§ Order for Second Reading read.4.15 pm
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John MacKay)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to present to the House this modest but nonetheless important measure which will be to the considerable advantage of Scottish tourism and to Scotland generally. The Bill gives effect to the commitment in the Government's Scottish election manifesto to extend the powers of the Scottish tourist board to include promotional activity overseas. Our desire to press ahead in this Session with the necessary legislation reflects our belief in the importance of the tourist industry in Scotland and our commitment to developing Scotland's overseas tourism trade. The Bill is intended to meet the growing need of the Scottish tourist industry for some independence in the marketing of Scotland abroad while ensuring that coherent promotional efforts on behalf of Britain as a whole are maintained.
I should like to remind the House that, in Scotland, tourism generates more than £800 million revenue per annum, and provides at least 50,000 full-time equivalent jobs. Overseas tourism is disproportionately valuable to us. Although overseas visitors represent only 9 per cent. of all visitors to Scotland, they account for nearly 27 per cent. of all expenditure. An estimated 1.3 million overseas visitors came to Scotland in 1983 and our overseas earnings from tourism are expected to reach £250 million this year. Against this economic background, there is a clear case for making our overseas promotion effort as effective as possible.
The Bill is designed to be consistent with current arrangements elsewhere in the public sector for the promotion of Scotland overseas. The House will know, that under the Local Government and Planning (Scotland) Act 1982, district and islands councils and area tourist boards in Scotland may promote themselves overseas subject to the consent of the Secretary of State. This consent condition prevents duplication of overseas effort and ensures value for money from local authority visits abroad. The Highlands and Islands Development board also has powers, under its enabling statute, to carry out overseas promotion at its own hand. Most of the overseas promotional work done by the board is carried out in conjunction with the British Tourist Authority. The Scottish tourist board is now co-ordinating local authority and area tourist board promotions overseas. As a result, a coherent and effective overseas marketing programme is rapidly taking shape.
Overseas promotion initiatives by private tourist operators are not, of course, regulated by statute. However, many of the smaller operators—which make up the bulk of Scotland's tourist industry—cannot afford to promote themselves fully without assistance from public funds. That is where we confront the statutory framework for overseas tourism promotion by the tourist boards.
712 Under the Development of Tourism Act 1969, responsibility for the overseas promotion of Great Britain and all its parts lies principally with the British Tourist Authority. The Scottish Tourist Board, like the other national tourist boards, is expressly prevented from acting abroad unless as the agent of the British Tourist Authority and using the authority's funds. This means that the Scottish Tourist Board may not in its own right incur expenditure on overseas promotion of Scotland, or give financial assistance to Scottish tourist operators trying to sell their products abroad. The sole source of such assistance has hitherto been the British Tourist Authority.
Much has changed since the 1969 Act came into force, and these arrangements now seem unduly restrictive. Scotland now has a separate and distinctive tourist image, and is a commercially identifiable and saleable product in a number of important and potentially valuable overseas markets. For expatriate Scots around the world, for example, and also for many Europeans and north Americans, Scotland has unique attractions. Scotland has to be promoted vigorously and with a view to the holiday opportunities which it alone offers if these markets are to be fully tapped. The Scottish tourist board has an intimate knowledge of the Scottish product. We believe that it should be allowed to undertake at its own hand promotions of Scotland overseas. This is what the Bill before the House is intended to achieve.
Clause 1 of the Bill contains the two main operative provisions. Subsection (1) s the 1969 Act restriction on overseas activity by the Scottish tourist board, and enables it to undertake, in its own right, the promotion of Scotland overseas. I wish to make it quite clear that the effect of this provision is to allow the Scottish tourist board to supplement, not to replace, the efforts of the British Tourist Authority on Scotland's and Britain's behalf. The proposed extension of STB's powers will not deprive the Scottish tourist industry of the advice, expertise or financial assistance it currently receives from BTA. Nor will it in any way diminish BTA's power under the 1969 Act to promote Scotland and Britain abroad. We expect the British Tourist Authority to continue to devote at least as much of its promotional spend and effort to Scotland as it has done in the past. It will, however, no longer be the only tourist board with power to promote Scotland overseas.
§ Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross)
My hon. Friend was reading so fast that he may not have managed to hear his own thoughts, far less my intervention.
When he says, "to supplement, not to replace", what is the guarantee in the Bill that what will not be replaced! will not be diminished or removed altogether? In other words, what is the hold on the British Tourist Authority, which will have the same chairman as the English tourist board, to promote Scotland at all?
§ Mr. MacKay
The position will be what it has been for many years, whereby the British Tourist Authority will have the responsibility of promoting Britain overseas. Despite the fact that the chairman of the BTA and the chairman of the ETB will be one and the same person, the British Tourist Authority will still have the responsibility to make propaganda for all parts of the United Kingdom. The chairman of the Scottish tourist board is one of the members of the British Tourist Authority, and will continue to be.
§ Mr. Martin O'Neill (Clackmannan)
Would not the Minister view with some alarm the fact that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is looking at the prospect of merging the English tourist board and the British Tourist Authority?
§ Mr. MacKay
The new chairman is being asked to look at that possibility. May I make it clear to the House, as did my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, that no decision has yet been taken? A decision has been made only to ask him to look at the possibility of a merger. We shall have to wait to know what comes out of the new chairman's review, and what he proposes, and then we shall have to consider the matter.
In the debate in the other place, it was suggested—this may relate to what some hon. Members are beginning to ask me — that it might be more beneficial to the Scottish tourist industry if entire responsibility for promoting Scotland overseas were transferred from the British Tourist Authority to the Scottish tourist board—if, in other words, STB had sole, independent power to market Scotland abroad. I should like briefly to explain to hon. Members why the Government remain opposed to such a move. "Britain" is, and is likely to remain, the most saleable product in very many overseas markets. To promote Scotland only as "Scotland" would mean a substantial loss of overseas visitors and of tourism revenue. We are convinced that it makes commercial sense to identify those markets where the most saleable product is simply "Britain", and those other markets, particularly some parts of Western Europe, Scandinavia, North America, where there are expatriate Scots, Australia and New Zealand, where, in addition to marketing Britain, Scotland can be marketed effectively in its own rights. We therefore remain committed to a coherent all-Britain approach to promotion overseas for the undeniable commercial benefit that this brings to Scotland. However, at the same time, we recognise the need to supplement this approach with more aggressive promotion of Scotland as Scotland in certain selected markets, and this is what the Bill will enable us to achieve.
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth (Stirling)
At the risk of repetition, does my hon. Friend not think that it would be odd if the chairman of the new Scottish tourist board was also the chairman of the English tourist board, and if he did not spend most of his time promoting Scotland? If this apparatus is to be set up, would it not be reasonable to give it all the resources to hand to promote Scotland, on the basis of the argument that my hon. Friend has put forward?
§ Mr. MacKay
I have explained to my hon. Friend that, if we were to go down the road of disbanding the British Tourist Authority—I am not sure what my hon. Friend would like to do—there would be promotion abroad presumably by the English tourist board, the Welsh tourist board and the Scottish tourist board, all separately, in an attempt to have offices round the world. Their budgets individually would not stretch nearly as far as is possible when they combine their efforts in one British office in overseas capitals.
It is interesting that Mr. Alan Devereux, the chairman of the Scottish tourist board, is reported in The Scotsman of 19 November 1983 to have said:We have no ambition to duplicate the work of the British Tourist Authority and we are happy that the BTA will continue to use their best efforts to promote Scotland as a tourist destination within the context of Britain as a whole.714 That is Mr. Devereux's opinion, and his track record with the STB shows that he has a good deal of knowledge of the Scottish tourist scene and of the kind of marketing that is needed to encourage tourists to come to Scotland.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the question of offices, has he, or have any of his ministerial colleagues, ever visited the British office in New York? Unlike the offices of every other European country, the office in New York is on the 37th or 57th floor in some obscure place, and does not even start with street marketing. Is it not about time, since we are so full of enthusiasm, that there was a Scottish input into the way that the British tourist board conducts its affairs?
§ Mr. MacKay
I must admit that, unlike the hon. Gentleman, I have not been to the BTA office in New York. Let us say that I am invited to explore the possibility of the Scottish tourist board having a major shop front position in New York. This would use up a considerable part of its budget, and little money would be left for promotions that have to be made elsewhere around the world.
The Government are, however, conscious of the need to ensure that any overseas activities carried out by the Scottish tourist board complement in practice BTA's promition efforts for Great Britain, that there is no wasteful duplication of effort between the Scottish tourist board and the British Tourist Authority, and that the overall promotion of Britain remains the principal role of the BTA.
To meet this need, the Bill provides, in subsection (2) of clause 1, that the Scottish tourist board's power to promote Scotland overseas shall be exercisable only with the consent of the Secretary of State who will, before giving or withholding such consent, consult the British Tourist Authority. This consent condition is broadly similar to that already applying to Scottish local authorities and area tourist boards. It does not represent a BTA veto, but it will ensure that STB's overseas activities complement BTA's promotion programmes and its continuing effort on Scotland's behalf.
§ Mr. Donald Dewar (Glasgow, Garscadden)
In the Local Government and Planning (Scotland) Act it is stated that local authorities must have the permission of the Secretary of State. There is not the double permission—or double qualification—of direct consultation with the BTA that is now thought necessary. Some of us are left with the rather uncomfortable feeling that the very restrictive view of the importance of the Bill, which was clearly reflected in the statement by the Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry, is now in the ascendant.
§ Mr. MacKay
I do not think that it is restrictive—it is simply a method by which the efforts abroad of the STB can be fitted in with what the BTA is doing. Surely it would be foolish if the BTA had, for example, devised a programme in New York in October, and the STB tried to devise another programme — although necessarily smaller — in New York at another time of the year. Would not it be better to co-ordinate the two so that they can pull together? That is why the Bill includes a duty for my right hon. Friend to consult the BTA when he receives the STB programme for its promotional exercises overseas in the following year.
715 That link from the STB to the BTA, through my right hon. Friend, will serve to ensure that the STB effort complements the work of the BTA and reinforces it, rather than duplicates it. Surely no one in the House wants to duplicate the effort abroad.
§ Mr. MacKay
I shall not give way. There will be a Committee stage when, no doubt, this matter will form a major part of the discussions.
The BTA will continue to exercise lead responsibility for the overseas promotion of Great Britain and all its parts. We believe that the STB's efforts should be a constructive addition to the authority's main marketing programme overseas. In our view, it is consistent with the BTA's role and responsibilities that it should be consulted, as of right, on all the STB's overseas proposals. The requirement on the Secretary of State ensures that the BTA is guaranteed an opportunity to offer its views. Such views are properly a relevant, though not a determining, factor in the Secretary of State's ultimate decision whether to approve the STB's plans. We are confident that the consultation procedure will work swiftly and effectively. No heavy-handed bureaucratic procedures are envisaged. Our experience in approving local authority overseas proposals under the 1982 Act, in which the BTA plays an advisory role, confirms that the authority can be relied on to offer its comments promptly.
The Government envisage that the STB will undertake an overseas programme costing about £200,000 per annum at 1983 prices. We have already announced that from 1984–85 onwards an additional allocation of that order will be made to the board for that purpose. That extra money comes on top of the £2.1 million of the BTA money spent each year on promoting Scotland within the authority's overall Great Britain programme. In the same way as with the BTA's expenditure, we expect that the £200,000 available to STB will draw out additional funds from the private sector, generating up to half as much again to give total additional promotion of Scotland overseas of about £300,000. This will allow the STB, by its own assessment, to mount a small but effective supplementary programme of specialised Scottish overseas promotions, and thus to make an important contribution to the marketing of Scotland abroad.
I know that some in the House will want to break Britain apart in the tourist industry, as they would do in other industries and politically. That policy in tourism, as in other industries, would be damaging and costly. It would be costly because we would need considerably more money to maintain a separate Scottish effort all over the world to replace the BTA, and damaging because we would not be plugging Scotland into the undoubted tourist attractions of, say, London or Stratford-upon-Avon. The Government's aim is to encourage the growth of Scotland's overseas tourist trade while guarding against fragmentation of the total Great Britain promotion effort abroad. The proposals in the Bill reflect this aim, and I commend it to the House.
§ Mr. Jim Craigen (Glasgow, Maryhill)
I was intending to seek the assistance of the Under-Secretary, who is responsible for health matters, for my throat problem until I realised how little he knew about health or about the tourist industry in Scotland.
716 The objective of improving the prospects of Scotland's tourist industry through the new scope for overseas promotion deserves broad welcome, but I cannot enthuse about the entire drafting of the Bill, or the modest £200,000 that the Government propose to make available as additional funds for overseas promotion. We shall take up the points in detail in the ensuing Committee stage.
As the Minister said, the industry is of great importance to Scotland. It employs about 80,000 full-time equivalents, with about 100,000 jobs being supported by the industry. It was interesting to note that the Minister referred to £800 million of business arising from the tourist industry in Scotland. The figures appear to vary. However, I take his point that about 9 per cent. of tourists in Scotland come from overseas, giving the economy of Scotland a boost of about £250 million in overseas earning, equalling about 28 per cent of total tourist spending in Scotland.
The chairman of the Scottish tourist board, Mr. Alan Devereux, was quoted in The Scotsman on 19 November 1983 as saying that the aim is to double the number of overseas visitors in the next five years to 2.5 million. He anticipated that that could create some 25,000 new jobs. We believe that there is considerable scope and potential for developing the tourist industry in Scotland. It is reckoned that for every £5 spent by the tourist, £1 ends up in the public purse. For every £1 million expenditure on accommodation, about 220,000 jobs are supported in the economy.
The industry is important also to Scotland's small business sector because about two thirds of firms in the industry employ fewer than five people. The STB is able, willing and ready for the lifting of the restriction as proposed in the Bill, which will enable it fully to develop potential abroad. Mr. Devereux has said that the Bill will allow the STB to supplement, not to replace, the efforts of the BTA on behalf of Scotland and Britain. Theoretically, the BTA spends £2.1 million on overseas promotion for Scotland. We want to ensure that the BTA is in no way seeking to ease out of that commitment. We are looking for a firmer assurance from the Minister than he has given today.
We agree that the STB has the ability to concentrate on the distinctive marketing of Scotland where that is required. I have no doubt that the STB will seek to utilise the facilities of the BTA for its international network. In other words, we might avoid that classic howler when the British Tourist Authority gave the impression that Barra was "a rugged and uninhabited Hebridean island". Its ruggedness is a matter of judgment and, having cycled round the island, I hold my own views, especially about the hillier parts. But uninhabited the island is not. I can verify that Barra has some of Scotland's friendliest people.
The British Tourist Authority has a continuing role for Scotland. Eighty-nine per cent. of visitors to Scotland come from the rest of Great Britain. I hope that the British Tourist Authority will pay due heed to the Scottish tourist dimension in that respect. I sometimes get the impression that the BTA does not suffer from hypertension caused by the way in which it goes about its business. It is undesirable in principle that the Chairman of the British Tourist Authority should at the same time be chairman of the English tourist board. It is bad for Britain, and not good for England either. Perhaps it would be better for the chairman to be a Welshman. The holder of that office—not the personality of the office—should be able to give 717 independent judgment about the affairs of both the BTA and the English tourist board. He or she should be able to bring the kind of perspective required where one is dealing with three distinct and separate tourist authorities. I hope that the Government will reconsider the matter carefully, because it would be undesirable for the British Tourist Authority to be subsumed into the English tourist board.
The Scottish tourist board's extra powers can be given only with the consent of the Secretary of State, who will consult the British Tourist Authority beforehand. Will there be a double veto on the activities of the Scottish tourist board? Why was the instruction included in the Bill, when there is a more sensible way to deal with the powers? Is it really necessary to spell them out in legislation, when in practice there would be consultation behind the scenes? For example, the Highlands and Islands Development Board has got on quite well since it was set up in 1965. It does not have recourse to consultation yet, with typical Highland judgment and good manners, that is its practice. It consults the British Tourist Authority as well as the Scottish Development Agency, in the interests of both economy and effectiveness of purpose.
The Stodart report, after the committee of inquiry into local government in Scotland, emphasised the commitment of Scottish local authorities to tourism and the economic and employment opportunities that it afforded. My hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) was a member of that committee. No doubt he hopes to say a few words tonight about the way in which he sees subsequent development of local authority activity in that field.
The area tourist boards, as I understand it, have been working out fairly well. However, tourism cannot be compartmentalised. It is a part of the economy, like a running corridor, if I may use that train of thought. About 50 per cent. of Scots are said to take their holidays at home, but with declining employment opportunities and reduced purchasing power many families can no longer take holidays, either at home or abroad. Package holidays abroad sometimes seem far more economic than some packages offered in Great Britain.
I hope that the Government will not underestimate the importance of local authority services and other provisions for tourists in the areas to which the Scottish tourist board wishes to attract them. Local authority support for the arts is under pressure, and the facilities available in museums, art galleries and other recreational areas are very important for attracting tourists, as well as for the local communities.
I gather that the Burrell gallery in Glasgow has attracted more than 250,000 visitors. That is no small feat for a gallery that might not have opened, but for the will power of the Glasgow district council, working in the face of a very difficult financial position.
§ Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)
Many visitors to the Burrell collection come from surrounding areas—the peripheral schemes, as I call them—of Eastwood, Bearsden, Milngavie, and from other authorities that have paid nothing towards the cost of setting up or maintaining the Burrell gallery.
§ Mr. Craigen
I did not intend to digress and talk about Eastwood. The Scottish tourist board was almost forced to 718 come to the rescue of Rouken Glen park, which shows another aspect of the financial difficulties facing Scottish local authorities in the provision of services.
Over the years, the Edinburgh festival has acted as a magnet for tourists but it, too, depends on the type and resources of the local authorities. That is true also of the Pitlochry festival, another welcome event in the Scottish calendar.
It is important to recognise the need for adequate rail services. Useful talks have taken place between the Highlands and Islands Development Board and British Rail about lines north of Inverness, and the line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh. There is no sense in encouraging the tourist industry if we cut down the provision of adequate railway links, or fail to recognise the importance of good road links in Scotland. There is a job to be done. We want to know that it will be done by the Scottish tourist board and can be done without too much blue tape. That point might usefully be taken up later in Committee.
As far as I can gather, about one third of the tourists from overseas arrive in Scotland from Canada or the United States. The Scottish tourist board has recognised the importance of tapping the ethnic market as far as possible. A further third of visitors to Scotland come from EEC countries, especially from West Germany. When I have been in the Highlands, the number of West Germans over for a holiday has always been noticeable. The quiet of the Highlands is an important aspect.
§ Mr. Dalyell
I do not have a constituency interest in the matter, but I have an interest as a National Union of Railwaymen-sponsored Member of Parliament. I should like to emphasise the importance to the tourist industry, particularly for those who come without cars, of the line between Aberdeen and Inverness, which the hon. Member for Moray (Mr. Pollock) knows well. It is of considerable importance not only to the railway industry but to the Scottish tourist industry. I hope that we shall receive an assurance that it will remain open.
§ Mr. Craigen
I hope that the Minister will give my hon. Friend that assurance. I have travelled on that line, going the other way.
Many visitors come from Scandinavia as well as from Australia and New Zealand. It will be important for the Scottish tourist board to continue to try to improve our prospects in those areas. However, what about Japan? [Interruption.] I do not know why Conservative Members laugh. The whole point of the Bill, of which the Minister made such great play, is that it will do so much for promoting tourism for Scotland overseas. Therefore, I should have thought that Conservative Members would not laugh. There is a considerable potential market in Japan for the Scottish tourist industry, but it is largely untapped. I was in Japan about 18 months ago and I got the impression that many of the Japanese are golf mad. My wife has rediscovered golf. I hasten to add that I have not followed her in that pursuit.
§ Mr. Barry Henderson (Fife, North-East)
In view of the importance of the Japanese tourist trade and the fact that many of them come to play golf at St. Andrews, does the hon. Gentleman agree that the expression "golf mad" is inappropriate, because they are enthusiastic about that admirable sport?
