HC Deb 19 January 1998 vol 304 cc680-1
9. Mr. Hoyle

If he will reintroduce tourism grants in England under section 4 of the Development of Tourism Act 1969. [21449]

Mr. Tom Clarke

The Government have no plans to reintroduce section 4 grants.

Mr. Hoyle

Since the removal of section 4 grants by the previous Government, seaside towns and the north-west have lost heavily, while Wales and Scotland have achieved benefits by their continuation. Will my right hon. Friend consider their reintroduction?

Mr. Clarke

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his role in the achievement of no fewer than 25 awards in Chorley for projects ranging from sport to tourism. Those have been helpful in achieving the objectives that he set out. We are delighted that we have maintained the expenditure for the English Tourist Board and for the British Tourist Authority. I can assure my hon. Friend that I know that the north-west will have a great deal to say; indeed, it has already welcomed the Government's proposals for regional development.

Mr. Collins

I hope that the Minister enjoyed his recent visit as a tourist to Ambleside in my constituency and that he will feel welcome to return on many future occasions. When he considers how to help tourism in my constituency and elsewhere, will he lend his weight to the campaign by many tourism businesses, and especially small guest houses, for the Chancellor to increase the value added tax threshold in the Budget?

Mr. Clarke

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Lake district, and to Ambleside in particular. I hope that he will note the fact that his constituents are very grateful that the Minister for Tourism should have recognised the beauties of their area. His question was, of course, a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I am sure that he will use his opportunities to pursue it with him.

Mr. Gordon Marsden

When my right hon. Friend considers the opportunities for the development of tourism, will he place special emphasis on supporting short-term breaks? Many seaside towns, including Blackpool, benefit from the promotion and support of such breaks, and I urge my right hon. Friend to consider that.

Mr. Clarke

My hon. Friend is right. I know that Blackpool, in common with other seaside resorts, will want to make its contribution to the tourism forum that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State set up a few months ago and to which he will contribute a strategic paper that will be available to the public and will cover issues such as those that my hon. Friend raised.