HC Deb 21 October 1998 vol 317 cc1276-7
Q4. Mr. Tim Boswell (Daventry)

If he will pay an official visit to Silverstone in 1999.

The Prime Minister

I have no plans this year to visit Silverstone, but I very much want to visit it in the future, as I have already told people there.

Mr. Boswell

While the Prime Minister will always be welcome to come back to Silverstone, such a visit would perhaps not be as welcome as a firm start date for the Silverstone bypass. Will he not use this opportunity to acknowledge the importance of the grand prix and the formula one industry as a centre of engineering excellence that is not only world class but a creator of several thousand jobs in my and adjoining constituencies? Will he specifically undertake not to succumb to pressure to pull the rug from under tobacco advertising and sponsorship unless and until firm arrangements are made to sustain that vital industry?

The Prime Minister

I think that I am probably in as good a position as anyone to understand the importance of formula one. I simply tell the hon. Gentleman that we believe that the industry is very important. Some 50,000 jobs depend on it, and it has a huge spin-off effect in technology and other areas for many different parts of industry.

The precise reason why we wanted to ensure that the European directive was phased in over time was to give the industry the chance to get other types of sponsorship. As those in the industry themselves have said, their best future lies in freeing themselves from tobacco sponsorship, which will take time. Because of our negotiations, they have that time, and we will help them to use it.

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