§ Mr. Craigen
I knew that the hon. Member who represents St. Andrews would want to intervene on that point. It is a lovely town. The hon. Gentleman knows full well the context in which I used the expression "golf mad". I am sure that he is alert enough to appreciate that it would be cheaper for many Japanese to fly to Scotland for a week's golf, even at St. Andrews, than to pay a year's fees for playing golf in Japan.
We often hear that the Japanese are smarter than us. I dispute that. I think that the Scots are more innovative than the Japanese as a society. However, the Japanese are good at sitting down, drawing up a plan and getting on with the job. I hope that the Scottish tourist industry will adopt that Japanese style, do its homework on the potential abroad and go out and win the necessary markets.
I may be digressing, but I shall take as an example Paisley museum and art gallery, which, in collaboration with museums in Greenock, Perth and Inverness, promoted last November a Scottish landscape painting exhibition in Hankyo, a Japanese department store in Osaka. About 250,000 people visited that exhibition. The curator of Paisley museum, Mr. David Shearer, told me that he hopes that some benefits will result for Paisley from that venture later this year.
The Minister said nothing about improving the standards in our hotels in Scotland. Perhaps the Minister who winds up will refer to that topic. I gather that work is proceeding apace on grading hotels, but it would be useful if the Minister referred to the Government's view on improving standards of accommodation available to tourists, whether they come from abroad, Scotland, or other parts of Great Britain.
The Under-Secretary also said nothing about how he views training in the tourist industry in Scotland. Perhaps we may hear something on that score in the winding-up. The evidence is that there are many newcomers to the industry. Few of the business men have formal qualifications, but they have a great deal of personal commitment. There is more scope for training.
The Minister did not say much about the scope for historic buildings. My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) takes a great interest in that matter. I am not suggesting that a placard should go up at the Binns. I am making the serious point that Scotland has a great heritage of castles and houses. There must be considerable scope for overseas tourists, especially ex-patriots.
I shall quote again from The Scotsman of 19 November 1983, in which Mr. Devereux said:Once the Bill becomes law the onus will be on us.That shows the way in which Mr. Devereux and his colleagues view the assignment that the Bill offers to them, although £200,000 is not a great deal to work on. The Minister might be able to tell us how much it would cost to have a full-page colour advertisement in Time magazine, not that I recommend that that should be the way in which tourism to Scotland be promoted. The Minister is mumbling away. Let him answer the points raised during the debate, and we shall be happier than we normally are when he replies to debates.
Scotland is already on the map. It is expected of the Scottish tourist board that it will induce more people throughout the world to visit Scotland, who will be facilitated to do so by direct entry to Scotland, not, in the main, via the congested labyrinthine corridors of Heathrow airport. There is a job of work to be done by the 720 Scottish tourist board, in facilitating direct entry by airlines, by charter flights to airports in Scotland. Mr Devereux said that the onus would be on the Scottish tourist board. The onus will also be on the Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland in how they use their powers and handle consultation with the British Tourist Authority. My hon. Friends and I believe that they are on probation because it remains to be seen how positively they use the Bill. I hope that for the sake of promoting Scotland overseas they will do so in as positive a fashion as possible.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (Edinburgh, West)
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) touched on an important point when he said that the chairman of the British Tourist Authority might also become the chairman of the English tourist board. It is essential in those circumstances that when he is acting in his capacity as chairman of the British Tourist Authority, he is entirely impartial. I shall take the point a stage further. If he were to advocate amalgamating the English tourist board with the British. Tourist Authority, I venture to suggest that that would be the wrong course. Were there a potential conflict of interest between the Scottish tourist board and the English tourist board, that situation would make it extremely difficult for the chairman of the British Tourist Authority to act impartially. That could not be justified.
I heartily welcome the Bill. At present the British Tourist Authority spends £2 million on the promotion of Scotland overseas, but only £13,000 has been allocated to the Scottish tourist board when it acts as an agent for the British Tourist Authority. That sum will not go far. It could not assist small tourist operators in the private sector, who make up the large proportion of Scotland's tourist industry. Many of those small operators could not afford to promote themselves in the absence of Government assistance. In his report my predecessor, Lord Stodart, strongly recommended:the distinctive attractions of Scotland and its high dependence economically on tourism merit a separate promotional effort abroad. We are in no doubt but that that can best be done by the Scottish Tourist Board. Such an extension of the board's powers is clearly logical as the Highlands and Islands Development Board already has those powers and uses them with success.He strongly recommended that the Scottish tourist board should be given the powers that the Bill seeks to give it. At the time the Government did not go all the way and give the Scottish tourist board those powers, but later they gave limited powers, with the consent of the Secretary of State to local authorities to go abroad and engage in promotional activity. That meant that both the HIDB and the local authorities, acting with consent, had those powers. It is desirable that the Scottish tourist board's role should be enhanced because of those circumstances and because tourism is Scotland's largest currency earner after whisky and oil. About £760 million was generated this year by tourism, which has also led to the employment of about 50,000 people.
The hon. Member for Maryhill asked, "What about Japan?" Like him, I have visited Japan. The consent clause is necessary because when I was there the Japanese complained about the plethora of local authorities that were coming and clamouring for inward investment and various other Japanese activities in Scotland. If too many 721 deputations go at the same time, it can be counterproductive. Therefore, it is necessary to have proper consultations with the British Tourist Authority, which will continue to represent Scotland's interests.
§ Mr. Dewar
What rubbish. There are inconsistencies in the hon. Gentleman's remarks. He praised the HIDB arrangement—it does not need permission from anyone. The HIDB can act by its own authority. Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that the HIDB should be put on the same basis that the Scottish tourist board will be on? Does he not think it desirable that the Scottish tourist board should be given the powers that are entrusted to the HIDB?
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
The HIDB operates on a much smaller level than the Scottish tourist board will after it is given powers under the Bill. It is highly desirable that these consultations should start and be carried out effectively. It is the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Scotland, who, if he is doing his job properly and effectively, will make certain that the British Tourist Authority does its job properly in representing Scottish interests—remembering that there is a British dimension to this—in those parts of the world where the Scottish tourist board would not have the funds to operate effectively.
In his letter to me, the director of overseas tourism of the British Tourist Authority, Mr. Norman Chumley said:We see a very important role in identifying very special targets in those markets which offer the best potential … We see good opportunities to co-ordinate the Scottish trade and the variety of Scottish tourism products … With the Scottish Tourist Board having the power to act overseas we can fulfil the role of a catalyst for the Scottish trade and bring to them promotional opportunities that may otherwise not be there. Such things are specific sales missions, Scottish stands at overseas trade fairs and exhibitions, and co-ordinated advertising campaigns in specific markets and specialist media".I cannot help believing that the Scottish tourist board will be effective, as the chairman of the Scottish tourist board suggested, and that the Bill will open up new horizons and possibilities. He also suggested—the hon. Member for Maryhill mentioned this—that over the next five years it could earn an additional £250 million and produce another 25,000 jobs. It is essential that it should be given every encouragement to do that, if it is at all possible.
The Scottish tourist board talked about acting as a catalyst for the Scottish trade. It intends, later this year, under the powers in the Bill, to pull together promotion of tourism in Scandinavian countries, including Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Part of the project will involve going over on a sales mission with representatives of the Scottish tourist trade. Such a specific sales mission could be big or small. The tendency will be to do it on a fairly large scale but in some cases a sales mission could involve only one person going to see one operator, if that was all that was required. Obviously, the tourist board understands that, with limited resources, it will have to be careful to make the most cost-effective use of what is available.
Recent sales missions have been to Canada and the United States, supported by the Scottish Airports Authority, and have put strong emphasis on promoting Prestwick airport and the countryside of Robert Burns. There have also been organised visits by overseas tour operators to Scotland, which the Scottish tourist board 722 helped to co-ordinate. Co-ordination is especially important for advertising campaigns in specific markets and forms of the media. The Scottish tourist board feels that it would have a great deal more clout under the terms of the Bill because it could advertise in key newspapers in Holland, Germany and Scandinavia. It is examining the Scandinavian market hard at present. The justification for such advertising is that if Edinburgh and Wester Ross, or some other part of Scotland, were to be advertised, it would be as part of a Scottish campaign. Therefore the advertisement would not appear next to a minor town of another foreign country, but in a Scottish context with other Scottish products. Such effective co-ordination is a more professional way of obtaining results.
§ Mr. O'Neill
The hon. Gentleman has moved from Time magazine, referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen), to continental newspapers. Their advertising charges may be smaller than those of Time magazine, but it would not take long to consume a budget of £200,000. To talk realistically about the sort of programme the hon. Gentleman envisages would involve far more money than the Government are prepared to put up.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
I did not mention Time magazine but referred to particular newspapers on the continent. Obviously the Scottish tourist board must make the best use of whatever resources are available. That is why it recognises that, depending on what it is given, it may have to engage in either big efforts where circumstances demand that, or small ones. It will have to judge that carefully according to the circumstances and there will have to be effective consultations.
The local authorities have already gone to overseas trade fairs and exhibitions, which would be expanded. They have been to Montreux in Switzerland, to Paris and to Brussels. At all those fairs there was a Scottish stand with members of the tourist board meeting operators on their own ground and putting over the Scottish message. That appears to have met with particular success in Germany and France — although all countries have shown interest as well.
It is hoped that Scotland will become the home of many major conferences and exhibitions in western Europe. The STB is aware that in the travel business market incentive travel is now buoyant and there will be a great opportunity to increase such travel. Those who engage in incentive travel tend to be fairly large spenders, so there are opportunities there for promotion. I hope that a great deal will be done to identify possibilities for conferences and exhibitions. The London convention bureau does that in the south of England and is successful in bringing business to London. The Scottish tourist board will have a great opportunity to do the same for Scotland.
The hon. Member for Maryhill mentioned the Edinburgh Festival as being successful in bringing many people, including some of Scottish descent, to Scotland. In much the same way the clan gathering, which many people regarded with a pinch of salt at the time, had the benefit of attracting many people who helped shopkeepers and enjoyed the organised events. It is a mistake for the House to underestimate the strength of the affinity felt by people of Scottish descent for Scotland. Some time ago during a world war, an Englishman was visiting the Highlands of Scotland and an old gentleman named 723 Macpherson gave him a lift to the hotel in a cart. He asked the old man how his children were getting on and the old man said that he thought that they were doing right. The Englishman asked whether they were serving his country and the old man said, "I think so. One is a Cabinet Minister, another is a judge in India and the third is a captain in the Army." I suggest that there are more Macphersons living outside Scotland than inside. Hence, there is a great deal of scope for the Scottish tourist board to be enormously effective in attracting business to Scotland. This Bill will be good for the Scottish tourist board and good for employment in Scotland and, as such, it deserves to be supported.
§ Mr. Gordon Wilson (Dundee, East)
I relish the story that has just been told by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton). It was an ancient monument of a story but one that I am glad he managed to trot out.
This is a rare occasion upon which I can say to the Government, "I told you so," because many hon. Members have changed and some of those here today were not here three years ago when I was lucky in the ballot and introduced a Bill called the Development of Tourism (Scotland) Bill. In clause 1 it sought to provide: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.That is almost word for word what is included in clause 1(1) of this Bill. I am delighted that the Government are proposing this Bill, although I am afraid that they have not taken advantage of the opportunity to give a straight power to the Scottish tourist board to spend the money allocated to it in the best way to encourage the Scottish tourist industry.
The formula that the Government have adopted is a recipe for confusion and delay. In the future the Government may well regret having adopted the format of requiring the consent of the Secretary of State for Scotland and consultation with the British Tourist Authority.
When I presented my Bill there years ago, I adduced the arguments that Lord Stodart's committee had advanced. I quoted a letter which I had received on 11 December 1980 to show the wishes of the Scottish tourist board. The letter said that the Scottish tourist boardbelieves that Scotland is a separate entity and has to be marketed as such.The letter then continued:Neither the Scottish Tourist Board nor the Scottish local authorities are satisfied with an arrangement which permits individual regions or districts of Scotland to promote overseas, but excludes the national tourist agency from supporting their endeavours on Scottish basis.I was greatly disappointed that the Government set out to block the Bill. The former hon. Member for Aberdeen, South, Mr. Sproat, in a speech that lasted for over an hour, described the idea of giving power to the Scottish tourist board as being selfish and thoughtless. It is interesting now to note that he described his Government as being selfish and thoughtless. That may make it rather more difficult for him to find another constituency. If that is the case, perhaps some favour has been done to the House.
§ Mr. Dewar
It is remarkable that Mr. Sproat was the junior Minister in charge of tourism later in his career.
§ Mr. Wilson
As a result of his efforts in helping to block my Bill, the hon. Gentleman was then promoted to the Department of Trade and given responsibility for tourism.
Another of the few speakers in the short debate was the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones), who sought to destroy the Bill. He was subsequently promoted to Whip. Whether that was for blocking my Bill or having the insensitivity to block a Bill dealing with disablement, I am not sure, but they were both dastardly acts.
The House was almost empty on that occasion. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) apologised to me later for his absence. He had not thought it likely that there would be a debate. The Leader of the Liberal party paid a short visit but he was so scunnered by the hour-long speech of the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South that he had to leave with the hon. Member for Garscadden because of feelings of faintness. The Under-Secretary spoke about the Bill. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) has gone to foreign parts as Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and is hardly ever seen in a Scottish context If he is to be believed, speaking on behalf of the Scottish Office, he said:If we accepted the Bill, we should be doing a complete somersault, overturning the principles of the 1969 Act.He made it clear that he rejected the proposition contained in Lord Stodart's report. He went on to say:For 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.… It requires no legislation."—[Official Report, 27 February 1981; Vol. 999, c. 1137–40.]Three years later the Minister has told us of the opportunities that could come from this Bill, but we have lost valuable time.
Since I am at the moment promoting the Leasehold (Scotland) Bill which is receiving a degree of support in the country, and the Social Security (Cold Climate Allowance) Amendment Bill which is receiving even more support, perhaps the Government should consider accepting one or both of them before they have to do a further somersault, even with the type of twist and pirouette that occurs in clause 1(2) of this Bill.
It is a great pity that the Government have not lived up to their manifesto. At the risk of imperilling my immortal soul, I have read the Conservative manifesto. One of the very few propositions with which it set out to tempt the electorate into voting for it relates to tourism, on page 22. It says:To this end"—that is, the encouragement of full co-operation between the Scottish tourist board, the Highlands and Islands Development Board, the local authorities and the British Tourist Authority with the minimum of duplication, waste and so on—we shall extend the powers of the Scottish Tourist Board to include promotional activity outwith the United Kingdom, on the lines of those enjoyed by the local authorities.
I am well aware that the local authorities require the consent of the Secretary of State for Scotland. They do not require the consent of the British Tourist Authority. As has been pointed out in the debate, the Highlands and Islands Development Board does not require the consent of the Secretary of State for Scotland, nor does it have to consult the British Tourist Authority when it tries to promote the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Logically, I should have thought that the Government should follow the 725 parallel which has been working successfully with the Highlands and Islands Development Board, and give the Scottish tourist board unfettered powers. We all accept that the Scottish tourist board would consult the British Tourist Authority. It would be remarkable if it did not. It would be equally remarkable if it did not consult the Scottish Office, upon which it would be dependent for funds to pursue its activities. The Government should consider relaxing this unnecessary restriction.
The concurrent arrangement that is taking place with the reorganisation of the British Tourist Authority and the English tourist board is much more worrying. The decision has been taken that there will be a common chairman for both organisations. The statement in the House in November by the Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry shows that it is expected that there will be changes in the functions of both bodies, with an intention that they will begin to run along the same lines. I suggest that there is a real danger that Scotland could be the loser if that happens. If we do not exercise some care and discretion we may encounter considerable difficulties.
I have no doubt that the most efficient use of resources would be to disband the British Tourist Authority and allow the revenues to be spent by the individual boards. That would greatly favour the Scottish tourist board, but the English and Welsh boards could equally compete on a reasonable basis. There is no reason why there could not be co-operation and consultation between the bodies, if necessary, by following a format adduced and accepted over years between the electricity boards in Scotland, whereby the chairman of each serves on the board of each body.
§ Mrs. Anna McCurley (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde)
Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that in the present circumstances the British Tourist Authority has done quite well by Scotland, particularly this year, which is heritage year? In 21 countries, the heritage trails from Scotland have been co-ordinated by the British Tourist Authority with its resources, which the Scottish tourist board could not possibly command.
§ Mr. Wilson
There is no doubt that the Scottish tourist board would have had difficulty, with the funds available to it, in making such an overseas projection, and being able to do what the hon. Lady has described. Nobody would doubt that, and one of the points made by others is the inadequacy of the funds made available, even on the common agency basis, which was fabricated by the Earl of Mansfield when he was a Minister. My view is that if we do not take care of the structure that the Government are considering, there will be a disaster. I cannot see how a British Tourist Authority, sharing a chairman with the English tourist board, can manage to see things from the right point of view, bearing in mind the criticism, shown in the papers over many years, of the inadequacy of the British Tourist Authority in reflecting Scottish interests in the tourist industry.
If one takes the view that marketing is an essential part of the tourist board in Scotland, the formula that the Government have evolved, inadequate and equal in inadequacy to the one adopted three years ago, will lead to delay in projecting Scotland, and it could be damaged. The definition of marketing, as defined by the Institute of Marketing, is: 726The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.If the Scottish tourist board has to clear all its foreign marketing with the British Tourist Authority, it ceases to be the management authority, and we shall end up with the same problem of authority for the overseas projection of Scotland resting in London.
Scotland is already in direct competition with the other national tourist boards for certain overseas markets, and if the British Tourist Authority hampers the Scottish tourist board in its efforts, and puts pressure on the Secretary of State to refuse permission on foreign marketing to Scotland's tourist industry it will run into considerable problems. The Bill relies heavily on favourable reactions from the British Tourist Authority. This is no way for Scotland to improve its foreign tourism. It is a minefield of conflicting ideas that could result ultimately in resignations and perhaps the gagging of Ministers and civil servants.
What does Scotland need? First, it needs a body that can market Scotland overseas. Secondly, it needs more flights into Scotland, with Prestwick being the lead airport for international traffic, perhaps with access from the east coast, from where there is considerable criticism of the distance one has to travel to Prestwick. Thirdly, Scotland needs better ferry links with Europe, and this could conflict with the existing arrangements, particularly with the ferry links on the south-east coast of England. Fourthly, hotels in Scotland need better deals with British Rail and the British air carriers.
We are in a cut-throat industry, and our customers can just as easily go to America, Spain or England. Therefore, we must have the greatest freedom to pursue our markets, even if that is because of competition to the detriment of other areas. We must win the maximum share of the business that we can for our hotels and tourist areas.
The British Tourist Authority does not require to retain the power to promote Scotland abroad. It cannot guarantee impartiality and has proved in the past that it is inefficient and ineffective in the promotion of anything other than London, Stratford-upon-Avon and, nearer to hand, the Edinburgh tattoo. The British Tourist Authority has been a handicap to Scotland. It seeks to bring tourists into London and has directed most of its efforts to the metropolitan areas and surrounding attractions such as Stratford-upon-Avon. The problem is that once the tourists reach London, they quickly realise the costs of travel by air or train northwards, and that can add a substantial amount to any family budget.
As to the financing in the Bill, £200,000, even with the additions that it has been suggested may come from the Scottish Office, is a paltry budget. Reference has been made to how expensive advertisements in Time magazine are, but £200,000 would not go far towards a small television promotional campaign in the metropolitan area of New York, let alone the rest of the market in the United States. That sum compares miserably with the £2 million that, under the Government proposals, will still remain with the British Tourist Authority, which I believe is completely ignorant of the Scottish dimension.
In his statement to the House in November, the Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry, said that the amount of money and the powers that are to go to the Scottish tourist board would be equivalent to a limited promotion, and that is what is required.
§ Mr. Dalyell
What evidence does the hon. Gentleman have for his statement that the British Tourist Authority, whatever one's criticism of it might be, is ignorant of the Scottish dimension? That is not true.
§ Mr. Wilson
As the hon. Gentleman has proved by his attitude to the Scottish Assembly that he is completely ignorant of the Scottish dimension as well, far be it from me — [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman did not appreciate the need for a Scottish Parliament, so I fail to trust his judgment. As has been proved in the past he is not all that keen on Scotland anyway, and more keen on the problems of Argentina.
