§ 3.9 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Gray of Contin)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Gray of Contin.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.597
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [THE LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1 [Power of the Scottish Tourist Board to engage outside the UK in the promotion of Tourism in Scotland]:
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 1:
§ Page 1, line 13, leave out ("only").
§ The noble Lord said: This is an amendment which may be considered in two ways. If we look at it carefully we see that the word "only" in the context of this Bill is really superfluous. There is no suggestion from the wording that an activity can be carried on outside the United Kingdom without the consent of the Secretary of State. Unless the Minister can point to some legal necessity for including the word "only" here, I hope he will agree to its removal.
However, there is another way of considering the inclusion of this word "only; that is, that it could be construed as being mildly offensive and even diminishing the gesture made on Second Reading, which we all welcomed, small though it was, that the Scottish Tourist Board would have some power to promote Scotland overseas. I feel that the inclusion of this word "only" diminishes that gesture which was made. On Second Reading many speeches emphasised the special attractions that Scotland has in certain parts of the world, and the Minister responded well to the debate. Why does he spoil a good initiative by unnecessarily emphasising the master/servant relationship that is embodied in this part of the Bill? I hope that the Minister will reflect on this—I am sure that he has already done so—and will allow the Bill to read,
to carry on activities outside the United Kingdom with the consent",
and not, "only with the consent".
of the Secretary of State".
I therefore hope that the Minister will respond sympathetically, or explain why the word "only" is essential. I beg to move.
§ Lord Gray of Contin
This amendment would weaken the emphasis on the need for the Scottish Tourist Board to obtain consent for its activities outside the United Kingdom. Noble Lords will recall our discussion at Second Reading of the policy underlying the requirement that the Scottish Tourist Board should obtain the Secretary of States's consent before it exercises its overseas promotion power. I referred then to the broadly similar provision already applying to the Scottish local authorities and to area tourist boards, and I explained that through the consent procedure the Secretary of State is able to ensure that there is no wasteful overlap or duplication of effort.
A similar purpose underlies the consent procedure in this Bill: we wish to ensure that any overseas activities undertaken by the STB in practice complement the British Tourist Authority's promotion efforts for Great Britain, and that the overall Great Britain effort by BTA remains properly co-ordinated. To achieve this, the Secretary of State 598 has to be informed of all STB overseas promotion proposals and check their compatability with BTA's plans. In practice, We expect the board to submit an annual programme of detailed proposals for approval, enabling the Secretary of State to consider the Board's plans largely in one coherent package.
As Clause 1 is currently drafted, it is perfectly clear that the Scottish Tourist Board cannot properly exercise its overseas powers without the Secretary of State's consent. The use of the word "only" is perfectly natural in ordinary English, and by including it the policy intention—that the Scottish Tourist Board should invariably seek the Secretary of State's approval before carrying on overseas activities—is reflected with maximum accuracy.
Omission of the word "only" would I believe make it less clear that consent is necessary on all occasions; and it might imply that the obtaining of consent is of less importance. While I repeat that there is no intention to exert the power to give consent in a heavy-handed manner, we feel that it is important to ensure proper co-ordination by following the procedures suggested. It seems to me altogether fairer that our policy intention should be conveyed as unequivocally as possible; and I hope that on reflection the noble Lords may be persuaded that their amendment should be withdrawn.
§ Lord Ross of Marnock
I think that anything that has been said by the noble Lord confirms me in my attitude regarding the meanness of the concession that has been given. What is the Minister saying? He says that if we leave out this word it will not be sufficiently clear that we mean to tie down the Scottish Tourist Board to get the consent with all the other things that apply to it. The Lord Advocate is here. He is a legal man; he will deal with the more difficult legal problems that will arise in relation to Scottish roads, but can he bring his legal mind to hear on this point? Would it greatly affect the sense of the clause if we left the word "only" out? It would then say that it had to be done "with the consent…of the Secretary of State". What is the advantage of putting in the word "only"? My noble friend Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove is quite right. The Government are being grudging and mean about the whole business of giving this new power, small as it may be, to the Scottish Tourist Board.
