HL Deb 29 November 1983 vol 445 cc583-605

4.39 p.m.

Lord Gray of Contin

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. I am delighted to have an opportunity, for the second time today, to present to your Lordships a Bill which deals with one of my own direct responsibilities within the Scottish Office—on this occasion, tourism. This is a subject which is of tremendous importance to Scotland and to the Scottish economy. The Government's election manifesto included a firm commitment to extend the powers of the Scottish Tourist Board to include promotional activity overseas. Our belief in the importance of the tourist industry is reflected by our bringing forward the necessary legislation this Session. The Tourism (Overseas Promotion) (Scotland) Bill before your Lordships today gives effect to our commitment.

The contribution of tourism to employment and revenue has for too long been overlooked or underestimated. In Scotland, tourism revenue currently amounts to some £760 million per annum and provides at least 50,000 full-time equivalent jobs. Tourists from overseas are disproportionately valuable to us. Though overseas visitors represent only 9 per cent. of all visitors to Scotland, they account for nearly 27 per cent. of all expenditure. Annual overseas earnings from Scottish tourism amount to £200 million. Tourism is therefore third after oil and whisky exports. The case for maximising the effectiveness of Scotland's overseas tourism promotion is therefore compelling.

Noble Lords may like to be reminded of the present arrangements for the promotion of Scotland overseas. Under the Local Government and Planning (Scotland) Act 1982, district and islands councils and area tourist boards in Scotland may promote themselves overseas subject to the consent of the Secretary of State. This consent condition is designed to prevent overlap or duplication of effort and to ensure value for money from local authority visits abroad. The Highlands and Islands Development Board also has powers to undertake promotions abroad at its own hand. The Scottish Tourist Board is now helping to co-ordinate local authority and area tourist board promotions on an all Scotland basis, and I believe a more effective programme of overseas sales missions is emerging as a result.

It is however with the private sector and with the sales efforts of the smaller tourist operators that make up the bulk of Scotland's tourist industry that I am particularly concerned today. Many of these small businesses cannot afford to promote themselves fully without some assistance from public funds. This is where we confront the statutory framework for overseas tourism promotion. Under the Development of Tourism Act 1969, responsibility for the overseas promotion of Great Britain and all its parts lies principally with the British Tourist Authority. The national tourist boards of England, Scotland and Wales are expressly prevented from acting abroad—unless as agents of the British Tourist Authority and using BTA funds. This means that the Scottish Tourist Board may not at its own hand incur expenditure on overseas promotion of Scotland or give financial assistance to Scottish tourist operators trying to sell their products abroad.

My Lords, times change. The arrangements which in 1969 were apt and effective, now seem unduly restrictive. Of the three countries of the United Kingdom, Scotland in particular now has a recognisable and commercially saleable image in a number of important and potentially very valuable overseas markets. For many thousands of expatriate Scots around the world, Scotland has a powerful attraction quite different from that of "Britain". And for many Europeans, Scotland has special scenic, historical and recreational attractions. Scotland and its wide range of matchless holiday opportunities has to be marketed vigorously if these markets are to be fully tapped. The products of the smaller operators have to be co-ordinated into a powerful and distinctively Scottish promotion programme if the Scottish tourist industry is to hold its own internationally.

Throughout the Government's last term of office, our consistent aim was to improve and enhance the Scottish Tourist Board's overseas role. The board has an intimate knowledge of the Scottish holiday product. We believe therefore it should have an effective influence on overseas promotion of Scotland. Various administrative changes have therefore been made within the 1969 Act to enlarge the Scottish Tourist Board's agency role in overseas promotions and to help the British Tourist Authority to take fuller account of Scottish promotion needs in its overall Great Britain programme. Chief of these changes was the appointment to the Scottish Tourist Board in 1981 of a director of overseas tourism, whose principal functions are to link the British Tourist Authority more closely with Scottish operators and to coordinate Scottish overseas marketing initiatives.

Our belief in the need to extend the Scottish Tourist Board's overseas role was confirmed by the findings of the committee of inquiry into local government in Scotland. chaired by my noble friend Lord Stodart, which reported in 1981. The committee recommended that the Scottish Tourist Board should itself have power similar to that enjoyed by Scottish local authorities to promote Scotland overseas. We are now to a large extent accepting this advice. We do not, however, advocate a total transfer of responsibility for Scottish overseas promotion from the British Tourist Authority to the Scottish Tourist Board. We believe this would deprive Scotland of access to those many markets where the saleable destination is and will remain "Britain". Rather, we are persuaded that it makes commercial sense to identify those markets where, in addition to marketing Britain, Scotland can be promoted effectively in its own right. We believe that substantial benefits will flow from more aggressive promotion of Scotland in these selected markets.

