§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Garel-Jones.]9.35 am
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. John Lee)
As the Minister with special responsibility for tourism, I am delighted that we have the opportunity to debate his vibrant and exciting industry so early in the lifetime of this new Parliament.
In a sense this is my maiden speech on tourism and I should like, at the outset, to pay generous tribute to my friend and colleague, the hon. Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Mr. Trippier), who did so much to help and promote the industry when he had the combined brief of small firms and tourism at the Department of Employment. That the two functions have now been split ministerially is an indication of the importance that we in the Department of Employment, and I am sure that I can speak for my tourism colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland when I say the Government as a whole, attribute to the industry. I have been given the separate tourism role with the full backing of the Secretary of State, who is keen and determined to support and promote the industry.
I am delighted that I am joined on the Front Bench today by my hon. Friend the Minister for Employment, and my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Welsh Office who takes a particular interest in tourism in Wales. Tourism is one of our great growth industries, generating substantial national wealth and increasing employment. It has made impressive strides in recent years and I look forward to being its standard bearer.
I intend to focus my efforts in particular on five main areas: the three S's — spotlessness, service and signposting — and training and the needs of disabled people, all of which I will deal with later.
Let me first set the industry in a statistical context. In 1986, 13.8 million people came to the United Kingdom, 60 per cent. from western Europe, 21 per cent. from North America and the rest mainly from the far east and Australasia. Spending by overseas visitors matched 1985's record of £5.4 billion and the outlook for this year remains excellent. Spending by British residents on overnight trips within Britain was 3 per cent. higher than in 1985 and totalled around £7 billion. Those figures do not include day trips to over 1,700 tourist attractions in England, Scotland, and Wales, where close on 130 million visits were recorded. Therefore, total tourist spending from home and overseas was around £15 billion in 1986—a good 3 per cent. of GDP.
What we have seen over the years is a temendous response by business, national bodies and local authorities 742 to the growth of tourism, leisure and business conference opportunities. From an industry that was originally centred on seaside towns, spas, traditional entertainments and museums we now have a richly diversified industry ranging from multi-million pound new hotels, conference centres and all-weather leisure complexes, new and upgraded major attractions, such as Alton Towers, and enduring favourites such as Madame Tussauds and the Tower of London, each receiving over 2 million visitors annually, through to museums, art galleries, National Trust properties, national parks, sports and activity centres down to small family run tourist attractions and farm accommodation and picnic sites.
Tourism can and is making a real contribution to the regeneration of many of our northern towns and cities. Who can fail to be excited by the Albert docks development on the Liverpool waterfront or the unique Wigan pier complex, or Bradford's achievements in putting itself on the tourist map? The G-Mex development in Manchester — arising from the original Manchester Central station — has brought a whole new exhibition industry to that city and in part has encouraged the development of half a dozen new hotels.
In Glasgow, to see the Burrell Collection as I did in a modern setting, with sunlight streaming through the plate glass, is an unforgettable experience — as exciting in its own way as the sporting spectaculars of Wimbledon and the Open golf championships. Tourism is predominantly a private sector, entrepreneurial industry that benefits above all from the stable economic climate created by the Government, coupled with increasing consumer spending power.
Government support for the industry has been growing steadily in recent years, with the British Tourist Authority and the English tourist board receiving 20 per cent. more in 1986–87, with a further 12 per cent. Increase, to £45 million in total, in the current financial year. Taking into account funding to the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland tourist boards, the total grant funding for tourist boards is about £65 million. To that sum can be added some major urban development grants to hotels, support for leisure and recreational facilities and elements of many other programmes.
§ Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon)
Given the number of jobs in tourism, does the Minister think that that expenditure of £65 million is adequate when compared with the sums given to manufacturing and other industries?
§ Mr. Lee
I am sure that tourism would like more Government support, as would many other industries. However, the financial support given by the Government is extremely helpful, though it is dwarfed by the enormous investment of the private sector. Tourism is predomninantly a private sector industry and it is doing extremely well.
The present considerable level of funding is used in a number of ways. The British Tourist Authority, which has a budget this year of £20.6 million, plus nearly £13 million from within the industry, aims to increase the number of visits to Britain by 6 per cent. this year. The authority has been paying special attention to the promotion of selected regions of high unemployment where tourism potential exists. Those regions are being particularly promoted in 743 North America, Australasia and northern Europe. That is a clear example of our tourism policy objectives resulting in action to help our regions.
London remains our major tourist attraction and the gateway to Britain, but we are determined to encourage overseas visitors to explore and stay in other parts of the country. Travel to those areas is being encouraged by the extension of air networks to regional airports and I am pleased to say that traffic to those airports grew by about 20 per cent. in 1986.
New international routes to regional airports in 1987 include Calgary to Manchester, Sonderborg to Humberside and Hamburg to Birmingham. Manchester, my home airport, is one of the fastest growing airports in Europe and £200 million will be spent on new facilities by the mid-1990s to cater for the expected traffic of 20 million passengers by the year 2000.
Secondly, the national tourist boards use funds for vital promotional work. I am pleased to say that the tourist information centre network has increased to 807 centres, of which 537 are in England.
Another major use of funds by the tourist boards is through the scheme of selective financial assistance under section 4 of the Development of Tourism Act 1969. Of course, I can speak with authority only about the English tourist board's scheme, for which my Department provides funding, but the scheme is intended to encourage investment in developments that will do most to improve the range and quality of tourist attractions and accommodation and create more jobs.
I pay tribute to all those who work in a professional or honorary capacity promoting tourism, both nationally and regionally. On Wednesday I attended the annual meeting of our regional tourist board chiefs in Lavenham, where I heard for myself about some matters of concern, but more particularly about the optimism of the industry.
The ETB has just reported that over £1 billion of new projects are under way in the United Kingdom, with 50 major projects having been completed in the six months to June 1987. Projects completed or under way include Centre Parks' £30 million activity-based holiday village in Sherwood forest, the £32 million Hyatt Hotels complex in Birmingham, which has been awarded an urban development grant of £6 million, the £15 million Backbarrow lakeland village timeshare development, the £30 million Gateshead garden festival, the £45 million Kensington-Olympia extension and the £40 million high-tech leisure and hotel complex on three sites at Reading. However, in many areas of the country we are only scratching the surface. The day before yesterday the 46-mile Pendle way in my constituency — a project with £200,000 community programme funding — was officially opened, but we could certainly do more to promote our Pendle witches. The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) lives fairly close to Pendle, and I am delighted to see that he is present.
Such investments give a massive boost to our construction industry, which brings me to the subject of employment and job creation through tourism. No fewer than 1.3 million jobs— 5 per cent. of total employment —are estimated to be in the leisure, hotel and catering industries most directly serving tourists, and the number has been growing recently by an average of 50,000 jobs per year.
744 Nationally, there are 14 million jobs in the service sector, compared with 5 million in manufacturing; 77 per cent. of jobs in the United Kingdom are full time, with 23 per cent. being part time. Tourism provides outstanding full-time and part-time opportunities and many people want or need part-time jobs.
§ Mr. Peter Pike (Burnley)
I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. I agree with much of what he has said, but many employees in tourism have to put up with fairly low pay and poor conditions. How do the Government feel about that? I welcome the growth in the number of jobs, but I am worried about the conditions and pay of some employees.
§ Mr. Lee
I take the hon. Gentleman's point, but there are three wages councils in the industry which fix hourly rates, minimum overtime rates and accommodation rates. The basic thrust of the Government's policy is to free the labour market and encourage the creation of jobs. The Government's view, which I share, is that if we adopted the Labour party's proposal of a minimum wage unemployment would increase and there would be substantial job losses.
§ Mr. Conal Gregory (York)
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way at an early stage in his important speech. I should be grateful if the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) could catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and give any justification for his great slur on the industry. We keep hearing from the Opposition allegations about wages and conditions, but there is an inspectorate for the industry and when such allegations have been made in the press and elsewhere they have not been substantiated. I look forward to hearing the hon. Member for Burnley trying to justify an unjustified slur on an important industry.
§ Mr. Lee
I am grateful for my hon. Friend's intervention, which puts some balance into the comments of the hon. Member for Burnley, but perhaps the hon. Member will have an opportunity to develop his case during the debate.
We reject any suggestion, from whatever quarter, that tourism can provide only Mickey Mouse or candy floss jobs. The industry provides a wide range of job opportunities for men and women at all levels of skill and qualifications. However, there are problems that need to be tackled, such as skill shortages and recruitment difficulties — notably in London — and overcoming the image problem which still seems to exist in the eyes of some young people. That is why my Department, along with the Manpower Services Commission and the Department of Education and Science, has been working closely with the industry to ensure the steady improvement of careers advice and vocational, education and training provision.
The responsibility for those matters must rest with the industry, but here, perhaps more than elsewhere, the Government, and not least the Department of Employment, can offer vital support by making sure that our training and education programmes focus on the needs of the industry. I shall be looking at that area as an early priority.
§ Mr. Robert Banks (Harrogate)
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way, because he has mentioned one of the most important subjects to which the tourism industry must address itself. There must be a review of the 745 numbers and types of courses offered to students in higher education establishments, and we must ensure that there is a far greater emphasis on the quality and range of courses to provide the training that the industry needs.
§ Mr. Lee
I am grateful for that intervention. Perhaps my hon. Friend will have the opportunity to develop that theme during the debate.
I am delighted that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment is present. It demonstrates his early commitment to tourism and the hotel and catering industries. As he said in his statement on Tuesday, there is good news for employers in job-creating areas such as tourism. His statement took forward our manifesto proposals which are to form the programme of the Department of Employment in the first Session of this Parliament. Right at the forefront is to be a new style of Manpower Services Commission to run the nation's training programmes. The new commission will be bigger. it will have more employer representatives, and these employers will be drawn from some of the new, growing, sectors of employment which are not currently represented on the commission.
I have in mind small businesses, new technology, distribution, finance, and, of course, the tourism and leisure industries. The increase in employer representation for those industries will be extended to the area manpower boards, too. We want to make sure that none of our growth industries are held back by not being able to attract the right people with the right skills at the right time.
I return now to my earlier themes — the three S's: spotlessness, service and signposting. First, I want a spotless Britain. Here standards have improved dramatically, but not enough. We still see too much litter around our streets— too many tables are left uncleaned for too long, and we still find some smaller pubs, catering establishments, petrol stations and public places without hot water in toilets and with one small unhygienic towel hanging on the wall —if that. I intend to be the scourge of the unhygienic and the uncaring and I shall not hesitate to admonish, both in private and in public. I repeat that I want a spotless Britain, and see my campaign as complementary to "Keep Britain Tidy" and "UK 2000". Perhaps it will be possible to encourage improved standards by some award to places of excellence.
Secondly, as a nation we have never fully regarded the giving of service with as much pride as happens in overseas countries. As I have said, jobs in tourism and leisure are not inferior jobs—they are just as worthy and necessary as those in other areas of the economy —and pride in giving good service is crucial in producing satisfied customers. We are making conscious efforts to improve the quality of the service offered to visitors by the tourism industry.
An area in which the tourist boards are playing a leading role in promoting higher standards within the industry is the hotel classification scheme. Some 9,800 establishments are now within the scheme in England, with almost 3,000 in Scotland and 2,500 in Wales. The basic scheme is working well and has firm acceptance within the industry. The House will know that the "Crown" scheme is solely a classification system, which is governed by the adherence to strict criteria laid down by the respective national tourist boards. Discussions on the criteria are currently proceeding and improvements here should help raise the level of applications with even greater support 746 from the industry. From discussions with all interested parties, it is apparent that there are certain sectors within the industry that are in favour of the introduction of an element of qualitative assessment. Scotland already operates such a scheme. I understand that the ETB is currently considering the desirability of such a scheme in England and I hope that that question is soon resolved to the satisfaction of all.
Thirdly, there is signposting. Brown and white tourist signs are springing up around the country following last year's initiative, allowing highway authorities to signpost major attractions in this distinctive way. Signposts oil' motorways, trunk roads, and the country's many other roads have so far been approved for nearly 2,000 attractions, and, once erected, will be a major step towards making our many tourist attractions visible and accessible. But there is still a great deal to do to ensure that the tourist industry gains quickly the maximum benefit from this welcome development, and I am in close touch with my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport on this matter.
This Government, throughout their term of office, have been trying to reduce burdens on business and cut red tape. Our intention to liberalise licensing laws further, as indicated in the Gracious Speech, has been warmly welcomed by the industry. The British Tourist Authority has estimated that liberalisation could create upwards of 50,000 jobs.
Our small firms service and regional tourist boards are helping many with start-up and expansion schemes, and I was pleased to launch and give my support on Wednesday to the joint initiative by the East Anglia tourist board and small firms service in providing a combined service from their local tourist industry.
Within the Department of Employment I have special responsibility for the employment of disabled people. What I want to ensure is that employers in tourism and leisure do everything possible to take on those with disabilities — many of whom can, and do perform a thoroughly good job. There are already good stories to tell. One can find excellent lunches prepared in the restaurant "Dr B's Kitchen" in Harrogate. I do not know whether my hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate (Mr. Banks) has eaten there: if not, he should. It is a YTS scheme for young people with special needs, offering them a training and experience in this growth area.
There are many employers in the industry who can be congratulated on their positive attitudes. Last year the Manpower Services Commission honoured the George hotel at Crawley with a fit for work award. The management there had recognised the value of its disabled employees and had altered floor levels for easier access and installed a computerised switchboard, which enables its blind telephonists to receive instructions through their headphones.
I also want to ensure that the disabled visitor is not disadvantaged through access and mobility difficulties. Many of our better tourist attractions cater for those with disabilities, but others could do much more. I am pleased to say that under the tourism and community programme national initiative, Holiday Care Service is carrying out a survey of tourist accommodation to assess its suitability for disabled people.
Many years ago the Hungarian author and critic George Mikes wrote that, on the continent, people have good food, but in England they have good table manners. 747 These days I like to think that we have both. We can all be proud of what our tourist industry has achieved, and the outlook is set fair. The Government and my Department will continue to play a constructive and supportive role, and I pledge my energies to promoting the industry's continuing growth and prosperity.
§ Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield)
We welcome this early opportunity for a debate on this important industry. May I add my congratulations to the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Lee) on taking over from my old opponent, the hon. Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Mr. Trippier), who has moved on to new pastures. While welcoming him to the role, I hope that he will not be as complacent as certain aspects of his remarks this morning seemed to foretell that he might be about the wonderful state of the British tourist industry.
I hope, in my few minutes at the Dispatch Box, that I can alert the hon. Gentleman to some of the problems that are emerging in the developing tourist industry. There is no doubt that it is an important industry. Looking at even the broader figures about related employment, we know that two million people are employed in enabling activities in the industry and nearly one in 10 of those in work— as estimated by the Institute of Manpower Studies —were working in related industries in 1985. That was a rise of 300,000 in the period which the IMS examined.
The tourist industry is a challenge and opportunity and the same rules apply to it as those that apply to any other industry. If one creates wealth in Britain, we know only too well that that one has to meet the challenges of international competition and markets, and use the latest technology and methods. That is true of every industry. It is also true of the tourist industry and we are in the international, competitive market because people have a choice. Our own people have the choice of going abroad or staying at home, and foreign visitors have the choice —very quickly, as we know, in certain circumstances—of switching to other destinations. So we must be competitive.
However, on a note of realism, my hon. Friends and I sometimes worry when the Government talk of tourism in such strong terms. Sometimes we think that they do so because tourism is something of figleaf coverning the policies of that have failed in other countries. Every time an hon. Member talks about manufacturing industry and the dreadful decline and collapse of industrial jobs during questions in the House on employment, a Minister asks, "What about tourism?" The tourism industry is important; it is a vital industry and it has an increasing role to play, but it no substitute for manufacturing industry or jobs. The two should go together. The visitor to Britain buys an enormous amount of British goods and would like to buy more. When the Minister is going round with his scrubbing brush and clean towel, I hope that he will not only inspect the lavatories in our tourist attractions but the goods for sale in the tourist shops. He should wander down Oxford street to see what is on offer to the visitor to Britian. Too many of the goods on offer are not quality British products but are imports from Taiwan and other places, because many of the industries in which we were 748 predominant and had a proud reputation have disappeared under this Government, or are as weak as they have ever been.
There are some exceptions. Huddersfield still produces fine worsted products which the visitor to Britain wants to buy, and up to 40 per cent. of the ceramics and china produced in the Potteries is sold to overseas visitors.
We must have a Government who care about regenerating British industry as well as a Government who believe that tourism is important. We cannot close our eyes to the disaster that the Government have been for most manufacturing industry and employment. We need a Government who believe not only in tourism but in manufacturing.
I go further and say that we need a Government who take seriously the proper development of tourism. This morning, the Minister said that the free market will always deliver the goods. We have heard that often, and the Government rejected even the modest proposals made about a year ago by the Select Committee for Trade and Industry, when it still had responsibility for the subject, and which we debated about six to eight months ago. The Government have contributed little to the growth of tourism, although they are proud to point to the success of the industry. It has grown largely on its own, and any help that it has received came from previous Labour Administrations. Much of the hotel expansion in the 1960s and 1970s came because of Labour Government policy. Tourism has also been helped by Labour-controlled local authorities. Even in the hostile climate generated by the Government, many local authorities have striven to develop tourism and especially the tourism infrastructure. I hope that the Government will get one thing right: tourism will not always grow on its own; it needs a public-private partnership.
A good example of public-private partnership is Britain's waterways. Our inland waterways have an enormous potential as leisure and tourism attractions. Many of us have wonderful inland waterways in our constituencies, some of which have been developed. Wigan pier and other attractions have great potential, but they will not be developed only by private enterprise. They will be developed by a partnership between the public and the private sectors. The private sector will never bring back to life great stretches of the canal system, but once that is done by a progressive local authority, the private sector can come into play and restaurants and other leisure facilities will grow up alongside our canals.
The private-public relationship has been severely damaged, first, because the Government have put very little real money into tourism and, secondly, because the Government have hampered local authorities from doing the same job. One local authority that tried to do that was Brighton. I hope that the Minister will visit Brighton; perhaps he does so during Conservative party conferences. The Labour council in Brighton has been trying to help tourism there, and the town's greatest attractions and facilities are owned by the local authority. The Royal Pavilion is a classic example. It is one of the finest attractions in the country. When someone threw a bomb into the Royal Pavilion and caused a small amount of damage, it opened up the fabric to inspection and the council discovered that, with dry rot, wet rot and all the other defects that appear in old buildings, the Royal 749 Pavilion needed £10 million worth of repairs. The dome next door to the Royal Pavilion needs £11 million spent on it.
To stay on the national conference circuit and to compete with other resorts, Brighton had to invest in a national conference centre — again provided by the public. There are hardly any privately built national conference centres in Britain because, on their own, they do not make money. But they are essential in a booming tourist and conference centre circuit. The Minister will know that the Government wanted a private developer to build the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre across the road from here, but no one was interested. It had to be developed by the Property Services Agency and the Government.
Because the local authority in Brighton built a national conference centre and had to repair the fabric of the Royal Pavilion, it was rate-capped. It cannot carry out important repairs needed on its other buildings because it has been rate-capped. It is bizarre to rate-cap a Labour authority which has tried to do something about high unemployment. Many of us who represent northern constituencies may think that Brighton has little unemployment, but it is running there at about 12 to 13 per cent. The Government must allow local authorities to invest in tourism. They must show some realism towards the public-private relationship.
Tourism is an important industry that must be nurtured by the Government, but it is no panacea. The Minister went through his three S's; I shall go through the five-point plan which a Labour Government would introduce. The first objective should be to support the growth of the industry and to help it to diversify and enhance regional appeal. Local authorities must be liberated so that they can play their part. If that does not happen, many of the things of which the Minister boasted — the Bradford initiative and developments such as Wigan pier — will not be repeated, because they are based on the ability of democratically elected local authorities to lead the way in participation with the private sector.