The chairman of the Scottish tourist board said on 22 April 1982 that Scotland's "tourist potential"—he too is a sinner come to repentance, like the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell)—would be better served by promoting the country independently from the rest of Britain.
§ Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross)
Far be it from me to defend the reputation of the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) but to suggest that he has no concept of the Scottish dimension shows a parsimonious stupidity on the part of the hon. Member for Dundee, East, (Mr. Wilson).
I have always taken the view that the promotion of tourism in Britain was a dual function. The individual parts of the country—whether Devon or Cornwall. or Argyllshire or Perthshire or Dumfriesshire—viewed in their national context, have individual claims to be promoted alongside the promotion of the British national interests of "Come to Britain". The Scottish tourist board should have every opportunity and encouragement to promote Scotland, not as Scotland, but as all the different part of Scotland that have a particular fascination and appeal. To suggest, as the hon. Member for Dundee, East did, that there should be some disintegrated form, in which there would be a national league in which "Come to England", "Come to Scotland", "Come to Wales" and "Come to Ireland" were in competition is the worst possible approach, because one is not promoting advantage. "Come to Scotland" must be promoted on the basis of "Come and see Loch Ness, or Edinburgh or Dumfriesshire or Perthshire." Scotland cannot be promoted just on the basis of the general name. It is essential for the Scottish tourist board to have freedom to promote the individual attractions of Scotland.
I worry about the new arrangements when it is suggested that the chairman of the English tourist board should be the same person as the chairman of the British Tourist Authority. I do not wish to walk on eggs. [Interruption.] I may say that it is a Scottish tradition, and if the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) has read the memorials of Lord Cockburn he will know that many people did it. I beg your pardon, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I got it wrong. I should have said "walk as if on eggs".
If the justification for the proposals for the GCHQ is a confusion of loyalty, all I can say is that if I were the chairman of the Scottish tourist board and also the chairman of the British Tourist Authority my natural impartiality would not necessarily favour England. For the reverse reason, therefore, we have cause to be suspicious of any arrangement involving a person whose natural 728 interests in the promotion of Great Briain conflict with his other duties. The Minister would be wise to try to persuade his colleagues to make a dual mandate, instead of bringing about confusion of office in this way.
May I suggest how we in Scotland could do much more for tourism? As the Minister said, tourism is a huge industry, with ever-increasing prospects, if they are grasped. Certainly in Perthshire there is a huge potential. It is a huge potential, if it is not foolishly frustrated. may I give one or two examples of the way in which I believe it is foolishly frustrated? I am glad to see the Minister who is responsible for the Scottish development department in his seat.
One of the characteristics of tourists, presumably—or frequently — is that they have not been to the place before. They therefore do not know where places are. Even if they know where the places are, they may not know what is there when they get there. For some years, and against much opposition, we have managed to bypass most of the towns that lie between the south and Inverness. [Interruption.] As my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) says, in travelling from London to Inverness, Dunblane is virtually the only place that one has to pass through. I used to have to deal with that matter, and I hope that the Minister at the Scottish development department will not waste money on having a third consultant telling the world where the road should go, thus spending more money now, supposedly to save time so that 20 years later the road can have another imaginary track.
I am concerned about the signposting of roads. Eventually, after vast pressure, the Scottish development department invented what I think was called the experiment of Strongbow signs which were printed in the colour of chocolate pudding with custard letters on them. Even a person with the most acute sight, travelling on a bicycle at the slowest possible speed, would have to stop and get off to read them. That does not seem to me an intelligent form of signposting.
Apart from that type of delay, all attempts to signpost other bypassed places, such as Bridge of Earn. Auchterarder, or whatever, are always explained away on the basis of some extraordinary experiment—a need for universalisation, a terror of any form of difference anywhere — because the poor tourist who comes to Scotland—a Uruguayan Greek speaking French—might be confused if he saw a signpost near Wick which differed from one in Auchtermuchty.
I do not understand why there is this delay. If we are to promote tourism, I can show hon. Gentlemen signs that could be put up tomorrow. We do not need the Scottish development department saying that everything has to be universal. It is not universal. Some signs advertise Granada. Some signs advertise lavatories near Kinross. Some signs say that one can have bed and breakfast, others say that one can camp and others say that one cannot camp. I ask the Minister to make no more excuses and to ensure that we have signs that promote tourism in Scotland.
I also ask Ministers at the Scottish Office to use their influence with self-catering. Because a week in a hotel in Scotland may cost more than a flight to a funny little place in the sun on the Costa somewhere, the promotion of self-catering has become a method of attracting people to Scotland. People who go to Scotland have to travel great distances to enjoy it. When people go to the Costa del Sol, 729 all they have to do is to walk 100 yards, 50 yards or 5 yards to the beach. To enjoy the magnificence of Scotland one must travel. So, because the cost factor is high, the residential factor should be low. That is one reason for the growth of the self-catering industry. If the threatened or imagined alterations in the taxation of self-catering facilities are confirmed in the Budget, many establishments will inevitably be bankrupted and will have to close.
The Budget provides an opportunity to alter the basis whereby the provision of a self-catering facility is not a service. I do not understand how that can be said. If a person were told upon arrival that he did not have a chalet and could not stay, I imagine that he would think that he had lost a service. Therefore, I urge Ministers sincerely to prevent self-catering holidays in Scotland from being taxed out of existence.
If the Bill provides the opportunity to demonstrate the superior excellence and attraction of Scotland and those parts that can be marketed and sold, it will be a good deed. After travelling around the famous places of the British Isles such as Devon and Cornwall and the Lake District, and then the Highlands of Scotland, a comparison can be made. That comparison is that we have more to sell, promote and attract than any of the rival places in the United Kingdom. I beg the Government to ensure that the Bill enables us to do just that.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)
As an entertainer, I cannot compete with the hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Fairbairn) and I shall not try. I want to ask the Minister several mundane, practical but relevant questions, many of which could easily be answered by civil servants without resorting to letter writing. However, if the Minister wishes to write letters I shall understand.
First, who will be responsible for promoting the Commonwealth games in 1986 in Edinburgh? Is it to be the new Scottish board or is it to be the British Tourist Authority? I ask that in order to make the same point that I made in public to Kenneth Borthwick and his colleagues at the last meeting of the main organising committee, of which I have been an active member. What will be said about hotel prices? Something of a scandal is now developing around the world because of the exploitation by hotels in cities that are chosen for major sporting and cultural events arising out of the prices that they charge. Such exploitation was banned in Calgary, Canada. If what is likely to happen this summer in Los Angeles is anything to go by we shall come to a stage where sporting fanatics of modest means will find it extremely difficult to go to the Olympic games, which will be visited only by rich Americans and exceedingly rich people from other countries. That is clearly unsatisfactory.
The last time the games took place in Edinburgh we had a proud record and I do not think that there was any exploitation. However, greed develops and there must be some code of conduct for hotel prices for Edinburgh and surrounding areas in 1986, as Kenneth Borthwick promised. I ask the Minister to comment on how the games committee will publicise the fact that there is such a code of conduct. I have some confidence in those who are imposing it and they say that they can manage it. I should like a ministerial assurance tonight that an active monitor 730 will be kept on what happens. It is important that Scotland should be able to parade itself as a country that will not exploit those who visit the 1986 games.
§ Mr. Maxton
My hon. Friend will be well aware that at present the Commonwealth Games are at some risk. Scotland could lose a major tourist attraction as a result of the crass stupidity of the English Rugby Union's proposal to tour South Africa.
§ Mr. Dalyell
I thought that it might stretch your patience too far, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to go along that road, but it is exceedingly important. I welcome the strong statements of the Minister with responsibility for sport. I assume that that shows the considered attitudes and actions of the Government, whatever the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) might say about the signatures of Conservative Members that he apparently has, who take a different view on tours of South Africa. It is an important point and if my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Carthcart (Mr. Maxton) catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he might develop it. We await an answer from the Scottish Office.
I must be careful about declaring interests that I do not possess because I obtain no financial benefit from our heritage as such. However, if we do not keep our heritage in good repair it will be that much more difficult to promote convincingly the heritage of Scotland.
I should declare that my wife is the Historic Buildings Council representative on the Edinburgh new town conservation committee. It is extremely well run by Sir Alan Hume, a former distinguished civil servant, and particularly by Desmond Hodges, whose work I admire greatly. I cannot speak with their authority, but the city of Edinburgh will need more and more money from somewhere to stop crumbling stone. I do not pretend that the problem is anything like as bad as it is in parts of Bath but it exists nevertheless. If the Government are to promote Edinburgh as one of the great European cities, what will be done to help the new town, which needs such help more than it has ever done before?
It is unrealistic for hon. Members to call for sums that no Government can possibly afford to give, but some calculation should be made of the employment that is created by putting money into projects to preserve our heritage, such as Edinburgh new town. Thousands of skilled building workers are unemployed. It may be that hon. Members will say that repairs of council housing should come first and I do not dispute that. However, the fact remains that money put into heritage is labour-intensive if it is properly used. I am told by people in the Cockburn Society, the Georgian Society and the Lothian Preservation Trust that that is an extremely cost-effective way of using money to create worthwhile employment. I hope that the Manpower Services Commission will make available any money that is asked for by the heritage bodies with the proviso that they should be extremely clear about how they will use it, and that it will not be used for administration.
Do the Government accept in principle the proposition that money spent on maintenance, often essential maintenance, of the heritage is employment-creating? If so, what is their estimate of the number of skilled building trade workers and craftsmen who would be employed if we spent more millions of pounds on heritage projects? I give the crumbling parts of Edinburgh new town as just one example.
731 It is not simply a matter of ancient buildings. I had the good fortune to go with Morton Boyd to Inch Kailloch, where the Nature Conservancy Council is involved in a small project. There, we saw young people who would otherwise have no chance of a job at least getting training in conservation. I thought that the NCC was doing a valuable task. However, it is desperately short of money — in particular, for the notification of SSSIs; the Minister will remember well the many hours during which I and other hon. Members detained him on the Wildlife and Countryside Bill, as it then was—but it is extremely capable of providing worthwhile jobs. Perhaps it would be better to put money into jobs where there is the expectation of continuing employment rather than into training schemes which finish at the end of 12 or 18 months. My second question, therefore, is about the philosophy of it all.
Hon. Members may think, as I come to my third question, that I have a personal interest in the matter, but I do not. I refer to the selection that must be made between those historic houses which will, and those which will not, be helped. There comes a point when we should have an overall strategy, and I will be specific. It may have to be a choice between, on the one hand, Filey, and, on the other, Cork, because the sums of money about which we are talking are absolutely enormous.
Bolton, near Grantham, got £8 million. Those of us who took part in the deliberations on the then National Heritage Bill never imagined that Lord Charteris and his colleagues would give £8 million to one property, but that happened. Again, I make no complaint, but vast sums were given to Canons Ashby, perhaps rightly because of the Saxon heritage. They were vastly larger sums than any of those who took part in debating the relevant Bills imagined would be allocated by the national heritage memorial fund to particular projects.
If, in the promotion of Britain overseas, our medieval and Georgian heritage is to be promoted, should we not get round to having a strategy on what is and what is not to be kept? I would tell the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie), were she in her place, that with other members of the heritage group I went to Calke, just south of Derby. In one sense it is a remarkable town house. In another, however, it is strange, with rooms full of preserved birds. How a family could have preserved all those birds is a matter for wonder. But they have been neglected for decades, and a decision should be taken on whether the house at Calke is worth preserving. If it is, then we must bear in mind the Government's financial guidelines. A Labour Government, were we in power, would also have to lay clown guidelines—this is not entirely a party political question — and therefore somebody somewhere must decide what should be discarded from the heritage and what must be kept. We seem to adopt a random approach, but with a number of other, extremely costly and possibly valuable, projects coming up for help from the national heritage memorial fund, the Government must look at the whole issue afresh before a Keddlestone type of crisis occurs.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
In the consideration of the heritage, which is important to tourism, would it not be sensible if the Department of the Environment, instead of spending huge sums in Scotland on preserving as ruins houses which 732 could be homes, sold them to people who would be happy to restore them, so that those funds could be used for the purposes about which the hon. Gentleman is talking?
§ Mr. Dalyell
I am not antagonistic to that. Consider, for example, the sale of Niddry, near Winchburgh. I would be in favour of it being sold to someone who would do it up properly. At the same time, let us not imagine that from that sale any money would be left for anything else. If that were to happen to Niddry — and I should like Lord Linlithgow to do it to Midhope, which is an interesting building—those who took on the job would not have a penny extra with which to do anything other than the necessary improvements. Although it may sound good to sell off certain properties, there would be no profit in doing so. Indeed, to be fair to potential restorers, they would have to be given the property at a token rate—the old blench penny, nothing more than a token sum—or they could not reasonably be expected to do up properties that have been neglected for generations.
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that brings private capital into the restoration of the building, which can then be used to provide an attraction for tourists, particularly in a number of local areas where there are many tower houses and interesting buildings? Many such buildings are literally falling down, with nobody showing any great concern, although the evidence is that, when they are restored, they attract substantial numbers of tourists to areas which would otherwise be denied that benefit.
§ Mr. Dalyell
I agree with the hon. Gentleman, and Towie Barclay in Aberdeenshire is an example of a property that has been done up well by Mark Ellington, a distinguished member of the Historic Buildings Council. If I were asked whether it should be a priority for the national Exchequer to give money for new hospital facilities and extra money for education or, for example, doing up Towie Barclay, I would have to reply that there were more urgent priorities than Towie Barclay from the point of view of Government funding.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Paisley, South)
Is my hon. Friend not in a sense selling the pass? We are facing the present dilemma because of this Government's malicious and stupid cuts in public expenditure. They pose the question whether to save a valuable building or a hospital. We say that the former kind of public expenditure is valuable in both respects, for the health and heritage of the nation and because it creates jobs and therefore helps to revive the economy. I am sure that my hon. Friend will accept that we should not accept the argument that the Conservatives have been giving us for the last five years.
§ Mr. Dalyell
With reciprocated friendliness, I assure my hon. Friend that I stick to the view that any Government, and not least the Labour Government of which he was a Member, must make choices. As a former member of the council of the National Trust, and as one —I declare it—whose wife is involved in the work of the Historic Buildings Council, I know that it is unreal to expect the state to save everything. Choices must be made, sometimes unpalatable ones. Someone somewhere must make decisions about what state money should be concentrated on saving what. If there was enough money to save everything that any of us might want to preserve, it would be a wonderful world, but that is not the world in which we live.
733 What is the attitude of the Government to a number of voluntary bodies, for example the Lothian preservation trust, the Cockburn Society, the Georgian Society and a number of others in Scotland which have grown up with hard-working, dedicated people acting usually in a voluntary capacity? Is it the general view that, if those bodies raise local funds for a project which is deemed worth while by the Scottish Office, there should be some type of matching help? The role of voluntary bodies is important.
I am not persuaded that the finance available for heritage is being used to its optimum extent. I have thought that for a long time—in fact, for more than 20 years, when Harold Wilson, who was then the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee put me on that Committee. It is all very well for the Public Accounts Committee to bring accounting officers before the Committee and say, "But you cannot have carry-overs." In many cases, the Historical Buildings Association does not have all the knowledge that must be available before it can make decisions. It may be more efficient for the Treasury to be more flexible in allowing carry-overs of unused money. It is understandable for the Treasury to say that if at the end of the year £300,000 or £400,000 — X pounds — is unspent, it must be used. Otherwise the Treasury will say, "Well, since you did not use last year's expenditure, why should we up your expenditure next year?"
When promoting and maintaining heritage, can we not have more flexible rules on expenditure that may not—for reasons that are mostly good—be taken up in a particular financial year? I should like some comment from the Minister. He would possibly be unwise to give that information in his reply, because he would need to consult his Treasury colleagues. This is not a new problem to them. The time has come when the Government should give some thought to this matter.
I should like the Government to give some thought to the delicate question of staffing of semi-governmental bodies concerned with heritage. I had something to do with Mr. Graham, when he was the secretary of the HBC, and had the highest regard for him. I have no doubt that Brian Lang, when secretary of the Scottish Historical Buildings Council, had a great interest in these matters. Were that not so, he would not have gone on to be the secretary of the national heritage memorial fund.
Is it ideal to have civil servants in some cases seconded to such bodies for a comparatively short time? If I can persuade Ministers, I point out that I have talked about these matters to the noble Lord Eccles, for whom I have a high regard, and who, given that I had political differences with him, was an intelligent Minister, in the Macmillan Government. When he was Churchill's Minister of Works, he tried hard, and almost succeeded, in getting a scheme whereby there would be a career structure for civil servants working in areas to do with heritage and, broadly, tourism. Is there not some case for looking at a career structure inside the Civil Service, especially in relation to seconding people to quasi-governmental bodies? I merely set down the marker. There may be overriding objections. I and others would like to see the question of career structure answered. At the end of the day we may have to accept those objections, but the question is worth asking.
734 Scottish Opera has developed, thanks to Alexander Gibson and others, in a remarkable way. Often, its productions have been fairly outstanding. This year and next year, however, it is unable to do any touring, although it hopes to have plans for after 1985. If we are seriously to encourage the arts, should not two aspects be looked at? Does the Royal opera house receive more than Scottish Opera of the money available for opera? It is not simply that I have been brainwashed by John Cox—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)
Order. I do not believe that the Government's subvention to the Royal opera house comes within the scope of the Bill. The hon. Member is pushing against the frontiers of what is tolerable, and I hope that he will not overstep the mark.
§ Mr. Dalyell
I know that your patience has been estimable, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall desist from what I was going to say about Scottish Opera. I simply ask: what can be done to help Scottish Opera to tour? It will have a greater reputation at home if it is a touring company. In this world, the touring companies — [Interruption.] I know that I am being pressed on the subject of opera, so I shall go on to discuss ballet.
A pressing, extremely well-informed constituent who talks to me at great length on these matters is the noble Lord Rosebery. More people are now very interested in ballet. It used to be an elite interest. Thanks partly to the efforts of the Scottish Ballet and to the great work done in schools, it is no longer an elite interest. The Scottish Ballet is no longer the peripheral and perhaps ribald matter that it might have been. The Scottish Ballet is desperately hard-pressed. Soon a long letter on that subject will go to Department of Education and Science Ministers, as that Department is the sponsoring body. I hope that the muscle —if that is the correct word in relation to ballet—of Scottish Ministers will be deployed as forcefully as possible with their DES colleagues so that this company can progress.
On tourism— [Laughter.] These matters are relevant to the promotion of Scotland.
§ Mr. Buchan
§ Mr. Dalyell
My hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South, with whom I hate to disagree, is shoulder to shoulder with me on the matter of ballet.
There is nothing more preposterous than the way in which a series of British local authorities have taken their members to Japan and elsewhere to obtain the Nissan and other products. I do not know what the Japanese must think when visited by delegations from south Wales, Humberside and other places in the same country. A similar point applies a little to Scottish local authorities as well. They have set up—I have an extremely favourable impression of their work in Linlithgow—local authority groups which encourage tourism. Will local authority interests be portrayed separately in the authority which has extended powers or will they be represented on a Scottish basis? It is not sensible to produce abroad fragmented literature or to put pressure on bodies to go to the Edinburgh and Lothian district or the Argyll and Bute district. That must be done on a co-ordinated basis. It is, therefore, proper to ask on Second Reading about the relationship between the district tourist authorities, which have been set up with some enthusiasm, and promotion overseas on a Scottish basis.
735 If we are to attract people to Scotland, we must attract them to its beauty, especially the beauty of the Highlands and that of Galloway, that underestimated and beautiful part of Scotland. I hope to ingratiate myself with the Government Whip, the hon. Member for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale (Mr. Lang), by extolling the virtues of Galloway. I want to try to woo him so that he will use his undoubted influence with the Treasury. He is, after all, a Lord Commissioner of the Treasury. What do Lords Commissioners do other than influence the Treasury?
