the right hon. Member for Western Isles, who is nodding like a marionette, also failed to vote against the Bill, something that he may not be so keen to mention to his constituents these days.

However, I return to my hon. Friend's question. The question is: do we want more tourists or less? To take a beautiful county like Argyll, if one can find a day when the rain rains not in Argyll, one is a very lucky man in mathematical and aesthetic terms. Many would say that Argyll when the rain is not raining is possibly the most beautiful place on earth. One feature that makes it beautiful is not only the natural grandeur of the scenery but the fact that not many other people are around to spoil it. There is a balance to be drawn between attracting the greatest number of tourists to that beautiful area, which will benefit the local inhabitants, and not spoiling the area.

One reason why I am not happy about the Scottish Tourist Board having such unlimited powers over tourism in Scotland is that different parts of Scotland have different ideas about how many tourists they want and how many exactly they wish to attract them. I shall return to that important matter in a moment.

Mr. Charles Morrison (Devizes)

My hon. Friend is doing Argyll a considerable disservice when he implies that the county is constantly out of sight through Scotch mist or under water. The reality is somewhat different. It is true that in the mainland of Argyll the residents measure their rain in feet, not inches, but that is not true if one goes further West, to some of the islands, where the rainfall is no higher than it is in Rome.

Mr. Sproat

I am much indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison). As the House knows, he hails from those islands. I am glad that he corrected my impression, which was largely founded on a recent visit when I went to Argyll to go to the Dalmally show, where we had to put on sou'westers, oilskins and boots even in order to walk from one tent to the next, so heavy was the rain. Anyway, we all know that it is not as bad as Manchester. [Interruption.] I am sorry if I offended the hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. White), but there are some parts of the country whose virtues cannot be clouded by rain or storm, and no doubt Argyll and Manchester are two such areas within the United Kingdom.

I come to the some of the details of the Bill. It seeks to attract more visitors to Scotland. As a general rule, that is good, although I accept what my hon. Friend said about drawing the line between too many and not enough. How would the Bill seek to do that? The Bill says that: Section 2 of the Development of Tourism Act 1969 shall be amended by the insertion of the following subsection:—'(3A) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (3) above the Scottish Tourist Board shall have power to carry on activities outside the United Kingdom so as to encourage people to visit Scotland'. The key word for those of my hon. Friends who may not be as totally up to date in the matter as some of us who represent Scotland is "outside". At present the situation may be succinctly and accurately put by saying that it is the job of the British Tourist Authority to attract visitors from outside these shores to come to all parts of the United Kingdom; it is the job of the Scottish Tourist Board to attract persons already resident within the United Kingdom to come to Scotland. That is the important distinction that the Bill seeks to nullify.

Mr. Garel-Jones

Does my hon. Friend agree that the function of the Scottish Tourist Board is to attract not only people resident in England to go to Scotland but also those tourists who come from abroad to visit England? Once they come, for instance, to London, they should be attracted to go on to Wales, Scotland and other parts of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Sproat

That is absolutely true. I shall have more to say about it in a moment.

What would happen if the current distinction that is drawn between the British Tourist Authority and the Scottish Tourist Board were abolished? What would happen if the Scottish Tourist Board had the power to go abroad off its own bat? The first point that springs to mind is the cost. If the Scottish Tourist Board is to attract persons resident abroad to come to Scotland it will also have to set up offices; abroad. We cannot say exactly what the cost will be. I see the hon. Member for Dundee, East shaking his head. I should be happy if he could tell me that it will not cost the board money to set up offices abroad.

As I understand it, of the British Tourist Authority's budget of £7.93 million the percentage used to advertise Scotland is about 22 per cent. Let us say that something just under £2 million is to be spent on Scotland. There is no way in which even an equality of that spending on Scottish tourism abroad could be maintained without spending more money. Staff and offices would be required. Even if offices were rented fairly cheaply or even if, as has happened recently in the case of the Scottish Development Agency—which has set up various offices abroad—a Scottish business man could be found living on the West Coast of America to make offices available rent-free—which would be extremely unlikely in more than one or two cities—very extensive expenditure would be necessary on merely setting up what one might call the infrastructure, the basic overheads of the business of selling Scotland abroad. Then there would have to be new pamphlets and booklets and new staff. There will certainly be a heavy extra call on public expenditure within this country to finance the expansion abroad that the Bill calls for.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, West (Mr. Blackburn) mentioned earlier that there were no financial implications in the Bill. While what the hon. Member for Dundee, East said about not being able to spend public money is correct, it is a little disingenuous not to mention the PSBR implications of the Bill. The first thing that has to be said is that the Bill will cost the taxpayer more money. Why did the hon. Gentleman not argue that case openly, honestly and straightforwardly and attempt to put a valuation on it, saying "I see another £10 million a year being spent on Scottish tourism abroad," or whatever sum was mentioned? Therefore, the first detailed objection to the Bill is that within it there is no attempt to quantify what it will cost the taxpayer.

Mr. Blackburn

I intervened earlier in this interesting debate on that point. It is not only a question of the financial burden that would be involved if the Bill were passed, but, more importantly, it is a major international marketing exercise. If we are to market Scotland on an international basis we must do so correctly. Hon. Members present in the Chamber are dedicated disciples of Scotland. From my marketing experience, I believe that it will cost an additional £6 million.

Mr. Frank R. White (Bury and Radcliffe)

Is the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) aware that the advertising and mail shots to project Scotland and give Scotland a fair deal are in many instances handled by agencies that employ home workers? I am waiting to present a Bill involving the protection of homeworkers. Does he agree that there is a need to give homeworkers in Scotland a fair deal?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)

I hope that the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) will not be tempted to answer that point in his very interesting speech. That issue is connected with the next Bill.

Mr. Sproat

Oddly enough, we have had a case in Scotland that involved, in a sense, a combination of homeworkers and tourists, where tourists from Chile—I suppose one might call them that—were being used on the offshore oil rigs, providing very cheap labour, as the hon. Gentleman will know. That is a curious interaction between the two Bills.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I do not believe that they were tourists.

Mr. White

Neither were they homeworkers.

Mr. Sproat

At least they were Chileans and working at low rates.

Mr. White

They would have been chilly in the North Sea.

Mr. Sproat

I bow to the hon. Gentleman's wit if not the relevance of his remarks.

Turning to the point correctly raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, I am most interested in the fact that he put a figure of £8 million on the exercise. Accepting that figure for a moment, a point that I intended to make later concerned the effect that such a sum would have on the English and Welsh Tourist Boards. One serious point that the hon. Member for Dundee, East hardly mentioned was that if the Scottish Tourist Board is given the right to hive off from the British Tourist Authority and set up its own operations overseas, sure as eggs is eggs the English and Welsh Tourist Boards will also want to do that. I am not sure whether the £8 million was extra—

Mr. Blackburn


Mr. Sproat

We are, therefore, talking not only of £8 million. We are talking certainly of £10 million minimum. Suddenly we are up in the range of £50 million. I should have thought that it was the experience of every hon. Member that if the powers of a body such as the British Tourist Authority are hived off to an English, Scottish or Welsh Tourist Board and almost everything that it has had to do is removed, it does not die or creep away and vanish. For some extraordinary reason, it takes on even more people. We shall probably still have the British Tourist Authority and also the new large and aggrandised English, Welsh and Scottish Tourist Boards.