The Government believe that the best way to exploit these markets is to allow the Scottish Tourist Board to undertake at its own hand promotions of Scotland overseas. This is what the Tourism (Overseas Promotion) (Scotland) Bill before your Lordships tonight, is intended to achieve.

Clause 1 of the Bill contains the two main operative provisions. Subsection (1) lifts the 1969 Act restriction on overseas activity by the Scottish Tourist Board and enables the board to undertake, in its own right, promotions of Scotland overseas. I must make it quite clear that the effect of this provision is to allow the Scottish Tourist Board to supplement, not to replace, the efforts of the British Tourist Authority on Scotland's and Britain's behalf. The proposed extension of the Scottish Tourist Board's powers will not deprive the Scottish tourist industry of the excellent service it has received, and I am sure will continue to receive, from the British Tourist Authority. I am happy to put our appreciation of the work of the British Tourist Authority on Scotland's behalf very firmly on the record. Nor will the Bill in any way detract from BTA's powers under the 1969 Act to promote Scotland and Britain abroad. The BTA will be expected to continue to devote at least as much of its promotional spend and effort to Scotland as in the past. The extension of the Scottish Tourist Board's powers will mean, simply, that the authority will no longer be the only tourist board with power to promote Scotland overseas. The Government's intention is that, through this Bill, the Scottish Tourist Board should be able to provide supplementary promotion opportunities for those in Scotland who want to market their distinctively Scottish products in a co-ordinated way.

The Government are however conscious of the need to ensure that any overseas activities undertaken by the Scottish Tourist Board do in practice complement BTA's promotion efforts for Great Britain; that there is no wasteful overlap or duplication of effort between the two bodies; and that the overall Great Britain promotion effort by BTA remains properly co-ordinated. The Bill therefore provides in Clause 1, subsection (2), that the Scottish Tourist Board's power to promote Scotland overseas shall be exercisable only with the consent of the Secretary of State for Scotland who will, before giving or withholding such consent, consult the BTA. This consent condition is broadly similar to that already applying to Scottish local authorities and area tourist boards. It does not represent a BTA veto. But it will ensure that the Scottish Tourist Board's promotions of Scotland constructively complement the BTA's continuing efforts on Scotland's behalf.

The Secretary of State for Scotland will be able to influence not only the content but also the scale of the Board's operations abroad through his financial control over the Scottish Tourist Board's grant-in-aid. The Government envisage the board undertaking an overseas programme costing about £200,000 per annum at 1983 prices. I am delighted to announce that, as from 1984–85, we will be making the Scottish Tourist Board an additional annual allocation of £200,000 for that purpose. The proposals in this Bill are therefore fully backed by additional resources. In relation to BTA's expenditure on Scotland's behalf—currently estimated at over £2 million per annum—the Scottish Tourist Board's programme will therefore be small. However, we believe that it will be cost-effective and that it will allow Scotland to penetrate the most promising overseas markets.

This view is shared by the British Tourist Authority itself. The present chairman of the BTA—Sir Henry Marking—has publicly expressed the authority's support for proposals designed to give Scotland some scope for self-promotion overseas, subject to the safeguards for British interests which I have described.

The proposals in this Bill therefore reflect the Government's aim to encourage the growth of Scotland's overseas tourism trade while guarding against fragmentation of the total Great Britain promotion effort abroad. This Bill introduces a much-needed element of flexibility into the current statutory arrangements, and I warmly commend it to the House. My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Lord Gray of Contin.)

4.52 p.m.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, I am very conscious of the fact that, as I rise to speak in your House for the first time, we are approaching the end of one of the periodic seasons of maiden speeches, and I feel sustained only by your Lordships' long and renowned record of tolerance on these occasions, and can only hope that this tolerance will endure for the next few minutes. In one respect at least I am fortunate. The business of the House has brought forward this Bill which gives me the opportunity, so soon after my introduction, to speak on a subject in which I have some interest, and which of course is of very great interest to Scotland. As the noble Lord said, tourism is a growing and important industry for most parts of the world and, perhaps more than most, it is an important industry for Scotland.