In beautiful, lovely Galloway, the Nature Conservancy Council is interested in a number of SSSIs, but the council is desperately short of money for notification. I do not pretend that the situation is anything like as bad as that which prevails at the Halvegate marshes in Norfolk or the Somerset levels. Nevertheless, it is a problem relating to tourism and the countryside. When is a little more money to be available to Martin Boyd and others to take on the staff that is needed to undertake the notification that the House, rightly or wrongly, laid down in the Wildlife and Countryside Act?
The Minister will well remember all the undertakings that were given on notification by the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), who represents an area no less beautiful than Galloway and who was an effective Minister. The hon. Gentleman was aware of all the important tasks that the NCC had to undertake. I understand that only about 11 per cent. of all the notifications that the council hoped to undertake throughout Britain have been made. As a result, some people are jumping in and taking agricultural land when they should not. They are trying to get in before the Act comes into force in their areas.
I do not apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for raising that issue in this debate. Much of the debate will be concerned with promotion overseas and we had better be clear, if we promote Scotland, that we have something to promote. Beautiful areas are being harmed — I shall not say "destroyed" because a case is damaged by exaggeration —by the tardiness of notification of SSSIs. I do not claim that that notification is a great attraction but it is an increasing attraction.
The Minister will remember—and so will the hon. Member for Dumfries, the former Minister, who took a great interest in the subject—the enormous length of our debates in Committee on marine SSSIs. I understand that not very much has been done about them. The Minister will remember that he was briefed, as I was, by some of his extremely well-informed constituents in Oban. When he replies later this evening, he will have a gorgeous opportunity to give us good news about the marine SSSIs and marine archeologicial sites.
I shall not weary the House by going on for too long, but three of my hon. Friends and I are sponsored by the National Union of Railwaymen. We interrupted the Minister's opening speech by asking about the Aberdeen-Keith-Banff-Inverness railway line. I hope that some good news can be given. As a non-Highland Member who has an interest in tourism, I have no doubt that French and German tourists, and especially tourists from the United States, who do not have hired cars, rely on rail travel instead. Often they buy rail tickets in their own countries, and that is something that we should encourage because the practice is greatly to the profit of British Rail. These tourists rely on scenic routes, and before any decision is 736 taken on the closure of the Aberdeen-Keith-Banff-Inverness line in the north of Scotland, the consequences for tourism should be taken into account. I shall not trespass into the constituency views of others or on the ways in which the public get to work in Aberdeen or Inverness. I do not wish to trespass into those areas, but I feel that the issue should be raised in general terms—this should be music to the Minister's ears—for it is part of a Scottish interest and not merely a constituency interest.
Having mentioned railways, I happen to be interested in school journeys, which are an increasingly important source of tourism. I am critical of Government policy in a way that should gladden the heart of my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South. In receiving school parties, is it not important that full use should be made of community centres? It is a crying scandal that money has not been made available to local authorities to hire janitors to keep open school and community centres at such times. This is an extremely important facility for incoming school parties, and the cost will amount to peanuts when set against the millions of pounds of capital funds that were expended in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s on school and community centres. It seems that for the sake of peanuts we cannot keep them open.
I note your signals, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I am always sensitive to time signals from you. I was going to address myself to the Findhorn centre and stick up for it, but I shall cut that out of my speech.
It was the Scots who started the shipschool protect—I refer to British India's old, Dunera shipschool project, which was carried on by the Uganda. For reasons that I shall not go into, the Uganda was taken over for a supposedly national interest because of certain events in another ocean. What is to be the compensation at the end of the day when the Uganda comes off Government charter? What compensation can people in the west of Scotland and members of the SS Uganda Society expect to enable a resumption of the tourism in which the Uganda was involved? If we are concerning ourselves with overseas tourism, it is important to consider taking 800 kids to Stockholm, Leningrad, Copenhagen, Bergen, Oslo and elsewhere.
In the presence of the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart), who is a member of the Falkland Islands Committee, I wish to express great concern about the runway that is being constructed on the Falklands. A great deal has been said about tourism to the Falkland Islands, not least by the committee of which the right hon. Gentleman is a member, and I wish to ask a specific question about Mount Pleasant airport. Anything less than 12,000 ft, bearing in mind that all north-bound flights will be limited, will mean that the percentage of departures requiring every available inch of runway will be vastly higher than that pertaining anywhere else. The safety factor in such Falkland operations—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman, who has been speaking for nearly 40 minutes, is straying from the point.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Before anyone talks about tourism to the Falkland Islands, he had better be clear that the Tristars will not have an accident at an airport on which we have spent—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. That is exactly what I was hoping the hon. Gentleman would not say. Has he concluded his speech?
§ Mr. Dalyell
I have interpreted your intervention, Mr. Speaker, as an order to resume my place, and it would be tactless not to do so.
§ Sir Hector Monro (Dumfries)
It is always a pleasure and privilege to follow in debate the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) on matters concerned with the heritage and conservation, on which he is an acknowledged expert. What the hon. Gentleman said about tourism and country houses is all too true. In many remote areas, country houses are the linchpin of tourism, yet most of the owners of historic houses and castles are struggling to make ends meet. Opening a country house is not a profitable operation, yet such houses are a tourist attraction, and attract people who will use the other facilities of the area such as hotels and recreational facilities. Any help that the Government could provide for the maintenance of those houses would produce a good return.
The hon. Gentleman was also right to question the relation to tourism of the national heritage memorial fund. He and I served on the Committee that considered that Bill. Developments have not been as I anticipated then. A great deal of money is being directed into relatively few buildings, and that fills me with apprehension. Action seems to be taken on an ad hoc basis as and when buildings become available or the owners, sadly, die and the properties are placed on the market.
I am concerned that apparently there is no overall policy related to the tourist potential of those magnificent old buildings. The hon. Member rightly said, in connection with Belton, that £8 million is a great deal of money. Where does one stop? I raised many eyebrows over Knoydart. Although beautiful, the property was not unique and it would have been very difficult for tourists to reach. But it is right to mention the importance to tourism of those basic attractions, and the difficulties that the owners face in providing the key attraction of a historic house. Perhaps at the time of the Budget the Chancellor of the Exchequer will think about grants and maintenance facilities for those houses. That is the moment to consider the difficulties.
I appreciate what the hon. Gentleman has said about the Nature Conservancy Council, of which I am a member. He mentioned the problem of the sites of special scientific interest. The problem is one not of money but of qualified staff to carry out the detailed and flexible negotiations required for renotification. There are not enough men and women qualified to carry out the work. I hope that everything will be done to expedite matters, and that the notification will be completed in the coming two or three years.
I am delighted that the Government have introduced a Bill to allow the Scottish tourist board to promote tourism to and within Scotland—though not to the Falklands. The Bill stems from the Development of Tourism Act 1969. Even with hindsight, I think that the then Government were wrong not to make use of the opportunity to allow the Scottish tourist board to become involved in overseas promotion. I am glad that after so many years our manifesto has enabled the Bill to be introduced. I welcome it, as does the Scottish tourist board.
738 The Bill contains only one contentious issue, and that is the provision about consultations with the Secretary of State and the British Tourist Authority—to which I give great credit for its work since its introduction. We would all wish to congratulate the chairman of the authority and the chairman of the Scottish tourist board. They have cooperated well, to the benefit not only of Scotland but of the rest of the United Kingdom.
However, a number of hon. Members have rightly asked what will happen in the long term. One cannot be certain that the happy relationship between the BTA and the Scottish tourist board will always continue. A great deal of co-operation is required. When the future of the English tourist board and the BTA is still in doubt, although they share one chairman and are under one roof, one must ask what will be the exact connection between the authority and the Scottish tourist board. There could be conflict in the future. Could the Minister perhaps give us a little encouragement by saying that there could be an increase in the number of Scots in the British Tourist Authority? The chairman of the Scottish tourist board would then have plenty of support when arguing a case in the authority.
Despite the Bill, the overall responsibility for promotion overseas remains with the BTA. I hope that, within that context, there will be a switch of emphasis toward the Scottish tourist board and, with it, a redirection of resources. I am certain that no industry in Scotland—not even whisky or oil — has a greater potential for return on investment than tourism. Anything that the Government are prepared to invest in tourism—I hope that their investment will be matched by the private sector —would give a worthy return.
The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 was based, in the main, though not completely, on the wise counsel of Lord Stodart, who has done so much for Scotland through his inestimable judgment on a host of topics. It was a pity that we did not go the whole way then. We now have, broadly speaking, districts and regions. The tourist industry is combined into area tourist boards. I note with interest the subsequent development through the chairman of the Scottish tourist board of a confederation of tourism which would include area boards and the Highland board. However, we should not get too bogged down with a structure of bureaucracy that might divert money away from attracting tourists to talking about a subject on which much is already known.
I mentioned finance. I remind the Minister that there is great potential for bringing foreign exchange into the country, and direct income for the facilities that we make available to tourists in Scotland. I do not think that we are fully developing the potential. There is tremendous publicity for the tower of London and the national parks —for the honeypots, to use the jargon word—but we must try to spread the tourists further afield to the hotels, restaurants, country houses and recreational facilities, and to the houses open through the National Trust for Scotland. We must not underestimate the work of that body. We are not doing enough to attract tourists away from well-known centres.
I join hands with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Fairbairn) in criticising the inflexibility and general attitude not only of the Government but of local authorities to planning, 739 signposting and advertising. Almost at a stroke of the pen, one could do an immense amount for the tourist industry by taking a new look at signposting in Scotland.
We are far too restricted. There must be a balance. I should not have talked about heritage as I did earlier if I was not interested in the physical beauty of the countryside, but we must strike a balance between adequate signposting and keeping the countryside free from unnecessary advertising. We must advertise our scenic routes more effectively. I know that after much argument with a Minister in the Department of Transport at the time we eventually got a scenic route sign at Carlisle indicating the route to Edinburgh through the Borders. That was a great help to the Border towns. However, if one goes a few miles on to Gretna there is no sign to show that if one turns left one goes to Galloway, which is one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland, or to the Burns country, or that there is anything other than the town of Dumfries down the road. We must be prepared to put up more signs showing the tourist what is available. We are falling flat on our faces. It is extremely difficult to get hotel and bed-and-breakfast signs. If we want tourists, we must be prepared to put up better signs.
I know that my hon. Friend the Minister has taken a flexible attitude. I am pleased that he came and looked at the A74 and saw for himself that the signposts were not all that they ought to be. I am glad that he has already made some decisions and I thank him for them. I hope that he will give me more concessions in the near future.
The development department takes a strong view that there should be no advertising in the highway boundaries, even though they might stretch back 50 yds from the road. Why can we not advertise our hotels and tourist attractions within the highway boundaries? They belong to the country. We should advertise them in an attractive and proper way. I want not a proliferation of signs but just fair advertising so that we can bring in tourists to spend money in Scotland.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
The excuse given by the Scottish development department is that signs represent a traffic hazard. As one of the most distinguished motorists in the House, does my hon. Friend think that they are a traffic hazard or does he think that an infinitely greater traffic hazard is somebody who is looking for signs that do not exist?
§ Sir Hector Monro
I entirely agree. When such a motorist sees a sign he stands on his brakes and bang, bang, bang behind. The most famous words in Scottish history are "in the interests of road safety." Whenever I complain to my local authority's planning department or to the Minster in the development department, back comes the phrase, "Cancelled in the interests of road safety."
§ Mr. Donald Stewart (Western Isles)
The hon. Gentleman mentioned the assistance that he has received from the Minister. Does he recall that in the Minister's constituency was one of the most useful road signs in the whole of Scotland? It was at the Conan ferry and said, "This is not the Ballachulish ferry."
§ Sir Hector Monro
The right hon. Gentleman knows that once one is on his island it is impossible to get off —sober, anyhow. I am appreciative of the fact that my hon. Friend the Minister has been helpful. What he has heard today might push him a little further. We have the 740 Scottish tourist board's idea of universal signs. 1 do not believe that that is what the tourist wants. The tourist is able to assess from the quality of the hotel sign what he will find at the end of the road. We should encourage hotels' initiative in putting up good and attractive signs.
I should like to deal with caravans. I am glad that we have introduced a Bill which deals with rating, but we must consider more touring sites. Time and again such sites are refused because of access to the trunk roads on account of the celebrated phrase, "in the interests of road safety." I drive on Scottish roads a great deal and there is frequently nothing to be seen except potential access to a caravan site which does not exist. My hon. Friend the Minister must take a firm line with his Department and say that practical motorists like many right hon. and hon. Members think that it greatly exaggerates the interests of road safety. We could then get off with having more facilities, more tourists and more money being spent locally. That is important and, after all, the objective of the Bill.
The Government should take heed and heart. They will have the whole House behind them if they show an accelerated interest in tourism. It is essential for Scotland's economic future. Time is not on our side and we should be doing something for this season. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will do everything that he can through the excellent Scottish tourist board and, as a result of the Bill, emphatically consider the negative approach of the development department which must be told and shown what could be done if it really tried.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Paisley, South)
As requested, I shall be brief. I am glad of the unusual opportunity to speak on Scottish matters from the Back Benches. One of the problems is that of shifting duties between regional and district authorities. That is especially true for one of our most important tourist attractions. One of the main reasons for people coming to the United Kingdom is our theatre and music. My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) expressed his anxieties about the Scottish Opera.
If we follow some of the Stodart committee's recommendations and shift arts support from regions to districts, we shall be in deadly trouble. The Scottish Opera is supported centrally, but most of its local authority support has come from that most generous of all regions, Strathclyde. We find a very different picture when examining additional support from the districts. Monklands, for example, is deprived in many ways. It has high unemployment, its industries are run down and it comprises mainly working-class and mining communities. Nevertheless, it contributes to the Scottish Opera. No one supposes that a high percentage of the population in Monklands go to see the Scottish Opera. A neighbouring district, Strathkelvin, which covers the borough of Bearsden, which is an extremely wealthy area—
§ Mr. Michael Hirst (Strathkelvin and Bearsden)
I find it extraordinary to have to point out to an Opposition Member who represents a west of Scotland constituency that Bearsden is not part of the district of Strathkelvin. I can anticipate the hon. Gentleman's point, which is to refer to the support which that authority gives to the Scottish Opera. Before he does that, perhaps I can remind 741 him that my constituents are immensely fine patrons of the Scottish Opera, although they have to pay enormous amounts of tax for the Government's subsidy.
§ Mr. Buchan
If I got the nomenclature wrong, I shall correct it, but I am comparing that area's contribution with that made by Milngavie. For a long time Bearsden's contribution was zero. So much for strong support for the Scottish Opera, at any rate among the civic leadership of the hon. Gentleman's area. If the hon. Gentleman has moral authority in the area, he might say something to that council because, although citizens in the area buy tickets to see the Scottish Opera, their civic leaders do not help in any way. Most district authorities are Labour-controlled and therefore by definition mainly working class, and less well off. If the regions' responsibilities are to be taken over by the districts, working-class people will have to pay an inordinate amount in support or there will be a lack of funding because of the failure of philistine areas which are run by the Tories.
§ Mr. Maxton
My hon. Friend is being marginally unkind to Bearsden and Milngavie district council because last year it managed to contribute £150 towards Scottish Opera. I should not like the House to be left with the impression that it was totally ungenerous in this matter.
§ Mr. Buchan
That is correct; £150 was contributed, after some arm and wrist twisting.
§ Mr. Hirst
I draw the attention of the hon. Gentleman to the substantial support that is given to leisure, recreation and the arts. Has he not heard of the Kilmardinny arts centre festival and of the Lilley art gallery? I suggest that the hon. Gentleman might profitably spend an hour in my constituency when I can show him the practical support that is given to the arts locally.
§ Mr. Buchan
I have done so, without the support of the hon. Gentleman.
England and Wales are facing, and Scotland is now beginning to face, the shift to the district which will result in less support for the arts because of the loss of regional support. I have given one example of this. Britain, including, I regret to say, areas of Scotland, is becoming fairly squalid because of the cuts in local authority finances. No other reason can be given for the mess that can be seen now on many motorway verges than that people are not being employed to clean it up. It is not possible to employ people because of the Government cuts in rate support grant for local authorities. Untidiness is the first step to decline in any area. When fencing is pulled down and not replaced, an area begins to degenerate. Every visitor to Britain in the past four or five years is aware of the squalor. I meet many foreigners who comment upon the squalid nature of many of our cities, with plastic bags outside shops and so on, all of which is caused by the cuts. The cuts are made by people who take to their cars every weekend to get the hell out of the cities to their comfortable homes in the Cotswolds and elsewhere. Those who continue to live in the cities suffer from the squalor, as do the tourists, whose numbers will soon decline.
I make the plea that, if sums are to be allocated to spread the good name of Scotland abroad, there should be some generosity towards the local authorities so that the 742 country can be made fit to welcome tourists, and steps can be taken to prevent squalor from developing. Comments are frequently made by visitors from abroad. I cite the case of an Italian Communist journalist living in Paris who expressed his horror at the untidiness and squalor of London.
It should be remembered that not all the artistic merits of Scotland reside in ballet—pace my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell)—and opera, but a great deal exists in our native music and song. When I was chairman, and now president, of the Edinburgh folk music festival, I received money from Lothian region, which is a Labour region, to support the festival. Lothian region recognised the importance of Scottish music — fiddle music, pipe music and so on. However, I received not a brass farthing from Edinburgh where the festival was being held, although it brought tourists and visitors to the city. I should like some help to be given to the Scottish aspect of tourist attractions, perhaps through the Scottish Office, to encourage local authorities to give assistance to the Edinburgh and Glasgow folk festivals.
I deal next with industrial archaeology, and my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) may wish to comment on the more colourful aspects of our industrial history. Expenditure should be allocated to industrial archaeology. Scotland, the heart of the industrial revolution, as a result of Government's activities, is becoming the heart of industrial archaeology, with factory after factory being closed. We no longer need to go to derelict 19th century factory sites to see industrial decline. One compensation might be an intelligent approach to the conservation of some of our history in steel, iron, coal and ships. Indeed, the ships may become partially a museum on the Clyde, if the Government's policy is carried out. I hope that some work is being done to leave us the memory of shipbuilding in the Clyde, if the Government cannot leave us the actuality.
The hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) said that, if the road signs were good, that was a sign of a good hotel. I can see no correlation between the ability to paint a good road sign and the ability to cook a good meal. This is part of the philistinism of the party that is so keen to erect road signs everywhere. One of the ugliest aspects of modern civilisation is the plethora of uncontrolled hoardings and road signs. I do not see why this happens in public places. There is undoubtedly money to be made from it, but it adds little to the attractiveness of the countryside, and the practice should stop.
There are good and bad hotels. I remember Fitzroy Maclean, when he was a Member of Parliament, saying to Willie Ross, the then Secretary of State for Scotland, "You must do this and you must do that, and you have done this and you have failed to do that." The then Speaker properly intervened, and said, "You must not charge Mr. Speaker with anything," to which Willie Ross replied. "The hon. Member is, after all, a Scottish hotel keeper, and he is quite likely to charge you for anything." The hotels have to learn that tourism from abroad is expanding, and that visitors must be catered for. We are pleased that some independent action is to be taken in publicising Scotland abroad. However, not only the rich come to this country. The great bed-and-breakfast tradition must be given assistance to develop and to prosper.
§ Mr. Barry Henderson (Fife, North-East)
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan) is so blinded by his political prejudices, like the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson), that he cannot address himself rationally to the Bill now before the House.
I welcome the Bill, which will lift the restriction on overseas promotion activity imposed on the board by the Labour Government's Development of Tourism Act 1969. I welcome particularly what the Minister said about the way in which this would give powers to the Scottish tourist board to supplement, but not replace, the British Tourist Authority's promotion activities on behalf of Scotland. It would have been a great loss if the Government had gone further in the kind of restrictions indicated by the hon. Member for Dundee, East. I believe that there are benefits for tourism both in joint activity, and in recognising the distinctive characteristics of each part of the United Kingdom. The Bill strikes the right kind of balance.
I wish to sound one cautionary note to the Government about the different boards. There may well be arguments to justify one person holding the chairmanship of the English tourist board and the British Tourist Authority, and for some reallocation of the functions of the boards. However, I can think of no arguments that would justify the amalgamation of the ETB and the BTA. Unless some such arguments are put forward, which would surprise me, I can tell my hon. Friend that I would oppose such a proposal as, indeed, I would oppose the abolition of the BTA. Using the strength of the United Kingdom where that is appropriate is as important as emphasising the distinctive characteristics and merits of different parts of the country.
