HC Deb 03 December 2001 vol 376 cc1-2
1. Mr. Gordon Marsden (Blackpool, South)

What discussions she has had with (a) the English Tourism Council and (b) other bodies on marketing and expanding opportunities for domestic holidays for people with disabilities. [16983]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Dr. Kim Howells)

Widening access to tourism for people with disabilities is a key commitment for the Government and the English Tourism Council. My Department has regular discussions with the ETC and other relevant bodies on that topic. The ETC currently has no marketing role, but that is under review. There is much more that we can do to co-ordinate private and public sector funds that are currently spent on marketing tourism in England.

Mr. Marsden

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Given that today is the International Day for Disabled People, does he agree that we have an appropriate opportunity to review what marketing bodies, under whatever heading, can do specifically to market holidays for disabled people? ETC research has shown that 2.7 million people in this country would take such holidays, the majority of them domestic. Will he consider with other Departments the possibility of ring-fenced budgets specifically for such marketing, as well as other initiatives targeted on the community of people with disabilities?

Dr. Howells

The burden of marketing in this country lies with the private sector—with those who own attractions and with the resorts themselves. I hope that it will remain so, as I do not want politicians to try to second-guess how best to market resorts and so on. However, I agree with my hon. Friend that much more needs to be done to encourage those who are registered as disabled to take holidays in this country. I understand that 9.5 million people are registered as disabled; far too few have the opportunity to take holidays in Great Britain.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield)

When considering those important matters in relation to disabled people, will the Minister bear in mind the excellence in that respect of Birmingham's bid to host the national stadium? Does he agree that Wembley has blown it through its own actions and that it is now right, not least because of the facilities for disabled people, that Birmingham should be the location of the national stadium?

Dr. Howells

That was a good try, but that is a matter for the Football Association.