This Bill, introduced by the noble Lord, deals specifically with extending the powers of the Scottish Tourist Board. The Development of Tourism Act 1969 is amended to: include the power"— that is, the power of the Scottish Tourist Board— to carry on any activities outside the United Kingdom for the purpose of encouraging people to visit Scotland". As the noble Lord said, to some extent it is based on the Stodart Report of 1981, and I am glad to see from the list of speakers that the noble Lord, Lord Stodart, will be speaking later. I shall be very interested to hear his comments as to whether he thinks the results of the inquiry and the very interesting report he produced have really been fulfilled by this Government Bill, which is really an amendment to the 1969 Act. The noble Lord particularly wanted the Scottish Tourist Board to have the sole rights of promoting Scotland abroad, although I think there is an argument for discussion in what the Minister has said. This is a matter we can examine when we reach further stages of the Bill.

The power of the Scottish Tourist Board to sell or to promote Scotland abroad is circumscribed by the condition which the Minister dealt with at some length—that the Secretary of State for Scotland must give his consent to the activities after consultation with the British Tourist Authority. The noble Lord who introduced the Bill will be aware that we must receive more clarification of this condition. We shall certainly go into it more deeply later. It appeared to me that the noble Lord was rather over-selling the Bill as against the statement made by his honourable friend the Minister of State for Trade and Industry in another place, who actually went out of his way to say that the powers granted by this Bill to the Scottish Tourist Board were very limited indeed. I think that this is a matter on which further clarification will be needed. However, this is perhaps not the best time or the best occasion for me to stray into controversy. I can only assure the noble Lord that we await his answers to some of these points.

However, one matter on which we must be agreed is the growing importance of tourism as an industry. I was pleased that he gave the figures for the Scottish industry over the past few years, which I had not been able to obtain. But I understand that last year tourism in the United Kingdom as a whole reached a figure of some £8½billion, and that approaching 1 million people were employed in the industry. I have heard estimates that by the end of the century tourism will be the biggest single industry next to armaments, and the end of the century is only 16 years away. I only hope that sufficient will survive in the world that people will want to reap the benefits of travel, leisure and relaxation, and so stop the continual arms escalation and make tourism by far the biggest industry in the world.

While accepting that there is an important role for a national body, such as the British Tourist Authority, in the setting of standards, the training of people in the tourist industry, the co-operation with the industry in all the grades that the noble Lord mentioned (including the operators, the road transport people, those running the railways, the airline people and the hotel people), and the important role of liaising with the Government on questions of strategic planning, I hope that we never lose sight of the importance of the local initiative which is essential for a good tourist industry.

Perhaps I could give an example; it is certainly not a Scottish one, but it illustrates the point. Many years ago, wearing quite a different hat, I had some little involvement in the transfer of the National Railway Museum to York. The primary purpose was not tourism, but was more tied up with railway finance. However, the citizens of York and the local authorities of York immediately saw the advantages to the city in having the museum there, and they gave the Ministry a great deal of help over getting it moved there. They saw immediately that the addition of an historic railway centre would add to their other splendid attractions, and would make the whole much more important than the sum of the individual parts. Their enthusiasm was very helpful in overcoming the difficulties, which I assure noble Lords are inherent in trying to move anything out of London to any other part of the country. I use this as an example to show the importance of local initiative by the local authority or by local entrepreneurs giving encouragement to the tourist industry.

My own city of Glasgow has made great efforts over the past few years to attract visitors from other parts of Britain and from abroad. The current "Glasgow Smiles Better" campaign and the "Come Home to Glasgow" campaign have both been very successful. For instance, I understand that the "Come Home to Glasgow" campaign has, on a count. attracted at least 10,000 new visitors to the city in the past year. However, it is part of a concerted plan that the whole of the Clyde area has realised that, with the decline of heavy engineering and the near death of the great shipbuilding industry, the problems were quite enormous.

When one thinks of the great ocean liners built on the Clyde which, at the fitting out stage, would employ up to 1,000 joiners, perhaps 500 of both electricians and plumbers, and many other trades as well, one realises the enormous gap that has to be filled in some way. I am not suggesting that tourism can fill the gap. What I am convinced of is that with the expansion of tourism, and if the opportunities are taken, we can certainly go some way and can make a positive contribution to filling the gap left by the decline of some of our traditional heavy industries.

Glasgow has worked closely and enthusiastically with the Scottish Tourist Board in promoting the city at home and abroad. The "Come home to Glasgow" campaign has been successful, and the cleaning up of some of our old and magnificent Victorian tenements has been a revelation to many of the citizens, giving them new heart. I only hope that the Minister will use his influence with his right honourable friend the Secretary of State to see whether we can have that campaign continuing.