My second major point is that I hope that, in permitting the Scottish tourist board, through the Bill, to undertake overseas promotional activities, the glamour and attraction of those activities will not distract it from its primary task of promoting tourism in Scotland within the United Kingdom. I hope that it will never be allowed to forget that 90 per cent. of visitors to Scotland and 70 per cent. of Scotland's revenues from tourism derive from visitors from within the United Kingdom. That is something that the hon. Member for Dundee, East might wish to bear in mind.
Tourism is an important industry. I find curious the varieties of figures thrown about in the debate relating to the number of jobs and the amount of money involved. The figures have ranged from 50,000 jobs to 120,000 jobs. It is especially important to recognise that some of the jobs arise in areas with very limited alternative possibilities for employment. The figures for income from tourism in Scotland have varied from £400 million to £800 million.
Whatever the figures, there is no denying that it is a crucial industry in the Scottish economy. In Britain as a whole, there must be as many people employed in tourism as there are in the National Health Service. I understand that tourism generates a similar amount of foreign currency to the whole of the Merchant Navy or the British banking system. Perhaps not least of the value that the tourist industry brings to people in Scotland is the justification for enhanced facilities in a particular locality that might otherwise have been hard to justify. Undoubtedly, it is a growth industry. However, we must 744 remember that more Britons are being drawn abroad now than in the past, especially on day trips or motoring holidays to the Continent.
As part of the important work that the STB must do to sustain its home market, as well as take advantage o' the facilities in the Bill to expand overseas promotion, I hope that both it and the BTA will direct their attention to the need to counter, by whatever means available, people's tendency to go abroad when, previously, they spent their holidays in Britain. From my earlier remarks about the sheer scale of home visitors compared with foreign visitors, it is obvious that a small drop in the home trade would need an enormous increase in overseas trade to compensate.
I hope that hon. Members will have noted the growth in recent years of the short-break holiday trade. I understand that that is growing by about 45 per cent. per annum. People are taking a second holiday — a short break. That has particular opportunities for not only the home trade, but the European trade. I wish to emphasise the one sensible point made by the hon. Member for Dundee, East, which was the need for more direct Scottish flights, especially to and from the continent and North America.
We could pick on several areas as being suitable for further development for tourism. I shall pick two. The first is the part that farmers can play in enhancing tourism in rural areas. That was admirably emphasised by work done by one of my constituents, Mrs. Jane Buchanan, who, under a Nuffield farming scholarship, carried out research into that matter and reported to the trust. Since then, she has been working with the STB in developing that area of tourism, which could further help in the more sparsely populated areas.
The House may not be aware of the relatively new build-up of the Scottish fisheries museum at Anstruther in my constituency. It has developed rapidly, with a large amount of support from the fishing community and its friends throughout Scotland. It has been markedly successful in being perceived as of educational value for children from a wide area of Scotland. I hope that it will continue to develop.
It is ironic that the vast tourism industry is characterised by large numbers of small enterprises. While that ensures vitality and variety in tourism, it also poses the risk of a lack of co-ordination. For those reasons we must welcome the consequences of the Local Government and Planning (Scotland) Act 1982, under which the new functions of district councils on tourism, the establishment of area tourist boards and the more recent establishment of the Scottish Federation of Tourism all help to ensure that the interests of tourism will not lack sufficient co-ordination to back up local initiative. In that context, it is important to ensure that the rate support grant recognises the new responsibilities of district authorities, which will vary considerably with the extent to which they are active in tourism.
I want to mention three areas of special concern to me. First, there is the valuation and rating of caravan sites. This matter was first raised more than two years ago. If the Opposition had made rather more succinct speeches in the Rating and Valuation (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill Committee stage, we would be about to approach that matter. It will help to rectify the unfair anomalies that have acted against the interests of tourism in Scotland.
745 Perhaps more urgent is the taxation of self-catering establishments. We are grateful for the extent to which the Government have responded to representations following the somewhat arbitrary action of the Inland Revenue in changing from case 1 to case 6 of schedule D the basis on which that activity has been assessed for taxation. However, I am not yet convinced that the Government's propositions for inclusion in the 1984 Finance Bill will wholly meet the needs. I hope that they will be willing to listen, if necessary up to the Committee stage of that Bill, to ways in which the position might be improved.
One is immediately struck by the effect on the tourist industry of the unfair way of taxing those who run self-catering establishments. That fundamentally derives from the not fiscally neutral relationship between earned and unearned income; between whether it is a good thing to rent accommodation with a service or only to rent accommodation and provide one's own service. Those are distortions, and not the least result of the Inland Revenue's action is the creation of a distortion between self-catering cottages and caravans.
The third area of concern is that, apparently, every now and again the Home Office picks up a great big file marked, "How can we get more television licence fees paid for by hoteliers?" Despite the representations on many occasions that that would be a foolish proceeding, it keeps producing the file. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will encourage the Home Office to put away the file for good. Home tourists, who comprise 90 per cent. of tourists in Scotland, are already paying for television licences at home. Why should they pay for them again when they use a hotel room?
§ Mr. Maxton
The hon. Gentleman's argument is astonishing. How can he claim that, in a block of flats designed for elderly people, each of the residents should pay a full television licence fee, but that the Hilton hotel in London should pay only one fee to cover many sets? Where is the justice in that? If more revenue came from hotels, there would be a better broadcasting service.
§ Mr. Henderson
The hon. Gentleman knows that sheltered accommodation for the elderly is in a category for which a different television licence fee is payable. When elderly persons are living in their own dwellings, a distinction is drawn between one kind of accommodation and another, and between one person and another. Not least important is the fact that elderly people living in their own homes make much more frequent use of a television set than anyone staying in a hotel bedroom.
We wish to encourage those providing services in the tourist industry to make them better and more attractive, and that could be done by the provision of television sets in hotel rooms. They may be of marginal use, but are invaluable in attracting customers and making them feel that they are well catered for. It is counter-productive to suggest that hotels should hold independent licences for each room. I hope that the Home Office will stop talking about television licences, and leave the subject alone.
I have some questions for the Minister, which I shall ask briefly. I understand that the Department of the Environment has been involved in consultations over several matters. What progress has been made on controlling camping and caravan sites, and the setting of model standards for them? Those standards have been 746 discussed in more depth south of the border. In addition, what progress has been made with respect to the code of conduct, and the issuing of exemption certificates for caravan rallies? In each case, will the Minister bear in mind the distinctive Scottish position? I should not like Scottish authorities to feel that they must tag along with the Department of the Environment.
I understand that the responsible authorities have estimated that the international tourist market is likely to double by the end of the century. It is important that Scotland should take a full share of those developments. I welcome the Bill for that reason and as a further sign of the Government's commitment to the development of the tourist trade in Scotland.
§ 7.6 pm
§ Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon)
I welcome the principles behind the Bill, although I regret that the Government have taken so long to introduce it. The proof of the Bill, once it has been passed, will be in its practical application, and how well it works.
A number of the Bill's provisions give cause for concern. How can an effective promotion of Scotland be mounted overseas on a budget of £200,000? It is difficult to imagine how that can be achieved, knowing what one does about the overseas market and the generally high cost of overseas promotions and advertising. In that context, £200,000 will not make a huge difference. The British Tourist Authority might use that sum, or indeed the Bill, as the basis for downgrading its commitments to Scotland. It may feel that it can afford to play down Scotland, in view of the fact that it can make its own way. We are in danger of finishing worse off than before.
The Bill will be judged on how effectivly the Government can ensure that the British Tourist Authority —which is likely to become confused with the English tourist board — will continue to support the Scottish tourist board.
There is little point in increasing the promotion of Scotland overseas if we do not ensure at the same time that it will find a ready market. As many hon. Members have noted, Scotland has many attributes to promote, but there is a great deal more than we should be doing to make the most of what we have.
It is time, for instance, that the Government stopped believing that London is the gateway to Scotland, and that they encouraged people to make a Scottish airport their first port of call in the United Kingdom. To achieve that there must be more direct flights into Scotland from the continent, and from across the Atlantic. There should be direct ferry services from the continent and Scandinavia.
Generally, we must ensure that people see Scotland first, and do not regard London as their entry to Scotland. That would end the futility of the argument that is repeated every six months about whether to build a third London airport. We need that like we need a hole in the head. The airports we already have should be used more effectively, and the traffic distributed more evenly.
It is regrettable that the debate is taking place immediately after a Scottish Office statement about the retraction of its commitment to road equivalent tariff in the islands. That is a major factor in encouraging tourist traffic. Although the Government support ferry services to the islands, the fundamental reason why road equivalent tariff has been withdrawn is that they are not prepared to pay for it. Having assessed the cost, the Government have 747 decided not to go ahead with the scheme, and as a consequence of the Government's decision not to stand by their commitment, the remoter, more outlying areas of Scotland will be faced with higher tariffs. By allowing a cut-off on the long distance routes, road equivalent tariff would be a major contribution to ferry services to the inner Hebrides, and to other islands most in need of the benefit. The Government's explanation of why and how the tariff cannot be paid is unsatisfactory. The perception is growing —the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) was ruled out of order when he referred to it — that an analogy can be drawn with the Falkland Islands. The remote islands of Scotland require support in order to be viable communities. The people living there will not take kindly to the idea that the Government cannot afford to provide the necessary support when they can afford to squander hundreds of millions of pounds on the proposed airport on the Falkland Islands. The Government will find increasing awareness of that in the Scottish islands.
§ Mr. Henderson
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
§ Mr. Bruce
No. I shall give way in a moment.
If the Government can spend that amount of money on a remote island group on the other side of the world with a population of 1,800, they should not withdraw their commitment to provide road equivalent tariff to the islands of Scotland at a cost of about £10 million.
§ Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should do his homework a little more carefully before he deals with the support given by Governments of all colours to the airfields on the Scottish islands. Furthermore, he should reflect on the fact that the airfields would not be on the islands if they had not received Government support. The hon. Gentleman should also study the number of flights to the islands.
§ Mr. Bruce
The hon. Gentleman's point is not contrary to what I have said. We need more support. I acknowledged that the Government were supporting services to the islands, but I also said that they do not support them enough and were going back on their commitment. That will cause considerable resentment in the islands.
§ Mr. Henderson
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
§ Mr. Bruce
I shall not give way. I should like to proceed with my argument.
The promotion of Scottish tourism is dependent on having an effective tourist industry, properly supported at home. In a number of instances the Government could recognise the need to maintain viable communities in the rural areas. It has already been mentioned that in many rural areas tourism is a major source of income and employment. Its potential is much greater than has been realised. It is not a happy circumstance that the Government are not providing a rural development programme to maintain the fabric of rural communities, o to enable them to support not only the indigenous inhabitants but the visitors, and to maintain the amenities, shops and services that make those places worth visiting.
I shall quote a specific example of how public money has been spent in my constituency, which has been greeted with scepticism in the village of Collieston. In the past two or three years Alexander's has withdrawn the bus service from that village, which now has no bus service at all, yet £20,000 is being spent on a tourist car park, 75 per cent. 748 of which has come from a public grant. The people were not consulted about the provision of the car park. Understandably, they find it strange that money should be spent in that way when money could not be made available to support the bus service, which is the lifeline for the villagers.
The Government should address themselves to such issues as that if they want to ensure that the rural areas of Scotland can take proper advantage of the tourist industry, which the Scottish tourist board is being allowed to go overseas to promote.
§ Mr. Henderson
The hon. Gentleman's party supported the Labour Government in the Lib-Lab pact. Since that time the Conservative Government have multiplied by three the support for services to the islands. It is astonishing for his party to say that the amount of money is still not enough. 'When one thinks of support given in respect of hill livestock and other matters of crucial importance to the hill areas, such criticism comes ill from the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Bruce
I have not denied that the Government have supported the islands. I have repeatedly said that the Government made a commitment that they would accept the recommendation to move towards road equivalent tariff, but today they withdrew it, which is reneging on the commitment. That is what has happened, and the Government know it. The Under-Secretary will find out how his constituents feel about that when he goes back to his constituency at the weekend, assuming that he does.
What is needed, if we are to promote Scotland effectively overseas, is better facilities, better supported and promoted. We have seen the mix of private and public sector support for tourism, which can be successful. In the past, however, there have been significant hiccups. When I was a candidate for my constituency, some enterprises were founded which have proved successful, such as the Lecht Ski Company development and the transport museum in Alford. Both those projects were endangered by the decision of the Labour Government to withdraw development area status or to downgrade the status of the Aberdeen employment area. Those areas could have lost tourism assistance. However, thanks to a fairly united local campaign, we managed to persuade the then Government to change their rules. The point at issue is that for such projects to be successful there has to be underwriting and support to enable people to make the investment.
There is now a possibility of additional ski developments. There could be a conflict with the conservationists. Having designated an area for ski-ing, it is important to recognise that it might develop and expand. If we say that the company cannot provide another slope, lift or tow, we should not have given it permission to start the development in the first place. The essence is that, if a ski development thrives, it will grow and will need to take up more of the hill. We should decide which hills are suitable and not change the rules halfway through. I am not suggesting that the Government have done so, but that matter has been raised. I hope that that policy will be adhered to.
We should recognise the contribution in income terms that tourism can make to rural communities in the form of farmhouse holidays and bed-and-breakfast accommodation. It is an important source of income, but the Scottish 749 tourist board, both at home and overseas, could promote and regulate it better. The Irish tourist board has promoted Ireland's very successfully, and we should learn from that experience. The tourist board should be prepared to grade bed-and-breakfast places and promote them. They are a feature of Scottish holidays. One can stay with a Scottish family, work on a Scottish farm and get the flavour of the country while supporting the community in an important way by supplementing the rural income. Many small tenant farmers in the less favoured areas and hill areas are dependent on such extra income to enable them to survive, given the marginal nature of such farming.
A point that is related to that matter, but different, is the need to find the right balance for the role of holiday homes in rural areas. We must equate two separate problems. Most of us who are concerned about maintaining the population in rural areas and viable rural communities are disturbed when houses that are occupied are sold as holiday homes, thus taking out of the community a permanent residence. Measures should be taken to prevent that from happening. Change of use planning consent should be required in those circumstances.
I appreciate the difficulty of striking the balance. We also need to ensure that properties in rural areas which may not be used and which are empty, derelict or run down are upgraded and used as holiday homes. I do not suggest that that balance is easy to find, but we should aim for it. We should encourage people to renovate those homes as holiday homes if otherwise they would not be properly used. We should recognise that that is a real contribution to income. Having been lobbied on a number of occasions, I recognise that the implications of rates and tax on such businesses must be taken fully into account.
The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) referred to giving grants to heritage projects and developments. I recognise the value of that. Having had experience of the wrong end of it, I do not believe that the Government should give grants or assistance for the development or renovation of castles and country houses unless those people are prepared to give access to the public, having had the benefit of the grant. That has not always been applied as a condition, and it should be. Provided that that criterion is applied, that is perhaps a reasonable line to follow.
I wonder whether the Minister has had any thoughts on representations that have been or will be made by the Scottish tourist trade, particularly the hotel, restaurant and pub trade, about the differential in rates between comparable premises in Scotland and England. The trade claims that in comparable premises in Scotland people pay two or three times per room or square foot more than in England. Obviously that puts Scottish premises at a disadvantage in the international market or compared to England.
Those points must be taken on board. There is no point in spending a relatively small amount of money —£200,000—to promote Scotland overseas if we do not continue to develop, improve and extend the facilities that we are promoting. We shall probably have to monitor closely the £200,000 because it is nothing like enough to give Scotland the maximum benefit from tourism. That major industry can contribute a great benefit, and, sadly, it is underexploited at present.
§ Mr. Conal Gregory (York)
As both the Secretary of the all-party parliamentary tourism committee and the hon. Member for York, where tourism provides jobs for over 6,800 people and creates an estimated turnover of £42 million, I recognise the importance of tourism as a major economic activity. Therefore, although a Yorkshire Sassenach, I welcome the opportunity that the Bill gives the House to consider tourism, especially Scottish tourism.
The promotion of Scotland should be seen in the context of marketing Britain abroad. My hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry, spoke on 22 November of the Government's recognistion of the importance and potential of tourism. He referred to the 1982 turnover of £8.5 billion, which almost matched that of the motor industry. In his review announced last November he wrote:Within the institutional framework it is the job of the tourist boards to work together and to co-ordinate and foster an industy, which by its nature is fragmented and diverse.The Bill will not necessarily lead to greater harmony and co-ordination — some people fear the reverse. While acknowledging that the Bill extends powers to permit the Scottish tourist board to undertake its own promotion abroad, I shall distinguish two principal consequences.
First, there will be a diminution in the overall marketing of Britain. We shall not have a broad overview. Who will be responsible for promoting Britain abroad? The Bill takes us, in part, back to the days before the Development of Tourism Act 1969. A fragmented structure just at a time when we see a distinct growth in the industry and in its job vacancies, is not to be welcomed. It may in time lead to a reduction in real terms in the grant to the British Tourist Authority. Britain does not want to divide its resources if that means separate facilities—as shown, for example, by the United States and Australian states. The BTA will continue to be the prime promoter, but the overall strategy will have been lost.
Secondly, there will be a growing demand by other boards to undertake separate overseas marketing. Some boards, such as the Northern Ireland board, asked the BTA to do the promotional work for them even before the 1969 legislation. So far Wales has shown that it does not wish to follow the Scottish path, but I wonder for how long. Is my hon. Friend aware that regional tourist boards already undertake promotions abroad, either independently or in harness with the BTA? The Yorkshire and Humberside tourist board, in addition to its representation at the world travel market where its stand won first prize, will fly the flag of this key English region at the ITB in Berlin, just as it did a short time ago in Utrecht and Stuttgart. In 1983–84 the board will spend £59,400 on promoting tourism abroad and in 1984–85 the estimate is £62,500. That represents 11 per cent. of the total funds available to it, and yields a staggering £85 million to £90 million in overseas income. One might say that that is the bargain of the decade.
However, there is so much potential that one worries that the Bill will increase the inequality. I hope that the Minister will discuss this with his hon. Friends who have responsibility for the rest of Britain and that there is consequential consideration for other regions. Otherwise, the financial provisions and the promotions undertaken will continue to widen the imbalance.
§ Mr. Dalyell
The hon. Gentleman's comments are of interest and importance to the debate. As an English Member interested in tourism how does he regard the job of the chairman of the British Tourist Authority? Given that there are separate Scottish arrangements, does he accept that the man or woman in that position should have equal regard for Scotland and for the regions of England? Would it not be only human if the English Members were to ask the chairman of the English tourist board searching questions granted that the Scottish position was separate? In a nutshell, is it not unreal to have a chairman of the English tourist board, who is also the chairman of the British Tourist Authority, and expect him to show the same responsibilities to Scotland as to England? I suspect that the hon. Gentleman spoke the truth.
§ Mr. Gregory
The hon. Gentleman raises a very valid point. However, with respect, it should be directed not to the Back Benches but to the Government Front Bench—not necessarily to the Minister who will reply, but certainly to his colleagues. I hope that the hon. Gentleman's points will he taken on board.
§ Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)
I welcome the hon. Member for York (Mr. Gregory) to the debate, which many hon. Members expected would be a purely Scottish debate. However, it is right that an hon. Member who is interested in the tourist industry, as he is, should express his interest. He has just scuppered my first point, that the Bill could perhaps more appropriately have been dealt with in the Scottish Grand Committee, as it is noncontroversial. There would have been no need to debate it on the Floor of the House and take up valuable time. However, since he took the opportunity to intervene in the debate, it proves that it was right to refer it to the House.
I, like other hon. Members, give the provisions of the Bill a broad welcome. It would be rather inconsistent to do otherwise because I was one of the sponsors of the Bill introduced three years ago by the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson). I welcome the fact that the Government have been converted to the idea which some of us put forward three years ago. Having supported the idea then, it is right that I should continue to support it now.