I urge the Minister to understand that, in terms of tourism development, like York, London is an overfished water. If we want to diversify the appeal of areas which, traditionally, have been less known as destinations for tourists, let us put tourism in the broadest context. When we talk about the tourism industry, many people think of American visitors or visitors from other countries. It is most important that we aim our market at our own people as well.
One of the most interesting suggestions to come out of the investigation by the Select Committee on Trade and Industry into tourism was that we should try to extend the season. We suffer from appalling weather. This June has brought home to all of us what sort of weather we can expect in a pretty average summer. The Select Committee recommends changing the rules to extend the season, and giving grants to the proprietors of the great tourist attractions to extend their season. The Government should reconsider giving a subsidy in that direction. That was one of the most enlightened suggestions in the Committee's report. That Committee had a majority of members of the Minister's own party. As a new Minister, he should look at those recommendations again.
The second area that an enlightened Government would look at is helping to build an expanded, stable, well-trained and well-paid work force in the industry. The hon. 750 Member for York (Mr. Gregory) said that it was a slur on the industry and employers to dare to suggest that there was low pay and exploitative employment in the tourist industry. I ask hon. Members to be a little honest about the reality of the industry. Of course, I — and most Opposition Members — do not subscribe to the belief that it is generally a low-paid, exploitative industry, but an important sector is still exploitative.
Most jobs in tourism are well-paid. permanent and good. We can agree on that across the party lines. But there is a significant percentage of exploited workers. For example, women in the hotel and catering industry are exploited. If the hon. Member for York thinks that that is a slur, I should like to direct him to the study by the Institute of Manpower Studies, commissioned by the British Tourist Authority, which makes that very point, that there is low pay and exploited labour in his industry——
§ Mr. Sheerman
For example, only one third of the jobs for women in the catering industry are full-time-33 per cent. exactly, according to the IMS study.
It is always important to quote briefings to hon. Members from the House of Commons Library. A briefing that is available to Members clearly states:Most of what is written on tourism is very favourable but there is another side to it. Workers in industries related to tourism are notoriously badly paid, particularly in catering and hotels.A table from "Low Wages and Poverty in the 1980s" in the Low Pay Review points out that 27 per cent of those classified as low paid are in this very industry. The briefing continues:Around a quarter of low paid workers are in the category 'distribution, hotel, catering ….' Another table from a more recent report 'The Price of Low Pay—Deepening Poverty', Low Pay Review ….) shows catering workers as among the very worst paid group in the country".If the hon. Member for York thinks that that is a slur by politically motivated politicians, with great respect, I say that the IMS study, the British Tourist Authority and the House of Commons Library do not fall into that category.
§ Mr. Sheerman
I shall not give way. Let me finish my point, then I shall let the lucky hon. Member for York intervene—he is lucky to be here.
The House of Commons Library report also states:Working conditions are also often very poor, particularly in catering where workers work long, unsociable hours frequently in very hot conditions. It is common for them to have to work at lunchtime, then to take an afternoon break and return to work in the evening until after midnight.That is the split shift system.
What have the Government done about exploitation? The part-time worker, the woman worker and the young worker are most exploited. The Minister talked about the three wages councils that cover that area. Young people do not get protection from wages councils because of the Government's action. They are in one of the most exploited sectors in the country. I urge the Minister to look at the way in which many young people in the catering industry are now being exploited, with long hours, extremely low pay and little prospect of a future that look s as if it goes anywhere. In other words, they are low-paid, dead-end jobs. It does this country and the tourism industry no good to have within it low-paid workers with no hope for improvement.
§ Mr. John Butterfill (Bournemouth, West)
Does the hon. Gentleman not accept that generally young workers are paid considerably more than those in many other European countries? My constituency has much hotel and catering employment, as the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, and it is not my experience that there is no future for young workers. Indeed, most of the people in my constituency who are managers and are in relatively high executive positions started on low wages.
§ Mr. Sheerman
I am sorry, but the research that I have seen, which is freely available, shows that that is not the case. The fact is that a large percentage of young people in the industry are still offered no training at all. Many young people will put up with low wages. Perhaps we would be more complacent about low wages if a low wage for a temporary period was combined with training that led to a better position and a better career. I urge the Minister to tell his colleague the Secretary of State that one thing that he could do is return to the view that young people should never be employed unless they are guaranteed training.
It is a scandal that in Britain in 1987 young people are allowed to go into work at 16 and 17 without a guarantee of training. The Government have offered subsidies under the young workers scheme. A handsome subsidy is given to employers, many of whom are in the tourist industry, and the only criterion is that the young workers be paid below a certain minimum wage. Would it be too much to expect that at the same time as a subsidy is received from Her Majesty's Government, the price should be that young people are trained properly for a good future in that career?
§ Mr. Gregory
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for letting me have the opportunity to respond to a couple of the points that he has made. Can he offer the House any independent evidence whatsoever about the allegations that he has made? He talked about part-time working. There is a great deal of part-time working here and in other successful economies, particularly the United States of America. It does not mean to say that the work is not well paid and that there is not training. I urge the hon. Gentleman to have an early meeting with the hotel and catering training board. If he takes his Opposition portfolio seriously, he would meet the chief executive and representatives of the great number of unions on that board, who would put him right and tell him that it is an excellent training board, which gives training to young people who are our seed corn for the future. We need to encourage them and they should not be denigrated by the Opposition.
§ Mr. Sheerman
No one denigrates the efforts of an industrial training board that does the best that it can within the constraints of its finance and its levy. However, the training contribution of £13 million is small. It should be at a very much higher level and training should include a much larger sector of the industry. As in many other industries, the tourist industry has a few very good employers who take training seriously and pay proper wages. However, far too many escape the net of training. Any hon. Member can find example after example in his own constituency of young people being exploited on low pay and without training.
I shall now move to my third point. The third aim of Government should be to encourage effective standards of 752 service and consumer protection. I am glad that the Minister intends to be Mr. Spotless or Mr. Clean. Even the hon. Member for York will agree with the recommendations of the Select Committee on Trade and Industry about classification. He spoke about a voluntary scheme. The Select Committee strongly recommended that if we are to take standards properly, a compulsory scheme should apply to all hotels so that people will know when they go into a hotel precisely what they are being offered. The hon. Gentleman knows that at the moment there is a resistance to a voluntary scheme by quite significant sectors of the industry. If they do not fall into line very quickly the Minister should do something about it. A compulsory classification for hotels should be introduced.
The fourth aim for an enlightened Government should be to encourage tourism and leisure opportunities for all our people. We can be very complacent about this but the British Tourist Association estimates that only 60 per cent. of our people have a holiday of any kind. That was measured against a criterion of more than two nights away from home in a year. That means that 40 per cent. of our people cannot afford a holiday. If the Minister is serious about his responsibilities for the handicapped, the disadvantaged and the disabled he should look closely at making sure that the disabled, who form a significant part of the 40 per cent. of people who do not get a holiday, do get one.
One of the reasons why people do not get holidays is that too many people are on low pay. The Minister can sneer at Labour party plans to introduce a national minimum wage, but that is one of the things that we shall continue to fight for in this Parliament. We shall continue to fight against the low pay and poor conditions of work suffered by people who cannot afford a decent holiday. Surely some day the Conservative Government will waken up to the fact that Britain wants highly paid workers with decent standards that will give them the ability to go on holiday and to live a decent life. High pay and good conditions generate good tourism, a good industry and a good society. We ought to move towards those things.
My fifth and final point is that we should aim to coordinate the efforts and activities of all those people involved in the development of tourism. I come back to the point that that must be done by way of a public-private partnership. Local authorities must be given the ability to participate. In the last eight years they have been given a declining opportunity to participate by this Government. We shall not get the interesting developments and the expansion of tourism to different parts of Britain without that liberation.
The Conservative Government did great damage to the development of that relationship and to the development of tourism by abolishing the Greater London council and the six metropolitan councils. The hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) laughs. If he goes to the London tourist board he will be told that there is a very real problem now that there is no democratically elected body for London to plan the future of the London tourist enterprise. The Minister is interested in London and also in planning and would like to be Mr. Spotless. If he travelled on the London underground, he would find that it has been progressively stripped of people, of workers.
§ Mr. Sheerman
Automation increases efficiency and cuts the number of jobs, but the London underground is on a cycle of decline.
§ Mr. Sheerman
The hon. Gentleman should stand on the platform at Westminster tube station and count how many trains are not covered in graffiti. He should find out how many visitors now say that they are frightened to travel on the London tube at night because of the fear of violence and crime. That is a cycle of decline that could take the London underground and London Transport to the level of the New York subway and that would be a dreadful blow to this country and to tourism in London.
Just this week, the London tourist board lauched a plan for tourism in London. It knows that a central concern is that London is becoming a forbidden city for many of the people that we represent. To people in Bradford, Huddersfield and in the Minister's own constituency London is a forbidden city because it is expensive to come and stay in London. It may have three, four and five-star hotels but many of my constituents and many other people in Britain want cheap accommodation.
What has happened to most of the low-cost budget hotels in London? They are filled with homeless people and the London tourist board says that as a priority the Government should do something about that. The tourist board does not give an answer to the question of what to do with those people but the Opposition know that they have to be properly housed. They should be put into decent housing and that means allowing local authorities to build houses and other accommodation for the people who so desperately need it. If the Government do not build those houses they will not solve that problem.
Our capital city has a crisis in terms of hotel accommodation and it is getting worse every day. The London tourist board says that within three years there will be an even greater crisis and it predicts a 20,000 bedroom shortage by the early 1990s. The beginning of that crisis is already with us. Many of our people cannot afford to come to London because the accommodation at the lower end of the market is not available. That is a scandal, it needs public participation and leadership, and the Government should do something about it. If they do not, the crisis will not be solved by private enterprise. The Government must solve it by showing some leadership.
§ Mr. Robert G. Hughes
The hon. Gentleman started the latter part of his peroration by praising the record of the Greater London council under the control of his party. Will he tell the House why the Labour-controlled GLC at the shortest possible notice completely withdrew its grant to the London tourist board, promising to replace it by a tourism strategy with money behind it? Up to the day on which it was abolished the GLC did not spend a penny on that tourism strategy. That forced the unions representing the workers in the London tourist board to come to me as the GLC opposition spokesman. They asked me to try to intercede with the hard-faced men running the so-called GLC tourism strategy, but they did nothing to help those workers. The London tourist board could have gone under if it had had to rely solely on the GLC for help. Can the hon. Gentleman explain those actions by his GLC friends?
§ Mr. Sheerman
As the hon. Gentleman knows, the constraints and pressures on the GLC at that time made 754 it impossible for the GLC to fund many of the operations that it wanted to support. The abolition of the metropolitan councils and the GLC made tourist development far more difficult.
§ Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)
My hon. Friend has rightly pointed to the importance of transport in the promotion of tourism. Is not British Rail's recent decision to impose a substantial increase in fares on InterCity routes to deal with overcrowding a difficult policy to reconcile with the promotion of tourism? Rather than imposing much higher fares, would it not have been more sensible of British Rail to make substantial investment in the expansion of its system and the improvement of the services offered to tourists and others?
§ Mr. Sheerman
My hon. Friend is right. The increased fares, added to the high cost of accommodation in London, makes the prospect of visiting our capital increasingly remote for those on lower incomes.
I have spoken for too long, but I have a couple more points to make. We need a Government who will act and lead in a tourism strategy. We have pointed out, month after month, year after year, the emerging crisis in the tourist industry which will need action from Government to prevent.
Tourism must be seen by the community as beneficial. I urge the Minister to take seriously not just his spotlessness, services and signposting — the three Ss. We in the Labour party recently produced an amazingly succinct document, called "Quality, Community and Commitment". One of the themes running through that is the importance of making tourism a community-based as well as a visitors-based facility. Many of the facilities for the leisure and relaxation of our people can be combined with those for the overseas visitor.
We need to ensure that when resources are developed, often on a public-private partnership basis, those facilities are available to the community and are seen to be valuable to the community. There are signs in the inner London tourist analysis that people are getting tired of tourism. We have to make sure that local communities see the positive benefit of tourism, not only in jobs but in the facilities available for them. The Opposition believe in tourism, but the Government do not.
§ Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale)
I am proud and privileged to have been elected to represent the people of Ryedale, my local constituency. My immediate predecessor, Mrs. Elizabeth Shields, worked tirelessly for her constituents during her year at Westminster, which I know that she much enjoyed. I trust that she will not mind if I say that my victory in the recent election was all the more satisfying and pleasing for having not only restored Conservative representation for Ryedale at Westminster, but achieved such a convincing majority.
Hon. Members on both sides of the House will forgive me, I am sure, if I also pay tribute to my good friend the late John Spence, whose sudden death in March last year shocked and saddened so many of us. He is still much missed by his many friends both in Ryedale and here at Westminster. John's widow, Hester, is well and in excellent spirits and has been a great help to me and my wife especially during my candidature.
As soon as I saw that tourism was to be the subject of today's debate, I decided that this would be the ideal 755 opportunity to make my maiden speech, and I am most grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for allowing me the opportunity to do so. Ryedale, the heart of north Yorkshire, can justifiably claim to be one of the finest and most beautiful constituencies in our green and pleasant land. I know just how fortunate I am to be its Member of Parliament.
Tourism is inextricably linked with Ryedale's past, present and future. In Edwardian times, Filey, the princess of Yorkshire's seaside resorts, was a much favoured and popular holiday centre. Filey's Edwardian heritage remains; its fine buildings are well preserved and its past is brought back to life in an annual Edwardian festival. The seventh such festival has been taking place throughout this week.
Charles Dickens was a frequent visitor to the town of Malton. It is said that Ryedale buildings and characters figure largely in some of the best loved novels. Malton and its neighbouring town, Norton, commemorate Dickens's earlier visits with a Dickens festival at Christmas.
Wordsworth was also a regular traveller through Ryedale. With apologies to hon. Members from the Lake District I point out that a suggestion was made recently that perhaps the famous daffodils of Farndale in the north Yorks moors national park could have helped to inspire his best known poem. It is a suggestion that is as impossible to prove as to disprove, but its value in drawing attention to what Farndale has to offer has been well worth the controversy.
George Hudson, the railway king much famed in York, was born in Ryedale. The steam trains that pull holiday makers to the seaside resorts still run today on the north Yorkshire moors railway. Did you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you can dine in a Pullman, in the grand old style, behind a steam engine? However, that is only if you come to the Ryedale festival later this month, which is, dare I say, during the Recess.
Who else came to Ryedale in the past? In the 18th and 19th centuries some of Ryedale's famous country houses, such as Castle Howard and Beningbrough hall, played host to many society guests. Today, they rightly attract visitors from all over the world, and no doubt their promotion has been much helped by the recent television programme "Brideshead Revisited".
The many abbeys and monasteries such as Rievaulx, Byland and Kirkham would have attracted a different kind of tourist — those seeking rest, calm and tranquillity. Today, their imposing ruins offer the visitor a new stillness and peace, away from the noise of town and traffic.
William the Conqueror, the Vikings and, earlier still, the Romans all came to Ryedale, and although the manner of their visits was somewhat forceful, and not to be recommended to present day tourists, they have all left their mark. Malton museum now houses a fine Roman collection. Many of the villages of Ryedale, especially in the wolds, were originally Viking settlements, and the Normans left behind a great architectural heritage of churches and castles. Wartime visitors of a different kind, Italian prisoners, were housed in a camp at Malton. The camp has now been restored and houses a unique wartime museum. The whole project was funded by private enterprise.
756 In every one of these areas, tourism in Ryedale is taking advantage of its history. Nostalgia is big business for tourism. If used with skill, care and imagination, it can create a whole new industry for almost any town or village, not just in Ryedale but throughout Britain. Have you ever heard of Merrills, Mr. Deputy Speaker? Merrills is a board game much popularised in the last century and people will be playing it again in Ryedale this year.
Having achieved a degree of success in tourism, what of the future? First, we must recognise that local residents are understandably concerned and anxious that their villages or communities should not be overrun by coachloads of tourists. I was pleased to note that there is at least some unanimity across the House on that point. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) referred to that, and I agree with him. The problem must be handled with extreme sensitivity and much more must be done by the tourist industry to educate and win the co-operation of local communities.
Ryedale district council is pioneering village tourism through its Ryedale quest programme the aim of which is to attract the discerning visitor who also wants a quiet life and who is prepared to spend his money in the local village pub, inn, restaurant, shop or bed-and-breakfast accommodation. His visit may make all the difference to local amenities remaining open and viable which then directly benefits those who live in the area. The clear objective must be to achieve a balance, tourism in equilibrium, so that the locals are enthusiastic and not resentful and tourists and residents share a common interest of amenity, heritage, convenience and environmental protection.
Tourism can also dispel the myth that society's divisions lie only between north and south. It helps the north not one jot constantly to harp on about a north-south divide in the terms that we have heard recently. Through tourism lies not only the potential to create wealth in the north, but the opportunity to invite people to come to the north and see for themselves just what we have to offer in Yorkshire and elsewhere.
Is it not ironic, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the very things that the young, well-paid executives in the south-east find so fashionable are available in such abundance in Yorkshire and Ryedale? Good food, real ale in charming pubs and inns, cricket on the village green, stately homes, history and nostalgia everywhere, the best clothing and antique shops at prices not seen in London for decades and all surrounded by fresh clear air and stunning scenery. What more could anyone ask? We must not put people off coming north and to Ryedale by talk of decay, depression and dicontentment.
What of visitors from overseas? During the election campaign my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave) came to Helmsley. We held an impromptu debate in the market square. One man, a visitor from one of our bigger Yorkshire towns, strongly attacked the Government's policy towards overseas investment. A few moments later a Canadian approached us and said, "I don't know what that fool was complaining about. Doesn't he realise that Britain just about owns half of Canada?"
I believe that the growing resurgence in Britain's influence and standing overseas can and does provide a great stimulus to United Kingdom tourism. We must continue to take every advantage of that, not by exploitation and poor standards of service and comfort, but by offering our foreign guests value for money through 757 personal service, holidays of quality and imagination, individual attention and the warmest of welcomes. Americans are giving holidays in Britain, incorporating visits to my constituency, as incentive prizes to salesmen and executives.
We must not make the mistake of dealing with tourism in isolation from other issues. I want briefly to mention two or three of those issues. Continuing and substantial reductions in personal taxation are a major boost to tourism putting more money in people's pockets to spend as they choose. Some, indeed many, are choosing to spend more on their leisure. Improving facilities for leisure and sport is a vital adjunct to the tourism industry. In this area extra help from the Government should be explored along with an increase in partnership schemes between local authorities and the private sector such as we are now planning to adopt in Ryedale. Tourism can help to sustain the rural economy, providing opportunities for farmers to diversify into non-agricultural projects. However, we should be very careful not to presume that all farmers should be expected to join in tourism projects. For the farmer, agriculture will remain the main source of income. At the same time, more could be done to create leisure amenities for visitors and local residents in our rural areas and an example of that is the fine leisure centre created by the Forestry Commission in Dalby forest.
Transport policy also greatly affects tourism. Many visitors to the regions are now taking advantage of the lower coach fares resulting from deregulation and the more competitive attitude that has resulted at British Rail. We must also look to further improvements in our road network. The by-passes at Tadcaster, York and Malton built during the last decade have greatly benefited access to Ryedale. However, other by-pass schemes particularly at Easingwold, are now a priority.