The Glasgow marathon is now the third biggest in the world. It attracts many overseas entrants, who we hope will act as ambassadors for Scotland when they go back to their own homelands. Two new large modern hotels have opened in the last year, and the Scottish National Exhibition Centre is in the course of construction. The latest news I have is that the Burrell collection, which was opened only in October, has in the first 30 days attracted over 100,000 visitors, which is quite a staggering number by the standards of any other museum in the country. I am trying to emphasise the importance of local output and enthusiasm to the tourist drive. Nor is their drive or their enthusiasm selfish. Those who come to Glasgow or to Edinburgh because of their special attractions will almost certainly visit other parts of Scotland, and will, we hope, find something there which will bring them back in future years to spend at least some part of their holiday.

I cannot recall any occasion when I have travelled abroad—even in the south, here in England—when someone in the company I have spoken to did not claim a Scottish ancestry, however tenuous. There must be a market, as the Scottish Tourist Board and as many of the local authorities have discovered, in Scottish people abroad coming back to find their roots. I am sure that the great reservoir of potential tourists all over the world would find the pull of Scotland for at least part of their holiday very strong. With the growing involvement of local authorities and the co-operation of the industry, I believe that an important contribution can be made to our economy.

The Bill, limited as it may be, gives the Scottish Tourist Board some powers to tell the world about Scotland. The Scottish Tourist Board know the people in the industry, know the local authorities, and are the right people to encourage this co-ordination. I therefore have great pleasure in welcoming the Bill on behalf of this side of the House.

5.3 p.m.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

My Lords, first, I want to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, on his quick promotion to the Front Bench and for his excellent maiden speech. It is a particular pleasure for me to welcome him because of a long personal association both with him and his family. The noble Lord has spent literally all his life in politics. He was brought up in the stimulating atmosphere of the Independent Labour Party in Glasgow; an experience which I shared and enjoyed. His father introduced me to the Glasgow town council nearly half a century ago—that great centre, that great training ground for future Members of Parliament, the Glasgow City Council—and the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, followed his father to Westminster having served his apprenticeship in Glasgow. He has had experience in Government office, and I am sure that that experience and background will enable him to make a notable contribution to the affairs of this House, and we hope that he will exercise his talents in that direction.

I want secondly to welcome the Bill. It has been described with a certain lack of enthusiasm in certain quarters; but I noticed that the Observer headed a column the other Sunday, "Scotland declares UDI in tourism". I doubt whether even the Minister would claim that that ambition is achieved in the comparatively modest measure that he has before us. What causes me a little concern—and this was expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael—is that while powers have to be exercised by the Scottish Tourist Board in pursuance of this Bill, first of all before it can do the kind of thing it is now charged with, it has to clear it with the Secretary of State for Scotland. He, in turn, will clear it with the British Tourist Authority before he can do the things that he would obviously want to do. Perhaps the Minister will give us some greater reassurance in this regard.

Both the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, have given some statistics with regard to the importance of the tourist trade. In Scotland it has a value of £760 million per annum and provides direct employment to anything between 60,000 and 70,000 people, and, as both noble Lords have said, makes some contribution to relieving the devastation which is caused by the deterioration in our traditional industries. It is estimated that overseas earnings of Scottish tourism are something like £250 million, which is a considerable contribution to the export industry.

There is one difficulty, and I come back to it, in relation to the British Tourist Authority. I hope that the Minister will clarify the point of the role of the Scottish Tourist Board. Recently there has been an announcement that the chairman of the British Tourist Authority is also to be the chairman of the English Tourist Board. This would almost suggest that his influence as a national chairman might be restricted to his concern for Wales and for England.

This seems to be the case in a similar arrangement in relation to the Arts Council. Those of us who live in Scotland will agree with the Minister that Scotland has something special to sell. I hope that our friends in this House who are English will not regard it as unduly arrogant to say so, but any of us who have the privilege of travelling extensively abroad—and I come from a recent Burns' supper in Tokyo at which there was tremendous interest and response to the Scottish image, and all that Scotland stood for—will recognise that there is a special Scottish dimension in tourism. But yet in the past few years in the promotional material of the British Tourist Authority I can give two examples which show that they are not fully sensitive to the special dimension of Scotland.

Not so long ago the British Tourist Authority published motoring maps for tourists visiting this country. The roads terminated at Oban. There was a suggestion that if you went beyond Oban you somehow or other fell off the end of Scotland. This indicated that all that glorious countryside of Scotland, Wester Ross, well known to the Minister, was neglected in that kind of promotion.