It is right that the Government should lift the idiotic restrictions on overseas promotion activity by the Scottish tourist board. I remain anxious, as do other hon. Members, about the residual influence of the British Tourist Authority, not least because the chairman of the English tourist board is the chairman of the BTA. The BTA would inevitably be biased in favour of England, which is by far the biggest part of the United Kingdom. Because the chairman of the English tourist board is also the chairman of the BTA, Scottish tourism intersts will be handicapped.
However, I am curious about the creation in the Bill of a new power for the BTA to give directions, or a statutory right to be consulted, to the Secretary of State for Scotland. I am unhappy about that. Some hon. Members wonder what the purpose of the BTA is. There is a strong argument to the effect that that body is one of the quangos which could usefully be made redundant. The English, Scottish and Welsh tourist boards all can and do an excellent job to promote the tourist interests of their areas, including promotion overseas. I wonder what the BTA will do.
§ Mr. John Corrie (Cunninghame, North)
I agree with the hon. Gentleman's argument. Does he not accept that there needs to be a co-ordinating body to bring the national tourist boards together so that they do not compete with or plan against each other? Does it not have a small role to play in that way?
§ Mr. Home Robertson
This is the perennial problem for all things Scottish. As soon as a Scottish interest becomes subsumed in a United Kingdom body, it tends to get squashed because of the sheer size of our big neighbour England. As we have seen from past tourist promotional material published by the BTA, it was oriented very largely to London and the splendid tourist attractions in England. Therefore, Scottish attractions have tended in such promotional material to play second fiddle. I welcome the fact that the Government have given the Scottish tourist board greater independence.
As we are extending the scope and powers of the Scottish tourist board, I should say a word or two about its composition. I am a little worried that local authorities have no direct representation on it in spite of the fact that the Local Government Planning (Scotland) Act 1982 devolved all tourism to district councils and positively encouraged the establishment of area tourist boards which, in most cases, are coterminous with district councils. It seems odd, given their interest in tourism, that district councils and island councils should not have a direct say on the Scottish tourist board.
That point is being repeatedly made for and on behalf of the East Lothian tourist board which promotes tourism in my constituency. As other hon. Members have been plugging their areas, I shall plug the tourist attractions of my constituency. The land and seascapes and historical sites in and around East Lothian are second to none.
§ Mr. Dalyell
§ Mr. Home Robertson
I hear my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) saying, "Hear, hear," and well he might. As he knows, we have the Lammermuir hills, the harbours of Dunbar and north Berwick, Tantallon castle, the Muirfield golf course, the Bass rock and much more, including the mining museum at Prestongrange and the memorable battlefield at Prestonpans. It is highly memorable because it is one of the few battles against the English that we won. Those are some of the attractions of East Lothian. The south-east of Scotland has many other splendid tourist attractions, such as those of the Borders region and Edinburgh; and, in my hon. Friend's presence, I must also mention Linlithgow.
The East Lothian tourist board has repeatedly appealed to the Scottish Economic Planning Department and to the Minister to appoint a member to the board from somewhere in the south-east of Scotland—from Lothian, the Borders or the Edinburgh area. I have a copy of the latest letter that the East Lothian tourist board has received from an official of the SEPD dated 22 September 1983. It states:As explained previously, the Secretary of State has regard in making appointments to the Scottish Tourist Board to the importance of maintaining a satisfactory geographical spread of interests, but a more important factor is that members should have the skill and ability to take an all-Scotland view of the tourism industry. Candidates resident in the areas you mention are of course considered for appointment in the same way as candidates from other areas.They may have been considered, but they have not been successful.
753 I shall refer to the list of members of the Scottish tourist board. We have the splendid Mr. Alan Devereux, the chairman, who resides, I understand, in Giffnock and who says in "Who's Who" that his hobby is running for aeroplanes. That would appear to be the case from the rather breathless style of chairmanship and promotion that he adopts. He comes from the west of Scotland. There is Mr. R. A. Fasken, who represents, I understand, the Highlands and Islands Development Board; a Mr. I. F. H. Grant, who has to do with the Royal Bank of Scotland; Sir P. Hutchison, who is, I think, resident in Dumbarton and who has to do with the Stakis organisation; a Mrs. Bell, who I think comes from Lanarkshire. I do not know what her interest in the tourist industry is but I am sure that she does a good job on the board. Mr. G. M. Simmers of Scottish Highland hotels and Sir Alan Smith of Gleneagles hotels complete the list. Commercial tourist interests are amply represented and there is considerable representation from the west of Scotland and the Highlands. No doubt that is right.
There is probably a case for extending the membership of the board to take into account local authorities' interests not least because of the specific duties of district councils and islands councils in the promotion of tourism. There is also a strong case for someone from the south-east of Scotland to put the case directly at board level for that area.
This is the first time that I have addressed the House as a Member sponsored by the Transport Salaried Staffs Association. I am not sure whether I should have declared that interest at the beginning of my remarks. I know that the TSSA would have wanted me to express anxiety on behalf of its members who are involved in the management of hotels which the Government have privatised or are about to privatise. I know that the union is worried about what is happening to some of those hotels, particularly those in Glasgow. It is worried that the Government have washed their hands of some of those important previously publicly owned hotels which could have benefited from continued public ownership and further public investment rather than being simply got rid of or given away cheaply, as has happened.
The TSSA would also want me to say that it is pretty stupid to introduce tourist legislation such as this when Government administrative action is forcing British Rail to cut services and close stations such as Ardrossan harbour, thus making it more difficult for tourists to move around in Scotland.
One could make more of or less the same point in respect of the collapse of the Scottish road system. I was interested in a letter which was circulated to all Scottish Members last week. It was a copy of a letter sent by the Automobile Association to the Secretary of State for Scotland. It pointed out that in an unspecified region of Scotland it has been published that the roads maintenance programme had been slowed down as a result of Government expenditure cuts to such an extent that the roads—wherever it may be, and perhaps we can find out — would only be due for regular comprehensive resurfacing once every 200 years. Given that the average tarmac road surface is reckoned to be good for about 20 years, that leaves us with a pretty bleak outlook for the future of the Scottish road network. I do not know how on earth we will attract tourists to travel around Scotland if 754 our rail services have been seriously neglected and if our road network is rapidly deteriorating into a network of dirt tracks.
I repeat my support for the Bill's narrow provisions, even if I am alarmed about many of the connected things that the Government are doing, to which I have referred. I wish the Scottish tourist board well with its new powers. I hope that they will benefit East Lothian, as well as some of the traditional tourist areas such as the Highlands and islands.
§ Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)
Unlike the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) I welcome the fact that the debate has taken place on the floor of the House, because I believe that the Bill has United Kingdom implications, and it would have been quite wrong to restrict the debate to the Scottish Grand Committee. That is something about which we cannot agree.
§ Mr. Maxton
My hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian and I would not really want the debate to take place in the Scottish Grand Committee; we would prefer it to take place in the Scottish assembly in Edinburgh.
§ Mr. Walker
The hon. Gentlemen who are paddling this canoe now were paddling it some years ago in the House, but were sunk. I have no doubt that they will continue to paddle it as they do, on narrow horizons and without seeing the implications.
My constituency of north Tayside is one of the most beautiful tourist areas in Scotland, embracing the highlands of Perthshire and the highland areas of Angus. Some may dispute that claim, but they cannot dispute that tourism is the largest single provider of jobs in my constituency, and in some ways that makes it unique. That is why I have a constituency interest in the Bill.
The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) and I do not agree on many subjects. However, unlike the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) I have never doubted the hon. Gentleman's sincerity and integrity and the way that he works for the good of his constituency and the people of Scotland. The hon. Member for Dundee, East devalued the House by the way in which he attacked the hon. Member for Linlithgow.
I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Gregory) is missing, as he properly drew attention to the English dimension. However, Scotland is more than just a region. It has its own laws and, because of that, it should not be and must not be seen as a region of the United Kingdom. The regions of England do not have separate laws, so Scotland is unique in that respect.
We must keep in perspective what can be achieved when the Bill becomes law. Promotions by the Scottish tourist board overseas will be subject to the same demands and limitations that face any organisation attempting to improve its share of an overseas market. There will be the sheer size of the potential market to be covered, the possibly massive cost if one is to market sensibly, and the demands of the professional skill in the selection of the particular segments of an overseas market for promotion.
I imagine that the Scottish tourist board will have in mind the market of north America where it can attempt to promote Scottish tourism to encourage the people to spend their holidays in Scotland. Many will consider it a 755 lucrative area in which to promote Scotland. However, I caution the House not to expect too much. It is one thing to be allowed to promote Scotland overseas and another to supply the required funds to produce meaningful and measurable differences in the number of people coming to Scotland.
I should like to believe that the Bill will mean many more overseas visitors coming to my constituency, where the tourist industry is the largest employer. I shall do what other hon. Members have done and promote some of the more interesting parts of my constituency. I cannot promote it all because it is 2,000 square miles, and all of it is beautiful. Places such as Pitlochry, Dunkeld, Aberfeldy, Glen More, Loch Tay, Loch Rannoch, Glen Shee, Glamis castle, Scone palace and Blair castle are household names, and every year thousands of visitors come to enjoy the delights of this part of highland Scotland.
Without these visitors, many of my constituents would be without work. That is why I welcome the Bill, but it is a qualified welcome. I pay tribute to the work done by the British Tourist Authority in the past. It has come in for some savaging, but I have made a point of studying the work that it does, particularly in north America. It is from this market that most of us are expecting results. Having made such a study, it is my considered judgment that within the budget available to it, it has done a good job. I place on record my view that it has always given Scotland a more than fair share of its promotion. Some of the hon. Members who have criticised the BTA have never visited its offices in New York; otherwise they would know that about 40 per cent. of the display area has, for many years, been devoted to Scotland. That is not surprising when one considers that for many years the director responsible for the project in north America was a Scot. It is not unusual to find Scots in these key jobs.
I see little sense in promoting Scotland overseas if the Inland Revenue cannot be persuaded to take a realistic view of the letting of self-catering facilities in Scotland. Much public money has gone into developing facilities in recent years. Furnished accommodations and caravans provide most of the available bed places. While we are on the subject of caravans, I thank my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench for taking up my private Member's Bill and putting its contents into a Bill that is now going through the House, and that I hope will become law. I wish to place on record my thanks and those of the caravan industry for that. However, if the Inland Revenue continues to pursue the line that it has taken in correspondence, it seems that it will seek to change the basis of assessment for all taxpayers with unagreed accounts in terms of furnished letting, particularly in the self-catering industry.
§ Mr. Albert McQuarrie (Banff and Buchan)
I am interested in my hon. Friend's comments about holiday letting. I am sure that he will agree that, in the rural areas in particular, where farmers have developed crofters' houses and spent money furnishing them and keeping them in good order for rental, it is farcical for the Inland Revenue to say that any income from them is unearned income. Surely that goes beyond the bounds of anyone's comprehension, and it is intolerable nonsense to suggest that the work done by these people results in unearned income.
§ Mr. Walker
My hon. Friend has, as ever, put his finger on the point. This is not unearned income. These properties have to be looked after and serviced and the income from them should be treated as earned income. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Treasury will look favourably on the matter. Much public money has gone into the development of this aspect of tourism, and it would be a tragedy if it were to be destroyed simply because there are people in the Inland Revenue who do not understand the difference between providing a self-catering facility and providing nothing. In other words, such people are earning an income.
I hope that the genuine concern expressed throughout Scotland and other parts of the United Kingdom as it affects caravans and furnished accommodation will be taken on board. I also hope that my hon. Friends on the Front Bench will draw to the attention of the Treasury the fact that the tourist season in some parts of Scotland can be short and the period being suggested by the Inland Revenue is not sensible in terms of the days and weeks available for such a facility. I remind my hon. Friend the Minister that in some areas t he important winter season is still being developed.
There has been much about ski-ing in the news recently, particularly about the problems in my constituency where some skiers were stranded. If 2,500 people can be stranded overnight, that makes one realise what the tourist trade means to my constituency, because on an average weekend in the winter, upwards of 7,000 people travel the road between Blairgowrie and Glen Shee to ski at Glen Shee. It is vital to our interests that this continues, as the local hotels and self-catering facilities benefit. We have developed this in recent years, again with the assistance of public money, and I hope that this is kept in mind when the Minister speaks to Treasury Ministers.
The other aspect is that if we are to develop the winter facilities we must make sure that the roads are adequate to meet the demands, that access to the sites is up to the job and, more important, that the capital equipment required to keep the roads open in difficult winters is available. We need to look at the whole. That is why I have asked my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to conduct an inquiry into the problems at Glen Shee during the recent bad weather, to help not only Glen Shee but the other parts of Scotland where we are trying to develop this type of facility.
I shall not detain the House with details of the weakness and lack of understanding of the holiday furnished self-catering and caravan letting facility that have been manifested by the Inland Revenue in recent correspondence. Suffice to say that I see little sense in promoting tourism overseas if the sector of the tourist market in Scotland, which provides the bulk of the bed spaces available, is being forced out of business by other Government action.
I remind hon. Members that overseas visitors represent 9 per cent. of all visitors to Scotland. They account for nearly 27 per cent. of all Scottish tourism, amounting to £200 million. Anyone who has been involved in marketing and promotion will realise how difficult it will be to increase those figures substantially. The cost involved in increasing the figures by just a fraction of 1 per cent. may well be in excess of the sums of public money that any Government may be prepared to find. We must view the matter realistically. It is nonsense to think that we can 757 increase the numbers simply by continuing to spend more and more money. The problem has to be viewed commercially.
Earlier in our debate, the hon. Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan) commented on the change of responsibiltiy for tourism from the regions to the districts. In my opinion, the hon. Member was out of order in suggesting that districts would neglect the arts. That was the inference I drew from his comments. The theatres in Perth and Pitlochry have always enjoyed substantial district support, and I need not remind the House that without its theatre, Pitlochry would be much less popular as an attraction for tourists. I therefore commend the good work that has been done over many years by the people who run the theatre and the support that has been given to the theatres in Perth and Pitlochry by the district council and by Tayside region, when it had the responsibility.
I want to comment briefly on signposting, which was mentioned by some of my hon. Friends. I support what they said, because we need to give advance warning of tourist attractions and the tourist facilities that are available. We need sanity in signposting. That is not to say that I want north Tayside to look like some parts of the United States, full of neon signs. That is the other extreme. There must be somewhere between what we have at the moment and that ghastly extreme. We want the right balance. Can we not have a more balanced and sensible view of signposting? I am delighted that my district councils support my view and have supported my efforts to get sensible signposting for tourist facilities.
The railway line between Perth and Inverness is an essential part of the infrastructure of my constituency. More important, it is essential for the tourist traffic. We must, therefore, continue to support that line, and that is probably true of other lines in Scotland.
I was disappointed when another tourist facility was withdrawn from Perth — Motorail. I was probably its best customer. Now I have to go to either Stirling or Edinburgh. I find it difficult even to get bookings, whereas I never had any difficulties when the facility was available in Perth.
I remind the House that £200,000 is not a huge sum for marketing and promoting tourism in Scotland. I therefore end my comments with the suggestion — it is not a frivolous suggestion—that perhaps there should be joint promotion by the three large foreign currency earners—whisky, oil and tourism. After all, one of the finest tourist attractions in Pitlochry is Bell's Blair Atholl distillery. There will be plenty of benefits for our whisky and oil industries in linking them with the tourist traffic, particularly in north America. I am confident that there is scope there, if the people concerned can only get together and do something worth while.
§ Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)
Again, we have had from the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) the argument that we hear over and again from the propagators of the free market economy, pleading for public investment in their own small areas, desperately trying to get something for their own people. The hon. Member for Tayside, North looks at me critically. He made a plea for Motorail, saying that he could always get a booking at Perth. He could get a booking because no one 758 else was booking there. That is why British Rail, as a result of the cash limits imposed by the Government, was forced to withdraw the facility at Perth. He made a similar plea about the railway at Perth and Inverness. I want that railway to be maintained because I believe in the maintenance of the railway infrastructure. Conservative Members keep pleading for the market economy, but they cannot do that and at the same time make special pleadings on behalf of their own constituents and constituencies.
I said in an intervention in the speech of the hon. Member for Tayside, North that in my view this debate should never have taken place here. In fact, it should not have taken place at all, as my hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) pointed out to me. If we had had the Scotland Act in force, whose provisions were approved by the Scottish people in the referendum on 1 March — of which the fifth anniversary will be next week — the Scottish tourist board would have come under the Scottish Assembly. It would have been an independent tourist board, without any links with the British Tourist Authority except for informal links of cooperation. That would have been a much better arrangement.
I give this Bill a cautious welcome, because it will allow the Scottish tourist board a certain limited independence. However, it says that the Secretary of State for Scotland is subservient to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. The British Tourist Authority does not come under the Secretary of State for Scotland, but under the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. The British Tourist Authority is responsible to him. If the Secretary of State for Scotland has to consult the British Tourist Authority before these offices are established, that makes the Secretary of State for Scotland subservient to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. We should bear that very much in mind.
We have heard many pleas about tourism and the attractions of the tourist areas in Scotland. However, it is too easy to see the attraction of Scotland always in terms of the Highlands and Islands, the lochs, the mountains, the Burns country, even Galloway and Dumfries, and ignore the fact that many people in the United States and Canada did not come from the Highlands and Islands, Dumfries, Galloway or Ayrshire, but from the central belt of Scotland. They came from Glasgow. They left because they were driven out of the western belt in the industrial depression of the 1920s and 1930s. They were forced to make their homes in the United States and Canada. When they or their children come back, they want to come back to their home roots, the places they came from.
Mention has been made of the Burrell collection, which has cost large sums of money. I have been there. It is housed in a magnificent building, although I am not so sure about the collection itself. It is the collection of a wealthy magpie shipowner who sailed semi-rotten ships and employed people on low wages to make a fortune that allowed him to collect that treasure.
Less than a quarter of a mile from that collection in my constituency is a memorial to a man who much more typifies the west of Scotland, which people from other countries come to see. That memorial has been defaced. It has not been properly maintained because Glasgow district council does not have the money to do so. It is not fenced off to prevent vandalism and it is not properly protected. That is a memorial to John McLean, one of the great Glasgow Socialists. Let us remember that the west 759 of Scotland has a strong Socialist tradition and we ought to be proud of that heritage, build on it and ensure that people return to see it.
Another example—Labour Governments are just as guilty as Conservative Governments—is the town of New Lanark, both as a superb example of early industrialisation many of whose factories and houses still survive, and as a memorial to one of the pioneers of Socialism and the co-operative movement — Robert Owen. Yet little or no public money has been put into it to preserve it. If it were a great cathedral or municipal building, if Bonnie Prince Charlie or Burns had slept there, New Lanark would have received public money, but because it represents Socialism, it has not.
The late Emrys Hughes's widow lived her last years after the death of her husband in the home of Keir Hardie —Loch Norris in New Cumnock. That house has now passed into private hands when it should have been taken over by the local authority, which should have had the money and ability to turn it into a museum for the National Union of Mineworkers, the Scottish mining industry or the Socialist movement in Scotland. Instead, we have the great Burrell collection, which is a memorial to a rapacious, miserly shipowner who built up a fortune with which he amassed this so-called great art collection. It is marvellous, but there are other aspects to our heritage, as we in the Labour movement in west Scotland know. People come from the United States and Canada to visit the memorials of some of the great Socialists who lived there. On a slightly more frivolous note, we could build up a tourist trade with east Europe if we were to promote more of our Socialist monuments.
Tourism, as other hon. Members have said, is not just about the promotion abroad of our attractions, hotels, or road signs which some hon. Members want so desperately to have plastered on our roads up and down the Highlands. I happen to prefer our roads as they are. It is about the provision of ferries, about which we were talking this afternoon, and facilities to those ferries. The hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Corrie) discussed with me the problems of the electrification of the line to Ardrossan. If that station is not there the ability of the poorer people —not the very poor but the poorer people—to travel easily on their holidays to the island of Arran will be much reduced. Ferries are important and so are their facilities.
