HC Deb 24 July 1998 vol 316 cc1351-2 9.34 am
Mr. Peter Ainsworth (East Surrey)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will no doubt be aware that, in recent days, we have had a succession of Ministers coming to the House to outline the spending plans for their Departments. Is it not a disgrace that, when it comes to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, what we get is an interview on the "Today" programme and a press conference in the National Gallery?

Given the wide-ranging structural changes that are proposed, including the dismantling of the Arts Council and the abolition of the English tourist board, and the fact that the statement has been awaited with great interest by many people across the country whose livelihoods will be affected by the changes, will you use your influence to recommend to the Secretary of State that he comes here forthwith to make an oral statement to the House and to answer some difficult questions on a contentious document?

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley (South-West Surrey)

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. As vice-chairman of the all-party tourism group, I know that tourism and hospitality are responsible for creating more new jobs than any other industry. To sound the possible death knell of a strong, independent English tourist board to journalists rather than to the House leaves us in great difficulty when we want to represent the interests of our constituents.

Madam Speaker

As the House knows, Secretaries of State determine for themselves whether statements are made at the Dispatch Box or by means of a written question. If there is not to be a statement at the Dispatch Box, I should expect the Secretary of State to make a statement in the usual way, by means of a written answer, and to see that the supporting documentation is available to Members in the Vote Office. I know that those on the Treasury Bench this morning will have noted my remarks, and I am sure that they will ensure that the proper procedures are now carried out.

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