May I remind the noble Lord that this is the one Tory manifesto commitment that has been carried out. This was included in the manifesto. Noble Lords from England, and even those from Scotland, may find that this is news to them. Here is a Tory Government carrying out for Scotland a Tory manifesto commitment. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Stodart of Leaston, will give us the benefit of his wisdom on this matter. He will remember what he demanded. I will read it again:We recommend very strongly, therefore, that the Scottish Tourist Board should be given overseas promotional powers in its own right, and be solely responsible for promoting Scotland abroad, after consulting district councils. (In saying this, we reserve the position of the Highlands and Islands Development Board, as we make clear in paragraph 154).In fact that reference to the Highlands and Islands Development Board is because it has more power in promoting tourism for the Highlands abroad than has 599 the Scottish Tourist Board. At present the Scottish Tourist Board has none, but we are now bringing it up to the level, so we were told, of the councils and the area tourist boards.
I think it is offensive to put in this word "only" when it is unnecessary. I object to the principle of the cabining and confining of the Scottish Tourist Board as has been done here, but the Government have put in the word "only" and that is tautological and unnecessary. As for the Minister's telling us what we all know, that if we took it out it would weaken the power and the hold that the Secretary of State will have on this tourist board, does the Minister believe that this is necessary, or is he just reading a brief? May I tell him that he is a Minister of State? It is time he realised his power and told the civil servants that he would exercise the privilege of power and say that this is an unnecessary word and why should we carry on wasting the time of this noble House over this kind of thing? There is plenty of that in the next Bill, but here it is probably much more serious. I hope that the Minister will think again about it.
I am not a lawyer. This is a fairly commonsense bit of law. If one leaves the word out it makes no great difference. We are told that the reason why it is there is to make it clear that they are going to have no independent power—which was what the noble Lord, Lord Stodart sought, an independent position for the Scottish Tourist Board, one that we have been asking for for years. We were lucky to get a Scottish Tourist Board. I think it was in 1967. I was one of the sponsors of the Bill. It was a United Kingdom Bill and not a purely Scottish one, although we had things in the Bill that did not apply to England or Wales or they do not require any legislation for the changes that are going to come over them.
When it was announced by the Government in a press statement that they were going to give this power to the Scottish Tourist Board, we had laudatory leaders in the Glasgow Herald and in the Scotsman. All the papers were so startled by the fact that the Government were keeping a commitment that they forgot small print. But the small print was not there until the Bill came out. At the present time, we are told, the British Tourist Authority spends £2 million on behalf of Scotland. We have been told—and we are grateful to the Minister for telling us this at Second Reading—that with this new great venture, this commitment that has been accepted gladly by the Government, the Scottish Tourist Board are going to be allowed to spend £200,000 if they get the consent of the Secretary of State and if the Secretary of State has consulted the British Tourist Authority. And just to make sure of these things, there is put in this word "only".
How miserable can the Government get? When a Government behaves like this, no wonder the noble Lord is in this place. Well, he will be used to the Government blowing the trumpets of what they are going to do followed by the sad realisation that they are not going to do very much at all; it should be engrained in him by now. But it is sad that he should come along and read to us this rubbish as to why the word "only" should be there. The word "only" is 600 completely unnecessary and is offensive. Unless the noble Lord has something further to say I think we should divide the Committee on this.
§ Lord Gray of Contin
I never cease to be amazed at the transformation which can come over a Member of Parliament—whether in this place or the other place—when he moves from one side to the other. The noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, who had a distinguished parliamentary career in another place, was responsible for a great deal of Scottish legislation. He was noted as one who hounded the draftsmen in order to get Bills exactly as he wanted them—and rightly so. I think that we can assume that any Bill for which the noble Lord was responsible received a very high degree of scrutiny. Therefore he will not be surprised that I have in front of me a copy of the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Act 1965. Nor will he be surprised that in that Act there is stated:The powers specified in the foregoing subsection shall be exercised only with the approval of the Secretary of State".I should have thought that the difference between the noble Lord's "only" and the "only" that he is suggesting should be deleted from this Bill is really not of great relevance.