Roads are important. It is important to have good roads, so that people can drive safely and know that they will be able to reach their destination in a set time. That is another problem in the highlands. One can travel from London to Perth or even Inverness quickly, but to travel off the main road or further north than Inverness and on to the islands is a long journey that cannot be timed. I know how long it takes to drive from London or its outskirts to my home in Hamilton, but I do not know how long it would take from Hamilton to the far north of Scotland. I can say how long it would take to travel to Perth or even Inverness, but beyond that I should have difficulties because there may be all sorts of hold-ups. We need proper roads and rail services. Those links are important, not just for Ardrossan, but elsewhere. I am not making a special plea for any particular area.
My hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan) mentioned that Glasgow and Edinburgh have major artistic companies, museums and art galleries. Those are tourist attractions yet the Government have cut the Arts Council's grant for bodies such as the Scottish 760 Opera. They have changed the law. My hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) will disagree with me marginally on this but the Scottish Opera has problems obtaining money from the districts around Glasgow, particularly Bearsden, Milngavie, and Eastwood—I call them the peripheral schemes—the suburbs that sponge so much on the ratepayers of Glasgow. The Arts Council has cut back. It is more difficult to maintain the facilities for both the public at large and the tourists.
The Sports Council has also had its money cut. People may ask what that has to do with tourist attractions. In many Highland and Islands areas the ability of the Sports Council partially to fund sporting facilities that are an attraction to tourists has been important in the past. The hon. Member for Cunninghame, North will know that as well as I do. In his constituency the Sports' Council is funding less and less and tourist attractions are reduced.
Local authorities provide many facilities in Glasgow, Edinburgh and throughout Scotland—facilities that are often unseen and unsung. The local authorities inspect hotels and their sanitary standards. They ensure that standards of food hygiene are maintained in hotels, restaurants and cafes. They maintain roads, sewerage systems and water supplies. Tourism must be seen as part and parcel of the economy. It cannot be taken in isolation, as Conservative Members like to try to do. They must see it as part and parcel of public expenditure. Perhaps more than any other industry tourism shows that in a modern economy the private sector cannot be divorced from the public sector. Conservative Members must learn that a viable private sector in a modern economy is impossible without much public expenditure to sustain it.
§ Mr. Michael Hirst (Strathkelvin and Bearsden)
I always vowed that if I ever spoke following the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton), I would take the opportunity to even the score on the obnoxious comments that he customarily makes, as he did this evening, about my constituents. However, in the interests of brevity and in deference to other hon. Members who wish to speak, I shall resist that temptation.
Scotland has a claim to be promoted separately on the international tourist scene. As those who come from Scotland know, we have magnificent scenery, places of tremendous historical interest and superb leisure and art facilities that merit special consideration. However, I agree with the Minister that Scotland's tourism must be promoted within the British framework, and I should be most disappointed if we had a wasteful duplication of overseas offices.
I listened with interest to what the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) said about the British Tourist Authority. I always find it distressing that he—a Scot like myself—should find it necessary, just on principle, to oppose anything that is British. When we are considering the promotion of tourism internationally, we must get above the xenophobia of some people in Scotland and recognise the work that is being done by the BTA to promote tourism in Scotland.
However, I accept that the present situation may militate against Scotland getting a fair share of the tourist cake. All too often when travelling through Glasgow airport I have seen contingents of foreign tourists being jetted into that airport, being bussed to see Loch Lomond, 761 being shot over to see Edinburgh castle and other things in Edinburgh, and then being sent south again. These tourists are missing a great deal. If only those who plan their schedules gave them more than a day in Scotland, they would pass their time with profit seeing many of the beauties of Scotland.
I hesitate to be boring at this stage in the debate and say something about the Bill. There must be proper co-ordination of the work done by the BTA, the new role envisaged for the Scottish tourist board and the work envisaged for the area tourist boards, and in that respect I see the Secretary of State's role as pivotal. The position has been criticised by Opposition Members without justification, for without co-ordination and consultation, I can see the various agencies endeavouring to arrogate to themselves responsibilities for the promotion of tourism abroad and in this country in a way that could be wasteful. I hope that the Secretary of State, in assuming that pivotal role in promoting tourism in Scotland, will recognise the need to co-ordinate that work and give speedy decisions so that the Scottish tourist board and the BTA can move in parallel.
§ Mr. Craigen
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Scottish tourist board should give some perspective and co-ordination in this area?
§ Mr. Hirst
That is so, and I am certain that the Scottish tourist board will be feeding information to the Scottish Office, which will be in close liaison with it and with the BTA to make sure that the money used for the promotion of tourism is spent in the most cost-effective way, and on that, I am sure that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) and I have no difference of view.
Fear has been expressed by some of my hon. Friends that Scotland might somehow lose because the chairman of the British Tourist Authority may also be the chairman of the English tourist board. That is not a justifiable fear, because the chairmen of such organisations do not make all the decisions. There are their officials, boards and members, and I have yet to come across a board with such a domineering chairman that his members were not prepared to stand up to him and put forward alternative points of view.
§ Mr. Wilson
Will the hon. Gentleman accept that it is not just a question of the appointment of a joint chairman for the English tourist board and the British Tourist Authority, but an intention to rearrange the affairs and functions of both organisations? If that happens, the functions that affect the English tourist board may come to dominate the interests and inclinations of the British Tourist Authority; and with a joint chairman, one might find the lines of communication being harmful to Scotland.
§ Mr. Hirst
That is a hypothetical situation. The BTA has on it a representative of the Scottish tourist board. If the hon. Gentleman is putting forward the proposition that the chairman of the Scottish tourist board is incapable of fighting his corner for Scotland in the BTA, I profoundly disagree. If the hon. Gentleman believes that the functions of the BTA will be so neutered that they will start to become coincident with those of the English tourist board, then I agree that he has a potential worry. I do not believe 762 that that will be the case. I have enough confidence in my colleagues at the Scottish Office to believe that if they were aware that the functions of the BTA were being changed in such a way that Scotland would lose, the matter would be reviewed again.
§ Mr. Wilson
In that case, will the hon. Gentleman explain why not only the current chairman but his predecessor in the Scottish tourist board sought powers to advertise and promote Scotland overseas? Surely they were not satisfied with what could be done within the ambit of the British Tourist Authority.
§ Mr. Hirst
If the hon. Gentleman is adducing that argument as a justification for telling the Minister, "I told you so three years ago" on the then measure, his argument holds water. However, the current chairman of the Scottish tourist board recognises that Scotland is not just a region of the United Kingdom but a separately identifiable area with its own characteristics that are worthy of separate promotion. If it has taken some time for the merit of the case to be recognised, I am sure that the Government will espouse it with greater conviction than they would have done had they responded to the hon. Gentleman's view three years ago.
When I first saw the Bill, I was modestly disappointed at the amount of money being set aside for the promotion of tourism in Scotland, for £200,000 will not buy much these days. Therefore I welcomed what the Minister said about the desirability of the Scottish tourist board engaging in promotions with various private interests.
Last weekend I was in the north of Scotland, where I was impressed by some of the promotions that the Scottish tourist board has been doing with private interests. I hope that the Government will signal clearly to the Scottish tourist board that certainly Conservative Members have no ideological hangups about the board entering into joint promotion efforts with the private sector. I am convinced that there are great opportunities for the private sector to participate more strongly.
Nobody underestimates the enormous potential that exists in tourism, particularly for the creation of jobs in the more remote areas. I spent part of last weekend seeking some snow on which to put on a pair of skis and fly downhill, and to initiate my small children into the art. I saw at first hand the sort of tourist facilities that have been developed; as it was not possible to ski, one had to go further afield to other places of interest. Remarkable steps forward have been taken in that part of Scotland, and we can be pleased about those developments.
The international tourist is a demanding animal. He is accustomed to receiving a high standard of service and being satisfied with nothing less. While we speak of the commitment of the Government to tourism and the worthwhile steps forward that are being taken in the Bill for the special promotion of Scotland overseas, great fruits will be obtained in Scotland only if the message is clearly understood that there must not be second-rate service, that there must not be a sloppy attitude to things and that some of the traditional hours during which the Scots have been open for business for the tourist fraternity will not do. While much progress has been made in recent years, Scotland has enormous opportunity if it realises that alongside the promotion of tourism must be satisfied customers. The various services must be available for the tourists when they come to Scotland.
§ Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West)
I am delighted to take part in the debate—all the more so because, while my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) was suggesting that at some future date tourists from eastern Europe might come to see great monuments to Scots Socialists, I imagined myself sitting here waiting to be called in a debate on Scottish business, though I am not sure that that would represent the kind of tourist attraction to which my hon. Friend was referring.
I shall deal in my speech with three points in response to what has been an interesting and, at times, a fascinating debate I had the privilege of serving on the Stodart committee. I believe that the Under-Secretary of State will acknowledge that the committee's recommendations had some influence on the Bill. I draw the attention of hon. Members to the thought which the committee, under the noble Lord Stodart, gave to the problem of local authority contributions to the arts.
The report states:Bodies such as the Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera depend for their finances on grants from the Scottish Arts Council, box office returns and to some extent on contributions from local authorities. We understand that some authorities are unwilling to support national arts companies because they do not see this to be a local responsibility, especially where the companies concerned are unlikely to perform in their areas. To most of us it seems that bodies such as those mentioned above should as national assets continue to receive public support from Central Government or its agencies, and not be dependent on annual contributions from local authorities.I signed that report, and that recommendation was unanimous. The unseemly disputes from time to time between one authority and another about who gave most to those national bodies would be avoided if the recommendation were accepted.
I declare an interest because of my past employment by the Scottish Film Council. I thought it was of great concern that, from one year to the next, the Scottish Film Council could not be certain about what local authorities were to give. Much time was spent speculating on what might happen. Even in terms of the use of manpower, it is inefficient and wrong for such bodies to base their budgets, policies, presentations and role in the arts in Scotland on the whims of individual local authorities and on political changes. I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will take that point on board.
The recommendations of the Stodart report seem to have influenced the Government's timing in the Bill on tourism, especially on overseas promotion. Scotland ought to be free to become involved in overseas promotion in its own right. Although I welcome the Bill, I hope that, in time, the House will be free to deal with a defect of the same type of grey area that the Stodart committee was set up to remove.
On tourism, the committee said:We are aware of the argument for giving the British Tourist Authority responsibility 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 764 district councils. (In saying this, we reserve the position of the Highlands and Islands Development Board, as we make clear in paragraph 154).Those recommendations were not made lightly. Four pages of the Stodart report dealt with tourism. The Committee received an enormous number of representations from local authorities, the Scottish Tourist Board, the Highlands and Islands Development Board and so on. The decision taken in the light of those representations was unanimous. In this debate, I have not heard any argument that leads me to think that the Committee's recommendation on Scotland's right to promote its tourism should be lightly disregarded.
In our approach to tourism, we want to seize upon this opportunity to ensure that there is some integration, continuity and understanding among those dealing with tourism at a local level, in Scotland, the United Kingdom generally and abroad. I am delighted that a number of hon. Members have rightly referred to the merits of their constituencies. The Stodart recommendation took into account the contribution which not only individual districts but areas within those districts have made and are capable of making to attract tourists.
I am not surprised that Monklands should have become a focal point in the debate as a consequence of the speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan). I am delighted that he rightly complimented Monklands district council on its contribution to Scottish Opera. That district council has always been aware of its responsibilities in those matters even though it is part of an industrial area. Those who are dealing with other parts of Scotland have a responsibility also to accept the role that industrial areas are capable of playing. I recall Sir Kenneth Alexander—I am sorry to drop names at such an early stage in my parliamentary career, but my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) refers with tremendous knowledge to distinguished gentlemen —giving evidence on tourism to the Stodart committee. When I asked what Coatbridge, an industrial town, would do for tourism, he immediately said, "Industrial archaeology." At the time, I wondered whether he had suddenly become an expert on the Government's industrial policy. On reflection, I believe—
§ Mr. Craigen
He was an economics professor.
§ Mr. Clarke
I take the point, and pay tribute to Sir Kenneth for his qualifications. I attempted to take that point seriously.
On Sunday afternoon, I found myself in the constituency of the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth). There are remarkable ways of ensuring that hon. Members pay attention, and that is one of them. I was a guest of the Balfron Labour party, another distinguished Socialist organisation and, no doubt, in many ways a tourist attraction. Its members represent the future. I made my way from Balfron to Killearn, into the constituency of the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Hirst), to Milton of Campsie in my constituency and then to the heart of Lanarkshire.
During that journey I thought of this important debate. I realised that there was a considerable link between areas of beauty and industrial areas. I remembered the Kirkintilloch canal, the Monklands canal and the steel industry in Coatbridge, the old "Iron Burgh". There are industrial archaeology attractions in Scotland and those 765 who represent constituencies that are industrial areas should appreciate that. That is important to the Government's approach.
My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow did not have time to refer to the canal museum in Linlithgow. I am sure that he would have referred also to Bo'ness, in part of his former constituency, where there is a museum containing exhibits that go back to industry in the 17th century. There are industrial attractions in various parts of Scotland.
If areas such as Monklands and Strathkelvin are being generous in their contributions to activities in which they cannot easily participate—that seems to be accepted—it is reasonable that we should ask for a fair share of the funds that might be available for tourism and assert that we can offer tourist attractions as well.
This debate on the promotion of tourism will be of great interest to people in every part of Scotland. When the hon. Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Henderson) spoke, I recalled Mrs. Purvis, a chairman of North-East Fife district council, who was a member of the Stodart committee, who felt strongly that tourism was a main attraction in areas of industry and industrial development. That is a fair view, which should be encouraged.
There are governments of other nations who are not as progressive as we would like to think Labour and Conservative Governments are, but I remember that in San Feliu, a small fishing village in Spain, the tourist authorities presented—I think that they still do—an amateur film festival that was sponsored by the Government's tourist department. It was aimed at attracting people to tourism in Spain, and at the same time to contributing to the growth of amateur cinematography. We in Scotland should consider the attractions and endeavours of the Scottish people that we are capable of providing in the rural areas, the central belt and elsewhere.
When the Bill is enacted—there appears to be no major opposition to it—and the promotion of Scottish tourism takes place, I hope that the Minister will encourage his right hon. and hon. Friends to remember that those who represent Scottish tourist interests are there to represent Scotland, which means the whole of Scotland, including the part which I have the privilege to represent and which I have attempted to describe, albeit briefly.
§ Mr. Martin J. O'Neill (Clackmannan)
I was expecting a number of Conservative Members to spring to their feet when you called me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but obviously their voice has been exhausted. We have had a wide-ranging debate, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that has been due in no small measure to your generosity of spirit in interpretating the terms of the Bill. First, I apologise for my absence for part of the debate. I have been engaged, contrary to the ambitions of the Scottish tourist industry and those of my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke), in trying to prevent the Polmaise colliery from becoming an industrial museum. I had to be out of the Chamber for part of the debate.
I imagine that this debate has been welcomed by all Scottish Members, not least those who are members of the Committee that is considering the Rating and Valuation (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill. Once again, my hon. Friend 766 the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen), has had to carry the burden of the initial Opposition Front Bench contribution.
It is interesting that there has been a mass renunciation of Trappist vows by Scottish Conservative Back Benchers. We have had guides to virtually every Conservative constituency in Scotland and a useful expression of opinions. One is reminded in some respects of the conversion of Back Benchers in a previous Parliament when we were discussing the problems of inward investment. Those who were members of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs at that time were very much opposed to bodies such as the Locate in Scotland Bureau. When the Goverment eventually considered the Select Committee's report on inward investment, they produced a compromise solution which, in many respects, was nearer to that for which the Opposition had been calling. The sponsors of the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross), who are mainly Opposition Members, will have a sense of satisfaction in noting the apparent conversion.
The Bill proposes to give the Scottish tourist board the right to spend £200,000 abroad on a more restricted basis than local authorities or the Highlands and Islands Development Board. To all intents and purposes, that is what the Bill proposes to do. Anxiety has been expressed about £200,000, which has to be set against the £7 million that is spent by the HIDB on grants and promotion. I understand that its accounts do not reveal the amount of money which is spent on overseas promotion. It might be helpful if the Minister told us how much the board spends on overseas promotion. I do not ask for that information in a mischevous sense to try to wrongfoot the Government. It will be helpful for us to know what other organisations within Scotland have been spending in the past.
There is money that can be spent by district councils. My hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West described the proceedings of the Stodart committee and the conclusions to which it came. The clincher is that the Government accepted the Stodart report and agreed that it was not sufficient merely to transfer responsibility to district councils. It accepted that there had to be a Scottish dimension abroad as well.
I know that the Scottish tourist board has been extremely successful in establishing area tourist boards. In the Stirling and Trossachs area there have been considerable advances. Clackmannan, which has not been the most energetic authority in promoting the obvious attractions of my constituency, has been given an opportunity to present itself in attractive literature.
I am led to believe that this is happening throughout Scotland, although the difficulties that the financial constraints impose on local authorities will limit the amount of money that they will be able to spend. The hon. Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Henderson) hoped that the rate support grant would be adjusted to accommodate such payments or subventions from the district councils. The Under-Secretary of State is responsible for rating and related matters. I hope that he will tell the House whether greater provision will be made in the rate support grant for local authorities which depend on tourism, or whether they will have to levy a rate for it as in the past.
We have heard talk today of substantial prizes for the Scottish economy. The Scottish tourist board has estimated that if we can get our act together—for want of a better expression—there is the prospect of 25,000 767 jobs in the next five years if we can double the number of tourists to 5 million. My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell)) mentioned the importance of giving the new tourist value for money.
The Commonwealth games are likely to be a winner. Certainly, the 1970 Commonwealth games in Edinburgh were among the most successful that have been held. When we have a winner on our hands, it is essential that we are able to attract people on a basis of value for money, especially as many of the people who come to the games will be relatively young and will probably have only limited resources. One hopes that they will take advantage of the Commonwealth games to stay on in Scotland. Edinburgh is a major tourist centre which attracts many thousands of people to the Edinburgh festival.
Some of the points which my hon. Friend made about the code of conduct may well be applied already by Edinburgh district council's accommodation board. Perhaps the Under-Secretary, who represents an Edinburgh constituency, will clear up that point. It would be useful to know whether we are establishing across Scotland codes which would certainly be appreciated and which would provide tourists from the continent with confidence in the accommodation that they book. In talking about promotion abroad, we must not forget to make such provision.
Hon. Members have mentioned tourist developments which take account of, and go hand in hand with, cultural heritage. We have had convincing pleas for account to be taken of the industrial and social heritage of Scotland. Perhaps we should get away from an excessively tartan, "Bonnie Prince Charlie slept here" image, which is probably already attracting as many people to Scotland as it can.
We should consider the effort of Glasgow district council. That council's "Miles Better" and "Come home to Glasgow" campaigns have been an outstanding success. The city has been able to take advantage of its architectural heritage and its cultural ties throughout the world. It is clear, too, that it will exploit—if that is the right word — to the full the outstanding asset of the Burrell collection. That example should influence our future efforts. I hope that the seemingly elastic £200,000 can be extended to help with that aspect of overseas publicity.
The importance of good international air links has been mentioned. I am not particularly enthusiastic about freeports. They may or may not be a success. However, I hope that the future of Prestwick has now been guaranteed for some time to come. If so, we look forward to increasing air links with north America. We hope that some of the £200,000 may be utilised in conjunction with airlines that at present do not use Prestwick. Among those I include the so-called Scottish airline British Caledonian, whose only connection with Scotland at present, apart from its tartan insignia, is in its flights to and from Edinburgh.
§ Mr. Bill Walker
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
Steady on. That is a terrible statement. Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
§ Mr. O'Neill
I realise that some hon. Members claim a monopoly on aviation matters. That is invariably the cause of some mirth on the Labour Benches. However, I 768 am prepared to give way to one hon. Member whose judgment in some matters I value—the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton).
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
Caledonian Airmotive employs 460 persons at Prestwick. As the hon. Gentleman is encouraging the development of the freeport at Prestwick, he should recognise the work that British Caledonian is doing in providing employment for the people around Prestwick.