Mr. Parris

My hon. Friend does not do full justice to the argument of the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson), who seemed to suggest that the money that the Scottish Tourist Board would spend on promoting Scotland abroad would be funded basically by the fact that the British Tourist Authority would probably stop spending almost all the money that it was at present spending on the promotion of Scotland and that the £2 million could simply be transferred. It is an argument that deserves to be countered. I find it hard to imagine how the British Tourist Authority could promote Britain abroad and somehow except Scotland. The hon. Gentleman's argument deserves answering.

Mr. Sproat

Yes, my hon. Friend is quite right. If one were, as it is fashionable to say these days, working in a laboratory-style situation, no doubt the fact that the British Tourist Authority no longer needed to spend £2 million on Scotland would argue that £2 million less would be spent by the British Tourist Authority. But since, as we all know, we live not in a laboratory situation but in a "real world" situation, that would not apply.

We all know that in the year 1803 a gentleman was placed upon the white cliffs of Dover with a spyglass to look out across the English Channel—not to see tourists but to see whether the army of Napoleon was about to invade the shores of this island. If he saw the advancing troops of Napoleon, he was to ring a bell. That man's job was not abolished until 1945. I think that we might have a "white cliffs of Dover style situation" applying to the British Tourist Authority. So when my hon. Friend mentions £10 million minimum for promoting Scotland, we have to gross it up

Mr. Frank R. White

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the gentleman on the white cliffs of Dover in 1803 ringing his bell was probably a homeworker, because in those days the economy of the country was largely based on hamlets and villages, both in Scotland and in England? People worked at looms and spinning wheels at home. The factory system wiped that out and brought in a situation in which people working at home became an exploited group. Slave labour is not too emotional a word to use. Will the hon. Gentleman therefore consider concluding his comments quickly so that we may debate the Homeworkers (Protection) Bill?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman again, but unless those homeworkers were tourists it would not be in order for the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South to speculate upon that.

Mr. Sproat

Thank you very much indeed, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am very sorry indeed if it looks as though the hon. Gentleman's extremely important Bill will not receive a Second Reading today because of the need to ensure that the Bill of the hon. Member for Dundee, East does not receive a Second Reading. I apologise in principle to the hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe for that important fact.

Mr. Wilson

That is now on the record.

Mr. Sproat

The hon. Gentleman says that it is on the record. I said at the beginning that I am opposed to the Bill. I am seeking to persuade my colleagues. I do not know whether I am succeeding. They are looking a little doubtful. I am perhaps changing their minds about the value of the Bill.

I was dealing with the important interjection by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, West about the cost of the other boards. but it is not just the cost of having the English Tourist Board, the Wales Tourist Board, the Scottish Tourist Board and the British Tourist Authority. Let us, in imagination, jump the Atlantic to the city of New York and imagine that the Bill has become law so that there is a Scottish Tourist Board on Fifth Avenue, an English Tourist Board on Fourth Avenue, a Wales Tourist Board on Third Avenue and the British Tourist Authority on Second Avenue, all competing for tourists from the United States to come to different parts of the United Kingdom. Not only would it cost a tremendous amount, but New Yorkers would no doubt be totally baffled as to why all these different people were competing to get them to different parts of the United Kingdon.

Although I suggested that we jump in imagination to New York, in a way we can already jump to New York and see what has happened, because the Scottish Development Agency, which seeks to do for inward investment in Scotland what the Bill seeks to do for inward tourism in Scotland, already has an office in New York. However, when the development officer for the Grampian region called it up not long ago, he got an answering service instead of anybody at the other end, as the officers were apparently out on the golf course. I think that my hon. Friend who spoke of £10 million would think that that sort of behaviour was not a very good way of spending taxpayers' money.

The setting up of all these different boards is, first, very costly. Secondly, it is extremely confusing. It would mean setting tourist offices against one another, each trying to set out the advantages of its own region. Certainly, I believe in competition. But, as I agreed earlier, let us have moderation in all things. I believe that there is a limit to the amount of competition that the various tourist authorities of this country can afford. My hon. Friend has, therefore, made a very good point.

Certainly, we are in what might be called a "quango-style situation".

Mr. John Major (Huntingdonshire)

There is one important matter to which my hon. Friend has not yet bent his formidable argument. I wonder whether he is familiar with the remarkable book written by the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security, my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young) entitled "Tourism, Blessing or Blight?" in which he questions whether tourism is valuable to the country as a whole or whether the net cost, direct and indirect, of funding the tourist industry is not at least matched or perhaps even not quite met by the income derived from it.

Mr. Sproat

No, I have not read "Tourism, Blessing or Blight?", to give its title again, but I think that that book clearly encapsulates and possibly expands the argument put forward earlier about how difficult it is to draw the line between where tourism is a benefit and where it is a disadvantage. Certainly, what was most obvious from the speech by the promoter of the Bill was that he did not even seek to address himself to this important argument. Possibly my right hon. Friend might care to send him a copy of "Tourism, Blessing or Blight?" and see whether it changes his mind with regard to the Bill.

First, therefore, we have extra public expenditure—

Mr. Parris

I think that the "Tourism, Blessing or Blight?" argument perhaps speaks the other way, and somewhat in favour of what the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) has said. My own constituency is very-convenient to reach on a day trip from cities and towns all around it. Although day trippers are very welcome and we like to see them there, we do not actually make a great deal of money out of them. The kind of tourists out of whom one probably makes money, and from whom the country probably benefits, are those from abroad. That kind of tourism may well bring a net benefit. I believe that that point is well worth making.

Mr. Sproat

Yes, I think that that is absolutely true. That just indicates the depth, the width and the elusiveness of the whole argument, which really is not considered seriously in a Bill of two clauses, one of which simply says: This Act extends to Scotland only and This Act may be cited as the Development of Tourism (Scotland) Act 1981. This is a very important subject. The economic consequences of it are indeed vast and simply have not been treated by the hon. Gentleman with the seriousness to which they are entitled.

Mr. Nicholas Baker

I am sorry to intervene yet again. My hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) said, when dealing with tourism from abroad, that one is asking for a completely different and much more highly developed infrastructure of airports, communications, hotels and so on. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Mr. Major) said, the cost of that has never beer properly measured. I should like my hon. Friend to address himself to that point. I also hope to make some remarks about it myself if I have the opportunity to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Sproat

Perhaps I can leave it at that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as there is a good deal that I wish to say with particular relevance to Scotland.

Mr. John Farr (Harborough)

I come back to the question whether tourism is a blessing or a blight. Is my hon. Friend aware that a very historic hill at Balmoral was opened to the public a few years ago, since when it has been visited by the public—I think that the majority are tourists from abroad? That hill has been so eroded that the little grassy path has become very wide indeed. With the erosion of the soil, that little path has now disappeared and has become a form of valley. Indeed, the whole hill is now in danger of disappearing and it will have to be either concreted or shut off. Tourism is, therefore, not always a 100 per cent. blessing.

Mr. Sproat

That is a vivid example of the difficulty of striking a balance. No doubt the number of tourists who walk up the steps of the Parthenon in Athens will eventually destroy the very thing that they wish to see. That is one of the sad ironies with which it is difficult to grapple.