Improved signposting from those major roads is also much needed in Ryedale, not only to the facilities offered in towns and villages that are otherwise passed by, but to important local attractions such as the Flamingoland country park in the vale of Pickering. Flamingoland now attracts more than 1 million visitors a year and employs a workforce of 300 — four times as many as in 1979. They do considerably more than sell ice creams and sweets. I was very pleased to note the priority that my hon. Friend the Minister will give to that issue. I also share the congratulations given to him on his appointment.
The promotion of tourism by prominent local people in public life can be immeasurably beneficial to an area's tourist industry. I hope that in this maiden speech I have shown that I will do everything that I can towards that objective. I very much look forward to promoting Ryedale's interests in other areas in the House in the months and years to come.
§ Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for granting me the opportunity to address the House for the first time. My constituency of Leicester, East was held by the Labour party from 1945 to 1983. Despite the considerable efforts of my predecessor as candidate, Miss Patricia Hewitt, a Conservative Member was returned in 1983. However, after that brief experiment. on 11 June it returned to Labour with one of the largest swings in the country. In fact, the day after the 758 election, the Leicester Mercury — the popular and influential local paper — referred to the city as "Red Leicester", as the whole city voted Labour.
It is a tradition of the House for me to mention my predecessor. It is right for me to say that Mr. Peter Bruinvels, in his own way, made his mark on the House. I understand from the police here that he has left a crossbow and six bolts. I am sure that when he retrieves them he will shoot them in many directions. I wish him well in his chosen career.
Leicester became a city in 1919. In the seven decades since it has become a centre for tourism in the midlands. It is an historic city, with an impressive tradition, and it lies modestly in the centre of England. It boasts a university and a polytechnic, many shopping centres and great roads, such as the Belgrave road and Uppingham road. However, local residents and I will be opposing further extensions of the A46–47 link road.
Leicester has become the focal point for many world religions. In 1926 Saint Martin's church became a cathederal. More recently, Leicester has acquired the Shree Sanatan Mandir, the largest Hindu temple in Europe, the Jam E-mosque in Ashfordby street, two Sikh Gudwaras in East Park road and Meynal road, and many othr places of worship, including Saint Joseph's church on Uppingham road, where I worship. Its religious toleration should be the envy of Britain.
It is possible for the tourist and visitor to Leicester to be greeted in many of the local dialects—"Waheguru ji ka Khalsa"; "Waheguru ji ka Fateh"; "Namaste"; "A Salaam O Alikum", "Kemchho" or the more popular "Hello, me duck."
There are nine local electoral wards in Leicester, East. There are the great housing estates in the middle and outer city areas. These are Northfields, Morton and Tailby in west Humberstone, Rowletts Hill in Coleman, Netherhall in Humberstone, and Thurnby Lodge and Goodwood in Evington. There are the wards of Abbey Rise and St. Marks in the inner city. The wards of Rushey Mead, Latimer, Belgrave and Charnwood comprise the inner city area.
Leicester is a city of immense differences, yet it is a community that is united and fiercely protective of its local heritage. Leicester used to be one of the most prosperous cities in Europe and it still retains a variety of industries. These include hosiery and knitwear, footwear, plastics and light engineering. It is the home of the National Union of Hosiery and Knitwear Workers. There is a host of firms employing hundreds of workers, and some of these firms are household.names. For example, there are Thorn EMI and Corahs-Walkers.
Leicester used to be one of the most prosperous cities in Europe, but, alas, that is no longer the position. The past eight years have taken a heavy toll. Before my entry into Parliament I worked as a community lawyer with the North Leicester advice centre. It is one of two law centres that is funded by the Labour-controlled city council. It is a local recognition of the principle of public legal services, a principle which I intend to raise on future occasions.
At the law centre I came to know a different Leicester; a Leicester that will not be found in the tourist guide. It is a Leiceser in which people are pushed to the margins of society. There are 10,079 people on the housing waiting list. There are 21,000 dwellings that need rewiring, and a similar number are suffering from rising damp. There are 15,000 dwellings that have no inside lavatories and 11,000 759 lack a washhand basin with hot water. Those in Smith houses know only too well what it is like to live in houses that are in need of major repair. Yet the Government have mercilessly cut housing investment moneys for Leicester city council. There has been a reduction of £27,698,000 in real terms since 1979. This condemns thousands of local people to houses that are damp and unfit for habitation. Children are enslaved from birth into conditions of social deprivation. Leicester city council needs £57 million next year for its housing investment programme.
The law centre brought me into contact with some of the 16,000 pensioners who live in Leicester, East who cannot survive on the pittance that they are given and whose consolation and comfort is the work of organisations such as Age Concern and Help the Aged. There are courageous mothers who are trying to set up mother-toddler groups in neighbourhood centres in Coleman, Netherhall and Belgrave. They are doing so without any support and are creating a jumble-sale start for pre-school nursery education, when that should be a right.
I am talking of the Leicester in which 1,146 people have been on the waiting list for operations for more than a year, the Leicester which sees so many families suffering misery and hardship as a result of the implementation of the immigration rules. Husbands and wives, and mothers and children, are divided. I have in mind a mother who came to Britain in September 1986 on a visit, fell in love and married a British citizen. She has been told today to leave the country and abandon her four-week old child. That is happening when we have a Government in office who claim to believe in family values. It is a disgrace.
In my constituency, 5,100 people are out of work. I am sorry to tell the House that the east midlands area has the lowest paid women in England. As I have said, the Leicester of which I speak is not in the tourist guide.
Sixty five years ago the then hon. Member for Battersea, North Mr. Saklatvala, with whom I feel a special bond and who is tied with me through the threads of history, urged the House in his maiden speech on 23 November 1922to burst out of these time-worn prejudices and boldly take a new place".—[Official Report, 23 November 1922; Vol. 159, c. 117.]The passage of time has endorsed the sentiments of Mr. Saklatvala. Only by lighting a new torch of equality and justice can we create a better society, a society and an age based not on privileges but on rights. We must pass to the next generation our passion for justice for young and old, black and white and women and men. We must astonish and dazzle them with our commitment to equality.
I have been sent to the Chamber by the people of Leicester, East to defend their rights, not to take part in a conspiracy to rob them of those rights. Leicester, that great midlands city, will not permit itself to be run from London. Any attempt to strip away the powers of the city will be met by a war of attrition. It is important for hon. Members to realise that the tourist map of Britain, like the democratic map, does not end at junction 9 of the M 1. The Government may wish visitors who come to Britain to visit Leicester to see an example of a colony within the empire of the governor general, the Secretary of State for the Environment. If they do so, they will be in for a great surprise. On 11 June the empire of Leicester struck back. 760 Local democracy and the control by local people of their own communities, based on tolerance and mutual respect, is not the property of this or any other British Government. The people of Leicester, East are determined that the verdict of history will be with them.
§ Mr. David Gilroy Bevan (Birmingham, Yardley)
It is my great pleasure this morning to praise the two maiden speeches that we have just heard. First, we heard my hon. Friend the new Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway), who has joined my colleagues and I on the Conservative Benches. I welcome my hon. Friend and commend him on the excellence of his delivery and the historical travelogue that he provided for us in describing the beautiful land of Ryedale. It is obvious that my hon. Friend will make an excellent contribution to the House. His speech has evidenced that. Part of the poem which he mentioned runs:I wandered lonely as a cloud.I am sure that those sentiments will not be echoed in tourist terms in Ryedale, a constituency which my hon. Friend has commended to us so splendidly.
I wish also to thank and welcome the new hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz), who has outlined to us in terms of erudition and dignity the place that he will occupy in the Chamber as a replacement for probably one of the most active Members that I have encountered. The hon. Gentleman's predecessor, Mr. Peter Bruinvels, has now "retired", but when he entered this place he suggested that it was like a bolt out of the blue. He was most energetic in all his endeavours.
I commend the hon. Member for Leicester, East on his maiden speech. He is welcome here particularly as the first Asian Member or Member of Asian derivation to enter the Chamber for many years. I am certain that he will occupy that position with great dignity and honour.
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Employment has demonstrated by his presentation of facts and figures and his grasp of his brief that in the short time in which he has occupied his new ministerial position he has gained an intimate knowledge of tourism. I am sure that he will do the House great honour as he continues to undertake his responsibilities.
There is a contrast to be drawn between the speech of my hon. Friend the Minister and that of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman). The hon. Gentleman's capabilities are excellent but this morning he was able to present only the best of a weak case. I heard his presentation of the case earlier this morning on Radio 4. He was the first to admit that next year tourism will become the greatest creator of employment in Britain, and he must understand that his exposition of the tourist industry is not defensible if he demands that it pays higher wages than those that are paid in other industries.
My area is known as the Heart of England. I have the honour to declare an interest as an adviser to the Best Western Hotels group of independent hotels which provides admirable accommodation, and as a governor of the Old Course golf hotel and country club at St. Andrews in Scotland. The occupancy rate of hotels in the heart of England, which is 53 per cent., can be increased only if the wage element, the greatest factor in the cost element, is kept at a level that will attract those, from all sections of society, who can afford to stay in hotels. The wage element must grow reasonably, as it is growing reasonably in every other sector.
761 The Minister referred to the £5.4 billion that is earned from overseas tourists. Tourism is the greatest earner of foreign currency in the United Kingdom, even exceeding oil. Furthermore, £7 billion is generated at home from tourists. According to English Tourist Board figures, tourism earned £9 billion in 1984 and £10 billion in 1985 for this country. It is a major contribution to this country's economy. The hon. Member for Huddersfield is wrong to suggest that tourist development has taken place at the expense of industrial development.
§ Mr. Bevan
I shall give way in a moment. I come from what is described as the "Iron heart of England." It has depended traditionally on a strong industrial and commercial economy, but because of the changing pattern of trade and manufacturing throughout the world and the development in third world areas of manufacturing, for which low wages are paid, its traditional economy has contracted and declined. Fortunately, the west midlands has been able to respond to that decline by developing the non-commercial side of industry. My opponent during the election campaign said that this had been at the expense of our traditional industries. He is the chairman of the west midlands enterprise board. I pay tribute to him for some of the excellent work that he has done in the industrial sector. However, he made the mistake of describing tourism as an ice cream and candy floss industry that is counter-productive to the industrial effort. That is not true. The people also believe that it is not true, because they voted for me, preferring my candidature.
Tourism in the west midlands has led to the creation of over 70,000 jobs and to the spending last year, within 25 miles of the Birmingham visitor and convention centre, where a great convention centre is coming into being, of £250 million and of over £500 million throughout the whole of the west midlands. They are tremendous figures which spell another message — that of popularity. The same could be said of this House. Above the Floor of this Chamber from which I speak people from all over the world are sitting and listening to a debate in this great mother of parliaments. It is a great tourist attraction. The message is clear: there is life beyond the factory bench and pure manufacture and commerce. The one industry supports the other. They are complementary.
I share the implied criticism of the hon. Member for Huddersfield of cheap imported goods, particularly those from the far east, for the souvenir trade. That can easily be remedied. The hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) is sitting on the Opposition Benches. I travel frequently around his constituency. I am able to purchase there souvenirs that have been created by native craftsmen. They are very good. In my constituency of Birmingham, Yardley I can also buy souvenirs that have been created by local craftsmen. The Minister will undoubtedly pursue not only his campaign as the scourge of the unhygienic, but also that of promoting the goods of local craftsmen. They are sold in many west midlands craft centres in support of the tourist industry.
There will be a great celebration this weekend at the national exhibition centre in Birmingham. When I was a councillor I had the privilege of helping to found that centre. There will be a Welsh choir celebration there on Saturday night. A thousand Welsh voices will be singing in that choir, the Canoldir choir. The hon. Member for 762 Caernarfon knows that "Canoldir" means the centre of the land. That choir will celebrate the Government's success in promoting tourist activities in my heartland and in other heartlands. Tourism has been a singularly outstanding success, upon which I congratulate the previous Secretary of State and former Minister of State for Employment, as I know that shortly I shall be able to congratulate the Ministers who now hold those appointments.
As chairman of the Back Bench all-party tourist committee, I pay tribute to its members who are here to take part in the debate. They have accompanied me to discussions with Ministers and they have helped me to prepare reports that have been taken into account by previous Secretaries of State. They led to the provision of the brown and white signposts that point to the increasing success of tourism throughout the country. They led also to the provision of training programmes. New jobs now amount to over 50,000 a year. Over 1.5 million people are now employed in this most important sector.
The future is bright for the tourist industry. Local authorities should be able to participate in this development, in partnership with the private sector. For example, in the Phoenix experiment the private sector could provide most of the finance, to which could be added the local authorities' seed bed provision of money. That could lead to the development of inner city projects. If they are all successful and if they are based on the high criteria that the tourist industry requires, they will be excellent for overseas visitors and indigenous alike and will also lead to the refurbishment of heritage buildings in town centres and to the provision of new buildings of great beauty and quality. They will provide equal and great perfection for the native occupier, and the tourist. They will give us an opportunity to offer beautiful cities that are available elsewhere in Europe and North America. They will increase the 14 million tourists who currently visit our shores and contribute to the currency that is refurbishing our purse.
The new community tax will be a useful tool. It will give the local authorities greater flexibility and a greater exchequer drawn from a wider catchment area. It will pump more money into the revenue aspect and add to the £65 million per annum to which the Minister referred. It will help to create the local authority portion of the capital —which will be added to by the private sector—that will help to create those beautiful and useful city centres that will become part of our heritage.
Some of us are proud to serve tourism. My officers and I, at no expense to the public purse and at the request of British Airways and the British Tourist Authority, went to America to give evidence in support of the British tourist trade when it went down to a trickle last year because of the threat of terrorism. That has now been successfully thwarted in this country and allows a safe venue for the many returning American visitors. I had the honour to give evidence to Congress. We were able to express and enumerate the wealth of heritage that is available for foreign tourists and to stress the aspect of safety. We were able to point out the warmth of welcome that our people show and the many talents and skills used to create a marvellous tourist provision after the regrettable decline of some of the industrial wealth, might and productivity of older days.
There is now a thrilling and excellent provision of facilities for tourists that the Government have successfully brought about in partnership with the people 763 and local authorities and which will be provided even more successfully in the immediate future in partnership with public bodies and private enterprise.
§ Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)
I make no apology for opening my remarks by reporting the views of two very different people. The first is the view expressed by Sir John Harvey-Jones, the then chairman of ICI and now Chancellor of Bradford university. He expressed this view at the Richard Dimbleby lecture in 1986. He said:It is often suggested that tourism offers salvation. It is equally clear that this cannot be. Those of us who love and enjoy holidays in our small country know that there are practical limits. We are also enthusiatic travellers ourselves and spend about the same abroad as tourists do in the UK. In fact, tourism's contribution to the balance of payments is only slightly positive. ICI's is positive to the tune of nearly £2,000 million a year—so if we go under you will need to entertain at least another 6 million tourists each year, that is 40 per cent. more than we now entertain, just to make up for the loss of my company. In any case, if we imagine the UK can get by with a bunch of people in smocks showing tourists around mediaeval castles we are quite frankly out of our minds. What's more, if that's the sort of future we offer our young, we shan't find them staying here to enjoy it.The second view is that expressed by Lord Young, the Government's shiny new Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, in one of the earliest interviews he gave on being appointed. In The Observer on 21 June he said:When it comes to employment, all the evidence points to manufacturing as a shedder of labour. Manufacturing industry has been losing 10,000 jobs a month since 1966 and will carry on at that rate until the end of the first quarter of the next century.I ask the House to dwell on those views. He said that 10,000 jobs a month have been lost since 1966 and believes that that will carry on until the end of the first quarter of the next century. Therefore, all hon. Members should be grappling with the realities of the future of our society.
In opening the debate the Minister — I understand completely that he is a new spokesman on these matters — said that Bradford, which I have the honour to represent, had put itself on the tourist map. Indeed, it has. It has made considerable efforts. However, I have to say that we recognise clearly that our salvation does not rely on tourism. We recognise that if we are to combat the very real social and economic problems facing us we have to create jobs and re-establish a manufacturing base in our city. That is necessary if we are to have a sustained future that offers security and well paid jobs to the majority of those who are now desperately looking for employment in our city.
I have to tell the Minister that later this month Bradford will be making an important application to the Government asking for Government support for a major package that will consist of £215 million over a five-year period. The council is proposing to contribute £36 million to that package with the remainder coming from the Government through support from the European social fund and the regional development fund. In that package we are aiming to improve the infrastructure of our city because we believe that that is crucial if we are to promote tourism, regenerate our local economy and revive the manufacturing base that we so desperately need in Bradford.
The Government's record on inner cities is one of the continuing neglect and increasing hostility. We can see 764 that very vividly in Bradford. We have been robbed of £70 million since 1979 through the loss of rate support grant. We have seen our investment in housing and education cut savagely. Everything said by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) is echoed in my city. This afternoon the council's housing committee will be discussing a major problem facing the Lower Grange estate where several hundred houses have to be demolished because of serious defects that have been discovered and where new building has to take place. That will be impossible without major support from the Government. That is the sort of problem that comes before us each and every ay and it cannot be ignored. I am sad to say that the Government have been ignoring such problems for a long time. They have imposed enormous burdens on local authorities and over the past eight years those burdens have made it more difficult for local authorities in inner cities to tackle those problems.
Having turned her back on the inner cities and having made it extremely difficult for inner city councils to reverse inner city decay, the Prime Minister has now turned again on Labour-controlled councils. She saw the Tory party rejected decisively in the inner cities at the general election, but now she is blaming Labour-controlled councils for high unemployment, crumbling schools, bad housing and the decaying environment which wracks our inner cities. She is trying to make out that Labour councils are responsible for the neglect and decay and to make them the scapegoats for the failure of her policies. The blame for the worsening plight of the inner cities lies with the Prime Minister and the Government's policies of the past eight years.
The Prime Minister has now set up a team of Ministers to tackle inner city problems, but she is eight years too late. She has spent more time in Moscow than in Bradford. Bradford has been left off the list of the task force inner city areas and it is now revealed that the cities that have been receiving some modest extra assistance have not even fully spent those limited funds. It is extremely hard, even for Ministers, to find any new, real jobs which have been created as a result of the task force initiative.
Prince Charles has spent more time and made more effort to discover the problems of our inner cities and to suggest solutions to them than the Prime Minister. He displays genuine concern and compassion about unemployment, poverty and the social divisions and tensions that are bred by poverty, social disadvantage and social deprivation. The Prime Minister should listen to him, the churches, the local authorities, the local communities and the Members of Parliament who represent inner cities. If she was prepared to listen—this Prime Minister finds listening the most difficult of all the tasks she is required to do—she would discover the problems of the inner cities and some solutions to them.
Rather than embroiling Prince Charles in a public and embarrassing constitutional argument and making suggestions that it is acceptable for him to interest himself in inner city problems so long as he does not take political initiatives——
§ Mr. Gregory
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Am I correct in thinking that the debate is about tourism? In over five minutes, I do not seem to have heard one mention of any aspect of tourism. I seek your guidance.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)
The debate is about tourism, but it arises on an Adjournment motion 765 and it is traditional in those circumstances to allow a fairly wide-ranging debate. However, I am sure that the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) will bear in mind that tourism is the subject.
§ Mr. Madden
I am sure that you will know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that today Downing street was briefing the press that the Prime Minister and the Government were willing to tolerate Prince Charles taking an interest in the inner cities so long as he did not take what are described as political initiatives. If inner city problems are to be dealt with, political initiatives are vital. I hope that the Prince will not be deterred in any way by the Government encouraging increasing political attacks from continuing the important work that he has undertaken in recent years.
I remind the hon. Member for York (Mr. Gregory) that Bradford is an important tourist centre and has been doing a great deal to promote tourism. But there is no way in which that will solve our problems, particularly our unemployment. There is no way that we can talk solely about one aspect of life in our inner cities and ignore the rest. That has been the folly of the Government's approach to tourism and the development of their policies.