§ Mr. O'Neill
I was referring to British Caledonian in the context of flights into and out of Scotland. The airline claims a Caledonian connection, but provides only limited air links. I was talking not about the spin-off in terms of employment, but about attracting United Kingdom airlines to use Prestwick. British Caledonian is the only United Kingdom airline which has a tartan tinge, but it has only a limited role in providing flights to and from Scotland. Cynics would say that the only reason why British Caledonian retains its air links between Glasgow, Edinburgh and Gatwick is that if it did not do so, it could not justify calling itself British Caledonian. It is assumed that British Caledonian regards the routes as loss makers.
If Conservative Members are as energetic in encouraging air links by British airlines to Prestwick as they are in defending British Caledonian, I shall be happy for the future of Scottish tourism. I would be happy to think that the £200,000 might be expanded by the kind of partnerships that have been hinted at by Conservative Members. They have suggested the possibility of joint projects. However, we have to take account of another element that is implicit in the legislation — the relationship between the United Kingdom body — the British Tourist Authority — and the Scottish tourist board.
There is also a relationship between the Scottish Development Agency, the Highlands and Islands Development Board and local authorities. There is considerable confusion as to who should be doing what. Conservative Members mentioned that, and I hope that the Bill can be amended in Committee to clarify it. When different bodies have various links and responsibilities, confusion can arise. Although I did not agree with all that the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Hirst) said, I agreed that there should be a role for someone to co-ordinate those activities. That might fall to the Secretary of State for Scotland. I would prefer it to rest with the Scottish tourist board. We must get the type of balance that has been achieved with the Locate in Scotland Bureau. That would go some way to providing a balance between the one door that is required abroad and taking account of the specifically Scottish implications.
It is unfortunate that the hon. Member for York (Mr. Gregory) is not here as he mentioned some anxieties. He endeavoured to be helpful. It is a bold English Member who speaks in a Scottish debate. Perhaps he feels that people who stop in York are on their way to or are returning from Scotland and that he therefore has an interest in our debate. He mentioned the Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry. I agree that he has been unhelpful in his attempt to talk down the importance of the Bill. We recognise that the Minister might be playing to a slightly different gallery than the Scottish Office in this matter.
There are dangers implicit in the appointment of the same person to the chairmanship of the British Tourist 769 Authority and the English tourist board. We are always suspicious of the actions of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. That caution goes back a long time. We are dubious about any proposition that involves asking someone to investigate the possibility of a merger of two bodies as we are certain that he will not do that unless he is fairly sure about the outcome of those investigations. The Opposition think that either the relegation of the British Tourist Authority to the English tourist board or the elevation of the English tourist board to being almost in competition with the Scottish tourist board would be bad for Britain, bad for England and dangerous for Scotland.
Although the hon. Member for York spoke at length about the significance of the English regions and the extent to which they are allowed independence under the English tourist board, it is almost unanimously agreed in the House that, in tourist matters, Scotland is not a region of the United Kingdom. Its identity is significant in marketing terms and it would be difficult to split the one from the other. We could well end up with publicity that runs, "Come to England" with the phrase, "and visit Scotland" as an afterthought. We would be cautious of supporting that and are not happy about such a suggestion.
Perhaps the Scottish Office would have preferred that the Minister of State had not made his statement. It would have been better if the Bill had been on the statute book before starting to talk in these terms. I am confident that the present chairman of the Scottish tourist board is able to hold his own with the British Tourist Authority. For someone who started off as a root and branch opponent of devolution, it has not taken him long after becoming chairman of a Scottish quango to see the virtue of some freedom of action.
By and large, the Opposition welcome the Bill. We give it a cautious welcome. We are unhappy about the £200,000. We have said several times that we doubt that it can be put to meaningful use in promotions if we are to feature in European newspapers or major publications in the United States which, by common consent, have been regarded as the two main targets for promotional initiatives.
Had the provisions of the Scotland Act 1978 been fully honoured, this debate would have been unnecessary. That Act provided that we should have the type of relationship which has been spoken of today — a constructive relationship between a Scottish institution and a body with responsibilities for the United Kingdom. As a supporter of devolution I regard the fact that the Act was not fully honoured as regrettable as this would have been an opportunity to see the two co-existing and working together. Nevertheless, the Opposition basically sympathise with the Bill's objectives. We suspend judgment on whether the £200,000 is enough. We would have preferred discussion about a merger between the English tourist board and the British Tourist Authority not to have been presented now. However, with those reservations we welcome the Bill.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Michael Ancram)
We are obviously grateful to the Opposition for their welcome for the Bill, although that welcome has been somewhat muted and, in the case of the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill), was 770 positively lukewarm. However, bearing in mind the way in which normally, regardless of the merits of the case, the Opposition oppose whatever the Government propose for Scotland, I suppose that we must accept with some gratitude the hon. Gentleman's attitude.
As the hon. Member for Clackmannan said, this has been a wide-ranging debate. Taking notes of most of it, I have found it difficult to fit the speeches into a pattern, not least because of the far-ranging speech of the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), some of the points of which I hope to deal with later. I am always struck during such debates by how many beautiful tourist attractions about which we so infrequently hear there are throughout the constituencies of Scotland. However, on occasions such as this they appear like birds out of the morning mist and fly over the Chamber to be admired. When I hear the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) speak of Socialist monuments in his constituency and his far-reaching dream that Americans and others will come across the Atlantic to see a statue, presumably of him, I think that perhaps he is taking tourism a little far.
I was a little disappointed by the speech of the hon. Member for Clackmannan because I think he offered little that was constructive to the debate. To use a large part of his speech to make what appeared to be a highly motivated attack on private airlines, specifically British Caledonian airways, is not in the spirit of promoting Scottish industry, Scottish tourism or Scottish business, but I suppose that is all that the House can expect from the hon. Member.
It would take me a long time to deal with some of the detailed points that have been raised in the debate, and I hope that hon. Members will forgive me if I do not touch on all of them. If hon. Members will advise me of specific points to which they would like answers, I shall reply in writing.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) began with an important question about the standard of accommodation, and the Government's view on the matter. The upgrading of facilities is a key aim of the Scottish tourist board's development strategy, and must remain so. The STB welcomes applications for refurbishment and improvement grants. The grading schemes are currently being discussed with key sectors of the accommodation service, and the self-catering and caravan sectors are particularly aware of the importance of grading schemes. The hon. Gentleman will therefore note that there is some momentum and initiative in that respect. The hon. Member must appreciate that the STB is Government-funded and, indeed, is the Government agent for the tourist industry in Scotland.
The hon. Gentleman asked about training for the tourist industry, and what was being done on this score. The prime responsibility for training in this area lies with the hotel and catering training board, and not with the Scottish tourist board. The STB has a role in the training of tourist officers, and in the training of tourist guides. The STB has been supporting the Scottish tourist guide scheme, and is offering advice by Scotbec — the Scottish Business Education Council — in the design of self-education courses for tourist operators, and those planning to set up new tourist business. The STB has therefore been active in this direction, which I hope is recognised by the hon. Member.
The hon. Member said — this was reflected in a number of other speeches—that there were reservations about the Bill, and that the arrangements arrived at would 771 mean that less money was spent and less effort was made by the BTA in Scottish matters than hitherto. There is no justification for taking that view. The £200,000 that is being allocated to the STB to fulfil the provisions of the Bill is additional money and does not come from moneys previously allocated to the BTA. The BTA will continue as before its programme of promotions abroad covering all Britain, and the proportion of its spending relating to Scotland will not be reduced as a result of legislation.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry, emphasised, following his review of the functions of the BTA, carried out by his Department last year, that he expected the BTA to have full regard to the needs of Scotland and of Wales in drawing up its overseas programme. So far as it is within the hands of Government to ensure that Scotland's promotion by the BTA continues at its present level, I assure the hon. Member that that is the Government's position.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
What is the proportion?
§ Mr. Ancram
The proportion is approximately 20 per cent., which is more than the per capita figure, but in a way reflects the sheer geographical size of Scotland. In my view, that proportion is about right in the circumstances, although it varies from promotion to promotion.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Would the Minister give a considered reply to the point that was eloquently made by his hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Gregory) on the subject?
§ Mr. Ancram
If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to make my speech in my own way, I shall deal with the point raised by my hon. Friend, but in the chronological order in which it was made.
A number of Opposition Members have voiced their concern about what can he done with £200,000. As my hon. Friend for Argyll and Bute (Mr. MacKay) said, the figure will not stand alone, because it is the experience of the tourist boards in such promotions that there is a private financial input that has to be taken alongside the figure spent by the tourist boards. The proportion is about two to one. In these circumstances, we are talking about a figure nearer to £300,000 than £200,000 in terms of promotion. But there are obvious areas in which the STB is looking to achieve that degree of promotion under this legislation.
The hon. Member for Maryhill mentioned encouraging airlines to fly people into Scotland. I understand that the STB is already discussing with Icelandic and Scandinavian airlines the possibility of promotions linked to their direct services to Glasgow and Aberdeen. That is one example of where action is already being taken. Equally, other promotional areas, both with the trade and separately, are being considered by the STB. We believe that the amount of money available will be sufficient to get the supplemental promotions off the ground.
The hon. Member for Clackmannan asked me to give the figures for overseas promotion by the Highlands and Islands Development Board. The estimated figure for this year is £140,000. Since 1980 it has run at about £150,000 a year. It was a little more last year and is expected to be a little less this year, but that is the general level of provision for overseas promotion by the HIDB.
§ Mr. O'Neill
I am grateful to the Minister both for providing that information and for giving way. Does he envisage a combination of the HIDB and STB on any promotions and development?
§ Mr. Ancram
That is a matter for them. If they thought that there would be benefit in a joint promotion—just as the STB co-ordinates with the trade in promotion — no doubt they would consider that.
A certain amount has been said about the position of the HIDB. I remind hon. Members that it has been in a unique position since its inception in 1965. The HIDB has exercised its powers responsibly and has kept in close contact with the BTA, but had the legislation to set up the HIDB been before us now I wonder whether we would have thought it better to include the HIDB in the Bill to ensure that there never would be a duplication of effort or the crossed wires that can so often ruin the promotions that are so important to tourism in Scotland.
The Bill gives additional powers to the STB that will oblige it to change the way in which it operates. The Government believe that to ensure that the STB exercises its new powers so that they dovetail — dovetail is the right word — it is desirable to require it to seek the approval of the Secretary of State.
Some Opposition Members have suggested that the BTA would have a veto on what the STB wanted to do. There is nothing in the legislation that gives the BTA, any veto. There is a requirement for the STB to inform the Secretary of State of its proposals, and for the Secretary of State then to consult with the BTA.
But consultation, as I know from the areas in which I have statutory consultation, does not necessarily mean direction by the person with whom one consults. It is highly sensible that, where public money is being spent by the STB on the promotion of Scottish tourism, the Secretary of State should be satisfied that that does not duplicate or cross some equal form of promotion by the BTA. It is a sensible regulation that will well serve both the STB and the BTA in future.
§ Mr. Gordon Wilson
It is common knowledge, although never fully admitted, that much of Government business is carried out in the Cabinet sub-committee. Is the Minister saying that the Department of Trade and Industry would have no say in any dispute between the STB and the BTA? I understand that he is saying that full responsibility will be borne by the Secretary of State for Scotland, and no one else.
§ Mr. Ancram
Yes, the responsibility will be borne by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. That is what the legislation sets out. It deals with the amount of promotion available to the STB from the Scottish block. Of course, my right hon. Friend will be in control of the consultation. The hon. Gentleman is seeing difficulties that do not exist.
§ Mr. Maxton
I must point out that clause 1(2) of the Bill says:The Scottish Tourist Board shall exercise the power referred to in subsection (1) …"—that is what we are debating—to carry on activities outside the United Kingdom only with the consent … of the Secretary of State who shall, before giving … such consent, consult the British Tourist Authority.The Minister is saying that someone else is responsible.
§ Mr. Ancram
That is precisely what I said. Clearly, the hon. Gentleman has not been listening. The fear that the British Tourist Authority would have some sort of veto does not fit in with the words in the Bill, under which the Secretary of State has to consult, which is the limit of his power.
773 The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) indulged in a veritable orgy of self-justification. To suggest that the Bill is in some way the child of his Bill, and that today's debate would not have taken place had it not been for him shows that the hon. Gentleman has not studied the Bill very carefully.
There are substantial differences between the Development of Tourism (Scotland) Bill introduced by the hon. Gentleman in 1981, and the Bill that we are debating today. I recollect that the hon. Gentleman envisaged—he was not able to write this into his Bill—that the Scottish tourist board would handle all overseas promotion of Scotland, and that the BTA take none of that work. I should have questioned the hon. Gentleman's political credentials if he had not suggested that arrangement, but that suggestion is not in the Bill.
There is a great difference between the Bills in the amount of control exercised over the Scottish tourist board's activities. It is difficult for the hon. Gentleman to claim with any justification that the Government have come along three years later with a replica of his Bill. The new Bill is a very sensible measure, whereas the 1981 Bill went too far, and would probably have ended up with a series of conflicting promotions by the tourist boards in various parts of the United Kingdom. Taxpayers' money would have been frittered away unnecessarily on competing promotions.
§ Mr. Wilson
I am grateful to the Minister for his description of my Bill, about which he is very sensitive. However, does he not agree that clause 1(1) is exactly the same as that of the Development of Tourism (Scotland) Bill, given a few changes in word order? Does not the Minister realise that, as I was right three years ago, it is likely that I am right now and that the previous Bill is the superior model that the Government should have followed?
§ Mr. Ancram
It will be difficult to explain much of the Bill to the hon. Gentleman if he cannot see the difference between a separate and competing promotion by Scotland, which was the basis of his legislation, and a facility to enable the Scottish tourist board to promote Scotland while being able to plug in to the BTA's more widespread promotion of Britain, and Scotland within Britain.
A number of my right hon. and hon. Friends dealt with signposts, especially my hon. and learned Friend the member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Fairbairn). They were also mentioned by my hon. Friends the Members for Dunfries (Sir H. Monro) and for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker). The strungbow signs referred to by my hon. and learned Friend are white on a green background. The custard and chocolate signs of which he complained are service signs. I have been concerned about their colour for some time, and my Department is considering that matter.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
§ Mr. Ancram
There are two criteria to keep in mind when discussing signposting. The first arises from my hon. and learned Friend's remarks about the need for signs telling tourists what services are available. It is essential in that respect to keep signposting consistent, and to the same standard throughout the United Kingdom. Otherwise, we shall create confusion in the minds of tourists.
774 The second point is that as far as possible we must avoid the proliferation of signs that we have seen in some parts of the United Kingdom, and, to a far greater extent, on the other side of the Atlantic. I agree that the balance is difficult. We are trying to achieve that balance. I hope that my hon. Friends will accept that I am looking carefully at that matter.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
Just for the record, I referred not to strungbow signs but to Strongbow signs because they seemed to me to be the same colour as a well-known product from the south-east of England, cider. The Minister corrected me and told me that they had the absurd name "strungbow" signs. If anyone travelling in the north, south, east or west of Scotland were asked whether the signs were the same or different, he would not know, so why say that the signs must all be the same?
§ Mr. Ancram
I listened carefully to what my hon. and learned Friend said in his speech. I may have misheard him, but I thought that I distinctly heard him say that it was important to have signs that could be easily understood by tourists. Having travelled abroad to countries where there is consistency in the standard of signing, I believe that that is much easier for tourists than a variety of different signs.
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
Is my hon. Friend aware that in my constituency we have Blair Drummond safari park, which is a major tourist attraction? It wants signs to direct the tourists who travel all over the constituency looking for the safari park. The park is prepared to pay for signs. It does not mind whether the signs are chocolate pudding coloured, green or blue: it simply wants signs. Central regional council says consistently that the Minister's Department would not agree to those signs being put up.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
What about Scone palace?
§ Mr. Forsyth
Does the Minister agree that, whether the debate is about colour or consistency, signs are desparately needed for tourists, who are running around in circles?
§ Mr. Ancram
I agree with my hon. Friend that signs are useful. While there are restrictions on the signs that can be put up on the verges of trunk roads, which remain the property of the Secretary of State, there are possibilities of putting up signs outwith those areas. If my hon. Friend will write to me about the matter that he has mentioned, I shall consider it.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
If my hon. Friend is attempting, in front of the House, to evoke a principle, what about Scone palace and Strath Allan aircraft museum, which have signs both on public and private property, and no objection is taken by my hon. Friend's Department? Either my hon. Friend must be consistent or he must be sensible.
§ Mr. Ancram
The choice between those two is like the choice between Scylla and Charybdis. The examples that my hon. and learned Friend mentioned are examples of a particular type of house for which provision was made for signposting some time ago. He will find other examples of such signs on roads around Scotland.
Some hon. Members mentioned taxation of self-catering holiday accommodation. That is a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I shall make sure that my right hon. Friend is made aware of the representations that have been made. My colleagues in the Scottish Office and I are fully aware of the strengh of feeling in the Scottish tourist industry about the proposed changes.
775 Many points were raised by the hon. Member for Linlithgow. I am sure that he does not expect me to deal with all of them. Unlike some Opposition Members, he fairly said that he would not expect me to respond to some of his points because he thought that those matters required further discussion and consultation. I thank him for exercising patience in waiting for a reply. The hon. Gentleman mentioned a number of matters on which I shall touch. He questioned Government support for historic buildings and made the valid point that those buildings play a role in the general provision of tourist attractions. The Government support in the form of grants for historic buildings is considerable—about £3 million a year. Appropriate conditions are attached to grants to ensure public access. The hon. Gentleman was concerned as to how the grants were distributed. I take that matter seriously and I shall centainly consider it further.
The hon. Gentleman also asked which houses were being helped. I shall look into that matter. However, we are discussing primarily the Scottish tourist board's role, and it is only indirectly involved in assisting historic houses. The board is keen to make the most of the heritage, and there is good liaison between the board and bodies such as the Historic Buildings Council.
The hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries raised the important point about the coordination of local authority tourist promotions. He may know that there is now a body called SCOT — the recently founded Scottish Federation of Tourism—which provides a forum for determining Scotland-wide promotion priorities. At the same time, because local authorities must also have the approval of the Secretary of State for promotional activity, there is co-ordination, which will slot in well with the co-ordination of the Scottish tourist board and the British Tourist Authority in the future.
My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Henderson) raised a number of important issues, which will take too long to deal with now, so I shall write to him about them. My hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Gregory) raised a question that is central to the debate and on which I shall conclude my summary of the points raised. He asked whether the Bill would encourage fragmentation of the effort that is being made within the United Kingdom. That matter should concern all hon. Members. My belief is that it will not, precisely because of the provisions that have been written into the legislation. The consent of the Secretary of State is required, but the Secretary of State would consult the BTA. Areas where there might be conflict and where wires might cross and lead to fragmentation can be avoided at 776 that stage. That is an important safeguard and one of the reasons why I do not accept the argument put forward by the hon. Member for Dundee, East.
The Bill seeks to give Scotland, through the Scottish tourist board, the voice that it needs to deal with the particular and specific aspects of its own promotion, which it can do particularly well on a Scottish basis, but seeks to ensure that it does not lose the advantage of being served Scotland as a part of Britain. Having been involved for many years in the tourist trade I believe that the fact that Scotland is part of Britain is one of our strongest advantages in attracting tourism. I should hate to see any legislation that destroys the important relationship between the needs of Scotland as Scotland and the needs of Scotland as part of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Following on from the speech of the hon. Member for York (Mr. Gregory), has this been agreed with the English tourist board? Does the chairman of the English tourist board precisely and emphatically understand the guidelines that have been laid down tonight and has he accepted them?
§ Mr. Ancram
The BTA, is the principal body for the legislation. It is obviously aware of how the legislation will work and of the questions that may arise over possible differences in terms of promotion on a Scottish or a United Kingdom basis. As hon. Members have pointed out, the chairman of the BTA is also the chairman of the English tourist board. For that reason, if for no other, the chairman of the English tourist board will be aware of that position. To succeed in the world tourist market, Scotland must project itself as being Scottish and British. Tourism is vital to Scotland. We must seek every way to promote it. I believe that the Bill achieves that, and I ask my hon. Friends to support it.
§ Question put.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. MacKay.]
§ Further proceedings postponed pursuant to order this day.