I think that the Committee will agree that the reasons which I have given for not accepting the amendment are compelling. There is no doubt that the object of this exercise is to ensure that there is no duplication of effort between the Scottish Tourist Board and the British Tourist Authority but that their objectives which are the clear objectives to promote tourism for GreatBritain—and particularly for Scotland—are complemented. I believe that what we are doing in this Bill—and I will not be drawn at this stage into the question of the finance, the £200,000—is by far the best way of achieving for Scotland the advantage of individual identification and the promotion of that identification by the Scottish Tourist Board along with the benefits of promotion in a Great Britain scene which we can obtain through the activities and efforts of the British Tourist Authority.
I do not think that we should waste too much time on this amendment. I do not think that the case for it has been made by noble Lords opposite, and with the greatest respect—and I fully appreciate their interest and their wish to discuss the Bill at Committee stage—I suggest that they do not have a strong point in this amendment and I hope that they may feel that they can withdraw it.
§ Lord Mackie of Benshie
We on these Benches think that it is perhaps not as strong a point as some which come later; but, equally, we think the Government might as well have given way on this matter. With that strong position that we have taken up, I will say no more.
§ Lord Ross of Marnock
It was a pity that the noble Lord had not said that before we had the second "no" from the Government. He must learn to use his powerful influence—his weighty influence—at the right time. I must come back to this attack on what was said in the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Act 1965. If the noble Lord drags in this 601 very red herring then I have to make some comment on it. He will remember that that red herring, that Bill, gives very considerable powers to the Highlands and Islands Development Board. The noble Lord was not there at the time. He was only a very temporary sojourner in the other place compared with some others that I know. If he had been there, and coming as he did from the Highlands, he would probably have been as appalled as I was at the fact that this wonderful Bill which everybody wanted was castigated by a former Conservative Secretary of State for Scotland (who is now in this House) as Marxism run wild. It was straight from Karl Marx. You can understand what a reasonable fellow I was when I said, "It will only be put forward with these powers used and exercised with the consent of the Secretary of State".
Now let us have a look at this Bill before us. There is nothing very Marxist about this one. It is a very different set-up. There is only one limited little power to spend as far as we know at the present time. I can understand him not wishing to go into the finance of the £200,000. So that is the answer to that one. Surely, when the Government are trying to be generous, trying joyously to meet a commitment which they gave to the people of Scotland—a commitment which the people of Scotland did not want anyway from them, judging by the results—they could have done a little better than this. I think that the real question is whether it is necessary to be in the Bill. It is a matter of simple drafting.
How does the Bill read if the word is not there? At present it reads:…shall exercise the power … to carry on activities outside the United Kingdom only with the consent (which may be given from time to time…) of the Secretary of State…".It is a case of "only with the consent of" or…shall exercise the power with the consent…".That is what we are arguing about. That is the great matter of principle on which the researchers have been delving into almost every speech I have ever made: they may even have gone hack to 1946, for ought that I know, in respect of this. Is it really worth arguing about?
It is up to the Government to justify what they have done, and if there is something tautological and unnecessary in a Bill I am all for getting rid of it. I love interruptions but I like to hear them. Noble Lords will have to break from their usual custom of speaking from sedentary positions and I hope they will do it without covering their mouths with their hands. But I quite welcome them to get up. I know they do not like it, but this is a fact—the word "only" is unnecessary and, being there, is purely and simply offensive. I will give the Government time to think about it. I will put the same amendment down at the next stage, hoping that between now and then they will reconsider the matter and maybe find some better arguments for its being there.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
Having listened to my noble friend Lord Ross of Marnock and also to the reply from the noble Lord the Minister, I hope that the Minister will reconsider the matter before it comes up at Report; otherwise we will put the amendment 602 down again at Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 3.32 p.m.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 2:
§ Page1, line 15, leave out from ("State") to end of line 16.