Mr. Anthony Grant (Harrow, Central)

I am fascinated by the debate, and I should not like my hon. Friend to be distracted by my other hon. Friends into imagining that tourism is not a good thing. If I catch the eye of the Chair, I shall certainly seek to argue the other way. As I visited the Parthenon only last week, I must assure my hon. Friend that the Greek Government attach great importance to tourism and devote a great deal of attention to the maintenance of that magnificent edifice.

Mr. Sproat

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that remark as well as envious of him. I have not been to Greece for a long time, but I believe that there one must pay to visit buildings such as museums and art galleries, except on Thursdays, with the result that old-age pensioners and schoolchildren can get in free. However, I believe that the upkeep of the buildings is covered by the cost of the entrance fees. That is something that the hon. Member for Dundee, East might like to take on board.

Grateful as I am for these interesting and valuable interjections from my hon. Friends, perhaps I can sum up this first section of my speech. First, the Bill will cause greater public expenditure at a time when we are seeking desperately to cut the PSBR.

Secondly, it at least provides the opportunity for the promotion of even more quangos and jobs for the boys. No doubt if the Bill were to pass into law, it would be absolutely vital to set up a Scottish Tourist Board office in Nice, Cannes, Rome, possibly Athens and all those other agreeable places around the world.

Thirdly, the Bill will have far-reaching implications for the English and Welsh tourist boards. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) has a close interest in Northern Ireland. No doubt the Bill will have important implications for the Northern Ireland situation as well.

Fourthly,—this point was not really dealt with by the hon. Member for Dundee, East—what will the role of the British Tourist Authority be if all these different authorities conducted their own business?

The Bill is typical of the Scottish National Party. Fortunately, my hon. Friends who are present, except for my two hon. Friends on the Front Bench, have no real experience of this matter. Until the SNP was more or less destroyed at the general election, it was an extremely selfish party. The Bill pays no regard to the consequences that it would impose upon the rest of the United Kingdom. In my view, the hon. Gentleman wrongly thinks about what it could do for Scotland.

Mr. Blackburn

That is an important point and I am delighted that my hon. Friend has directed his attention to it. At present in the Chamber are my hon. Friends the Members for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) and Harrow, Central (Mr. Grant) as well as myself. We are all anxious to develop the tourist industries within our constituences. We see an immense danger in the Bill because it will take all the financial resources away from us. We believe that to be grossly unfair. Perhaps my hon. Friend will direct his remarks specifically to the selfish attitude being adopted in the Bill and the crippling effect that it will have onthe tourist industries in Derbyshire and Wales as well as in my constituency.

Mr. Major

And East Anglia.

Mr. Blackburn

I apologise.

Mr. Sproat

This is a selfish and thoughtless Bill. The hon. Member for Dundee, East does not mind being politically selfish. That is what he is in business for. However, he is slitting his own throat because, as I shall now seek to show, the Bill would be detrimental to the very interests that he seeks to promote. I now turn to that section of my speech.

The purpose of the Bill, as I have said, is to give the Scottish Tourist Board the right to set up its own operations abroad. Yet those of us who were fortunate enough to serve on the Scottish Select Committee which looked at the whole matter of inward investment into Scotland found that industrialists abroad did not look upon the United Kingdom as being divided into separate parts. Datsun does not say "We want to come to Wales or Scotland or England". It says "We want to come to Britain". When it has made the decision in principle to come to Britain, it is then directed to the various areas of the United Kingdom where it might best settle.

With the exception of those of specific Scottish ancestry, or those who have been intoxicated by the translation of the works of Sir Walter Scott, I believe that very few people will want to go to Scotland and not to other parts of the United Kingdom. It is inconceivable that people will say "We want to see the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond but not the Tower of London. We are interested to see where Sir Walter Scott lived at Abbotsford but not where Shakespeare lived in Stratford-upon-Avon. We want to see the Loch Ness monster but not the white tigers in Bristol zoo."

It is inconceivable in common sense that the majority of people who come to this "sceptred isle" will not wish to see all that it has to offer, rather than just one part, albeit the part that I represent and of which I am extremely proud. Just as industrialists look at the United Kingdom as a whole, I think we would find that tourists do likewise and that when they come here they would be attracted to other parts of the United Kingdom and would see it as a whole package.

I do not wish to detain the House for too long. To my amazement, when I look at that electronic piece of luminous gadgetry above the hon. Member for Dundee, East, I see that I have been speaking for more than the five minutes or so which I originally thought would be the length of time that I would detain the House.

I want to make a serious point about the efficacy of the Scottish Tourist Board. We are being asked to allow the board to do abroad what it is currently doing at home. However, we find that over the last few years the number of tourists from abroad coining to Scotland has increased, which is excellent for the work of the British Tourist Authority, whereas the number of tourists to Scotland from within the United Kingdom—which is the job of the Scottish Tourist Board—has decreased.

Although that is not the whole evidence, it is an important part of the evidence. From it we can see that the British Tourist Authority has done its job better than the Scottish Tourist Board. Secondly, the main thrust of the Scottish Tourist Board's literature is something called "Enjoy Scotland", of which 1 million copies of the latest edition were printed. Of those, 750,000 went to travel agents. Presumably the Scottish Tourist Board thinks travel agents to be important, yet in the board's annual report we find that nine out of ten people who come to Scotland do not even bother to go to travel agents.

Therefore, we have this board, which we are told is so wonderful that it should extend its activities abroad, concentrating its main literature on travel agents whom it says are not visited by nine out of ten people who go to Scotland. Again, that is not total evidence against the Scottish Tourist Board, but it should make one think before devoting £10 million in order to spray literature all over San Francisco, Tokyo, Geneva, the south of France or wherever.

Mr. Parris

I promise that this is the last time that I shall interrupt my hon. Friend. I should like to say a word in favour of travel agents. It is widely accepted that most people take their holidays without reference to a travel agency. However, there is the 10 per cent. or so, as is the case in Scotland, who do. Travel agencies have an important role in leading the public. People who have taken a holiday through a travel agency will tell others about it and tell them whether they enjoyed it. It may not then be necessary for everyone to go to a travel agency. However, we should not ignore the importance of travel agencies in leading public tastes in travel.

Mr. Sproat

I am very glad that my hon. Friend has made that point. It was my desire to make progress that stopped me from expanding on it. Of course, he is right, but, at the same time, to devote 75 per cent. of one's literature to something that brings in only 10 per cent. of one's tourists is to have the balance slightly wrong. That is the point that I was trying to make.

I was reading with interest a booklet called "Enjoy Scotland" and at the back I found a section headed "Special Interest Holidays". Naturally, I looked up my own area, Grampian, of which Aberdeen is the proud capital, in order to find out what were said to be the special interests there. I found that angling was mentioned. That is certainly true. The river Dee is very fine for anglers. It also mentioned weaving. That would not have sprung to my mind. Another interest was hang-gliding. If the Scottish Tourist Board is trying to sell Grampian on the basis of weaving and hang-gliding, it will not get very far.