In material distributed by the British Tourist Authority in the United States there was also an interesting description of Barra as a, "rugge, uninhabited He bridean island". I am sure that the hotel keepers and all the bed and breakfast people in Barra must resent that kind of description; it does nothing for the tourism of the area. I can certainly commend Barra as an excellent place to spend a peaceful and relaxing holiday. But it is because of this insensitivity that the Scottish people are a little concerned and a little apprehensive about the British Tourist Authority.

Something that has been most encouraging in the past few years is not simply the support that the Scottish Tourist Board has given to the development of tourism, but the very substantial private investment in tourism. It is not often that I say kind words about privatisation, but one should consider the transformation that has been effected at the Gleneagles Hotel or at the Old Course Hotel at St. Andrews which were starved of investment when they were part of British Rail. They are now very lively and very attractive tourist centres.

Scotland has a good deal to offer not only in scenery and traditional hospitality, but I am sure the Minister appreciates its special contribution to golf.

There is a belief in the English Tourist Board that all visitors who come to this country necessarily come to London first and then should be syphoned off to Scotland. That is not true. People who want a carefree and fresh air relaxing holiday on the best golf courses in the world do not want to go to London first and then to Scotland. I hope that this measure will alter that misconception that people inevitably want to "do" London first. In my experience it is not true. With these comments in relation to the Bill, I support and commend it. I hope that it will have the effect that the Minister has described.

5.11 p.m.

Lord Stodart of Leaston

My Lords, may I, in my turn, add my warm congratulations on two fronts: first, to the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, who has sat glaring across at me in another place for many years but who has, as is normal, been a great friend of mine personally outside the Chamber. In congratulating him on his maiden speech I would say that many years ago—and he touched on this himself—tourism might not have been regarded as the most appropriate subject for someone living in the City of Glasgow. I do not think that anyone who lives in Scotland today can fail to be impressed by the tremendous efforts that the District of Glasgow, as it is now officially called, is making and the success I believe it will have in building itself up as a great tourist centre. I should add, as a former Member of Parliament for part of the City of Edinburgh, that Edinburgh will have to watch its laurels.

Secondly, I offer my warmest congratulations to my noble friend Lord Gray. To achieve, as he has told the House, £200,000 for the Scottish Tourist Board at a time when there are cuts all round shows tremendous powers of advocacy and persuasion. I am quite sure that there will be celebrations at the headquarters of the Scottish Tourist Board tonight, for without that extra money I doubt whether the overseas promotion could have been done, even with the consent of the Secretary of State and even after consultation with the British Tourist Authority.

My interest in this debate is perhaps not altogether surprising. My noble friend has referred to the fact that it is only two years since the committee over which I presided made inquiries into tourism in Scotland, among other things. Some 12 reasonably intelligent people of widely different interests and widely differing political views one of whom, Mr. Clarke, is now a Member of the House of Commons on the Opposition Benches, and another of whom has found his way on to the Benches here—found what we regarded as some very strange inconsistencies. At that time any local authority, be it island, district or region, was able to promote its own particular beauties and attractions in any part of the world. Quite a number did so. Regions and district councils within the same region vied together, competing with one another, and totally failing to concentrate their efforts.

As my noble friend has told your Lordships, the Highland and Island Development Board had the right to promote abroad tourism in its area. Its evidence to us was that it worked closely and harmoniously with the British Tourist Authority, but on occasion it could and did send a representative to a world fair if the budget allowed that. It could, if it wished, hire a public relations firm in, say, New York or Tokyo to promote a particular event in its area. What it told us was somewhat ironical; namely, that when at an overseas event it was usually asked questions about places such as Pitlochry or Edinburgh, which were outside its area but in that part of Scotland which the Scottish Tourist Board did not have the same freedom to promote and were not allowed to promote unless on behalf of the British Tourist Authority.

Every chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board since it was set up has asked for autonomy in overseas activity. It is cynical to say so, but it may be true that power produces a thirst for more power, perhaps, so your Lordships should discard those particular views as being the views of interested parties.

I still recall the strength of feeling and the absolute and total unanimity among members of the Stodart Committee that there was no logic in what we had heard. If promotion abroad was allowed to the Highland and Island Development Board and was found by them to be invaluable, and if, in addition, as we were told, the fruits of their efforts were found successful by the area tourist organisations within the Highland area, why not cross the Highland line? So we recommended.