§ The noble Lord said: this amendment seeks to remove words which would give a senior Minister or Cabinet Minister an instruction to consult with a Government-appointed body before permitting another Government-appointed body to do or not to do something. This seems to me to envisage a situation where there was no real contact between the British Tourist Authority and the Scottish Tourist Board and the Ministers who appointed them. If we look at Clause 2, it makes it clear that the Scottish Tourist Board must have the consent, with or without conditions, of the Secretary of State before carrying out any promotions overseas. Surely that is enough? In practice, we all know there will be a great deal of discussion within the British Tourist Authority on all promotions and schemes and that particular attention will be paid to overseas promotion by the Scottish Tourist Board, especially since its budget for such work is so small, and the Secretary of State through his staff will be very well aware of whatever the Scottish Tourist Board are likely to propose. I hope that the Minister will take the point.
§ Again, I am concerned that a power which is being given to the Scottish Tourist Board and which we all welcome appears, from the wording in the Bill, to be given grudgingly and not in an outgoing manner at all. It is giving them something but trying all the time to say: "But we want to know all the time exactly what you are doing". It is taking any freedom away from them. So I am concerned that the Bill, which had been well received, should seem to be giving the Scottish Tourist Board not a reasonably free hand. I believe that the Minister should remove these unnecessary psychological fetters on the Scottish Tourist Board and not diminish it in the eyes of the Scottish people and of the British Tourist Authority. We should try to get away from the old "master/servant" business that I mentioned earlier. I hope the Minister will realise that Scottish tourism will be well supervised by the people of Scotland, because it is not an enormously large country. The Secretary of State, with this staff, will be able to provide many safeguards against any irresponsibility, either now or in the future. I believe that the inherent and overall power of the Secretary of State for Scotland is sufficient control without there being any need to put in this particular clause. I beg to move
§ Lord Gray of Contin
The Government are concerned to ensure that any overseas activities proposed by The Scottish Tourist Board will complement the British Tourist Authority's promotion efforts for Great Britain; that there is no duplication of effort between the two bodies; and that the overall Great Britain promotional effort by the British Tourist Authority remains properly coordinated. This amendment would remove the 603 obligation on the Secretary of State to consult the British Tourist Authority on the Scottish Tourist Board's overseas promotional proposals. The requirement on the Secretary of State in subsection (2) to consult the British Tourist Authority will ensure that the Authority has a voice in the shape and structure of the activities which the Scottish Tourist Board proposes to undertake overseas. It is entirely appropriate that this should be so. The British Tourist Authority will continue to be the organisation with primary responsibility for the promotion of Scotland overseas. Nothing in this Bill is designed to alter that in any way. What we propose is that the Scottish Tourist Board should supplement the British Tourist Authority's efforts. If the two bodies' activities are to dovetail, it is crucial that the BTA, the lead body, be given the opportunity to comment on the Scottish Tourist Board's activities. Scotland, after all, is to be marketed as part of Great Britain as well as in its own right. This is not, of course, to say that the British Tourist Authority will dictate what the Scottish Tourist Board should do overseas. The final decision on the Scottish Tourist Board's activities abroad will rest with the Secretary of State, who will take a view on the basis of all the advice available to him, including that of the British Tourist Authority.
I do not anticipate that the requirement of the Secretary of State to consult the BTA will cause delay. The consent provision in subsection (2) is similar to that imposed on local authorities and area tourist boards under the Local Government and Planning (Scotland) Act 1982. The BTA is involved in that consultation process and at no time since the procedure was introduced, some ten months ago, has there been any difficulty about obtaining the British Tourist Authority's comments quickly. I hope that in the light of this explanation the noble Lords will agree that their amendment may be withdrawn.