I then looked at those interests which Grampian, according to the booklet, is not supposed to provide. The first that caught my eye was castles. No castles in Grampian? There are more castles in Grampian than in any other part of the United Kingdom, or possibly in the whole world. Within 20 minutes' walk of my own cottage I can find several castles, some of them in a jolly good state of repair and some not. It used to be said that one of the chief selling points of Aberdeen was that a person could stay for two weeks in Aberdeen, never drive for more than 20 minutes from the centre, and visit a different golf course and a different castle every day. That is true, yet we are told that castles and golf courses do not exist in Grampian.

However, the true acme of almost incredible incompetence achieved by the document comes under the heading "Fife". I looked at what was recommended for tourists who come to what we used to call the Kingdom of Fife. All the world knows that, if Fife has one claim above all others to fame, it is that within its boundaries nestles the old grey city of St. Andrews, the home of golf, with the Royal and Ancient golf club, the old course and the new course. No golfer worthy of the name in the world would not wish to try his luck on the golf courses of St. Andrews. Yet, when we look at "Enjoy Scotland", produced by the Scottish Tourist Board, under "Golf we find that there is no golf to be had in Fife.

I am bound to tell the promoter of the Bill that a Scottish Tourist Board which is capable of an enormity of that size is not a body to which—without a great deal more persuasiveness than he had deployed—I would entrust £10 million or more to promote my interests.

The British Tourist Authority, no doubt, could do with more co-operation from the STB—a greater input of Scottish material, and so on. I draw to the attention of the promoter the excellent work of the Best of Scotland group—regions which promote their own interests abroad. We heard nothing of the fact that the Borders region has an independent tourist operation abroad. There were a great number of things that the hon. Gentleman did not cover.

For these reasons, which I have rather foreshortened, I hope that my hon Friends will oppose the Bill.

1.34 pm
Mr. Frank R. White (Bury and Radcliffe)

I am sure that hon. Members present this afternoon will understand and probably sympathise with my feelings, knowing that I have sat through the first debate, in which a considerable degree of concern was displayed for horses, while I was waiting to display my concern about home workers. I am now sitting through a second debate and, important though it may be for people in Scotland, I am now faced with the prospect of my Bill not being debated this afternoon.

This Bill is designed to empower the Scottish Tourist Board to carry on activities outside the United Kingdom". I suppose that it is with a little temerity that an English Member, from wet Manchester, should rise to speak on a Scottish Bill, although it is a Private Member's measure. I can claim that my antecedents go back only to the 1745 rebellion—so my grandfather tells me—when we marched down with Bonnie Prince Charlie. We got as far as Manchester, we looked around at what was in front of us and at what was behind us, and we decided to stay put. There we have remained ever since, apart from one of my ancestors being caught poaching on the Earl of Bridgwater's estate at Worsley and being transported to Tasmania.

I am particularly interested in the aspect of carrying on activities outside the United Kingdom. The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) will be aware—I mentioned it in a short intervention—that many of the activities of promotion by outside agencies, and by public bodies in this country which are represented abroad, are carried on through various agencies, such as the clerical and mail order business, which offload the work to home workers.

The Scottish Tourist Board, in acting abroad, will come up against a unique position concerning homeworkers. If it sought, in Germany, France or Italy, to continue the practice in which it indulges in this country, employing homeworkers to do its work, it would come up against homeworking regulations which define the homeworkers in those countries as employees. Homeworkers are defined as people who have a light to a basic living wage, defined by an organisation and structured throughout the country, with basic wages specified. It also defines health and safety regulations within the home, and provides security of employment. It provides security against unfair dismissal, and for other benefits such as holiday pay and redundancy pay.

If the Bill encourages the Scottish Tourist Board to carry on activities in the countries that I have mentioned, and those activities are subject to the homeworking regulations in those countries, while in Scotland the homeworkers are not covered by the same kinds of regulations, there will be a considerable degree of argument and concern.

Mr. Blackburn

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the homeworkers in Britain take a great deal of pride in the job that they are going and want to be able to do a job which reflects great credit on the industry? Does he also agree that homeworkers engaged in distributing a booklet such as "Enjoy Scotland" would not find a great deal of pride in that task because of the inaccurate figures to which attention has been drawn by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat)?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I have been listening carefully to what has been said in the debate. We do not want to stray too far from the subject of tourism in Scotland. The hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. White) is being extremely ingenious, but I hope that he will bear that in mind.

Mr. White

The hon. Member for Dudley, West (Mr. Blackburn) has raised a point of interest, because in the business of tourism and the protestion of tourism the homeworkers have a pride in their job. Their pride in their job is probably clouded by the realisation that they are paid only 20p an hour for their work. It is to the discredit of this country that we are allowing them to continue in that way.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that, were my Bill to be carried into effect so that more tourists came to Scotland from countries in which the activities of homeworkers are properly organised, supervised and regulated, the experience that the tourists brought with them could easily be transferred to those involved in craft industries in Scotland who are serving the tourist trade? Then in due course, when this House returned to its senses, no doubt some legislation would be passed on that score.

Mr. white

I am greatly indebted to the hon. Gentleman for raising that point. It is the very point that I was about to make. If his Bill is successful, promotional activities will encourage tourists to go to Scotland. They may come from Germany, Italy or France. They will want to visit the tourist centres projected in the literature. Indeed, that literature will probably have been packaged and posted by homeworkers. They will want to visit hamlets and the birthplaces of poets and bards. They will want to visit the castles of yesteryear. They will find that homeworkers are involved in the souvenir business, in little workshops, and in craft insustries.

When we meet parliamentarians from other countries, we compare notes and conditions of employment. We discuss how Mr. Speaker and the Government, or Opposition, treat us. Similarly, one homeworker will talk to another. The truth will then come out. I should have liked the Bill to recognise that fact.

Mr. Major

Has the hon. Gentleman considered the possibility of expatriate homeworkers who are resident abroad acting as agents for the Scottish Tourist Board at some future stage?

Mr. White

Expatriate homeworkers might be willing to do that, as they are employed on fair conditions and receive fair wages. They are entitled to holidays, maternity benefits, and redundancy pay, and there are provisions against unfair dismissal. If our homeworkers get the opportunity to pack editions of Hansard, I hope that they will read this debate.

Mr. Garel-Jones

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman is in some difficulty. However, some of us came into the Chamber at the beginning of the debate and we wish to make contributions which, if I may say so, might be rather more germane to the Bill.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I have listened very carefully to the hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. White). He is entirely in order; I think that he is doing rather well.

Mr. White

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for having given that advice. I understand the hon. Gentleman's frustration. I did not come into the Chamber for this debate alone. I have been here since 9.30 am because I had hoped to speak on my Bill. I share the hon. Gentleman's frustration, but I shall not detain the House for long.

I have made the points that I should have liked to make in more detail on an occasion that will not now arise. Problems face those homeworkers who are employed in the Scottish tourist industry and throughout Scottish industry. I hope that the hon. Member for Dundee, East recognises that, and that a conflict could arise if the Scottish Tourist Board were to use homeworkers abroad and were to encourage them to come to Scotland. They could compare conditions with our homeworkers.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Will the hon. Gentleman accept that I understood that his most estimable bill on homeworkers would have gained tremendous support in the House and would perhaps have been strengthened in committee? My Bill makes it implicit that the question of conditions will be taken care of. However, we were not to know that there would be a campaign to prevent my Bill and that of the hon. Gentleman from becoming law and from helping the citizens of our respective countries.