The inner cities do not need any more gimmicks or token gestures; they need understanding, help and long-term planning to enable people to have confidence in long-term funding and the development of important projects. Tourism is important to Bradford and Bradford welcomes visitors. It wants to improve its image and the general conditions in which its citizens live and work. In that way, visitors can enjoy there visits to Bradford and other parts of Yorkshire and will be eager to return.
One of our most important needs is an improved rail service. I have urged the Prime Minister——
§ Mr. Bevan
I am glad that Bradford welcomes visitors. Surely the hon. Gentleman will welcome the establishment of the national photographic museum in that marvellous city and admit that it was the result of the Government's enterprise in supporting tourist ventures? It has attracted millions of visitors to Bradford and brought in a substantial amount of income. Does he agree that that ranks as an important inner city development?
§ Mr. Madden
I certainly do and further important developments include the Alhambra theatre and St. George's hall. But at the same time, I would argue that the promotion of tourism would have been much more effective if the Government had provided more support and understanding. Certainly our social and economic problems would not be as serious as they are today if we had had more support, understanding and financial assistance from the Government than we have had over the past eight years.
In the past I urged the Prime Minister to meet deputations from Bradford to discuss our problems, but my requests were rejected. I urged her to visit Bradford, but she did not see fit to do so apart from some fleeting, secret and rushed visits. I now urge her and Lord Young to come to Bradford by train. They would find that the train from London to Leeds often has a power failure and arrives late. That is the experience of many of us. On arrival, they would have to discover from which platform the Bradford train departed. They would often find that that involved dashing around several platforms, through tunnels upstairs. That is no joke when carrying suitcases. They would often find difficulty getting a seat. The trains 766 are usually grossly overcrowded, dirty and extremely slow. The service has been rightly described as providing cattle-truck conditions.
§ Mr. Madden
I would even extend the invitation to travel to Bradford by train to the Minister. Indeed, I wish he would. Next Wednesday I shall be one of a deputation meeting the chairman of British Rail to urge the electrification of the line between Bradford and Leeds. That is absolutely crucial to the promotion of tourism and the regeneration of our local economy, to combat high unemployment and to create growth in local industry. If the Minister does not understand that, we shall have to use great persuasion to convince him of the importance of good, modern, efficient rail links. We need them if we are to face the year 2000 with confidence.
I hope that we shall have the assistance of the Minister, the Prime Minister and Lord Young in persuading the chairman of British Rail that it is worth investing in the electrification of that line. We recognise that our rail service today is markedly worse than it was 30 years ago. Recently, Bradford has been removed from the pocket timetable; our telephone inquiry service has been moved to Leeds; and our limited InterCity services have been reduced only within the past few weeks. Bradford's railway service is rapidly turning into that of a branch line. Without that electrification there will be major obstacles to the promotion of tourism in Bradford. I hope that the Minister understands that and will give us his full-hearted assistance in persuading the chairman of British Rail to invest in electrification between Bradford and Leeds.
If we are to overcome our problems, we need co-operation and not hostility from the Government. We need Government attention, Government understanding and Government financial support. Most of all we need Government assistance. Recently, Bradford launched the "Bradford is bouncing back" campaign. That was based on the "Glasgow is best" campaign. We are desperately trying to improve the image of the city and to encourage: visitors with the hope that they will come back again.—[Interruption.] Despite the sniggers of some Conservative Members, it is no good trying to sweep away the problems of our cities with glossy gimmicks. We cannot, nor do we wish to conceal those problems. We want to see real understanding and support from the Government.
I appreciate that the Minister is still in the early days of his appointment. I hope that he Minister, bearing in mind his exercise with combs and brushes, will come to Bradford. We are not in need of that type of attention. but we are in desperate need of the Government's listening ear. We need the Government to listen to our problems as well as to listen to the ideas that we have to overcome those problems.
Bradford believes in self-help. Indeed, as the Minister said at the beginning of the debate, we have done much of the work to put ourselves on the tourist map despite the Government and in spite of the Government. However, now we are coming to the Government to say that we need specific help for specific projects. I hope that, as a result of this debate and other things that are taking place in 767 other places, we will get that help because Bradford desperately needs it if we are to bounce back in the way that we want.
§ Mr. Rupert Allason (Torbay)
As the newly-elected Member for Torbay, I believe that there are two ways in which to approach the difficulties faced both in the inner cities and in other areas of the country. One is by efficiency and promoting ourselves in the best possible way. I believe that the way that my election result was announced—the first of the election night — was an example of efficiency and a good way in which to promote a particular town.
This morning we have heard a great deal about the problems of Bradford, and I am not sure that that is necessarily the best way of attracting visitors to that town. We are efficient in Torbay, but there is also a great deal of room for improvement and for the types of partnership that have been described today. In my constituency I have a large historical building, Cockington Court, which has been owned by the borough council for many years. It is now rather rundown and in the past it has been used as an ice cream factory. In due course I shall be visiting my hon. Friend the Minister, because there are great plans to turn Cockington Court into a centre of rural crafts and skills. I hope that that development will represent an example of partnership between the local authority and the local community, aided by some Government sponsorship.
I believe that this debate has got slightly off the subject of tourism, so I should like to draw the attention of the House to one or two items in the Gracious Speech that will be of great help to tourism. First, the proposed reform of the licensing laws—I regard that reform as long overdue — is likely to improve the full-time employment prospects of some 50,000 people, and that is welcome.
There is a second part to the reform of the licensing legislation that will be important and significant. For some years I pounded the beat not very far from here as a police officer in the Metropolitan police special constabulary. There were two ways in which to apprehend and fight crime. One was the type of crime to which one would get called over the personal radio. The second type of crime was thoroughly predictable and occurred at about a quarter to eleven every night—alcohol-related crime. I believe that the reform of licensing legislation will improve the conditions for police officers and, in particular, those police officers who are regularly called to disturbances when public houses are emptied at exactly the same time every night. I welcome the proposed reform contained in the Gracious Speech.
The other reform which I have no doubt will be subject to considerable debate, and which, also has an important impact on tourism, is the proposed community charge. Some aspects of the communiity charge will no doubt be controversial and I should like to draw attention to the rather subtle change that is taking place in the character of many of our centres of tourism. If someone owns a hotel, he pays business rates. However, the moment that person changes the hotel establishment into a rest home, he is excluded from paying rates. Indeed, there are many advantages to running a rest home. I am not knocking the rest home industry, because it is extremely important. It 768 is a non-seasonal employer and rest homes have residents for 12 months of the year, but the change has the unfortunate consequence that each hotel that turns itself into a rest home places an added burden on the rest of the community who are paying rates. One aspect of the community charge that has not been fully recognised, but which I welcome, is that the charge will be spread much wider throughout the community. Residents of rest homes will not pay the community charge, but the proposed changes will mean a reduced burden on the over-pressed ratepayer.
I believe that the future of tourism in Britain depends on the use of our imagination. We have tremendous opportunities and I believe that the emphasis should not just be on knocking and complaining, but should be on taking advantage of our many opportunities. This morning I heard one remark that related, somewhat disparagingly, to a "Mickey Mouse" enterprise. Anyone who has been to Disneyworld in Florida can see exactly how a community has grasped an opportunity and has made the most of it. That development provides a tremendous amount of employment and has attracted visitors not just to the particular town but to the entire state of Florida.
We have heard that tourism will not be a substitute for manufacturing and heavy industry, but in some cases it must be a substitute. I cite the town of Corby in Northamptonshire, as an example. Until 1979 I was the candidate for Corby. The steelworks in that town were closed down virtually overnight, with 6,500 people made redundant. That town became the microcosm of many of the inner-city problems that we face. It is remarkable that Corby has now been chosen as the centre for a possible theme park. That theme park will provide an enormous amount of full-time employment. Surely it is such initiative that we should welcome.
The future is in tourism. It has been pointed out that tourism is now the largest earner of foreign income for this country, and that must be welcome. What is the future? I believe that towns, including Bradford, and including those towns with an established tourist background, such as the Georgian city of Bath, and Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford, will capitalise on those links that will attract visitors from all over the world.
Torquay's links with Agatha Christie — another distinguished author — and Brunel have not been sufficiently recognised, and we intend to promote Torquay as a centre, not just for people who are interested in literature and have followed the books of Agatha Christie, but for those who are interested in Brunel and his background. Those will be important developments and we must take advantage of such opportunities.
I feel that I would disappoint the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) if I did not include in my maiden speech a brief reference to his obsession. Many of my constituents worked in the Security Service for a long time and have retired to Torquay, where they play an active role in the community. I pay particular tribute to a member of MI5, Jim Skardon, who died recently. His work and achievements over the years have not been recognised. I make those final remarks for the benefit of the hon. Member for Workington, who, sad to say, is not present.
§ Mr. Ronnie Fearn (Southport)
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to make my maiden speech in this interesting debate. My predecessor as the hon. Member for Southport, Sir Ian Percival, retired after meritorious service to the House. Although I could never agree with his efforts to bring back capital punishment, his work in the House, especially as Solicitor-General, and in the constituency will be well remembered and I wish him and his charming wife a happy retirement.
For 63 years our beautiful seaside resort of Southport, which is now firmly on the map, had Conservative Members. One of the reasons why thoughtful voters—I use the word "thoughtful" rather guardedly—voted for me was the fact that I have long fought for a better deal for tourism, not only in Southport but throughout Britain.
Many holiday towns and resorts have been starved of the grant aid that is needed to help set up new hotels, shopping facilities and attractions that provide employment. They have suffered as a consequence. For instance, in Southport unemployment among the young remains at the unacceptable level of 17.8 per cent.
The lack of further aid for the tourist industry.which brought in £12.5 billion from British and overseas visitors last year alone has been pointed out by the English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland tourist boards in all their recent protestations.
Southport, with its population of 100,000, can be taken as an example of private enterprise and local government working closely together, but it is a strained relationship, and cuts in facilities over the years have hampered the tourist industry of the region. Southport, with its excellent conference and shopping facilities, 12 miles of beach, world famous flower show and five national and international golf courses, including Royal Birkdale, attracts many thousands of visitors to the north west of England each year, but help is needed for us to continue, expand and thrive.
Tourism is a major industry, employing 1.5 million people full time, but cries for help are ignored, with the result that employers have to employ part-timers or young people on low wages. I have fought hard against the low-wage structure in the holiday industry and I shall ask the Government to investigate further the abysmal wage structures where the gross average full-time weekly pay is only £83.
The Government are only scratching the surface of advancement when they establish development corporations such as the one on Merseyside, which fringes Southport. Those corporations do a fine job, as is instanced by the Albert dock in Liverpool, but those are only one-off schemes and are not what the regional tourist industry needs at the moment.
We heard in the Queen's Speech that sewerage is to be privatised. What an appalling situation now faces our seaside resorts. The EEC recommendations on standards of bathing waters have not yet been accepted by the Government, with the result that many of our beaches are now among the worst protected in Europe. I shudder to think what might happen if standards drop even further because of privatisation.
The life blood of tourism is a satisfactory understanding, especially between European countries, of currency standards, and I was disappointed that nothing in the 770 Queen's Speech committed the Government to full membership of the European monetary system—a move which could only help exchange rates in the tourist trade.
I know that European regional development fund grants are available for tourism. According to the paper "Finance from Europe", the grants are for industrial, tourist or service activities and the fund may contribute 20 per cent. of investment costs. In some cases aid may not exceed half that granted by the Government. The fund's contribution is also limited by the number of jobs created or preserved. However, under the British practice all EEC grants go to the Government to defray the costs of Government grants, so that firms do not benefit directly from the EEC contribution. I should welcome a reversal of the system so that firms could benefit directly.
It is pleasing to note that there is increased interest in the regional development and reintroduction of transport links to the traditional resorts in the United Kingdom. However, greater emphasis must be placed on this subject and particularly on extending spurs from motorway systems to the resorts and tackling bottlenecks such as that at Ormskirk on the way to Southport.
Another issue that could easily be tackled is a minor adjustment of motorway signposting of resorts. It would be simple to add a few extra words than those allowed to advertise various attractions and I am assured that that would be financed by the resorts—self help.
Restored rail links to replace those irresponsibly axed by a previous Minister are being considered and if the Burscough Curves rail extension is allwed it will open up the northern gateway to Southport and allow our many Scottish visitors to visit the town with much less difficulty.
The national tourist boards are introducing the new "crown classification" for holiday accommodation. It will take some years to implement and one must ask whether a registration system for all accommodation should not be the rule. That would surely upgrade accommodation and encourage tourists to return to the British holiday market.
Having been a councillor for about 20 years, I have repeatedly stated that local authorities should be encouraged to develop tourism strategies. Some, such as Southport, are already doing so, but should not the incentive of financial benefits be offered to those who are producing long-term strategies? For example, there is no help to the private sector which helps to sell British resorts. There is also a need for funding for the special restoration of our Victorian assets, such as Southport's pier, which is the second longest in the country and is a landmark which is remarkably popular with traditionalists and visitors.
Tourism is an industry that should be given the funding that it so rightly deserves, and I hope that my request to Ministers on that subject will receive a sympathetic hearing leading to action and future prosperity for resorts that are now striving to help the nation's economy. If helped, they can create many more thousands of jobs.
A few days ago I noted that the Secretary of State for Employment stated that he planned to take an extremely close and personal interest in the tourist industry. He also said that he will consider what contribution the Government can make. I ask that that consideration and contribution will be shown not only to this great capital city but to the regions—especially the north-west and Southport.
I have noticed that most hon. Members always invite the right hon. Lady the Prime Minister, or one of her Ministers, to visit their city or town to see at first hand the 771 problems there. No one seems to invite you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so I extend to you an open invitation to see an active resort that is working well, but needing further resources. Come to Southport; see its beauty; dine on the fare from our oldest and world-famous shrimp industry. The invitation is yours, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
§ Mr. James Kilfedder (North, Down)
It gives me great pleasure to congratulate the two hon. Gentlemen who preceded me in the debate. The first was the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason), whose father served in this House and was here when I was a new hon. Member. Of course, we know the hon. Member by another name—Nigel West — but I am sure that he and the hon. Member for Southport (Mr. Fearn) will enjoy themselves in the House. I was impressed by their speeches, sincerity and eloquence, and I hope that they will retain their freshness through all the years for which they remain in the House. I hope that it will still be with them when they reach the Front Benches, or become cantankerous Back-Benchers.
A debate about terrorism — no wonder I mention terrorism, having spoken about the hon. Member for Torbay—a debate about tourism would not be complete without reference to Northern Ireland. There is always an immediate reaction when one speaks about normal happenings in that part of the United Kingdom. The question is asked: "Can there be tourism in a country that has been wracked by terrorism for the past 18 years?" People ask whether anyone would even consider going to Ulster, which is plagued by such an appalling media image. The answer, of course, is quite simple. It has been provided by the considerable number of discerning people — I emphasise that adjective—who visit Northern Ireland every year from every part of the world. They come from England, Scotland, Wales, the Republic of Ireland, America, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The answer to the question of tourism there, can be found in the glowing accounts that they give of their visits, which effectively rebut the television and press picture of Northern Ireland.
They all start their visits with a degree of trepidation, but before long they are charmed by the land and people, and it is a matter of deep regret to me that the only picture ever presented of Northern Ireland is one of doom, gloom, bloodshed and strife. Most of the people who visit Northern Ireland hear only of the actions of terrorism on the radio in the morning or when reading the papers during the day. The people of Northern Ireland deserve the sustained support of every hon. Member and of everyone in the rest of the United Kingdom.
The highest praise should go to all who are involved in tourism there. I mention only a few: the chairman of the Northern Ireland tourist board, Sir John Swinson; the chief executive of the tourist board, Shane Belfort; The officials in the Department of Economic Development who deal with tourism in Northern Ireland and consider the giving of grants to aid tourism; and, especially, all those who are involved in the hotel, catering industries, boarding houses and restaurants, and all those who are connected in any way with visitors to Northern Ireland.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, you had an invitation from the hon. Member for Southport to visit his lovely 772 constituency. May I give you another invitation: to come to Northern Ireland? I invite every hon. Member to come to Northern Ireland, not only to see the trouble that is afoot there, but to see the wonderful, beautiful places and marvellous people. If they only saw those things, hon. Members would realise and appreciate why Ulster men and women are so militant about the land of their birth. It is a place that they prize highly, as well as prizing the fact that they are part of the United Kingdom. If hon. Members go there they will discover the characteristics of Ulster people, who are generous. I know that whenever there is an international appeal, Ulster people give more per head of the population than those in any other part of the United Kingdom. And that in a land that suffers from tremendous unemployment. They should be praised for that. Ulster people are generous, humourous and kind-hearted. Hon. Members who come to Northern Ireland will discover that there is a magic and beauty in the land of Ulster that they may not find in the rest of the United Kingdom.
The Department of Economic Development issued a guideline statement two years ago which contained the objective of an 8 per cent. growth per year in tourism, making a total of 170,000 holiday visitors by 1990. That is not a great number compared with the number of people who visit the rest of the United Kingdom and London. More should be done by the English, Welsh and Scottish tourist boards to guide people over to Northern Ireland. Let them see what Northern Ireland is like, so that by coming there and spending their money they can help the economy of Northern Ireland. The projected figure of 170,000 visitors—by visitors I mean real visitors, not those who come for reasons such as visiting relatives or friends, or on business—would help the tourist earnings in Northern Ireland and bring in about £95 million. An additional 300 permanent jobs would be provided in the industry, and that is all-important in Northern Ireland.
In 1985 a total of 63,000 visitors came from the United States and Canada and, in the same year, 21,000 came from Great Britain — mainly from Scotland and the north of England. We must increase those figures substantially. At present, only 9,000 people are involved in tourism. Tourism in Northern Ireland has tremendous potential for expansion and can make a great contribution to the creation of new jobs in the province. We need to encourage British tour operators. That is why I make this appeal to the Government and to hon. Members to persuade British tour operators, who are currently promoting go-as-you-please vouchers and holidays to the Irish Republic, to include Northern Ireland in their programme for 1988. National coach tour operators should include at least one night's stay in Ulster as part of a Scotland-Ireland touring package. Hon. Members can assist by telling any tourist agency in which they are involved directly or indirectly to recommend Northern Ireland as a place worth seeing.
I appeal to the media, and especially to television, to present the other side of Northern Ireland. It is a realistic and attractive destination for general touring and for special interest holidays. Those special interests include angling—we attract anglers from all parts of Europe to competitions in Northern Ireland — golf, cruising, yachting, bowling, the arts and many others.
As we enter a new era in the history of Northern Ireland, it is essential for us to endeavour to rebuild the Province by tackling the scourge of unemployment.
773 Tourism can help to promote jobs, especially for the young, who are robbed of their zeal and idealism when they leave school and face life largely on the dole. Tourism can help the Ulster economy, and that is why I ask the Government and Parliament to give a boost to Northern Ireland. I ask them to lead the way.
Tourism can help the Ulster people in another way—by showing up the common origins of the people who live in Northern Ireland. For some strange reason which I have never fully understood, all Ulster Loyalists are supposed to have come to Northern Ireland at the time of the plantation by James I. Of course, that is not so. The first people to land in the island of Ireland came from Scotland. They landed on the north-east shore of Ireland — in present-day Ulster — about 7000 BC, and people have been travelling to and fro ever since. The famous kingdom of Dalriada was established in part of Scotland and part of Northern Ireland. It is clear from myth and early history that the people and kings of Ulster were for ever fighting the people of the rest of the island of Ireland. That is part of the tradition, and it can be seen in every story told about those distant days.