§ Lord Mackie of Benshie
I must say that the Minister's explanation rather highlights what the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, said, that now we want to oversee the Secretary of State as well and instruct him to consult the British Tourist Authority. Surely to goodness the Secretary of State knows his duty without its being laid down exactly to him. I must say that the argument to the effect that we have to dovetail every single thing and gain the consent of both bodies does look a little thin when you consider that the Scottish Tourist Board are going to be spending £200,000 and they are hardly likely to throw it away and duplicate something that was already being done by the British Tourist Authority. I must say that it appears to me excessive, but it is not, again, a tremendous point. However, I think that the Minister could well remove these lines and improve the Bill and perhaps show a little more trust in the tourist authorities in Scotland and in the Secretary of State for Scotland, instead of hedging them in with every possible definition.
§ Lord Hughes
I am very surprised that the Minister of State should have reacted as he did to this amendment, which undoubtedly, I think, would improve the Bill. I particularly appreciated what my noble friend Lord Ross of Marnock said on the previous amendment, when he was inviting the 604 Minister of State to remember that he was the Minister of State, because when I occupied the position which the noble Lord, Lord Gray of Contin, occupies now I was given a very clear mandate from my noble friend (who was then Secretary of State for Scotland) to exercise my discretion on matters where the Bill would be neither impaired nor improved by accepting an amendment. Of course, I was in a different position from the noble Lord, Lord Gray of Contin. I did not have hordes of possible votes sitting behind me, and I had to try to be reasonable to the House and carry the House with me. Now he knows that if any of these matters are taken to a Division he will win it. That does not make the argument any better.
I should like to draw his attention to the fact that, while he points out how necessary it is that the Secretary of State should consult the British Tourist Authority before giving his consent to proposals, if the noble Lord goes a little further down the page—and I would appreciate it if he would pay attention to what I am saying and not allow himself to be distracted by his colleagues—he will see:(3) Nothing in this section shall—(a) affect the power of the British Tourist Authority to carry on any activities outside the United Kingdom for the purpose of encouraging people to visit Scotland".There is nothing in that hit saying that, before it exercises its powers. it should consult the Secretary of State for Scotland. But when the Secretary of State wants to consider something. he has to consult the British Tourist Authority.
That indicates to me that my noble friends Lord Ross of Marnock and Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove are right when they say that the Government give all the impression of having allowed the Secretary of State for Scotland to produce this Bill, but they have done it in the most grudging fashion possible and are seeking to preserve the power of the British Tourist Authority even over the Secretary of State for Scotland. The noble Lord, Lord Gray of Contin, would do more honour to his office if he exercised a little more discretion, and did not feel obliged to stick to every word or comma which appears in the Bill before the Committee today.
§ Lord Howie of Troon
I think that the Committee will by now be well on the way to agreeing that my noble friend Lord Carmichael must be right or, if not totally right, very nearly right. In parenthesis, let me say that it is a very good thing to see him here. He brings a great deal of expertise and distinction from another place to our deliberations.
What we should consider against this amendment is the Title of the Bill and what the Bill purports to be about. I come here not to cause trouble but to bring peace, but, as I see it, the Bill is intended to enable, to help or to assist the Scottish Tourist Board to do a variety of things. It is not to assist the British Tourist Authority to do things, estimable though the British Tourist Authority may be, and desirable as its information and help might be. The main thrust of the Bill is to help the Scottish Tourist Board to do something and, therefore, I should have thought that anything in the Bill which appeared to hinder the Scottish Tourist Board in carrying out those duties which are written into the Title of the Bill, ought to be 605 looked at fairly closely. If the provisions of the Bill are such as to hinder the Scottish Tourist Board in carrying out any of the duties which the Bill is intended to a lay upon it, we ought to think about that fairly carefully.
I should have thought that if the Bill, in Clause 1(2) which we are considering, insists that the British Tourist Authority ought to be consulted, it might be a good thing. The British Tourist Authority is a great fount of wisdom in all these matters and consulting it might be helpful. But if the duty to consult is laid upon the Scottish Tourist Board, that is certainly an inhibition between the tourist board and the duty which is laid upon it in the Title of the Bill.
The problem might not be great, nor so enormous as to be insurmountable, and we know that Secretaries of State for Scotland can get round these problems with great dexterity and adroitness. But we should think very carefully before we put into the body of a Bill an instruction which, as I see it—and I may be wrong—amounts to an inhibition on the tourist board in carrying out the duty which the Title of the Bill lays upon it.
