HC Deb 20 February 1989 vol 147 cc691-2
1. Mr. Adley

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met the chairman of the Wales tourist board; and what was discussed.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Walker)

I frequently meet the chairman of the Wales tourist board to discuss many matters of mutual interest.

Mr. Adley

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply and declare an interest in the industry. Is my right hon. Friend aware that those of us who have an interest in these matters have long felt that things in tourism are done rather better in Wales than in England? Will he accept congratulations on that? In view of the current review of tourism has my right hon. Friend discussed with our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment—and if he has not, I hope that he will—the structure of tourism in Wales?

Mr. Roy Hughes

Declare an interest.

Mr. Adley

I have already declared an interest. Will my right hon. Friend tell me whether the Wales tourist board, or other agencies, will still be able to distribute grant as required to areas of Wales where development is still needed?

Mr. Walker

Tourism is of incredible importance to Wales in bringing in people who will look at the commercial and industrial prospects of Wales and, of course, in providing jobs and opportunities in rural and coastal areas. That is why the board's net budget for 1988–89 will be 90 per cent. more than it was in 1983–84. Section 4 assistance to the industry has tripled from £1 million to nearly £3.3 million during the same period and has been of great advantage to the economy of Wales.

Mr. Anderson

If we are to fill up the beds in our very welcome Holiday Inn in Swansea, we need, as the Secretary of State will be aware, to clean up Swansea bay. Is he satisfied that we shall not be able to comply with the EC bathing waters directive until 1995 at the earliest? Does he recognise the link between the directive and clean beaches in Wales as a whole?

Mr. Walker

Yes, of course I do. I am glad to say that immense capital investment is going into that, which did not happen under the last Labour Government.

Mr. Harris

Given the common problems faced by the tourist industry in Wales and the more remote parts of England such as Cornwall, will my right hon. Friend tell me why on earth section 4 grants under the Development of Tourism Act 1969 are being suspended in England whereas, as he says, they are being tripled in Wales? What is the fairness of that?

Mr. Walker

In fairness, they have not been tripled in Wales this year, but over the past few years. Section 4 grants have been continuing in England. The report that my right hon. Friend has had will be discussed with those concerned and conclusions must be reached on the English tourist industry on the basis of information on inward investments coming into the English tourist industry. I have to make decisions on the Welsh tourist industry.

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