I wish to emphasise that we in Northern Ireland have a common heritage which today presents unique places of interest to be visited by tourists from Great Britain and abroad. There is the famous Navan fort, which, fortunately, was protected from those who were trying to dig up more stone in the vicinity. It is a remnant of the palace of the Ulster kings going back to pagan times—before Christianity and before the divisions of Christianity. The stone idols which stand on an island in the lakes of Fermanagh were worshipped long before Christianity came to the Province. Perhaps the idols have a message for Northern Ireland. Although they have one body, they have two faces. That duplication is repeated in Castle Ward, which was built in 1765 by Lord Bangor. He and his wife could not agree about the facade on the building. Lord Bangor preferred the classical style while his wife wanted a Strawberry Hill gothic facade. They settled their argument by building the front and the back in different styles, and Lord and Lady Bangor lived in peace thereafter. I do not know whether there is a message in that for Northern Ireland, but I believe that people can belong to different bodies and still live in peace together, even though they may have different aspirations.
Before I finish, I wish to mention some of the amenities offered in Northern Ireland. The seaside resorts include Bangor in my constituency, which was the centre of learning in Europe while England and the rest of Europe were in the Dark Ages. It was a centre of learning long before the city of Dublin was established. We have the mountains of Mourne, the sensational Antrim coast, the moors and mountains of Sperrin, the magnificence of Strangford lough with its wildlife, the rivers and lakes of Fermanagh and the many other rivers which are heavy with trout and salmon, and Lough Erne, which has claimed many world coarse angling match records.
The land of Ulster is steeped in history and colour and it is a place well worth visiting. There is tourist accommodation to suit every pocket. People travel from distant lands to Northern Ireland. The roads and transport systems are as good as in any other part of the United Kingdom, and certainly better than in the Irish Republic, and there are amenities for the specialist tourist as well as for the entire family. That is why, Mr. Deputy 774 Speaker, I urge you and my colleagues in the House to visit Northern Ireland. Then they would realise why Ulster has a very special place in the hearts of its people.
§ 12.5 pm
§ Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon)
I am glad to follow my friend from Ulster, the hon. Member for North Down (Mr. Kilfedder). There is a danger of the debate turning into a series of descriptions of our constituencies and advertisements for the tourist trade in them. I could compete well with all hon. Members, since I represent Snowdonia, the Menai straits, the Lleyn peninsula, the villages of Abersoch, Aberdaron, Nefyn and Criccieth and also Aberglaslyn pass and Beddgelert, but I shall try to restrict myself to the issues that the Government should be facing rather than extending general invitations, which none the less I do.
I apologise for the fact that I may have to leave before the end of the debate because of some of the difficulties of travelling in the United Kingdom.
I congratulate those who have made their maiden speeches today. We have had four excellent maiden speeches, from the hon. Members for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway), for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz), for Torbay (Mr. Allason) and for Southport (Mr. Fearn). I was especially interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Ryedale, who made some of the points relevant to the tourist industry very graphically. There must be sensitivity in the development of tourism to ensure that it develops in harmony with the local community. It can grow happily, but if it develops in other ways it can create unnecessary tensions. That must be fundamental to our thinking and to our approach.
Tourism is very important to Wales. The industry employs about 90,000 people—8 per cent. of the work force in Wales — which compares with about 15,000 workers in the coal and steel industries respectively. That puts matters into context. However, many of the jobs are part-time and many are seasonal. Whatever other hon. Members may say, many are low-paid jobs. In many areas the only person working in a family may be a youngster aged 16 or 17, and if he or she is earning only £40 to £50 a week, it is not much on which to live.
§ Mr. Lee
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that Department of Employment surveys show that the vast majority of people in part-time employment want exactly that because it fits their lifestyles and family commitments? Of course many people want permanent full-time work, but many of those in part-time jobs want just that.
§ Mr. Wigley
I accept that that is the case, but many people in part-time employment would like full-time employment. Often, because of the over-supply of those wanting part-time employment, employers can exploit people and get them to work for fairly low rates. I am more worried about the seasonal aspect, which is a problem in an area such as mine. The tourist season in London seems to run from March until October or November, as we all see as we try to move round the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster, but in my area the season lasts for only two months. The seasonality of employment opportunities can be a great problem, and so, too, can the uneconomic use of capital investment. If one has any facility running at 200 per cent. capacity for two months and 10 per cent. capacity 775 for the rest of the year, that begs questions about effective economic use. The capital investment has to justify itself over a limited period. That then leads to problems.
We are debating tourism a couple of months after the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs published and presented its report to the House of Commons. I think that it is in order for me to refer to it, although it is not the main subject of our debate. We shall have a detailed debate on the report in due course, when the Welsh Office has responded to the recommendations. It is an important report, and I hope that in responding to it the Government will also respond to the alternative report, of which the former Member for Carmarthen, Dr. Roger Thomas and I were the authors. The Wales tourist board has drawn attention to the fact that many of the points in the alternative report need a response from the Government. Some county councils in Wales have also said that, so I hope that the Minister of State, Welsh Office will take that on board.
I strongly support some of the comments made by the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman), who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench. He referred to the need for a partnership between public and private investment in tourism. I appreciate that a large number of individual concerns are wholly private enterprises, as the Minister said, but they also need interplay and interdependence with public funds. An example is infrastructure for tourism. Often that has to be provided by the public sector—often only by the public sector. Another example is the strategy for the development of tourism. There has to be a public involvement there. With regard to pump-priming finance, even small concerns can get off the ground much more easily if there is pump priming from the public sector. Also, there is a public sector role in the co-ordination and promotion of the development of tourism. Therefore, there is a need for that partnership between public and private sectors, at not only central, but local, level.
I strongly support the concept of the community approach to tourism mentioned by the hon. Member for Huddersfield and by my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale. It must be central to our thinking, particularly in the rural and scattered areas. In a metropolis such as London it may be more difficult to develop that in the same way, but in the more rural areas it is an essential feature.
I should like to refer to some comments in the Minister's speech. I mentioned private sector enterprise and low pay. I am not convinced that the change in the licensing laws will be a panacea that will open up thousands of new jobs. It may be, but will people who come on holiday spend more of their money on alcoholic drink? If they do, they will have less to spend on other things. I can see that there is an argument about people's personal freedom and how they spend their time, but I am not convinced that the change will lead to thousands of new jobs. Time will tell, and it will be interesting to see how that develops.
I welcome the Minister's comments on the need for the tourist industry to have regard to the needs of disabled people. He highlighted the need for greater training and the three S's—spotless, signposting and service. I expect that we all support them.
776 Both the main report and alternative report from the Select Committee highlighted four or five items as needing attention from the Government. The first is the need for the Wales tourist board to retain its presence and existence, contrary to the recommendations by the Select Committee on Trade and Industry, about which we are worried. There is also a need to give the board marketing powers overseas, which the Scottish tourist board has and is using effectively in North America. It is getting good value for money.
Overseas tourism in Wales is much lower than it should be as a proportion of overseas tourists coming to the United Kingdom. Only 4 per cent. come to Wales, which is a disturbingly low proportion, particularly in view of the importance of overseas tourism in terms of revenue. Overseas visitors will probably spend £120 or £140 per visit, compared with only £40 spent by the domestic visitor. Therefore, there is an economic benefit. It comes from the nature of the visitors' stay. It has been shown that 51 per cent. of overseas visitors stay in hotels or bed-and-breakfast accommodation, compared with only 17 per cent. of domestic visitors to Wales. Of domestic visitors, some 53 per cent. stay in caravans or tents, which usually leads to a lower input into the economy and sustains fewer permanent jobs than would be the case if they stayed in hotels and bed-and-breakfast accommodation. Therefore, there is a need for us to develop the overseas dimension. The Government should apply themselves to that.
Both reports stress the need for local authorities to have a greater involvement in co-ordinating tourist development, particularly in regard to education. In our education system in Wales there is a need for a greater emphasis on skills that are relevant to tourism, which the Minister mentioned. There is also a need for greater resources to be given to tourism, as I mentioned in an intervention. There is a stark contrast between the money that goes into other sectors of the economy and that which goes into tourism. For a few thousand pounds more per job in developing tourism one could create many more jobs than in some of the other sectors where investment goes.
According to both Select Committee reports, there should be a statutory registration scheme for tourist accommodation in Wales. In some parts of Wales we depend on airports such as Manchester, as well as Cardiff. We should develop overseas flights that fly into one airport and out of another. I think that the term used in the trade is the open jaw approach. It needs to be encouraged as much as possible.
There is also a need for change in the rules in section 4 of the Development of Tourism Act 1969 in regard to additionality. At the moment the Wales tourist board is restricted to being a lender of last resort. It would like to take the initiative more often. It would like to be an instigator rather than just the last resort. It would like to have a more active role. There needs to be a change in the legislation so that that can be done.
In our alternative report there is one theme which I should like to stress again and which I mentioned earlier. This is the interface between the local communitiy and tourism. Tourism can have a major impact on a community. It can cause stresses. If one is stuck in a traffic jam for hours behind a caravan, one starts to get a little annoyed. Another example is if one's local pub is taken over by hordes of visitors. There is a positive and a negative side. That was brought out graphically in a book 777 published some 10 or 15 years ago by the former Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young), called "Tourism — Blessing or Blight". There is tension, and therefore one needs to develop tourism hand in hand with the needs and aspirations of the local community.
The local community has to feel part of that development. The people have to feel involved and that they are not under threat from the growth of tourism. That is not just in social and cultural terms, but in environmental terms also. If one gets the balance right, tourism can grow in a healthy manner. If one gets it wrong, one creates tension. The Minister of State, Welsh Office, who is present at the moment, is aware of the tensions that can occur at times. The need for a holistic approach to the developmet of tourism and an approach that is geared to the local community is fundamental.
We need to ensure that new projects are developed hand in hand with the local community. There could be positive ways of doing that. When public money is going into tourism, questions should be asked about the maximisation of local employment, which is of prime importance to the local community, the maximisation of the purchasing of supplies from within the local community, and making facilities developed for tourism also available to the local community. One could put conditions on grant availability to require as many of those things as possible. That would help to ensure that the local community identifies its own wellbeing with the development of such projects.
Projects should also be developed in a way that strengthens the fabric of the community. That can be done particularly if people in schools have the opportunity to develop skills and to make them available for the jobs that are coming in the tourist industry.
The Wales Tourist Board needs to be able to help people who set up in small-scale tourist industries. We need the appointment of a person, perhaps called a community tourist development officer for Wales, so that the people employed by the tourist board are not all in the main bureaucratic headquarters. We need people who are at the grass roots of the communities, and perhaps we could even see the designation of tourism development villages, with people designated to promote that sort of work. Such schemes could be geared to trying to bring local people out to take the initiative of becoming involved in the tourist industry. There is a real challenge there. I should also like to see some EC money being invested. I think that applications have been made for such money and I hope that the EC will support that sort of initiative.
I should like to turn to another heading in our alternative report — the matter of the image that is projected of Wales. This is a special problem for Wales. There are not many Scottish Members here today. Perhaps it is a problem for Northern Ireland Members as well, to judge from the speech by the hon. Member for North Down. Wales does not have as clear an image as Scotland, and we need to work hard on that. Very often there is an idea that Wales has simply coal and steel industries, with a sort of rundown industrial past — a "how green was my valley and how grey it is now" approach. That is not good enough and we need to approach the matter of an image in a coherent manner and project the cultural and environmental angles in a strong way.
We also need to project the image of the famous people that we have had and have now in various realms. They 778 can be ambassadors for getting across an image of Wales. The Welsh tourist industry needs to be aware of the image projected so that the reality seen by people when they come to stay in Wales corresponds to the image. There is no point in having the reality of a second-rate Blackpool when we are trying to project something else abroad. There must be coherence in the image and the Welsh tourist industry has to play a role side by side with the Wales Tourist Board and the British Tourist Association.
The Welsh Office needs a stronger tourist section It has a limited number of people involved in tourism. We know that from the comments made by the Minister in evidence to the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs. It needs one Minister to bring tourism, sport, leisure, culture, environment and rural affairs under one hat. The Wales tourist board should set up marketing regions conterminus with counties. In the counties themselves that would involve tourist development committees, and the counties could develop and plan a strategy for tourism in their own areas. Such tourism development committees should have on them people co-opted from the tourist industry, to make sure that development is agreed with the industry, goes along lines that are acceptable to the industry and makes sense.
Local authorities should be given more finance to enable them to play a greater role in tourism. That brings me to my next point, which is about the rate support grant formula. Very often that formula does not place enough emphasis on the additional costs that local authorities face as a result of tourism. I am talking about such things as the provision of car parks, the improvement of roads and refuse disposal. Additional costs also have to be met by non-local authorities such as health and ambulance services; operating in areas with high levels of tourism. The rate support grant formula is not adequate for local authorities, and the capital allocation is inadequate to meet the need to develop the tourist industry in a positive way.
Earlier, I spoke about seasonality. I impress on the Minister, especially in the context of the Department of Employment, that seasonal workers who have been working in tourism for three years lose their unemployment benefit after that time. They are designated as seasonal workers, but in many tourist areas they do not have alternative work. I am sure that that is also true in the south-west and the north-west, and it is certainly true in Wales. Those people would like to work all the year round. It is not their fault that they are seasonal workers, and to lose unemployment benefit after the third winter is invidious and the system needs to be changed. The DHSS has been looking at that and the commissioners have been investigating. I should like to see the Minister's Department playing a role in reviewing that situation.
In the context of agriculture, there is a need to make sure that where tourism and agriculture are developing hand in hand there is compatibility. They must be complementary and we must not expect farmers totally to give up farming and grow tents and caravans. If that happens, all sorts of environmental and planning problems will arise. There should be support for the agricultural existence of the farmer and for tourism, and the two can go hand in hand.
Some aspects of tourism can be detrimental and can pose a real threat to communities. The wrong sort of tourism has an impact on the environment and on the cultural patterns of a community. At the moment one sees 779 a number of property speculators looking at tourist-type areas. Time share is popular at the moment, and one knows that as much as £250 million is kicking about in some of the large companies that are looking for outlets to spend that money. One of my fears is that that may not develop tourism in a way that is compatible with the objectives of the Wales tourist board and may not be what is needed for harmony in the Welsh communities. I suggest to the Welsh Office that it must be very sensitive in looking at planning appeals, to make sure that if they are granted it is in the sure knowledge that no tensions will be built up.
I want to look at tourism in a positive way. In the concluding two sentences of our alternative report we say:The Welsh people should take a more positive attitude towards the tourist industry; and those involved in tourism should show a greater sensitivity towards the community in which they operate.If tourism holds any dangers for Welsh culture and identity, it is mainly because the Welsh people themselves have not grasped the opportunities which the industry offers Wales, and have not stamped sufficiently boldly or confidently a Welsh image onto the tourist industry in Wales.We want to see a positive approach to tourism. We are determined to make tourism a servant of the whole community and see that it grows in harmony side by side with that community. We want to project Wales abroad as a happy and welcoming Wales and we want to bring in jobs and money. Those things can be done, but they need to be done by way of a real strategy and in harmony with the public and private sectors.
§ The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mr. Wyn Roberts)
The hon. Gentleman will be very well aware that we are in the course of preparing a response to the Select Committee report. Therefore, I am very much inhibited, even in interventions like this. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I have listened carefully to what he has said and that an appropriate response to the report will be given in due course.
§ Mr. Wigley
I had almost concluded my speech, but I am grateful to the Minister for his comments. We look forward to an early response from the Welsh Office and I hope that we can move forward along the positive lines that I have outlined. I say that because of the importance of the industry.
§ Mr. Conal Gregory (York)
I welcome my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Welsh Office in his new role and wish him continued success in his career. I know that he will bring great thought and investigation to the tourist industry. I also welcome the maiden speeches by my hon. Friends the Members for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) and for Torbay (Mr. Allason) and the maiden speeches by the hon. Members for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) and for Southport (Mr. Fearn). I am delighted that they chose the opportunity of a tourism debate to make those speeches. It is a daunting occasion for any hon. Member, and to have chosen the subject of the fastest growth industry in Britain is a tribute to that industry, and shows that these hon. Members are far-sighted and will go far in the House. Of those hon. Members, I particularly single out the pleasure I have in welcoming my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale, who has been a close friend for a number of 780 years. I look forward to assisting him and to developing our relationship in north Yorkshire to the mutual benefit of our constituents.
It is significant that the first major debate after the Gracious Speech is on the subject of tourism. I noted that my right hon. Friend the new Secretary of State was present on the Front Bench for a time. I saw, from the records that his hobby is travelling. Nothing could be more apt.
I declare an interest as the parliamentary consultant to the largest independent consortium of hoteliers, Consort Hotels, and as a consultant to Interbuild Exhibitions Ltd. Incoming traffic to Britain held up well in 1986, despite many well-publicised, if short-term problems. We attracted 13.8 million overseas visitors, which is only slightly down on the previous year. Tourism earnings, of some £5.5 million, were an all-time record. These results, boosted by internal tourism, underline the resilience of this great growth industry.
I shall develop a number of themes, some of which have already been referred to, although the first, has not. There is a need to rationalise the 12 regional boards. When the 12 boards were set up following the Development of Tourism Act 1969, that appeared to be the right approach. We have now gone quite a way and there is a logical next step. As the tourism industry has gone into the portfolio of the Department of Employment, the most logical and rational step is to redraw the boundaries and make the 12 regional boards conterminous with the eight Manpower Services Commission regions.
At the moment, there is conflict and difficulty between officials across the border. I invite my hon. Friend the Minister to investigate my suggestion as a means of ensuring the development of the employment potential, particularly for our youngsters in training and career prospects, then at an early stage. Furthermore, such a change will reduce the duplication of services — for example, the photographic libraries and literature that abound. Instead, new boards such as I suggest could concentrate more easily on the regions that they are developing. It will give a greater career structure within the tourism industry.
There is also a conflict within the English tourist board, which is both developing consultancy in competition with private consultants and passing judgment on those companies applying for grants. I am not suggesting that there are double standards, but it is peculiar that the same set of officials, or officials within the same building, are dealing with both matters. At an early stage, my hon. Friend the Minister needs to review and strip out that consultancy role so that the English tourist board can use its expertise truly to evaluate the grants that the Government and other bodies are giving.
I am delighted that my hon. Friend will be promoting facilities for the disabled. We need increased literature about the availability of sites and other schemes to help the disabled. I draw to his attention not only those who are wheelchair bound but those who are disabled in other ways, particularly the blind and the deaf. Many tourist attractions do not yet have tactile signs. Those who go blind at an early age can learn braille fairly easily, but those who become partially sighted or blind later in life find it difficult to learn. Tactile signs at tourist sites will enable them to enjoy the facility more. The ring and loop system to help the deaf has been developed at a number 781 of sites. Perhaps my hon. Friend will consider funding, and gives speeches along the lines of that which he made this morning, to assist such people.
Little reference has so far been made in this important debate to EEC development, and here I praise the work of the MEP for York, Edward McMillan-Scott, in trying to achieve better co-ordination for EEC visitors. Of particular importance is a common health treatment for EEC visitors. We expect this when we go to other EEC states. Instead of all the E11 forms, which take two months to apply for in Belgium, Luxembourg and other EEC countries, we should have a common standing. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will hold discussions with Ministers at the DHSS to improve the common policy. Within that EEC context, the right to work in other states is important. There must be equity, but certain states demand nonsensical qualifications so that British travel guides and tour operators are obstructed in their desire to take parties to certain European states simply because of a little piece of paper. That is not reasonable and fair competition. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will bang the drum at the first EEC ministerial round under the tourism aegis.
Tourist information centres are being developed and over the past two Governments it has been fascinating to see how far they have come on stream. However, I still appeal for wider hours. I was utterly amazed when I partnered the former Under-Secretary of State on a visit to the Tower of London and the adjoining area to the east of the city to find that the tourist information centre was closed over Easter for five or six months. Hours need to be reviewed and the tourism strategy for London referred to by the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) this week is a move in the right direction.