The Minister of State is a very sensible man. We know that from his previous career in another place. we know it from the time that he has spent with us, and he has done quite a hit of work in that relatively short time. I think that he should pay very great and careful attention to the remarks of my noble friend Lord Carmichael and think them over and wonder whether on this occasion Lord Carmichael might be right.
The Earl of Selkirk
I wonder whether I may ask my noble friend to look at the word "shall". That is really the point which the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, is making. The Bill is putting an obligation on the Secretary of State. If the British Tourist Authority say, "But you never consulted us about this", and the Secretary of State has given his consent, he is technically in breach of the law. Is this really a very sensible burden to put upon the Secretary of State? I know that this is the very old controversy about the words "shall" and "may", but I should have thought that the word "may" would have been quite enough to cover all that is required. I fully recognise that there must be co-ordination, but it seems to me that this is putting a burden on the Secretary of State which is not necessary and which might land him in quite a lot of difficulty.
§ Lord Stodart of Leaston
The noble Lord, Lord Ross, quoted some words from the report which we submitted to my noble friend two years ago, and I make no bones about saying, as I said on Second Reading, that I wish that the Government were prepared to go a little further. That is what the report said and that is what I wrote my name to. I am bound to say that I think my noble friend the Minister of State is labouring under a most unfortunate burden from the remarks that were made in another place, when I believe that a Statement was made and the Minister made it emphatically clear that this would mean virtually nothing and would be of little importance to the Scottish Tourist Board. I think that that did an immense amount of harm.
606 But what I ventured to say in my Second Reading speech was that, since the report was submitted, we have made a certain amount of progress. There was a Director of Overseas Tourism appointed almost immediately to the Scottish Tourist Board. This Bill is giving an ability to the tourist hoard to promote abroad—albeit on a limited scale—and I do not think it unreasonable of me to say that, in the course of the Second Reading, I did not get the support or the acclamation which I think I was entitled to get, in view of what the noble Lords, Lord Ross and Lord Carmichael, have been saying today. They did not say "Great stuff that Stodart Report!" All they said —and I shall quote what the noble Lord, Lord Ross, said—was:I am glad that we have this new flexibility for the board"—that is, the Bill as it is written—We welcome the Bill…I hope that this will he just the start of something". [Official Report, 29/11/83; col. 601.]I think it is. I do not have so long an experience of Parliament as the noble Lord. Lord Ross of Marnock, but I have come firmly to the conclusion that the mills of God indeed grind slowly. I can only hope that they will grind sure in due course.
§ Lord Gray of Contin
I cannot add a great deal to what I said initially, when I replied to the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove. I will, however, try to clarify one or two points which may not be fully appreciated by the Committee. First, the British Tourist Authority does not have to give its consent. The words are:the Secretary of State…shall…consult the British Tourist Authority".At the end of the day, the decision about which activities the Scottish Tourist Board engages in overseas is the decision of the Secretary of State for Scotland. There is no question of the British Tourist Authority having to give its consent.
My noble friend Lord Selkirk put forward the argument that we have had on so many occasions in both Houses about "shall" or "may". There are many examples of a Secretary of State being placed under an obligation to consult any number of other bodies with a view to achieving a better result in the case of the matter under consideration. This obligation does not apply just to the Secretary of State for Scotland. As my noble friend is aware, there are many other instances where Secretaries of State are required to consult. I cannot really believe that by making this amendment we shall improve the Bill. The requirement is perfectly reasonable, and is well precedented.
I emphasise, because I am quite sure this point has not been fully appreciated (I come back to the first point which I made in my earlier remarks), that there is absolutely no question of the BTA having to give its consent, but it is right and reasonable that the BTA should be in the lead. As I explained earlier to the Committee, the BTA spends a very substantial sum of money upon helping to promote Scotland—a very much larger sum of money than it is intended that the Scottish Tourist Board will spend in order to supplement the efforts of the BTA. So it is reasonable and in the best interests of Scotland that the BTA should take the lead. With the BTA taking the lead, 607 Scotland will get the benefit, not only of its own promotion through the Scottish Tourist Board, but also of the British promotion which the British Tourist Authority carries out on its behalf. Far from doing anything to weaken that situation, I believe the fact that it will be strong and secure will be in Scotland's best interests. I do not believe that the amendment does anything to improve the position, and I hope the noble Lord will consider withdrawing it.
