HC Deb 20 November 1995 vol 267 cc329-30
12. Mr. David Atkinson

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what recent representations she has received from the tourist industry in support of the greater harmonisation of policies on tourism in the European Union. [493]

Mr. Sproat

We consulted a number of trade associations and others on the recent European Green Paper on tourism. Most wanted to see increased awareness by European institutions of the needs of the tourism industry, but the overwhelming view was that greater harmonisation was neither necessary nor desirable.

Mr. Atkinson

Is my hon. Friend aware that one of the most vulnerable sectors of the English tourist industry— most notably, small guest houses and hotels—feels especially aggrieved at having to compete unfairly with the much lower VAT rates levied in other member states of the European Union and without the benefit of development grants, which continue to be enjoyed by competitors in Wales and Scotland as well as in France and elsewhere? What representations will he make in favour of fairer competition between the tourist industries of the member states of the European Union, not least at the forthcoming intergovernmental conference?

Mr. Sproat

A reduction in VAT for the tourist businesses to which my hon. Friend refers is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor. As for European funds, however, we have allocated some £200 million of European regional development fund money to tourism projects for the next five years. I very much hope that my hon. Friend's constituents will try to take advantage of that.

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