We need assistance with the Welsh language with regard to tourism. It has been delightful to see my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Welsh Office present on the Front Bench throughout the debate. I was also pleased to hear the contribution made by the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley). However, languages within the EEC must he developed in tourism. It is very sad that we do not have a little display of the flags of the appropriate countries.
Local authorities can have a beneficial effect on tourism. There should be a partnership. Those of us who have visited York will be aware that it is a major tourist centre. York contains the world-famous York minster and its surrounding buildings such as St. William's college. There is the castle museum and the national railway museum. There are also historic livery halls, which are often not mentioned in York or London, such as the Merchant Adventurer's and Merchant Tailors. There is the Yorkshire museum and the city art gallery. There are also newer developments such as the Jorvik centre and the Friargate wax works. Plans were announced only this week for a new public museum to display the crafts involved in the making of confectionery, York's most important industry. Today, York launches the early music festival. Within the proximity of York there is the important museum of farming and such historic sights as Castle Howard.
It is therefore sad that the tourist industry in this great city is denigrated by the ill-informed Socialist leaders of York city council. Instead of appointing key executives to roles as conference officer, public relations officer and 782 upgrading the posts of tourism officer, they have either left those posts vacant during their tenure as council leaders or they have ignored this great industry.
Tourism is an important employer. It now supports more than 8,000 people in York and has created between 50,000 and 60,000 new jobs nationally. At a local level, the York city council Socialists refuse to build a constructive dialogue with the private sector as has been so successfully achieved in Chester, Plymouth and Southampton. Those centres have developed marketing consortia to develop tourism. Therefore, after so many hiccups, I am delighted that the York chamber of trade announced yesterday that it would go it alone. It has already raised £70,000 for a York visitor and conference bureau. I wish it well, because the careful development of York is so vital and its proper promotion is long overdue.
My hon. Friend the Minister referred to one of the S's as the S of signposting and he announced that 2,000 attractions have now been designated by the new boards. Much more must be done, especially on our motorways. Some 71 per cent. of respondents in the London tourist board survey said that they wanted better signposting. I understand that there is a thorn in the side which is causing problems. The Minister did not refer to this in his brief, but the problem lies with deemed consent. That is a good example of red tape. The draft regulations to relax the control of off-highway advertisement regulations were issued by the Department of the Environment. The broad thrust of those regulations was that planning permission would no longer be required where prescribed limitations were followed. That would have been an example of cutting away immediately at red tape for the hotel and catering and related industries. Unfortunately, the draft regulations are still wallowing in relevant Departments. I ask my hon. Friend the Minister of State urgently to take them down from the shelf, brush them off and implement them as soon as possible.
What is being done to encourage the conference market? I have heard little so far today about that, and yet the market is worth over £400 million annually in England alone. I should like to see a paper produced that is devoted to the conference industry in Britain to ascertain what can be done by local authorities, regional authorities and central Government.
There is a need for more two-star accommodation. An increasing number of hotel beds are being used to house homeless families and there is no cheap hotel accommodation available, for example, in the Waterloo area. It was a folly to fail to allow new hotel accommodation to be built on the Coin street site. If London is to remain the gateway to the United Kingdom and to retain world potential, there must be certain incentives to ensure that more two-star accommodation is provided. For example, the possibility of free rates being offered to hoteliers who are prepared to provide purpose-built two-star accommodation should be investigated. The availability of such accommodation will encourage more families to visit London and other major cities.
It is nonsensical to equate service with servility. We have heard less of that argument from Opposition Members today and I would welcome them to participate in the work of the all-party tourism committee. I had the honour to be the committee's honorary secretary during the previous Parliament. The committee would welcome contributions from members of all political parties.
783 Tourism is a great industry and more career guidance and the co-ordination of Government Departments and agencies will see the proper development and maximisation of employment opportunities. I thank the leaders of the industry and give them the assurance— I am sure that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will make this clear — that we shall not intervene unnecessarily. We shall provide the carrot and not the stick.
§ Mr. Paul Murphy (Torfaen)
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to speak relatively early in the Session, thus giving me the opportunity to pay tribute at an early stage to my predecessor, Leo Abse. During his 30 years in Parliament, he spent most of his time representing Pontypool and not the new-named constituency of Torfaen. When I talk to hon. Members, they recognise the constituency by the Member who represented it for 30 years and not by its name.
There is no doubt that Les Abse was a colourful and effective Member of this place. There is no doubt also that he was a tourist—tourism is the theme of the debate—of the psychic if not of places. The psycho-analysis that he made of individual Members could be teasing or serious and the trick was to discover its nature.
The most important contribution that Leo Abse made to the House and to the country was his sponsorship of many private Members' Bills. These Bills covered many subjects, including adoption and illegitimacy. By this means he made his impact on the country generally and on those who benefited from it, and there were many hundreds of thousands who did. He made it possible for the House to enact legislation without Bills being sponsored by the Executive.
There is no doubt that Leo Abse will be remembered as a good constituency Member in the best sense of that term. Those of us who lived in the constituency when he was its Member will recall things that will not be remembered by right hon and hon. Members. He brought many industries to the eastern valley of Gwent and many jobs as well. Leo Abse will undoubtedly be remembered by his colleagues in this place and by the many thousands of people in Torfaen.
I understand that in a maiden speech it is customary to describe one's constituency. I am the only Member of this new Parliament from the south Wales valleys who will be making a maiden speech. My constituency lies in the most eastern of the south Wales valleys. Tourists from all over England pass through it on their way to other parts of Wales. The character of the northern and middle parts of the valley is the same as that of all the other south Wales valleys. Where else could towns and villages like Blaenavon, Abersychan, Pontnewynydd and Pontypool be but in the south of Wales?
However, in the south of the constituency lies the only new town in the Primcipality. Many people from the valleys have gone to live there but during the past 40 years it has developed a separate identity. The political ideas that are prevalent in the valleys are as much a part of the new town as they are of the upper and middle parts of my constituency.
South Wales is thought to be the place where one can hear good choirs, or watch good rugby or see the Welsh 784 life of the chapels, but the valleys are also committed to democratic Socialism. It was firmly based on the belief that the only way in which working men and women in south Wales could emancipate themselves from the constraints of earlier days—when they lived in houses for which they had to pay a rack rent, when young, talented men had to go down the pits instead of to university, when health care, for what it was worth, had to be bought and when old people lingered on without dignity or pride—was by taking collective action through the ballot box so that their Members of Parliament could change the law and society, with the result that the lot of those who lived in south Wales and elsewhere could be improved.
That is why the achievements of the 1945 to 1951 Government are precious to south Wales. They are particularly precious to the new Members of Parliament who were born between 1945 and 1949. In those years the National Health Service was established and the education system was developed. People such as me, the son of a miner, were able to develop their talents as fully as possible because of the opportunities that were granted to us by that Government.
During the last few years my new colleagues and I have found that the commitment to the welfare state and equal opportunities—a commitment that has developed in all parties during the last 40 years—has fast been eroded. The proposals in the Gracious Speech will erode them even further. In my constituency, 2,000 people are homeless and waiting for houses. The housing proposals in the Gracious Speech hold out no hope for them. The problems for the schools will not be lessened, either.
Thirty years ago my predecessor made his maiden speech on comprehensive education. Unquestionably there have been improvements since then. However, he said then that there were not enough books, that classes were too large and that opportunities did not exist. The opportunities for education that will be offered by the proposals in the Gracious Speech will not help the people of my constituency.
My constituency will not be helped by the curiously misnamed community charge because that will put an immense financial burden upon people in areas such as mine. Of course, worst of all is the fact there are 6,000 people out of work in Torfaen, 2,000 of whom are under 25, and the only hope that they have been given—it is hope that they want as much as jobs—is schemes, more schemes and nothing but schemes.
A week ago today my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) said that the problems of the south Wales valleys were the same as those of the great cities. Of that there can be no doubt. The poverty and hopelessness that we can see in the cities and the valleys is the same wherever one travels around the country. We have lost rate support grant in the valleys the same as the cities. However, one of the worst things that we can see is that the present Administration have no conception of how ordinary people live, whether it be in the cities or in the valleys of south Wales. That is the greatest problem that we have seen in the past and will see over the next four years.
Britain is great, but one does not define greatness by waving flags. A country's greatness can be seen when one looks at the way in which it treats its citizens. It can be seen in the way in which it recognises that there is a richness and diversity among the regions. My fear is that the different regions will be ignored, just as we have seen over the past 785 few years and since the general election. If regions such as mine are ignored, they are ignored at the Government's peril because there is no doubt that the people in my valley, throughout south Wales and in other areas that loyally supported my party in the election will regard it as an insult if they are ignored in the way in which they have been over the past eight years. I hope that they are not because if they are, the politics of this country will be less than wholesome and the Government will be less than truly effective.
§ Mr. John Butterfill (Bournemouth, West)
We have all been privileged to listen to an outstanding maiden speech from the hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy). He shows that the tradition of oratory that emanates from the Welsh valleys and which was so ably manifested by his distinguished predecessor has not been lost and I am confident that he will have a distinguished future in the House.
One of the things that has been so rewarding about attending this debate has been the extraordinarily high standard of maiden speeches and the large number of hon. Members who have chosen the subject of tourism for their maiden speeches. That is a great encouragement to all of us who regard tourism as extremely important for the development of our nation.
Tourism has been one of the great success stories of the nation and our Government. In that connection we owe a debt of gratitude to the previous Secretary of State and his team, particularly the former Minister of State my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Mr. Trippier), for all the work that he did to promote tourism and its success in the United Kingdom. Having heard my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Mr. Lee) this morning I am confident that he will continue that work in a most distinguished way.
Some of my colleagues have been unable to be present today. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Atkinson) has asked to be associated with what I say because we try to work very much as a team in representing the interests of the town. In addition, my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale), who, unfortunately, has the sad duty of attending a funeral, has asked me to say a few words on his behalf. He would like me to say that he is particularly grateful for the support he is receiving in Thanet from the English tourist board and the support it is giving to the revitalisation of tourism in the area. He stressed the need to attract all-weather leisure facilities and new hotel accommodation and we hope that the Government's seed corn finance will provide that for his constituency as well as many other constituencies.
In saying that tourism has been a great success it is worth recording that all the current surveys of our domestic market are extremely optimistic for this season and future seasons. Bearing in mind the difficulties in the past, particularly last year's terrorist threats which at least for a limited period affected the market badly, this is a great tribute to all those involved in the industry and particularly to the work of the British Tourist Authority which does such marvellous work promoting us overseas. I hope that the recent strengthening of the American dollar will not lead to a diminution of the resources available to the BTA for its work in the United States or for its other 786 excellent work in other parts, particularly the far east, to broaden the base from which tourists are drawn from overseas to the United Kingdom.
Several hon. Members referred to signposting, and it is certainly my experience, as it is that of others, that the responses, particularly from county councils, have been extremely patchy. Therefore, I hope that in addition to talking to his colleagues at the Department of Transport, my hon. Friend the Minister will talk to his colleagues at the Department of the Environment and stimulate a greater degree of urgency in this respect from some county council highway authorities.
I, too, welcome the new measures which the Government propose to take to relax the licensing laws. Visitors from overseas undoubtedly find our licensing laws both perplexing and frustrating. Indeed, many of our citizens who have become accustomed to wandering off a hot beach on a summer's afternoon and getting a pint of beer or some other refreshing beverage find it puzzling that they cannot do the same in Bournemouth. Therefore, I hope that we can speed the amending legislation through the House with the least possible difficulty.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Minister that cleanliness is extremely important and I support his initiatives. We still have something of a problem with beach pollution. Happily that does not apply to my constituency where all the beaches have been given a clean bill of health under EEC regulations, but of the 180 beaches that have been checked in the past year, 38 per cent. did not meet the required standard. That cannot be acceptable. I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave) stated during the last Session that all beaches in Britain should reach the minimum standards by the end of the century. That is too long to wait. We need an urgent programme to improve those standards.
The hon. Member for Southport (Mr. Fearn) suggested for some reason which escapes me that the privatisation of water would adversely affect beach pollution. As he may realise when he studies the Government's proposals a little more carefully, responsibility for that sort of activity will be retained by a new rivers authority, so that would not apply. Nevertheless, I cannot understand why he thinks that it should apply, even if such activities were transferred elsewhere. In Bournemouth we have been ably served by the private Bournemouth and district water company for more than 103 years and it has consistently maintained the highest standards of service and supply.
I should like now to refer to planning and to the attitude of many town planning authorities. Other Members have mentioned the shortage of hotel accommodation that may arise in London. Indeed the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) elecited a reply from my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen in the previous Parliament suggesting that the Government have considered that a shortage may arise in the not too distant future. Certainly the English tourist board believes that there is a shortage already in certain categories of hotels, especially those of the two star and three star category.
I hope that the Minister will make representations to his colleagues at the Department of Environment regarding the attitude of some local authorities, in particular the London boroughs of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Camden. Those boroughs have a restrictive attitude towards the granting of consent 787 for new hotels. However, it is pleasing to note that Westminster has recently designated some new specific areas where planning permission may be given, notably St. George's hospital at Hyde Park and the former Crown Agents building at Millbank. However, such developments do not go far enough to meet the problem.
Indeed, the problem exists not only in London, but in those local authorities surrounding London, especially in Surrey, Buckinghamshire and the lusher home counties that wish to restrict the growth of hotels in their areas. I hope that we shall be able to persuade them that they too have an important role to play in the provision of accommodation for visitors and indeed accommodation for our citizens who wish to travel to other parts of the United Kingdom.
We must consider the question of the taxation of holiday flat operators. The self-catering holiday sector is an important and growing sector. It is especially important because it provides holiday accommodation for families on relatively low incomes. Perhaps it is for that reason that it is becoming such a popular and rapidly growing sector. However, unfortunately, the tax treatment of this sector if still far from satisfactory. Prior to a case in 1983–84 that was brought by the Inland Revenue in the High Court, the operators of such accommodation were treated as business people under case 1 of schedule D. Following that case, however, they were relegated to case 6, schedule D. That decision severely affected their operations. I am glad to note that the Government recognised the problem and in the Finance Act 1984 they brought forward some amending legislation that has gone some way to alleviating the operator's position. However, the situation is still not entirely satisfactory, and I hope that, at some point in the near future, it may be possible to further to amend the law to meet the representations that are now being ably made by the British Federation of Hotel, Guest House and Self-Catering Associations.
I am also rather concerned about the proposed VAT regulations that we will no doubt return to when we discuss the forthcoming Finance Bill. I know that there is an obligation under EEC law to give effect to article 26 of the sixth directive. That will mean imposing VAT on the margins of tour operators. However, I have no doubt that, if it is done as presently proposed, it will damage the interests of certain operators in the United Kingdom, especially conference organisers and those who operate language courses, which are valuable sources of the revenue and tourism.
I was grateful that, during the final sittings of the Finance Committee in the previous Parliament, my hon. Friend the Member for City of London and Westminster, South (Mr. Brooke) gave the assurance that he would consider what was being done in West Germany in this respect. In West Germany they have been able to meet the requirements of the sixth directive without undue disadvantage to their domestic operations. I hope that we can at least do the same.
I was particularly gratified that we were able last year to give an extra £5 million to the ETB and BTA, which have done marvellous work. We should support the work of the ETB and its "Vision for England" as it develops and markets a strategy for the industry.
The board and the authority are encouraging the provision of private capital. The hon. Member for 788 Huddersfield called for more Government investment, but it is important to recognise that a relatively small amount of Government money can generate large amounts of private money. That is happening in the United Kingdom and in other places, including the United States. I hope that we shall encourage that pattern.
The ETB envisages the generation of £3 billion to £4 billion of private investment and another 250,000 jobs by the 1990s from the presently available resources. That would be a marvellous return on capital employed and I am sure that it is the right way to proceed.
I was pleased to note the recent announcement of an extension of the community programme which will continue to play an increasingly important role in tourism. The new premium that will be available to participants in addition to their social security payments will make the programme much more attractive and persuade people that it is worth their while to get involved. It is encouraging that there are to be 2,500 more places with a projection of up to 5,000 more within a year.
I end by paying tribute to what the Department of Employment is doing on education and its role in the pick-up scheme. In May this year there was a marvellous announcement that a further £70,000 was to be provided in my constituency for the pick-up scheme which involves four companies and four colleges of education. If we are to provide adequately for the needs of the industry and are to compete internationally there must be more education and better training for those involved in tourism. We have been uniquely successful and if we promote training we shall continue to be successful. I congratulate the Government on their initiatives.
§ 1.8 pm
§ Mr. Peter Pike (Burnley)
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) on his thoughtful and constructive maiden speech, which he delivered with great confidence. I am sure that we shall hear many more such contributions from him in the years ahead.
The debate has been marked by a series of excellent maiden speeches and by contributions from hon. Members representing varied parts of the United Kingdom. The different natures of those constituencies illustrate the importance of tourism. All those areas have tourism potential, which demonstrates the tremendous asset that tourism represents.
Before the general election the local press in my constituency said that I had had a clash with the previous Minister responsible for tourism, the hon. Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Mr. Trippier), who seemed to have the impression that I did not regard tourism as an important industry. That is not so. I accept that tourism is an important growth area for jobs and is important to our economy, but that does not prevent my having some reservations and criticisms to make. I have one important thing to say to the Government. It is no use throwing the fact that this is an area of great growth at us time after time. We accept that it is. At the same time, it cannot possibly deal with the large number of people who have lost their jobs in the manufacturing industries. That is what causes many of my hon. Friends and me concern.
The Minister, who represents a constituency adjacent to mine, knows that in the north-west we have lost 32 per cent. of the jobs in manufacturing industry since 1979—a total of more than 330,000. Whatever growth there is in 789 tourism will not absorb anything but a fraction of that number. That is not to say that we do not want tourism to grow, both for the benefit of jobs and for the economy as a whole.
Another area of concern, which I mentioned in an earlier intervention, has to do with conditions of pay. My hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) referred to this in his speech and gave some information to back up the concern that we feel. I am not saying that there are no well-paid jobs, with good conditions, in the tourism industry. I accept that the majority of them may well fall into that category, but there is cause for concern, and a high percentage of jobs have poor pay and conditions. I do not wish to develop that aspect today, but if the Minister disputes it, to support my point I shall supply information from my union — the General, Municipal, Boilermakers and Allied Trades Union —which covers many people in the industry.
The problems of benefit for seasonal employees were mentioned earlier in the debate — particularly the problems of those who have been in such employment for three years. The Government must give serious consideration to the present high unemployment and the position of seasonal employers. The present regulations, which were drawn up to determine the benefit of seasonal workers, conditions which no longer apply, and many such workers are being unfairly penalised when they find themselves out of work, out of season. That problem needs to be examined.
The Minister represents a constituency that is adjacent to mine, and so did his predecessor. The Government Chief Whip, the right hon. and learned Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Waddington), also represents a constituency that touches Burnley, so north-east Lancashire hopes that the Government will look favourably on the growth of tourism there. It is important that areas such as Bradford and north-east Lancashire, which, 20 years ago, could not perhaps have been imagined by any of us as considering tourism potential, should have such growth. We have tremendous potential. The Minister mentioned Pendle witches and the heritage and craft industries that make those witches for sale for cars and windows. In north-east Lancashire we have areas of pleasant and attractive scenery. Many of them, if they were in other parts of the country, such as the south-west, would have coaches run through them —Cliviger gorge through the Trough of Bowland, the Nick of Pendle, to Skipton, Settle and the Thursdon valley, through to Hardcastle Craggs and into Yorkshire. Those are all areas of tremendous attraction and potential. In Burnley we have Gawthorpe hall, which is in the ownership by the National Trust, which is renovating it and will reopen it in the near future. The Great Barn has been developed there to add to the attractions of that National Trust property. Burnley council also owns Towneley hall, which houses the museum and art gallery and attracts many visitors every year. The Minister has visited the Mechanics, which the council opened in August last year.