Perhaps we were thinking a bit too far ahead, and it may be that my noble friend thinks that the time for that is not yet. As he says, there have been changes since my committee reported. In 1981, a director of overseas tourism was announced and appointed almost immediately. Now, the Scottish Tourist Board can go further still. It can promote overseas provided (as the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, pointed out) that the Secretary of State consents and provided that the Scottish Tourist Board consults, but, I suppose, not necessarily requiring the approval of, the British Tourist Authority. The noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, said that he would be interested to know whether I thought that this Bill was quite in line with what we had proposed. It would be totally dishonest, after putting my name to the report, if I did not express preference for what we recommended.

Quite frankly, I am not much impressed—and, again, the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, referred to this—by what seems to be the apparently eternal claim that most people from abroad come to London first and that it is the job of the British Tourist Authority to pull them here. I do not doubt that this may have been true in 1969. I do not believe that the majority of the visitors to this country fly into Heathrow Airport out of sheer pleasure. I do not believe that they come there because they want to do so; and, having struggled in there, is it not going to be unduly hard work for them to go there again en route for Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen or Inverness?

Given more direct services into Scotland, which are bound to come, Scotland will take a higher place in the tourist table in its own right. Of that, I am quite certain. No market is static, not even a tourist one; and less well-known places in the world will, I believe, become more sought after.

My noble friend in his opening speech referred to his dislike of duplication. He said that the object of the Bill was to enable the Scottish Tourist Board to supplement, not to replace, the British Tourist Authority. I would say to him that I think that one can supplement without duplicating. I do not think that the Scottish Tourist Board would be so foolish as to want to fly its flag over premises next door to those of the British Tourist Authority in the world's capitals. But I see sense in the Scottish Tourist Board having perhaps a wing or a floor in the British Tourist Authority's buildings, doing their own thing and paying the British Tourist Authority a commercial rent for the job—just, incidentally, as does the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

I listened, as we all did, to my noble friend's most persuasive speech. I think that he has achieved much. He will be the first to admit that there is still this rather strange anomaly between the powers of the Highlands and Islands Development Board and the Scottish Tourist Board. Personally, I think that they are too anomalous to remain for long and I suspect, and I hope that this will be only the first step in rationalising the situation.

5.25 p.m.

Lord Wilson of Langside

My Lords, not for the first time, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stodart, in saying that both the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, and the noble Lord, Lord Gray of Contin, have earned our congratulations this afternoon. I have known Lord Carmichael almost as long as I have known Lord Taylor of Gryfe but, as time has marched on, I shall not indulge in any reminiscences about the personal relationships which we have. We all hope to hear him on many occasions in the future.

The noble Lord, Lord Gray of Contin, is to be congratulated on this small step forward. It will have been quite a hard fight, I am sure, in the political and economic climate that exists today. It is not a big step but it is a step, and a step in the right direction. It makes one think—and the thought is perhaps provoked to some extent by what the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, said in his memorable speech earlier this afternoon—about the fact that we should require an Act of Parliament to give to the Scottish Tourist Board a power to carry on any activities outside the United Kingdom for the purpose of encouraging people to visit Scotland. I find much food for thought, in relation to the way in which we govern ourselves, in the fact that an Act of Parliament should be necessary for this purpose when we have already a provision in the Act of 1969 that the Scottish Tourist Board can act as an agent for the British Tourist Authority in this very matter.

Listening to the speeches and thinking of these aspects this afternoon, I was tempted to wonder whether there may not be a fundamental flaw in the administrative structure which we established in 1969 to promote the development of tourism to and within Great Britain. It certainly has some features which, when I looked at them yesterday, struck me as a little odd. Unfortunately, I cannot recall whether they struck me as odd in 1969 and whether, if they did, I then said so, as of course I should have done; because I was a member of the Government which promoted this particular piece of legislation.

The structure consists of a British Tourist Authority and three boards. The peculiarity is that the functions of the boards in England, Wales and Scotland are identical with those of the authority in these countries. Each board has, as it were, a sort of concurrent jurisdiction in its own country with the authority. But the authority has exclusive jurisdiction in relation to overseas activities. My point in raising this aspect of the matter is that I am wondering whether this is the kind of set-up which has given rise to the difficulties which this Bill has been designed to meet. One can understand an authority being established to help to co-ordinate the activities of the three boards overseas. But the British Tourist Authority's functions go much wider than that.

I am inclined to wonder why and whether it is a good thing, or whether it does not carry within it the seed which promotes bureaucracy in its less acceptable forms. And, of course, something must be wrong in the way it has been working. That is why we have had to have this Bill, which of course we all welcome and wish well. I await with interest what the Minister will have to say as to why the Government did not accept the much more wide-ranging suggestion of the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Stodart, who have already been referred to, and why they regard it as being in the interests of both efficiency and economy that the present structure should be maintained. The recommendation of the Stodart Committee was of course a unanimous one, and I would hope that the Minister can elaborate on the reasons why these proposals were rejected.

