HC Deb 05 December 1989 vol 163 cc145-6
9. Mr. David Porter

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will hold discussions to ensure that, following the opening of the Channel tunnel, Suffolk and Norfolk are fully promoted as tourist centres.

Mr. Nicholls

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 28 November that the Government funds that the regional tourist boards receive to promote and develop tourism in their regions, including East Anglia, will almost double from 1 April 1990.

Mr. Porter

Will my hon. Friend accept the congratulations of those involved in employment in the industry in East Anglia on his answer, but will he bear in mind that many people are worried that when the Channel tunnel has opened, Suffolk and Norfolk will be rather left behind? Isolation is all very well for tourism, but people need to be able to get to a place in order to enjoy it.

Mr. Nicholls

My hon. Friend makes a fair point. A number of challenges are open to the tourist industry in relation to the Channel tunnel and we should be mindful of them. The White Paper, "Roads for Prosperity", shows that there could be real advantages for communications between his area and the Channel tunnel. However, it is fair to remind us of that point and I accept it.

Mr. Michael Welsh

The Channel tunnel will play an important part in tourism and I hope that its opening will come quickly. Will the Minister take steps to ensure that it does, so that business people in the north, especially in Doncaster, can benefit from it?

Mr. Nicholls

I am sure that the people in the north will want the Channel tunnel as much as everyone else. I accept the implication of what the hon. Gentleman says—that the Channel tunnel has advantages for all areas of the country, not merely the south-east.

Mr. Patrick Thompson

My hon. Friend accepts the importance of good communications in ensuring that more tourists from the continent and elsewhere visit Norfolk and Suffolk, but does he also accept the need for a greater emphasis on rail links? Will he do all that he can to persuade his right hon. and hon. Friends that the terminal link should be at Stratford rather than King's Cross.

Hon. Members


Mr. Nicholls

It seems that I have unwittingly entered into a source of private disagreement and grief. I would only say that in 1988 British residents spent about 40 million nights and £555 million in East Anglia, so whatever the state of the rail links it seems that East Anglia is not doing too badly.