Mr. White

I share those sentiments, but all is not lost until the axe chops off one's head. I am sure that the Minister will be sympathetic to the point that I am putting obliquely. He could probably give my Bill a Second Reading on the nod and sort it out in Committee. However, the Minister will be subject to the pressure of the Whips.

Mr. Parris

Is there not a danger that the tourists who go to Scotland as a result of the promotional activities of the Scottish Tourist Board will pick up some bad habits instead of teaching us better home work practices? Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will say something about that.

Mr. White

I cannot do that now, because you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, would rule me out of order. However, if the hon. Gentleman would care to write to me and tell me about the bad habits of homeworkers, I should gladly look into the matter.

Tourists from Germany, France and Italy will find that homeworkers in Britain fall into three distinct categories. I refer to the chronically sick and disabled who have to work at home; to mothers with young children who cannot find nursery or play school places; and to families that have chronically sick, disabled or elderly relatives to take care of. In large urban areas those from the ethnic minorities do home work, because to work outside would conflict with their culture or with their religious beliefs. In addition, they may have problems with the language.

I do not know of any bad practices that homeworkers are responsible for, but I know of bad practices that employers have imposed on them. That is the point that I was trying to make, in the hope that the hon. Member for Dundee, East could include some provision about it in his measure.

Mr. Ted Graham (Edmonton)

I am interested in the dimension that my hon. Friend has managed to inject into the debate. Few people are concerned about the welfare of homeworkers who make many of the gifts and souvenirs that tourists take away. Has my hon. Friend any evidence to show that the tourist industry is concerned about those who help to make it so successful? If the Scottish tourist industry is to expand, those involved should be responsible, and should ensure that all those who contribute to it, such as those who make souvenirs and gifts, are protected.

Mr. White

I value that intervention, because it brings me to the point that there are two ways of supplying material to the homeworker. Indeed, that is one of the major problems. When a reputable company employs in-workers in a normal employer—employee relationship and feeds material directly to the homeworkers, the relationships are, on the whole, good.

In many tourist areas, there is a direct relationship between a company and the homeworkers that it supplies. The unions involved in the parent company may have negotiated not only on behalf of the in-workers but on behalf of the homeworkers. Therefore, the relationship is strong and permanent. By and large, conditions are good. In many instances the relationship between small factories and homeworkers in outlying hamlets is good. It is a direct and one-to-one relationship.

However, problems arise when the tourist industry and other industries use agents or middle-men. If the middlemen impose intolerable conditions, the homeworkers may object. The work may then be withdrawn and their supplies and incomes may be cut off. Homeworkers are treated in a way that no self-respecting member of our community would tolerate.

It is surprising that we have allowed such a situation to continue since 1911. Since the sweated trades exhibition, nothing has been done.

Mr. Parris

I should make it clear that when I referred to bad practices earlier I meant not that homeworkers had bad habits but that the employment of homeworkers involved bad practices. I was trying to help the hon. Gentlemen.

Mr. White

I apologise if I misconstrued the hon. Gentleman's earlier remarks and I welcome his support. I hope that I can count on it at 2.30 pm.

You have, Mr. Deputy Speaker, allowed me to develop my points. I am grateful to you and to the House for its tolerance. If the Bill reaches the Committee stage, I hope that the hon. Member for Dundee, East will consider my suggestions. In that way the Bill could be an example to the rest of the country and would show how homeworkers should be treated. It would demonstrate how conditions of employment should be met. Homeworkers would then be in complete harmony with those on the Continent. In addition, the measure would provide those involved in tourism and in commerce generally with the conditions that would bring them out of the dark period of 1911 and into the forefront of good employment practice.

I trust that the Bill will be given a Second Reading. I hope to have the opportunity of making similar points in Committee.

1.50 pm
Mr. John G. Blackburn (Dudley, West)

Together with other hon. Members, I warmly congratulate the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) and his colleague the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) on their sucess in the ballot. Every hon. Member here is quite envious of their having been so successful in the ballot for Private Members' Bills.

During my short service in the House, I have taken a traditional line on Bills. Some of them are long epistles, in theological terms, but occasionally we have a small Bill like a psalm, full of pearls of wisdom. When I read the Bill, I thought that somewhere within the confines of its two clauses there must be a wonderful germ of truth about the tourist industry in Scotland. None of us has anything but affection for Scotland. There are many places where we would rather be than here in the Chamber.

I am concerned about the hon. Gentleman's attacks on the tourist industry, which seemed alien from a man presenting a Bill relating to the industry. I invite hon. Members to share my view that the British Tourist Authority is an important part of the life of this country, especially in foreign currency earnings. In contrast to the hon. Member, I am prepared to pay a public tribute to the authority.

I was also surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman's bitter comments, which were totally unworthy of him, about the publication by the British Tourist Authority called "British Travel News". He said that there were only four of five pages about Scotland. As one would expect of all responsible Members speaking in a debate, I took the opportunity this morning to go to a travel agent. I asked for guidance and literature about Scotland, and was given the booklet, already referred to in the debate entitled "Enjoy Scotland". The hon. Member spoke of only four or five pages relating to Scotland, but in that booklet—whether it is good or bad is a matter for debate—there are 58 pages saturated with information about Scotland.

I was saddened to hear the attack on members of the staff of the British Tourist Authority. The hon. Gentleman said that it was quite ignorant of the situation in Scotland. I take the opposite line and support the staff engaged in an industry promoting Scotland.

Mr. Anthony Grant

If it were true—I do not admit that it is—that the British Tourist Authority was ignorant of Scottish tourism requirements, does not that cast an aspersion on the chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board, who sits on the board of the BTA? He, at the top, should be explaining to the BTA what is going on in Scotland.

Mr. Blackburn

That is true. It is a matter of deep political philosophy that those who hold those positions should be accountable. I am sure that people in other places will take note of the attack of the hon. Member for Dundee, East.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Is the hon. Member aware, as he has been studying this matter, of the article in The Scotsman of 8 October 1980, a cutting of which I have with me by chance? The chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board, Mr. Alan Devereux, who was appointed to that office by the Government, was threatening to resign if the Scottish Tourist Board lost the fight to get back its powers. The chairman of the STB, who sits on the board of the BTA as a matter of statutory right, is entirely dissatisfied with the position and has stridently made his views known on the issue.

Mr. Blackburn

That does not reflect adversely on the comment of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Grant). In fact, it emphasises the responsibility that we are stressing. There must be accountability, especially when we are the custodians of public money in this important industry, of which we are all dedicated disciples—the British tourist industry.

Mr. Anthony Grant

I am sorry to flog this point. I should not have been prompted to intervene again were it not for the intervention of the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson). Does my hon. Friend agree that the plain fact is that there is a British Tourist Authority, on the board of which sit, as of right, the chairmen of the Scottish Tourist Board, the English Tourist Board and the Wales Tourist Board? They are all equal, they all have equal rights. They may all have their say and promote their countries within the framework of the BTA. To give special powers to one is unthinkable. If that person does not like it and wants to resign, let him do so and let someone else be appointed.