5.31 p.m.

Lord Ferrier

My Lords, I make no apology for jumping in at this moment. I have been provoked to speak by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, and to some extent by my noble friend Lord Stodart, talking about tourists coming to Scotland having to go through London. What is wrong with Prestwick? I daresay we shall hear more about that from the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, when the time comes, but it so happens that I have had two recent experiences which have a bearing on what has been said today.

I travel by train from Ayr on my way to Edinburgh—and incidentally there is no through service from Ayr to Edinburgh: you have to change stations if you do not want to wait for at least an hour and a half to change trains at the Central station. I found myself in a compartment with two American ladies who had arrived at Prestwick, with tickets to Edinburgh via the Central. They were not aware that there was a service from Ayr to Edinburgh viathe Central but that it is not co-ordinated in any way at all. However, they said they did not mind and they would only have to wait an hour and a half in the Central to get the connection via Shotts. It occurred to me then what a pity it is that there is no direct service between Ayr and Edinburgh which stops at Prestwick—any more, by the way, than there is a direct service from Edinburgh to Perth. You have to change if you wish to go from Edinburgh to Perth.

I wonder whether the tourist board would think of allotting a special task to one of their staff to keep British Rail up to the mark. I travelled yesterday in the day train from Stranraer to Euston. I joined it in Ayrshire and the windows were so dirty that you could not see out at all. It was a lovely autumn day but, except for the fact that there were cattle in the fields, the windows concealed the rest of the view from me altogether. I think that British Rail should have been on the mark about that.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord could get an up-to-date copy of the British Rail timetable. That shows that you do not have to wait an hour and a half at Glasgow Central in order to get a train. They run every half-hour to Edinburgh from Queen Street, and also every second train from Edinburgh to Perth is a direct through train.

Lord Ferrier

My Lords, I know about that: I travel myself. Are you aware that the bus which you have to take from the Central to Queen Street charges 25p and no change is given? It is no trun by the railways at all; it is run by the Glasgow Corporation. I have had trouble there, though not for myself, because I am wise enough to carry change; but there are people with children who are unable to find the change to pay the 25p. No, the service is perfectly possible; it would be possible for British Rail to introduce a through service via the Central. I think there is one train you do not have to wait about an hour for, but they do not co-ordinate otherwise. All I was saying was that I think it would be in aid of the tourist board if they had somebody to keep an eye on British Rail.

The noble Lord, Lord Stodart, referred to the Highland Railway. There again, that needs watching. I have not been on it recently, but it is the most magnificent scenic route anywhere in the world, perhaps, and I wonder whether more could not be made of it.

I have spoken about the through service from Edinburgh to Perth. The only other criticism of something which I suggest is worth watching is the design of the new sleepers, which are spoken of with rapture by many people. But I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, (shall we say?) has tried sleeping in one of the new sleepers. If so, I wonder how he fitted into the new bunks. As for my noble friend Lord Swinton, I tremble to think how he would even get in at the door of the sleeper. However, those are points of design which I think could be examined in terms of our sleepers and in terms of our tourist trade, which is what we are concerned about.

This train I travelled on from Stranraer to Euston did not stop at Prestwick. I have written to the Railway Board and asked them: "Why don't you stop at Prestwick?" They said, "Because if people want to go to London they do not want to get out at Prestwick". That is by the way, but the fact is that, although my train was an hour and a half late (it broke down on Shap), it did not stop at Prestwick. It is perfectly possible for tourists to go to Annan, to Dumfries and to Carlisle to switch on to other scenic parts of the line. I think that is much needed.

All I can say is that I should be delighted to help if I were asked to do so. I should be delighted if the railways people or the tourist board were to send someone to see me, because I am a lifelong supporter of railway travel and I should like to see it developed more than it is today. I look forward to hearing what my old friend Lord Ross of Marnock says about Prestwick.

5.38 p.m.

