HC Deb 24 July 1990 vol 177 cc291-2
15. Mr. Harry Greenway

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what was the total amount spent in the United Kingdom by overseas visitors in (a) 1988 and (b) 1989.

Mr. Forth

It is estimated that overseas residents spent £6,184 million in the United Kingdom during 1988 and £6,877 million during 1989.

Mr. Greenway

Does my hon. Friend accept that, welcome though that money is for our poor country, some of our institutions are being swamped by visitors? Will he use his weight to secure a second daily changing of the guard ceremony? Will he persuade my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State to put his Department's weight against pressure for the interchange for the proposed new underground service at Parliament square? This would have a detrimental effect on the 4 million people who visit Westminster abbey each year. It could be, and should be, relocated to the St. James's park area.

Mr. Forth

I am disappointed that on this first occasion at the Dispatch Box in my new incarnation, I must slightly disagree with my hon. Friend. I cannot endorse his description of our country as poor. I cannot undertake to deliver him a second changing of the guard, no matter how desirable that may be. As for the location of interchanges, that is a matter which, in all conscience, I must leave to my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Department of Transport, but I shall, of course, draw his points to their attention.

Mr. Cryer

Will the Minister assure the House that he will not encourage tourism and jobs in tourism at the expense of manufacturing? He will be keenly aware that some 200,000 jobs—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Carry on, please.

Mr. Cryer

The hon. Gentleman will be keenly aware that some 200,000 jobs have gone from textiles and clothing, which is a major manufacturing industry. Will the hon. Gentleman use all his efforts to ensure that the Department of Trade and Industry renegotiates the multi-fibre arrangement to ensure that textile jobs continue to survive?

Mr. Forth

May I join all my colleagues in welcoming to the Chamber my right hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley). It is most gratifying to see him here.

I see no conflict or contradiction between employment in tourism and employment in manufacturing. This country is outstandingly successful in both regards and will continue to be so. It is significant that 54,000 new jobs have been created in tourist-related industries over the past year alone. We can be proud of that record. We shall continue to encourage tourism and manufacturing.

Mr. Butterfill

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the action that he and other members of the Government have taken to encourage tourism, especially improved standards. This drastically contrasts with the Opposition's attitude. What representations has my hon. Friend received about the operation of the 100-day rule for business rating?

Mr. Forth

I join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to everyone involved in tourism—the British Tourist Authority and tourist boards throughout the country—on doing an excellent job. They will continue to have the fullest possible support of the Government.

Having recognised the difficulties that have arisen from the 100-day rule, the Government will consult on alternatives to it. We regard it as unworkable and unfair.