Mr. Blackburn

That feeling is coming through the debate strongly from hon. Members on both sides of the House. Within the confines of the Bill the Scottish Tourist Board has the right to operate outside the United Kingdom. One is staggered to find in clause 2(2) the discriminatory comment that This Act extends to Scotland only". Many hon. Members have a deep interest in ensuring the future tourist prosperity of other parts of the United Kingdom, including Wales and England.

Mr. Major

It is devolution.

Mr. Blackburn

That is true. I came to the House with an open mind, hoping that this Bill, with its two clauses, would be able to command my support and respect. But that has not happened. We are here to deal with legislation, not with motives, or what was said or what may have been said. We are creating law. It is with sadness that I say that I shall not be joining the hon. Member for Dundee, East in the Lobby.

It would be most opportune, as so many of my hon. Friends have been waiting to speak, that I should now conclude my comments.

1.57 pm
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)

I begin by echoing the warm words of my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, West (Mr. Blackburn) when he congratulated the British Tourist Authority on the work it has done over the years and I couple that with offering congratulations to the Scottish Tourist Board. There is no doubt that both authorities in their own way have acted excellently for the well-being of the Scottish tourist industry. After the somewhat unexpected speech by the hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. White), I am not sure which Bill I am expected to comment on. But as the hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe has left the Chamber, having achieved his purpose, perhaps it will be possible for me to leave that aspect of the debate.

Mr. Major

He has gone to do his homework.

Mr. Rifkind

We congratulate the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) on his success in the ballot and we are grateful for the opportunity that he has given the House to debate the important subject of Scottish tourism. It is quite astonishing, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) said, that not only is the hon. Gentleman unaccompanied by any of the sponsors of his Bill, but even his right hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) has deserted the Chamber and not sought to speak.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

The right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) both indicated that I was at liberty to say that they were not prepared to hear any more of the rubbish being relayed to the House by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat).

Mr. Rifkind

That is as may be, but they were perfectly free to stand up in their places when my hon. Friend sat down. I am sure they would have been given preference over the hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe especially as the right hon. Member for Western Isles is a sponsor of the Bill. If he had had a speech to make I am sure he would have been given the opportunity. It is astonishing that no such opportunity has been taken by those sponsors.

Perhaps more amazing than the attitude of the minority of parties is the fact that the Opposition have made no contribution to the debate. Not one Scottish Labour Member—there are 44 of them—has been in the Chamber during the debate. No one has spoken from the Opposition Front Bench. Indeed, it has been empty throughout the debate. That must be unprecedented, certainly bearing in mind the Labour Party's attempts to maintain that it and it alone can speak for Scotland. There has been no attempt to do so today.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

The hon. Gentleman should understand the position in which the Labour Party finds itself and have some sympathy for it. No sooner would it put someone on the Front Bench than he or she might well defect to another organisation.

Mr. Rifkind

It appears that all the Labour Members have done so already, to judge from the empty Benches around the hon. Gentleman.

I turn to the important points that the hon. Gentleman raised, and the important contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South. To put the matter in context one must return to the Development of Tourism Act 1969, which established the British Tourist Authority and tourist boards not only for Scotland but for England and Wales. It was the clear purpose of that Act that there should be a dual responsibility, that whereas the BTA would be responsible for the promotion of tourism overseas for the United Kingdom as a whole, the responsibility of the three national boards was to encourage the growth of tourism within the United Kingdom, each in its own way seeking to direct the maximum number of tourists to its own part of the United Kingdom.

It was not an accident that the Act was framed in that way. We must consider whether the arguments used then to justify that division of responsibility are still justified. There was nothing in the hon. Gentleman's contribution, which was the only speech we heard in support of the Bill, to suggest that that division of responsibility has worked badly. If we accepted the Bill we should be doing a complete somersault, overturning the principles of the 1969 Act. It is justifiable to think of that only if it is clear that there would be considerable advantage not only to Scottish tourism in particular, but to the tourist interests of the United Kingdom as a whole.

The principle behind the 1969 Act was that in the promotion of the United Kingdom overseas we should try to avoid duplication of effort. It is highly desirable that we should make the best use of the limited resources available, and that we should have a body with the expertise that is essential in a competitive industry, with what is inevitably a limited market.

I must ask the hon. Gentleman why he suggested that that division of responsibility had not worked reasonably well. I do not claim that everything that has happened since 1969 has been an unqualified success for Scotland or other parts of the United Kingdom. That would be an absurd exaggeration. Equally, the hon. Gentleman has not been able to illustrate that any significant benefits would flow to Scottish tourism as a consequence of the Bill.

One of the hon. Gentleman's arguments was that the Scottish Tourist Board had not had the ability to promote overseas the tourist interests of Scotland. Presumably in his view that has reduced the number of tourists coming to Scotland. We must look at the comparative efforts of the board and the British Tourist Authority over the years to see whether the evidence justifies that proposition. It does not.

In the past two years tourism, not only to Scotland but to the United Kingdom as a whole, has been relatively poor compared with previous years. It has shown a downturn. The reasons have included the strength of sterling and the international recession, which has an effect on such matters as tourism.

The long-term trends over the years show that something significant has taken place. Between 1972 and 1979 visits by overseas visitors to Scotland rose from 700,000 to 1.2 million, an increase of 71 per cent. That is the area for which the British Tourist Authority, on behalf of Scotland, has the responsibility. Visits by domestic visitors, visitors from within the United Kingdom, fell from 12.8 million in 1972 to 11.5 million in 1979, a decrease of 16 per cent.

Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)

I was here for the whole of the morning, but I did not hear the beginning of my hon. Friend's speech. I apologise for that. How does my hon. Friend know how many visitors there were from overseas and how many from within the United Kingdom? If the information comes from hotel registers, how does he know that Mr. Bloggins who signs in at Inverness on Monday and at Fife on Tuesday is Mr. Bloggins from the same address? Is the information obtained in that way, or is it an estimate? If not, how is it obtained?

Mr. Rifkind

A number of different bases are used to make a calculation. Great consideration is given to the airline statistics. Visitors often fill in a form giving the purpose of their visit and their destination when they arrive in the United Kingdom. Although that is not a guaranteed way of providing the statistics, it gives figures that are believed to be reasonably reliable.

The figures that I have just given suggest that over the period 1972–79 the number of overseas visitors to Scotland increased substantially, but the number of visitors from within the United Kingdom decreased. I am not suggesting that that decrease was due to any lack of efficiency or competence by the STB. One of the major phenomena of these years was the growth in overseas package tours from the United Kingdom. Instead of holidaying in the United Kingdom, many people have found it more convenient and attractive to go to places where perhaps the sun can be more guaranteed and where the cost of that form of holiday is not significantly higher. That is almost certainly the primary cause of the decrease.

The figures in no way suggest that the board has been far more successful than the British Tourist Authority in stimulating tourism to Scotland. The number of overseas visitors has increased very encouragingly. That is a figure which we cannot ignore but which the hon. Gentleman appeared to ignore.

