HC Deb 16 November 1983 vol 48 cc847-8
18. Mr. Gale

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he is satisfied with the present structure and operation of the tourist boards; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norman Lamont

The present structure and operation of the tourist boards have been examined in detail in the Department's review of tourism policy. I hope to announce the conclusions of that review shortly.

Mr. Gale

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. In his announcement, will he pay attention to the administration of section 14? Will he seek to ensure that money is made available primarily for the purposes for which it was originally intended and that there is not a top-up for what ought to be taken care of by private finance?

Mr. Lamont

I agree with my hon. Friend. He will understand that I cannot anticipate an announcement that may be made, but I emphasise that I hope it will be made shortly.

Mr. Wallace

Does the Minister recognise that, while support for tourism locally is welcome, it would be helpful also if there were central Government assistance in easing rating provisions for small hotels and guest:louses and also low interest loans to help many small hotels meet fire regulations and other such statutory provisions?

Mr. Lamont

I note what the hon. Gentleman said. We discuss issues of that type all the time with the Department of the Environment. It is my function as a Minister within the Department of Trade and Industry to take up those questions with other Departments. I cannot anticipate the outcome of the review.

Miss Fookes

When may we expect the outcome of this review, because without it there will be difficulties for tourist boards that wish to plan ahead?

Mr. Lamont

I expect that it will be shortly.

Mr. Hicks

Is my hon. Friend aware that, amongst those dealing with the tourist industry, there is a widely held view that additional resources should be made available at the two sharp ends — attracting overseas visitors and providing amenities and services when those visitors are here — rather than the unnecessarily cumbersome and duplicating structure of boards that we have?

Mr. Lamont

I note what my hon. Friend says. He gave evidence during the review and I assure him that his remarks have been carefully considered. Again, I cannot anticipate the announcement.