Many industrial towns are developing projects along the lines of the Queen street mill in Burnley, which was opened on St. George's day last year. That shows the traditional steam-powered Lancashire looms and the original boiler running under exactly the same conditions as prevailed 100 years ago. Other Lancashire and Yorkshire towns have tremendous potential for showing younger people and visitors where the industrial 790 revolution took place and how Britain's wealth was made in the last century. We must encourage the growth of such attractions, and we must have accommodation and other facilities. It is no good developing places that people can visit if we do not have the infrastructure and the other requirements that are necessary to sustain those attractions.
Additionality causes many problems in some areas. It is not unique to tourism, but it can become a problem because of the attitude of the Government. It is time that the Government changed their policy in relation to that. The Minister knows about the problem of additionality and I hope that he will bear the point in mind.
An anomaly that arises in funding provided by section 4 of the Development of Tourism Act 1969 is that although assistance can be given to a council if it is developing a project by itself, it will receive no assistance for a project in which it is only partly involved. That is a nonsensical anomaly. The Government must take a commonsense approach to the problem.
Another cause for concern to those involved in the tourist industry—the North-West tourist board is worried about this — is the privatisation of the water industry. I hope that in the disposal of land owned by the water authorities—this is being dealt with separately from the privatisation of water—public access and use will not be restricted as a result of change of ownership.
Several hon. Members have mentioned the massive investment that will be necessary if we are to clean up our beaches. When, towards the end of the previous Session, the Select Committee on the Environment was examining the problem of the pollution of rivers and estuaries, it was repeatedly and forcefully told by water authorities that they already find it difficult to invest the necessary amount of money to clear up pollution on beaches. They accept that a problem exists and the need to deal with it, but to do so they must take money from their other programmes, which means that that work will get further behind. That is certainly a major worry for the North-West water authority, which has the most acute financial problems of all the water authorities.
One must accept that the investment needed to deal with the problem of pollution on the beaches will not earn more profit. Privatisation is all about someone being able to make a profit out of the industry that is privatised. Therefore, it is fair to say that investment that is necessary to deal with a problem that cannot show an immediate return in cash terms is likely to be low in the order of priorities. I am opposed to privatisation, but I recognise that the Government have their majority and are determined to force it through. If it goes through, it must be tied with clear requirements on the privatised industry to deal with those important and pressing problems.
The English tourist board's annual report for the year ending 31 March 1986 states:A partnership between local authorities, the private sector and the English Tourist Board is the most effective way of accelerating tourism development.The report also states that the single most important problem facing the development of the tourist industry is the difficulty of obtaining venture capital from insurance companies, pension funds and the like in the place of low-risk capital supported by local government guarantees.
It is worrying that if the tourism industry cannot attract the right type of long-term capital there may not be investment in the most important things if the industry is 791 to be sustained and developed. Tourism is an excellent opportunity for the private sector, local government and central Government to work together to get the maximum benefit. If we are to achieve that, attitudes and practices in tourism need to change. Private investors need to look increasingly from short-term to long-term investment. The Government must be prepared to follow up their limited successes with more far-reaching support to attract more capital into tourism. They must also increase Government funding and resources.
Local authorities need great freedom from financial constraints, so that they can promote tourism. it is no good saying that local government should spend more money on tourism if all the time it has to consider the difficulties increasingly placed on it by the Government of maintaining even the essential basic requirements to meet the needs of the community. That is very much the case now.
Tourism is a joint venture, but an increased combination of all the points that I have made is needed if we are to achieve the success that we all wish. It can play a tremendous role in the future of the economy. Therefore, the Government must take the lead more positively and enable local government to play its full part, which means removing some of the constraints on it. They must give the incentive to the private sector to make its investment and play its part in achieving that improvement in our economy and the creation of much-needed new jobs.
§ Mr. John Wheeler (Westminster, North)
I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Burnley, (Mr. Pike) whose thoughtful and forceful speech betokens his sincere concern about and interest in tourism and its contribution to the economy and the employment of so many people.
It has been characteristic of the debate that the quality of the speeches that we have heard and the contributions to the subject have been of the highest possible order. Speeches have been made by hon. Members from many parts of the United Kingdom. I recall with much enthusiasm the speech by the hon. Member for North Down (Mr. Kilfedder), who spoke so eloquently about the contribution of tourism to the Province of Northern Ireland. He painted a picture that showed a different side of that unhappy Province and the people who live there. It was a most worthy and outstanding contribution.
We heard two speeches by hon. Members representing Welsh constituencies and they were most commendable and informative. My hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Gregory) made a strong speech and in it I recognised his special knowledge of the subject. I am aware of the work that he does for tourism and for related subjects. It would not be right for me to continue without paying tribute to those hon. Members who made their maiden speeches in this debate. They chose a gentle House in which to make them and by so doing they were able to make a contribution to debate that is most interesting and constructive.
It is no historical accident that those who make maiden speeches are heard in silence. Such a speech is a new Member's opportunity to introduce himself to the House, to pay tribute to his predecessor and to say something 792 about his constituency. The maiden speeches in this debate were constructive and useful and I am glad to pay my tribute to them.
I am delighted to see on the Government Front Bench my hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean). His elevation to high office seems to know no bounds. He was appointed an Assistant Whip just a few days ago and now he sits on the Front Bench. Where will he be before this Parliament is out?
In terms of tourism, the House will recognise that I speak with particular reference to London and especially the City of Westminster which has a special responsibility for tourism. Tourism is a major industry, generating an estimated 200,000 jobs Londonwide. From the viewpoint of London, tourism is a business and a form of employment. Consequently, tourism is a major subject for London.
In 1986, domestic and overseas visitors to London are estimated to have spent about £4,700 million, including fares paid to London-based carriers. That is a formidable sum and the expenditure is highly concentrated in central London. Westminster, the constituency that I have the honour to represent, is the hub of the London tourist industry. It contains nine of London's 12 top tourist sites, seven of the 10 shopping streets most visited by overseas tourists and 45 per cent. of all London's hotel bedspaces.
About 12 per cent. of all the jobs in the City of Westminster are in the hotel and catering trades and many more jobs in retailing, travel and entertainment are wholly or partly dependent on tourist spending. The number of tourists, tourist spending and employment are all forecast to grow into the 1990s. Consultants to the London tourist board recently estimated that as many as 50,000 new jobs could be created in London alone by the early 1990s. All but a small proportion of this growth will be generated by increased spending by overseas visitors. Therefore, the importance of the tourist industry to the economy of the United Kingdom is beyond doubt.
Many advantages are to be gained by the City of Westminster and by London by ensuring that any potential growth in tourism is realised. Tourism and leisure make up one of the few sectors of the economy in which the number of manual jobs has risen in recent years. Therefore, it is a good sector for job creation, especially, in London, for the young, the unskilled and the unemployed. Because of the importance of the tourist market to the City of Westminster business community, it is also a sector of economic growth generally.
Numerous forecasts of growth in tourist numbers and spending are currently available. There are, however, two important qualifications, of which I am particularly anxious that my hon. Friend the Minister should take note. The first is that tourism is a strongly cyclical industry, which is particularly sensitive to fluctuations in exchange rates. The fast growth of tourism experienced since 1981 closely reflects the fall in the value of the pound against other major currencies in the same period. Similarly, the fall in growth experienced in 1986 reflected not only American fears about terrorism in Europe and the consequences of the Chernobyl incident, but also the fall of the dollar against sterling which occurred in that year.
Therefore, it would be inadvisable to rely on forecasts of future growth based on the trends of the past five years, during which the industry's performance has been greatly enhanced by favourable exchange rate shifts. Future 793 growth is likely to match that of the recent past only if the value of the pound continues to fall against other major currencies. This is a point of importance to the Treasury and its calculation of, and involvement in, the value of the pound.
My second caveat attaching to forecasts of increases in tourist numbers is the availability of hotel spaces to accommodate the growth. Already in this debate, my hon. Friend the Member for York has referred to the necessity for hotel accommodation. If the current projections are to be realised, London may face a shortage of hotel spaces in the early or mid 1990s unless there are substantial additions to the existing hotel stock. It is very important to consider that aspect, particularly on a Londonwide basis. Between 16,000 to 28,000 additional hotel rooms could be required by the early 1990s.
If this rate of accommodation is to be found, there will have to be a dramatic change in the attitude of London borough planning departments. I am sorry to introduce a political note, but it is a matter of record that the Socialist-controlled boroughs in London seem particularly reluctant to grant planning permission for hotels in their districts. This is both foolhardy and unnecessary, first because it is restricting the growth of an industry that contributes dramatically and positively to the economy of the United Kingdom and secondly because it is denying employment opportunities that the same London boroughs claim to be high on the order of priorities for their political endeavours.
I urge my hon. Friend the Minister to look carefully at planning applications, particularly in those boroughs where there is a decided reluctance to be positive, to see what can be done. Unless we provide growth in bedspaces, the potential in this sector will not be realised.
Other aspects of tourism need to be borne in mind. There is a need for a balanced approach. With the city of Westminster and its central role in London tourism, it is necessary to consider what is to be done for the future planning of tourism. Fortunately, London now has its own tourist board, which is most energetically managed by a splendid committee under an innovative managing director. It is considering the whole concept of tourism and making positive proposals for the management of the tourist business. When considering the availability of bedspaces in hotels, it is important to consider London as a whole and so discover how visitors coming to London can find opportunities to visit the centre of London where the major attractions are to be found and other parts of London such as Greenwich where there are many other worthy attractions and places of interest.
Tourism can create problems as well as opportunities. In the city of Westminster there are many problems including the damage to the environment, the loss of local shopping, noise, litter and even prostitution brought about by the large number of persons attracted to the centre of London from within the United Kingdom and overseas. There is congestion in the summer months including the particular problem of tourist coaches. It will be necessary to plan where those coaches can go. The notion that they can simply disgorge their visitors outside Madam Tussauds and then trundle off to a back street and remain there for an hour or so or even longer is simply not acceptable. That creates immense damage to the environment of the residential community and the existing 794 commercial community. Planning for coach traffic and coach parking is a major problem which must be tackled with innovation and imagination as a matter of urgency.
In making reference to the problem of visitors and the use of coaches, I want to refer to the problem facing hon. Members in the underground passage between the Norman Shaw outbuildings and the House. The Serjeant at Arms is ever mindful of the needs and interests of hon. Members. However, the day cannot be far off when we must find a realistic alternative to the way hon. Members reach this House from the Norman Shaw buildings. It is fun to know that large numbers of foreign visitors are with us and perhaps even visit this very House. However, having to fight one's way through a gaggle of French schoolchildren to reach the Chamber or to vote seems, for the mother of Parliaments, to be a burden that we could well do without. We must bring early thinking to the problem of managing foot traffic for hon. Members between the various buildings of the House and the Chamber. I am sure that solutions can be found if we set to work with a will.
Congestion in the summer months is a great problem in the city of Westminster. That is also true of the underground system. I pay tribute to London Regional Transport which has brought forward a number of exciting plans for the development of its services. We are indeed fortunate to have under the chairmanship of Sir Keith Bright and his board, people with imagination and will determined to find ways of managing the huge number of visitors coming to the centre of London.
There are pressures around main attractions that can damage both the character and principal function of those attractions. For example, across the road from the Chamber there is Westminster Abbey and the main art galleries. It is now a formidable problem to control the movement of so many people around those buildings and galleries. My constituents constantly complain about the problem caused by the number of people visiting Madam Tussauds, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, let alone the city of London. I recently asked the chief executive of the City of Westminster to look carefully with all interested agencies into the way in which we manage the number of people visiting that important institution. We do not want those people to go away. We want them to come. However, we want to manage their arrival, attendance and departure in such a way as not to destroy the very character of the institution and still less the lives of those who live about the institution and others with commercial interests separate from the tourist industry.
It is so important to plan and to plan in detail. If we are to make the success of tourism that we want, we must address ourselves to these practical problems and find the best solutions.
Another factor that arises from mass tourism in the City of Westminster is the loss of housing through unauthorised conversions to hotels and short-term lets. Immense problems are caused to the remaining residents in blocks of flats when there are short-term lets. They find that the quiet enjoyment of the property and the services for which they pay is not treated with the respect that they expect and want. We must think of ways of dealing with that problem, especially in the City of Westminster.
The City of Westminster has to bear additional costs for cleansing, litter collection and other related matters. As the historic centre of London, it has to bear a special 795 responsibility. During the previous Session I had the honour and pleasure of introducing the City of Westminster Bill, which was designed specifically to help deal with the litter problem. I am glad that the Bill is now to be considered in Committee and I look forward to its enactment. I am sure that it will make a contribution to dealing with street litter. I accept that it will not provide a complete solution, but I am sure that it will make an important contribution.
I hope that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will make known to our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment the need to bear in mind the direct costs that are faced by the City of Westminster in the change that is to be made to local authority financing and local authority expenditure. If the City of Westminster is to bear the awesome burden of being the heart of tourism for London and the country as a whole, the special costs that devolve upon its commercial and domestic ratepayers as a consequence must obtain some relief and support from elsewhere in the economy. These are factors that the City of Westminster has particularly to take into account and I am glad to present them to the House today as part of the policy of considering future tourist growth.
The City of Westminster has a policy to pursue a planning strategy for tourism. First, it seeks the promotion of those elements within the tourist industry in which Westminster has a truly central role and which offer the greatest benefit to the Westminster economy while maintaining continuity for businesses in the area which depend upon tourism for a significant part of their income. The City of Westminster seeks to plan with the Westminster chamber of commerce and industry, the police, the London tourist board and all other relevant services and authorities.
Secondly, the city seeks the reinforcement of London's role in tourism by making tourists' visits to Westminster more rewarding and satisfying experiences. We clearly want overseas visitors to return to London and the United Kingdom, bringing with them important foreign currency that contributes so much to our economy.
Thirdly, it is important to protect communities from the detrimental or destabilising effect of tourism. That is important if we are to retain a residential community that can live with some quiet enjoyment of life in the centre of London.
Fourthly, the city believes in co-operation with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State and Government Departments generally as well as with the London tourist board and other London boroughs in meeting London's tourism needs and achieving the optimum distribution of new tourism development across the capital.
As for the work of the London tourist board and the action that it recommends, I support entirely the Conservative party's manifesto commitment. I hope that a Bill to relax the licensing hours will soon follow it. A relaxation of the licensing hours for the centre of London is long overdue. It is extraordinary that the needs of the first world war are still provided for in legislation. That legislation has an impact on the freedom of choice for British citizens, and it imposes restrictions, too, on tourism, a developing industry. The centre of London 796 should be able to operate flexible licensing hours. The sooner that commitment becomes an Act of Parliament the better it will be.
The dissemination of information for use by both visitors and Londoners is vital. If tourism is to be part of the life of the residential community it is essential to provide information for the visitor. Earlier in the debate, my hon. Friend the Member for York referred to a tourist information office that had been closed for several months. Failure of that kind does not promote tourism. It frustrates everyone—residents and visitors alike.
I hope that we shall have the courage and the good sense during the lifetime of this Parliament to consider the iniquities of the Shops Act 1950. It is absurd that in this age people cannot choose when they should go shopping, and where. Visitors and ordinary members of the public want to be able to shop in the city of Westminster whenever and wherever they like. When I visit Queensway in Bayswater, which is in my constituency, the place never seems to close; it is open 24 hours of the day, every day of the year, because of the cosmopolitan nature of the community. Archaic legal restrictions help neither tourism nor the residential community to enjoy the freedom of opportunity that they want.
I give every encouragement to the adequate cleansing of streets and to the keeping of litter away from public buildings and the streets. I support in particular anti-litter campaigns. The best way to promote a litter-free environement is for the public as well as for the commercial community and retailers to be directly involved in removing litter from their immediate environment. The City of Westminster has pioneered exciting campaigns. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Carrington) is in his seat. The previously Conservative-controlled council of Hammersmith and Fulham contributed to the anti-litter campaigns that did so much to improve his constituency.
As for the contribution of other services to life in the City of Westminster, the arrival of the wheel clamp was deemed at first to be a boon. At first is was used with great common sense and sensitivity by the police. The commercial community was therefore very glad about its introduction. The truly selfish motorist was penalised effectively. Recently, however, the use of the wheel clamp has ceased to be so popular because it is now used more indiscriminately.
§ Mr. Wheeler
I am told by the City of Westminster chamber of commerce that the commercial community in the City of Westminster can hardly function. Vehicles cannot be loaded or unloaded outside premises. It is therefore very difficult to manage the commercial life of the city. Furthermore, the domestic community finds that it is harried in the most unlikely places for the most unnecessary reasons. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) says that the service has been privatised and he is quite right. However, he is missing the point in that the wheel clamp is operated by the Metropolitan police who are in charge of the privatised wheel clamp unit. It is the Metropolitan police officer who makes the decision as to whether the clamp should be used. The position on wheel clamps now is that the Metropolitan police have lost all credibility and have lost the confidence of the public.
797 Westminster chamber of commerce said that the prevention of crime and the contribution of commerce to that is now in doubt because of resentment and because of the insensitive way in which the device is used. If we are to promote a commercial structure in the heart of London involving tourism and develop that in the way that we want, we have to ensure that all the services that help contribute to the life of Westminster, including the police, take into account the needs and interests of the commercial and domestic residential communities. When that balance changes, as it has done on this issue, it causes immense harm and resentment. There must be a restoration of that splendid British policing principle that minor, summary law is enforced with compassion, common sense and reasonableness. If we get back to that we shall solve one important problem.
Today's debate has been a most positive and encouraging one. We all want to see tourism grow and prosper and we want to deal with the consequences of that for our residential community who have to live with it. We want to find practical solutions to the problems that arise and we want to see a liberalisation of the law in appropriate areas to ensure that tourism will become a suitable part of our economic growth and success.
§ Mr. Alan Meale (Mansfield)
As the son of a disabled ex-miner and engineering factory worker, and having been born in a Durham mining village, I take great pride in the fact that I have the privilege of representing the constituency of Mansfield, with its similar mining traditions and people. I give notice to all in the House that I intend to work assiduously on behalf of my constituency and the people I represent. In that respect I note the promises made by the Minister in relation to future employment prospects for disabled people in the tourism industry.
As a newly elected Member, but not one unaware of the proceedings of the House, my understanding of parliamentary tradition is that I should mention my predecessor in my first speech in the Chamber. I do that willingly, reminding the House that I have succeeded Don Concannon, who served the Mansfield constituency for over 20 years and to whom I wish a long and healthy retirement. I shall also mention his predecessor, Bernard Taylor, now Lord Taylor of Mansfield, who will celebrate his 93rd birthday during the summer recess. He served the people of Mansfield in one distinguished capacity or another for more than 45 years, and I offer him my sincere thanks and best wishes.
Some people may wonder why I have chosen to make my first speech today during a debate on tourism. They might say to themselves, "What has Mansfield got to offer tourism and why should tourists go there?" The truth is that I have not chosen the topic, but the topic has chosen me, in the same way as 12 months ago, following my selection as the Labour candidate for Mansfield, the press and media chose wrongly to promote Mansfield in the public eye as a divided community. I am happy to report that, because of the intensity of their coverage, tourism developed considerably during that period, particularly among journalists. Much publicity was given to the area, and on one or two occasions even leading figures, mostly Government politicians, managed to find time to visit the constituency.