The Bill does not impose a duty on the board to promote Scottish tourism overseas, but it provides power for the board to do that if it wishes. We must assume that it would wish to use that power if it had it. We must consider that in the light of the tremendous importance of tourism for the people of Scotland, which I do not wish to minimise. About 110,000 jobs are directly or indirectly provided by the tourist industry. The Government already recognise tourism's importance, as does the Scottish Office in the support that we give to the board. This was shown by, for example, the following statement by Mr. Alan Devereux, chairman of the board, in its eleventh report: When I was appointed to the Scottish Tourist Board earlier this year I was assured that the Government recognised the important role of tourism in the Scottish economy. In the event, our financial budget needs have been met in the full and we have been actively encouraged to take initiatives on a number of fronts. That is an important statement. It confirms that, when it has been necessary to make significant reductions in the expenditure and resources available to many organisations and areas of public expenditure, the Government have recognised the board's importance and the importance of tourism to the Scottish economy and have made no reduction in real terms in the resources made available to the board.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Does not the Minister accept that, although Mr. Devereux may be grateful for the maintenance of the budget of the STB, he is greatly dissatisfied about the inability of the STB to participate in the overseas sector which, as the Minister mentioned, is the growth area? Is it not surprising that the Goverment do not favour giving these powers to the STB when the Highland and Islands Development Board is already able to fulfil that role abroad, with the agreement of the STB, thus leaving a great part of Scotland, including Edinburgh, Dundee and the Borders, without any direct representation overseas?

Mr. Rifkind

I shall come to the basic point in a moment. It is significant that the work of the Highlands and Islands Development Board overseas is carried out in co-operation with the British Tourist Authority. I pay tribute to the work of the BTA in assisting the board's efforts.

Mr. Wilson

Does not the Minister realise from my remarks that I consider that the STB should operate in co-operation and in agreement with the BTA but that my Bill would provide powers in pursuit of achievements that successive chairmen have been frustrated in gaining over a period of years?

Mr. Rifkind

I come directly to the contents and consequences of the hon. Gentleman's Bill. The hon. Gentleman was honest enough to admit that while the direct effect of the Bill would be to provide only a duplicated responsibility, shared by the STB and the British Tourist Authority, he wished, in fact, to see the Scotish Tourist Board with a monopoly of responsibility for the promotion of tourism overseas and for the British Tourist Authority to cease to have any function in that respect. The hon. Gentleman did not develop the consequences and implications of that policy. I have no doubt that it would bring considerable harm to the interests of Scottish tourism.

If the British Tourist Authority no longer had any legitimate interest in encouraging tourism in Scotland, it could not seriously be expected to spend any of its time, efforts, inclination or resources towards that end. At the same time, it is difficult to believe that the Scottish Tourist Board, by itself, could make the significant impact that the hon. Gentleman seeks. Is he suggesting—perhaps he is—that we should have, in various places overseas where the British Tourist Authority is represented, a separate Scottish Tourist Board office with a separate staff and separate infrastructure?

If that is not the hon. Gentleman's suggestion, there would be unlikely to be any significant change from present circumstances. If, on the other hand, he wishes to see a wholly separate paraphernalia and bureaucracy established, he has to accept that the Government would have either to give far greater resources to the Scottish Tourist Board or cut back on much of the existing work that they do very successfully in promoting tourism within the United Kingdom and seek to direct it instead to Scotland.

The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. However, he appears to be trying to have it both ways. That is, unfortunately, a characteristic of the party that he represents—the party that has been repudiated by the electorate at every available opportunity. It is perhaps natural that the hon. Gentleman, as a nationalist Member, did not deal with some further implications of the Bill. As some of my hon. Friends have remarked, the measure cannot be seen in isolation. From the point of view of the House, there is a British Tourist Authority representing the United Kingdom. If special powers and privileges were given to the Scottish Tourist Board, it is not realistic to assume that a similar position would not be sought by, and, doubtless, would have to be conceded to, the English Tourist Board and the Wales Tourist Board for their respective functions.

I fully accept that, from the hon. Gentleman's point of view, he does not care one way or the other whether that happens. That may be a logical approach, as viewed by a nationalist Member. In seeking to gain support from the other 630—odd hon. Members, who are not nationalist Members, the hon. Gentleman must appreciate that the House has to consider the United Kingdom implications of this policy. If it does so, hon. Members are not led to the conclusion that the hon. Gentleman sought.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the recommendation of the Stodart committee, although I feel that he was being somewhat selective in one sense. The committee made a whole series of recommendations on tourism. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, in making a general response to its recommendations, will be dealing with the various points and recommendations as they affect tourism. Given the opportunity provided by the hon. Gentleman's Bill we have to deal with the specific recommendation concerning the overseas representation of the Scottish Tourist Board. For the reasons I have indicated, we do not consider it appropriate or, indeed, necessary or desirable, in the interests of the tourist requirements of Scotland, that such a change should be made.

However, the Government are not content to let things lie. We share the hon. Gentleman's desire to do the best for Scottish tourism. We are inclined to support and promote a number of improvements in the way in which tourism and particularly the promotion of overseas tourism can be achieved. First, we should distinguish between the marketing of the product and the decision on what product should be marketed. The marketing of Scotland as a tourist destination is at present the BTA's responsibility. We have indicated that we wish this to continue. However, we see scope for improvement in the way in which decisions on what product should be marketed are made.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has been reviewing this aspect over the last few months with colleagues who have tourism responsibilities in the Department of Trade and the Welsh Office. We have been seeking alternative ways of determining the commodity to be promoted. We see a need to improve liaison between the British Tourist Authority and Scottish tourism interests and to ensure that the BTA is responsive to Scottish interests and requirements. We can do this and are already seeking to do so without the need for legislative change.

We wish to have a system whereby the various Scottish tourism organisations and the trade decide in Scotland what should be the priorities for overseas tourism promotion with the BTA then take action upon these identified priorities. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Trade and for Scotland are agreed that this is the approach that is in the best interests of the industry in Scotland. They will expect the British Tourist Authority, in the Scottish part of its overseas programme, to take full account—so far as resources permit and employing whatever marketing techniques it chooses on its own professional judgment—of these projects, determined as priorities by a Scottish co-ordinating body.

For this approach to be fully effective, there needs to be a co-ordinating group in Scotland to bring the various interests in the country together and then to channel their needs to the BTA and generally to liaise closely with the BTA. This, in our view, is a legitimate and desirable role for the Scottish Tourist Board to play. It requires no legislation.

Mr. Donald Stewart

How does the Minister deal with the fact that the Scottish Tourist Board thinks it desirable to have these powers and the evidence adduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) that the British Tourist Authority has failed signally to project Scotland?

Mr. Rifkind

I dealt with that matter while the right hon. Gentleman was out of the Chamber. He will forgive me if I do not go over it again. I am glad to say that, in discussions over the last few months, a considerable measure of support for the Scottish Tourist Board acting as co-ordinator in this way has been given by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. I am confident that the Highlands and Islands Development Board, which, in fulfilment of its duties to promote the economic development of its area, will continue to play a vital role in tourism matters in the Highlands and Islands, will also endorse the STB playing this leading, national, coordinating role.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is encouraging the Scottish Tourist Board now to reach agreement with other tourism interests in Scotland that the STB should take this leading, co-ordinating role. In recognition of our commitment to the board acting in this way, we have approved, in principle, the appointment of an extra director at the Scottish Tourist Board which is now consulting the other tourism bodies on his job description. His basic task, as we see it, will be to discuss promotional initiatives and programmes with Scottish bodies and the trade and to co-ordinate these in a national priority context.

