HC Deb 13 November 1991 vol 198 cc1066-7
6. Mr. Simon Coombs

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his estimate of the value of grants under section 4 of the Development of Tourism Act 1969 in the current year; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Allan Stewart

The Scottish tourist board estimates that in 1991–92 payments under the section 4 scheme of capital assistance will total £3.5 million. I am satisfied, and this has been confirmed by a recent independent review, that that support is effective in generating investment and jobs.

Mr. Coombs

My hon. Friend's answer will be widely welcomed by the tourist industry not just in Scotland, but throughout the United Kingdom, but will he say a little more about the results of the independent review to which he referred? Can he assure me that, if he has not already done so, he will send a copy of that report to our right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Employment?

Mr. Stewart

Yes, I can confirm that that review showed that there was a clear need for section 4 support in Scotland. During the period 1983–84 to 1989–90, the scheme assisted 902 projects, disbursed £31.6 million of board funds at constant 1990 prices, and produced total tourism investment of £197.2 million at 1990 prices. I know of my hon. Friend's interest in the matter, following the report of the Select Committee on Employment, and I can give an assurance that if the consultants' report to which I referred has not yet reached the Department of Employment, it will do so as soon as possible.

Mr. McAllion

Has the Minister read the reports in today's press of record numbers of passengers passing through Scottish airports? Will he confirm that most of them are tourists, many of whom are travelling north for a last glimpse of a rare species on the point of extinction in Scotland—Scottish Tory Members? Will he further confirm that he and his right hon. and hon. Friends in the Scottish Office have been recommended for a Scottish tourism award for their determination to self-destruct in Scotland?

Mr. Stewart

I have been described as many things, but that is the first time I have been described as a tourist attraction. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to refer to the increased numbers of passengers going through Scottish airports-especially Glasgow airport, following the Government's excellent decision to allow transatlantic flights from that airport.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

Will my hon. and attractive Friend congratulate Perth and Kinross district council on the dynamic quality of its work in attracting vast benefits to Scotland and Scottish industry by means of its policy of twinning with Pskov in Russia and Haikou on Hainan island in China, this year bringing to Perth the most valuable exhibition of icons in the world? [Interruption.] I should tell Opposition Members who are giggling, and who will also benefit from this, that the council is also twinning with Cognac.

Mr. Stewart

I am sure that my hon. and learned Friend is right to praise Perth and Kinross district council. Perth has many colourful attractions for tourists, it enjoys a high quality of life and I am sure that it will continue successfully to attract national and international tourists.