798 I thank the right hon. Members for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) and for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel), the leaders of the minority alliance parties, for finding time to visit my constituency and, indeed, for once being as one on their commitment to, and argument about, holding a ballot in the area. I must admit that at the time I was not so sure whether it was altogether for the good, but, looking on the bright side, I managed to increase the Labour vote at the election. Indeed, the visit was so successful that my constituency Labour party general management committee asked me to write to the other political parties and ask them to book the same people again, especially the new Secretary of State for Energy, who had not been appointed at that time.
I am sure that we won the election because those visits enabled the Labour party to expose the real divisions that exist in the Mansfield community, its poverty and lack of provision, opportunity and services, especially among its old, very young and disadvantaged. In particular, I feel obliged to draw attention to the way in which the majority of people in the Mansfield community—its women—are discriminated against intolerably because of the Government's fiscal policies.
Of a population of 100,000, about 52,000 are female. Similar or worse figures apply in all the following areas: 5,500 are registered unemployed, which is triple the 1979 figure when the Conservatives came to office; 10 per cent. of men and 44 per cent. of women are employed in work classified as low-paid; more than 13,000 adults depend on social security benefit payments from the local office area more than 12,000 pensioners live in the community. more than half of whom depend on some form of state aid; 2,000 people are severely disabled; about 5,000 full-time, unpaid carers, mainly women, live at home; there are more than 2,500 single parents; and the growing list of homeless people, particularly the young, stands at more than 1,500.
Because of further Government cuts, the local authority in Mansfield has a repair bill on its council houses of more than £12 million, while local industry has lost more than 1,000 jobs in the past 12 months, with fewer than 200 jobs, mainly in retailing, being created.
I pay tribute to the workers, again mainly women, of the William Hollins factory, situated in Plessley vale, Mansfield, who are losing their jobs today because of closure. Their only crime was to make excellent goods while on low pay for the Vyella company. They made shirts, suits, dresses, ties and other clothing which was sold profitably in places such as Harrods in London and major stores in Paris, New York and San Francisco. The firm closes today because it has been asset-stripped by a company which wants its name and reputation, but not the workers qualities.
During my present and future terms as the representative for Mansfield I shall strive to combat the inequality that exists in the community. I recognise that with the deindustrialisation of Britain by the Tories tourism may play a part in the employment prospects for my area. My constituency and the surrounding areas certainly have the history, the rural settings, with Sherwood forest nearby, and, above all, a warm and friendly population, but I warn any unscrupulous profiteers to keep away. Any developments will need real, protective controls to ensure against unnecessary, predominantly commercial experiments of little use to the area or the workers, both men and women, within it.
799 My message should be taken seriously when one recalls the history in days gone by of another representative of the poor from my area who, although not born of my class, used his influence to take from the rich to redistribute to the poor. Therefore my ideals are contrary to the objectives of the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason), who put everything on being first. I believe that it is better that we should get the right result, as indeed do the people of Mansfield, who returned a Labour Member of Parliament who is not a tourist to this Chamber.
§ Mr. Jack Aspinwall (Wansdyke)
I am especially pleased to follow the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale) and I congratulate him on his maiden speech. I was pleased that he mentioned his predecessor, Don Concannon, who was a fine and respected Member of the House. He certainly represented Mansfield well and I am sure that the standards set by Don Concannon will be followed by the present hon. Member for Mansfield.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to congratulate the Government on initiating the debate on tourist industry. Tourism has been underestimated in its importance to the economy. Its enormous wealth-creation potential and the prospect of even greater employment opportunities are extremely important. In 1985 some 14.5 million overseas visitors came here and spent about £5.5 billion. Overseas earnings from tourism, to put them in proper context, equalled just over 10 per cent. of all manufactured exports, were ahead of exports of motor vehicles and were worth slightly more than the exports of food, drink and tobacco. Also, we should not forget the importance of the domestic tourist industry and its contribution.
In a sense, employment trends within the industry are difficult to estimate, but jobs in the main tourist sectors of catering and accommodation have grown by 22 per cent. between 1975–85 to just over 1.25 million. The potential is clear. Certainly, the Government and the private sector have begun to recognise the hidden opportunities of the tourist industry. However, I should like to deal with three areas where further energy must be directed by the Government, the private sector and local authorities.
It is important to note that 62 per cent. of all visitors to this country arrive by air. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to ensure that the country is well served by airports. There must be adequate immigration and customs staff to avoid delay. The long queues on arrival are often daunting and the first impression given to visitors is absolutely vital. Our airports must accommodate the discerning air traveller through quality of service and design. Manchester airport, the terminal 4 development at Heathrow and the new developments at Gatwick and Stansted are good examples of design and service standards.
Encourgement must be given to regional airports so as to disperse the benefits of the tourist trade more evenly. However, the importance of London and the south-east should not be forgotten. In 1983 more than 87 per cent. of visitors spent some of their time in the south-east. That was their choice. The Government must give their support to other areas of the country to ensure that they are well served for air travellers in terms of airport capacity and tourist facilities.
800 There is a definite need for more budget hotels and hostels to accommodate all variety of tourists, both domestic and foreign. It has already been said that hotel building in London is virtually at a standstill. In part that is due to the high costs involved, but it is also due to the attitude of certain London boroughs and councils to tourist developments and planning consent.
Local initiative must be encouraged. In my constituency of Wansdyke, which I unashamedly use as an example, the district council commissioned a report to outline the potential for tourism and leisure in the area. The report clearly stated that the benefits of tourist activity would be substantial both in terms of job creation and commercial benefits.
Wansdyke is situated in the south-east corner of the county of Avon. It is a beautiful area. It circles the historic city of Bath and extends up over the Avon valley to Bristol and south to the Mendip hills and the Somerset boundary. It has easy access to the coast at Weston-super-Mare and the surrounding countryside, including Limpley Stoke valley, provides ample opportunity for walking and other activities.
Added attractions of the area include the international balloon fiesta, the Bath festival, the Bath races and the Bristol world wine fair. Wansdyke district can rightly boast of beautiful countryside, with ancient churches in attractive, stone-built villages, good road communications and easy access to points of interest and natural beauty.
The local authority has taken a first step with its report and I hope that it will continue to support and encourage the private sector to take up the challenge of the tourist potential, picking up more than the crumbs from Bath and Bristol's table.
At a time when the Government are persuading the agriculture sector to diversify into alternative land uses, tourism can offer never-ending opportunities. There is a growing demand, both nationally and internationally, for farm holidays. Many farmers are creating special education centres for school visits, enabling children to learn about and better to understand the countryside. There is a huge market for this type of service and it is capable of development.
Leisure activities are also an area of farm diversification. Tourist areas must be better served by sporting and recreational activities. It has been drawn to my attention recently that farmers have been using their land to provide lakes for fishing and sailing. Others have provided golf courses, tennis courts and other special interest facilities. All such developments are vital in an overall strategy to develop further the potential of an area for tourism and to add to the length of the season.
Local authorities must grasp the nettle when discussing planning regulations for the development of farm buildings, caravan sites and bed and breakfast accommodation. There is nothing more frustrating than making an application for better signposting to highlight a particular type of accommodation and being frustrated by the planning authorities. Red tape must be cut.
The status of the tourist industry must be raised and there must be better career advice in schools and more qualification courses in hotel management and catering. The YTS offers huge possibilities. Above all, standards must be maintained to ensure the quality of service offered to tourists.
I am often saddened when I see the nationalities of many people who work in catering—Spanish, German, 801 Italian and many others. We traditionally associate the service industry with a servile attitude, which seems to be out of character with British traditions. That is why it is essential to have better training and education and to increase the status of those who work in tourism.
Schools and other educational establishments offer sites and facilities and have the capacity to emerge as centres of tourist activity. A great deal is being done, but what about even more initiatives? Throughout the country there are thousands of school buildings sited in attractive grounds and with easy access to surrounding areas. A more entrepreneurial attitude is required to use that capital investment to our advantage.
Cheap accommodation for special interest weekends and exchange visits with other schools, internationally and nationally, would be excellent steps. After all, those young people will be the tourists of the future. Many colleges have already developed exchange visits and twinning arrangements, but more could be done. Perhaps local councils or other agencies could liaise with schools to advertise such activities. The spin-off effects would be enormous and would include employment growth, the emergence of light industry, such as souvenir and craft shops and the provision of tours and other ancillary activities.
Even term-time study could be utilised more positively. The mini enterprise scheme, which familiarises pupils with business, could be used in a more commercial environment, such as by marketing a local product or developing local craft items for sale. That would bring reality into the scheme and stimulate the flair of the young in relation to tourism.
I hope that the debate will encourage district and county councils to appreciate more the value of tourism,. The two district councils in my constituency — Kingswood and Wansdyke — do not support the West Country tourist board and neither does Avon county council. I hope that that is not an indication of their attitude to the future needs of the tourist industry and its potential for job creation and a source of revenue. The old rivalries and lack of co-operation between Bristol city council and Avon county council have not always helped, either.
The benefits of tourism to a local community and to the country as a whole are enormous. It is not only the employment and potential that are so valuable, but there is a stimulus to all aspects of industrial and commercial life. Education and industry can become more closely linked. Exchanges with continental schools would lead to greater international understanding. The stimulus to internal mobility would lessen the geographical divide, and increased domestic tourism would lead to the creation of a better transport network. Small businesses would be encouraged, and there would be more local community involvement.
Tourism is an exciting and vibrant industry. I urge the Government to continue their lead in this area, and ensure that the energy of the industry is fully utilised.
§ Mr. Sheerman
I thank the House for permission to have a second bite. It would be remiss of me if I were not to mention some of the truly first-class maiden speeches that we have heard today. It has really been a pleasure to sit and listen. The hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) provided a touch of Edwardian festival and a reference to 802 Dickens, and made his constituency sound a paradise for yuppies. He also sounded as if he enjoys the prospect of being the hon. Member for Ryedale. I am sure that we shall hear more of him.
My new hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) paid an interesting tribute to his predecessor, and all of us who heard his speech were most impressed. We know that he will make a major contribution to the debates in the House, and we look forward to that.
The hon. Members for Torbay (Mr. Allason) and for Southport (Mr. Fearn) made most interesting contributions, telling us about their predecessors, constituencies and interest in tourism. Having been a resident in Wales for many years, and having had three children born there, I may say that my hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) seemed to equal the mellifluous tones of Leo Abse that we enjoyed so much. He reminded us of Leo Abse's style and confidence of manner. We all look forward to the coming debates in which he can display his nurturing in the best traditions of democratic Socialism; we shall have an interesting time.
The last maiden speech in the debate was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale). He promised that ruggedness of debate that we need in the Chamber. We look forward to him being one of the army that will let people—inside and outside of the House—know that the Opposition will take the fight to the Government.
When I first came to the House in 1979, some of the older Members set a better example. People used to stay in debates to listen to the opening speeches and those that followed them. The standards of the House in this matter do not set a good example to the new hon. Members in some respects. This debate has been well worth listening to. We have had all the best of the argument, but I would say that, would I not? Listening to all the hon. Members who have spoken, I have heard the need for a positive, public-private relationship come through in the speeches of hon. Members on both sides of the House. It comes down to the fact that when they are talking about their own town or city, hon. Members believe that the public-private relationship must exist at local level. I believe that it must exist at a national level, too.
Tourism has grown and developed, and is a fast-growing, exciting industry. However, in a more bitter spirit I say that it has grown in spite of the Government rather than because of them. Let us have a little more modesty from the Government about why tourism has grown. That has much more to do with international communications and the ways in which people take their holidays, and so on.
I agree with the Conservative Members who talked in glowing terms about a vibrant and exciting industry, but when in the next breath they say that that must be sustained on the backs of men and women who take home less than £80 a week, it sticks in my craw. When will the Conservative party wake up to the fact that, as a democratic nation, we should want men and women who are well pid, who have a satisfying life and who can afford to consume holdiays and the good things of life? Is it not about time that we stopped the restriction of the good life to the few and broadened it to the many? How many Conservative Members would want their children to be on bad training schemes or in part-time employment that is 803 low paid and has no future? Tourism has a future, but let us make it a future that is good for all the participants —consumers, workers and the nation.
§ Mr. Lee
With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall reply to the debate. This has been a fascinating debate on tourism, although sometimes the debate has gone a little wider. We have had some outstanding maiden speeches and contributions from those who speak professionally and regularly on tourism. Other hon. Members spoke about constituency interests, mentioning tourism only in part.
Conservative Members are rather fond of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) and were looking for a lightness and brightness in his opening speech, which, sadly, did not appear. I have been in the House since 1979. When we have debates that involve expenditure, whether it be on roads, the Health Service, industry, or even tourism, the Opposition's answer is always the same: "Spend more money." I had hoped that they would change course, having learnt the lesson of 11 June, but today they were talking again about more Government spending on tourism.
I was slightly saddened by some of the hon. Gentleman's comments on the radio this morning. Of course it is true that some of the products bought by tourists in London are imported from overseas, but they are at the lower end of the market— the tat, as it would be called in the north. One need only visit Harrods, or Marks and Spencer, to see the number of foreign tourists who buy predominantly British goods and, in many cases, British textile goods. Both of us represent textile constituencies, and I was glad that the hon. Gentleman acknowledged the health of the textile industry. Only last week I was in Slaithwaite to celebrate the centenary of the Globe Worsted Company, which is part of the Illingworth Morris Group. That group is doing exceptionally well, increasing employment, capital investment and exports, and the outlook is set fair. By and large, manufacturing industry is doing extremely well.
Manufacturing industry is important, but Opposition Members must realise that there is a difference between the prosperity and health of manufacturing industry, and the numbers employed in that industry, for the obvious reasons of increasing automation and more advanced machinery.
I was also depressed by the hon. Gentleman's knocking of career opportunities. There can be an argument about initial wage levels, and I accept some of the points that are made, but while other industries have been shedding jobs, tourism has been rapidly increasing employment. There are all sorts of career opportunities and opportunities for advancement for young people, but none of that was acknowledged by the hon. Member for Huddersfield. I repeat what I said about part-time working. The vast majority of people who work part-time—many of them in tourism and catering—want part-time work because it fits their family patterns and their lifestyles. The hon. Gentleman's description of London as a forbidden city was highly emotive and devoid of reality for the vast majority of the population.
The hon. Gentleman also referred to the partnership between local authorities and the Government. The 804 Government welcome partnership with local authorities. In many cases it is the Labour-controlled local authorities that have turned their backs on the hand that the Government have offered on many occasions. I am talking particularly about things such as the community programme, our task forces and our inner city partnerships. Let me refer specifically to tourism. I can say with certainty that many of the successful tourist projects have involved a partnership of private and public sector money. There is the £6 million urban development grant to the Birmingham Hyatt hotel development, the £1.5 million to Centre Parks at Sherwood forest, the public investment that went into the G Mex exhibition centre in Manchester and the public investment that has gone into London docklands. I applaud that, and I applaud the partnerships. Investment in the tourist industry comes predominatly from the private sector and is market led.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway), who had to leave and offered his apologies, made an extremely good maiden speech. At the famous Ryedale by-election, I went up to help. It was not a Tory gain. I kept well away during the general election, and I am delighted that my hon. Friend was returned. He drew attention to the superb tourist attractions of Castle Howard and Rievaulx abbey in his constituency. He was one of the first to make the sensible and necessary point about the balance that has to be struck between the needs of an expanding tourist industry and the genuine requirements and concerns of local residents and local communities. A sensitive balance has to be achieved. That was also mentioned by several speakers, particularly the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) and my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North (Mr. Wheeler).
I should like to make a personal request to my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale. It is that, as an antique collector, I should be delighted if he would give me the names of some of the shops in his constituency where one can acquire one or two of the bargains that he mentioned. I am sure that he will have a long and happy time in the House.
Unfortunately, the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) has not stayed, but he made a dignified maiden speech. He referred to "Red Leicester" on 11 June. I always thought that Red Leicester was a cheese —[HON. MEMBERS: "And a very good one."] Indeed. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will allow me to reply to his maiden speech in English. He used some minority languages that I could not follow. I have happy memories of my time in Leicester. I spent a fair amount of time there when I was chairman for three years of the National Youth Bureau, which was based in Leicester. The hon. Gentleman hardly touched on the subject of tourism, which we are debating today.
My hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) follows a most respected and distinguished father. I hope that his service in the House will be as long and as happy as that of his father. My hon. Friend's was on the first election results. I look forward to him coming to talk to me about the development of Cockington Court. The new Riviera centre in Torbay is an excellent example of what local councils can achieve. One applauds their initiative. I am delighted that my hon. Friend is now playing a major role in the tourism debate at Westminster and encouraging tourism. I am sure that he will not be too discriminating about whether the tourists who come to Torbay are 805 domestic tourists or, perhaps, people from the CIA or the KGB. It will not matter, as long as they have dollars and roubles to spend in Torbay.
The hon. Member for Southport (Mr. Fearn), in his maiden speech, made gracious comments that were well received on the Conservative Benches about his predecessor, Sir Ian Percival, who was a much-loved and respected Member. I know Southport fairly well. I frequently visit an elderly aunt who lives in Hesketh road and I walk past one of the golf courses on the way to the front. A little more sea at Southport would be the best thing that could happen to it, but I acknowledge the beauty of its flower shows.
I am not sure whether the invitation extended to Mr. Speaker to join the hon. Gentleman for a meal of local shrimps could be extended to me, but if it is I shall accept with great alacrity. We all know Southport's famous Lord street shopping centre, which has a character all its own. I am sure that all hon. Members admired the hon. Gentleman's maiden speech, and I look forward to close contact with him as a fellow north-western Member.
The hon. Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy) made a most eloquent and outstanding speech, which has been warmly applauded by hon. Members in all parts of the House. He spoke from the heart about his valleys and about the history of democratic Socialism. I can pay him no higher tribute than to say that he is as eloquent as his leader, and perhaps he has the added advantage of a degree of brevity that was well taken.
The hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale), who is not in the Chamber, paid generous tribute in his maiden speech to Don Concannon, who was highly regarded and respected by all hon. Members. He said that the two alliance leaders visited Mansfield during the general election campaign. If he were here, I would ask him whether on that occasion there was an example of democratic fusion or democratic fission.
The hon. Gentleman talked about a subsidiary of Coats Viyella. I cannot comment on the specific subsidiary that he mentioned, but he made a number of charges against the parent company, which is a substantial employer in my constituency and also in the constituency of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike). By and large, the company is a first-class employer. It is trading very well at present, and has good wage levels and a continuing level of capital investment. I certainly do not recognise the company by the asset-stripping description given by the hon. Gentleman.
806 I shall now comment on some of the more professional speeches made by some of my colleagues who speak on tourism matters. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan) spoke from his deep knowledge of the industry and mentioned the contribution of about £5.5 million that it makes to earnings from overseas. My hon. Friend played a distinguished role on the Back-Bench tourism committees.
The hon. Member for North Down (Mr. Kilfedder), initially and understandably, confused tourism and terrorism. In a sense that makes the precise point that he was trying to make about the very sad and tragic problem of Northern Ireland and the difficulties of those who work hard to promote tourism in the face of the appalling incidence of terrorism.
We had a thoughtful contribution by the hon. Member for Caernarfon, who told us that he would have to leave the debate before its conclusion. He talked about tourism in Wales and of the need to strike a balance between the needs of a community and the needs of tourism. I have spent many happy holidays in Wales and wanted to talk to him about some of my experiences, but, sadly, he is not in the Chamber at the moment.
Among the more professional speeches was that of my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Gregory), who has a deep interest in, and knowledge of, the subject. He spoke about the ETB consultancy services, but these are only on a limited scale— about 10 to 15 assignments per year. It is made clear to applicants that appointment of the ETB as a paid consultant has no bearing on any section 4 applications.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) was also one of the professionals. He praised legislation for the liberalising of the licensing laws announced in the Gracious Speech and I ——
§ It being half-past Two o'clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.