That director will be the main point of liaison between the co—ordinating group and the British Tourist Authority. My right hon. Friends will encourage the BTA to afford to the Scottish Tourist Board extra director, whose functions are expected to include travelling overseas, observing market influences and, in turn, offering feedback to the customer, access to British Tourist Authority staff at home and abroad. I am pleased to say that the chairman of the BTA has indicated that he will be only too happy to give this proper support.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

The chairman of the BTA, who has been resisting any erosion of his power and the role of the BTA, has indicated that he will co-operate. What would happen, however, if, on some future occasion, the BTA, in the immortal words of Mr. Archie Birt says "No" and refuses to co-operate or at least procrastinates in carrying out the new strategy that the STB might wish to put forward?

Mr. Rifkind

I have not the slightest reason to believe that procrastination will be applied. These are matters which my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Trade will represent to Government policy, and that is policy which of course the British Tourist Authority will be only too happy to support and to implement.

We appreciate fully the very genuine reasons which led the hon. Gentleman to bring forward his Bill. I have no doubt that he believes that it would lead to an improvement. But I hope that he will accept that from the point of view both of the interests of Scottish tourism and of the much wider implications which the vast majority of right hon. and hon. Members have to take into account, it would be inappropriate to seek a change of the sort which he suggests. It cannot be considered purely in isolation because, inevitably, it would lead to questioning the future of the British Tourist Authority. We are not convinced that the British Tourist Authority has failed to promote Scottish tourism overseas. The evidence over the past eight years, with a 71 per cent. increase in the number of overseas visitors to Scotland, suggests that it has worked very hard and successfully in achieving much of what Scottish tourism requires.

On that basis, I could not recommend the hon. Gentleman's Bill to the House, and I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will agree with that conclusion.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Gordon Wilson

I beg to move, That the Question be now put.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

After only two hours and 23 minutes, I could not accept the closure at this juncture, when other hon. Members wish to take part in the debate.

2.23 pm
Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones (Watford)

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me, and I am also grateful to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for touching on some of the matters which I had hoped to raise.

I trust that the House will forgive me if I make a passing reference to a comment which has been made by other hon. Members. I have listened to debates in this House which have been sparsely attended, but this is the first one that I have attended in which, from beginning to end, the official Opposition party has not seen fit to have so much as even a Whip on the Opposition Front Bench. I find that very surprising.

Mr. Graham

Would the hon. Gentleman care to explain his expression "even a Whip"?

Mr. Garel-Jones

I hasten to assure the hon. Gentleman—and, for that matter, those of my hon. Friends who perform that onerous duty—that no disrespect was intended. As I understand it, Whips often sit on the Front Bench. Their purpose in so doing is not so much to take part in debates as to ensure the smooth management of the business of the House. I made the point that not even a Whip was on the Opposition Front Bench simply to—

Mr. Major

On the more substantive point, does my hon. Friend think that the absence of right hon. and hon. Members who normally grace the Opposition Front Bench has added to or detracted from the intellectual tone of the debate?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I think that that is going a little wide of the Bill.

Mr. Garel-Jones

As ever, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you have drawn me back to the path of righteousness, and I shall not take up my hon. Friend's remark.

I ought at the outset to refer to the well-known and rather hackneyed phrase of Dr. Johnson, who said: But, Sir, let me tell you, the noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England. I do not wish the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) to think for a moment that I want to give any offence. I hasten to add that many people are not aware that Dr. Johnson went on to regard as his closest friend that great Scottish intellectual and that polyfacetic Scotsman, Mr. Boswell. With him, Dr. Johnson undertook the Hebridean tour, about which Boswell wrote. I am sure that I do not misrepresent Dr. Johnson's views if I say that, in spite of having made that rather unfortunate remark, he regarded Scotland—and Scotland as represented by Mr. Boswell—with all the affection that everyone in this House does.

In my remarks, I want to draw attention to four very important matters. The first is whether the BTA itself has been a success. The second and most important one is whether the BTA would be able to disengage from Scottish promotion overseas. The third is what the effect of this would be on the Wales Tourist Board and the English Tourist Board. Finally, if time permits, I should like to spend a few moments on what I regard as the very important political undertones of the introduction of the Bill by the Scottish separatist party.

Mr. Donald Stewart

I ask the hon. Gentleman to get his facts right.

Mr. Garel-Jones

I am not aware which facts the right hon. Gentleman has in mind. He seems to have taken offence at my reference to the political aspects of the Bill. I speak as a Welshman, so I must be careful not to make judgments about Scotland without the knowledge on which to base them. But, as a Welshman, I should look very carefully at a Bill introduced by the separatists of my own country, even if it purported to abolish sin. Any Bill which is promoted by a separatist party, however appealing, is one of which I am deeply suspicious.

The first question which I pose is whether the BTA has been a success. We can say with some confidence but without complacency that it has. We have to remind ourselves that we are discussing an industry which in 1979 produced no less than £2,797 million of foreign exchange earnings—a figure which has been growing progressively over the past 10 years. Although we have no grounds for complacency, it can be said that the BTA has been doing a very important job.

I turn to the question of disengagement. It became apparent earlier in the debate that what the hon. Member for Dundee, East said was the purported objective of the Bill was not his own objective. His objective is a completely separate Scottish tourist authority. Disengagement would prove expensive and inefficient, and it would not serve the interests of tourism.

Perhaps I might link that up with the effect that the achievement of this objective would have on the Wales Tourist Board and the English Tourist Board. I refer especially to Wales, which is a matter of some interest to me. I do not think that this House need be under any illusion that, were the Bill to receive a Second Reading and become law, the Wales Tourist Board and the English Tourist Board would feel obliged, if only out of machismo, to come in behind the Scottish Tourist Board. I am extremely nervous about that, because tourism in Wales is an exceptionally important industry to the Principality, employing, as it does, no fewer than 90,000 people, and it is estimated that in 1978 alone tourism earned £425 million for the Welsh economy.

Those of us who take an interest in tourism in Wales and tourism in England should be very nervous about the implications which the Second Reading of this Bill might have for those industries in our own countries.

The Wales Tourist Board claims that it is possible to boost revenue from tourism to the Principality up to about £1,000 million by 1985 and to create 25,000 new jobs, more than 10,000 of which would be in the South Wales valley. I am sure that the whole House is aware that the Principality could not afford—

Mr. Gordon Wilson

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. What has the Principality got to do with a Scottish tourism Bill?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentlemen is straying slightly wide, but I believe that Scotland was part of his argument.

Mr. Garel-Jones

I accept your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The point I was making was that the Bill would aim to give to the Scottish Tourist Board the ability to promote its tourism overseas—

Mr. Gordon Wilson

As we are almost out of time, is it in order for me to move, That the Question be now put?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am afraid that we have had only a brief debate, and I cannot accept that motion now.

Mr. Garel-Jones

The point that I wish to make is that Members who represent English and Welsh constituencies must be under no illusion that were the Bill to receive—

It being half-past Two o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Friday 6 March.