§ Lord Wilson of Langside
This amendment has already occupied a good deal of time, and I hesitate to take up any more of the time of the Committee. However, I find it quite astonishing, having listened to the Minister's reply, that he has not received one word of support either from his side of the Committee or from this. The Minister has not said that he will take the matter away and look at it again. I agree with everything that, in particular, the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, said in support of the amendment. I find it surprising that in answer to what has been said on both sides of the Committee the Minister should apparently still be reluctant to have another look at the matter, and that he is content to leave the Bill with, apparently, an obligation on the Secretary of State to consult the British Tourist Authority. It is not enough to reassure us by saying that in the Bill as it stands an implied veto is not left in the hands of the British Tourist Authority.
§ Lord Howie of Troon
I have a great deal of sympathy for the speech of the Minister of State. There was a good deal of sense in it, but it might be worth his while to reconsider the words -shall" and "may". The noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, made a quite strong point. A great deal of what the Minister of State said about the input of the BTA is correct. We know about that, and we accept it. But the Minister said something which is quite important. Though he felt it was right that the BTA should be consulted, he emphasised more than once that the consent of the BTA was not necessary. It was a key point in his reply. It was a weakness in a very sound reply—a weakness in the following way. If the consent of the BTA were necessary, the word "shall" would not only make sense but would be necessary. But since the consent of the BTA is not necessary the word "shall" is unnecessary and the word "may", as proposed by the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, makes a great deal more sense.
If the noble Lord the Minister of State were to reflect upon the comments which have been made in this extremely brief debate he would realise that by making the kind of change which has been suggested at a later stage of the Bill—either the large change which my noble friend Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove has moved or the lesser change which the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, has mentioned—he would be doing the Committee a very good turn.
§ Lord Ross of Marnock
I had hoped that the noble Lord would give us some pleasing words about the possibility of looking again at this matter. The fact that he dealt so timidly with the previous amendment makes his performance on this one even more disgraceful. He said that there was a precedent for the 608 Secretary of State having to consult. However, they are not necessarily mandatory consultations. On previous occasions I have put down amendments to the effect that the Secretary of State should consult the trade unions. The answer I received was that the Secretary of State would do that, anyway; those words did not need to be inserted. If these words were not included, I am sure that, because this other body is there and does the bulk of the work, they would be consulted.
Because of the praise that the Minister heaped on the shoulders of the BTA, I began to wonder why there was any need for the Bill. If the situation is so good, why have the Bill? The overseas projection amounted to over £200,000. It is quite humiliating that the Secretary of State should be told that he has got to consult the BTA. The Scots are suspicious people. The Government have already announced changes relating to the BTA. One of the changes is that the chairman of the English Tourist Board is to become the chairman of the British Tourist Authority. I believe that is all the more reason for being a little more considerate of the feelings of the Scots and saying, "We don't need this".
Of course we realise that there is no power of veto here for the British Tourist Authority; but to make it mandatory for the Secretary of State to make this consultation is quite unnecessary. The Bill, as we read it, becomes more and more offensive. I do not believe that we want to divide the Committee; I know that my Welsh colleagues want to hear the good news about Wales—if, indeed, that be the proper phrase. I shall therefore advise my noble friend to withdraw the amendment.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
I am sure that the noble Lord the Minister of State will have felt the feeling of the House on this particular amendment and realises his own particular isolation. Perhaps between now and Report stage he will reconsider the matter. In order to give him a chance to do so, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Lord Denham
I believe that this is probably the right moment to take the Statement, move that the House do now resume.
§ Moved accordingly, and. on Question agreed to.
§ House resumed.