Lord MacLeod of Fuinary

My Lords, in the first place, may I express my appreciation of the promoter of this Bill, the Minister, in allowing me to speak although my name is not on the list? I shall reward him by speaking only very shortly, but I am speaking here mainly because of my interest in the tourist situation. I happen to belong to a group of people who, in the island of Iona, are responsible for an abbey; and from the end of May to the beginning of September people usually work out that 2,500 tourists come to the Island of Iona every week during that period; so perhaps I can speak on behalf of the tourist industry and the proposition. It is simply to say that, on behalf of the tourist industry and on behalf of the tourists who come, we very much appreciate this Bill. We appreciate also the extent to which the authority in England still continues to be concerned and at the moment is prepared to give a grant to Scotland and to allow Scotland to speak in its own name in this regard. I simply rise to say that, and I should have preceded it by saying how much I appreciated the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, and how we hope he will often speak to us again.

5.40 p.m.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, this has been a most interesting debate and a great number of points of view have been expressed about a great number of subjects, particularly the fitting of myself and the noble Earl into the new railway carriages. I found them very comfortable, except that when you try to put down the blasted tray which is supposed to hold your tea it will not come over yourself at all. The old design, and the facilities provided in the older carriages, were extraordinarily useful and much more comfortable—

The Earl of Swinton

My Lords, I am sorry to ask the noble Lord to give way, but I am sure that if he and I travel in the same carriage we shall need a little more than the local brew of tea to see us through safely.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, I wholly concur with that. But I. too, must welcome the Bill, if only because it has led to an expression of a great number of very useful opinions in this House. It gives us a chance to stress the tremendous importance of tourism, not only to Scotland but to the whole country, at the present time when our manufacturing exports have fallen away to such an extent that, if we did not have the oil that we are at present exporting, we would be one of the poorest countries not only in Europe but in the developed world.

Tourism is of immense importance to the whole country and to Scotland. The figures given are quite interesting, in that 10 per cent. of the tourists who come to Scotland are from overseas. But they are much more important than just 10 per cent., because they spend much more. Their spending is something like 3 per cent., which is about three times the amount spent by the home tourist, which is where the figure of between £200 million and £250 million comes from. Then, again, North American tourists are alleged to spend five times as much, and they should be greatly encouraged. I understand also, although the report has not come out, that the trend this year is up and that we are up to about a figure of 10 per cent. for overseas visitors. We have done rather better in Scotland than last year.

Another encouraging point is that 50per cent. of Scots take their holidays at home in Scotland. It is a very good thing to go to a restaurant where the proprietor eats in, but it is a very bad thing to go to a restaurant where the proprietor eats out. So this is a very good point in favour of Scotland. The increase in Americans may well be due purely to the fact that the exchange rate is now very much more reasonable, which enourages them to come. They like to come for a lot of different reasons and I should like to back up what the noble Lord, Lord Stodart, and other people said about Scotland as a separate entity. I do not think that people necessarily want to proceed from London up to Scotland. I think that they come to Scotland for entirely different reasons. Nothing could be less similar than the environment of the Highlands of Ross and Cromarty and the regions of Soho or Piccadilly. This attraction needs separate promotion and it certainly needs much more co-ordination than it has had in the past.

I welcome the step forward—it is a pretty small one and I am sure that the noble Lord the Minister will not disagree with that—but it is a very necessary one. It is ludicrous that the Highlands Board should have promoted abroad, and that the local tourist boards could promote abroad, but that the very energetic Scottish Tourist Board was unable to spend any money there. The need for more promotion is very great, because large new markets are opening up. I was at the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference in South Korea this year and there is an astonishing creation of wealth going on all over the Far East, starting with Japan but now spreading to South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. All round that area there is a great new market for tourism growing up and a great amount of new wealth being created. That must not be neglected and it needs to be promoted. They have no traditional links with Scotland, but they want to travel and see other parts of the world.

The Government need to do a lot more to promote tourism in Scotland. For example—and it is all part of the same thing—there is no official scheme to grade the quality, or to upgrade the quality, of self-catering cottages, boarding houses, bed and breakfast hotels and so on. If there was a grading-up scheme there would atleast be a weapon which could be used to keep them up to the mark, particularly in the most attractive areas of Scotland. People come for the great beauty around them and there is an automatic flow of tourists. But in some cases—not in many—the service leaves a good deal to be desired, and the Government need to provide money for this sort of thing to be exposed and to improve matters all over Scotland.

I do not want to go on, because it has all been said, but I should like to say a little about the money. The noble Lord really cannot say that £200,000 is a tremendous amount to promote Scotland throughout the world. It would pay the Government to spend more money on promotion. It is not money that has been thrown down the drain; it is money that will bring a return. If money is short, there are two ways in which to operate. Either you can cut back, or else you can go out to make more money. In the case of the promotion of Scotland, there is a tremendous future for bringing in money. As I said before, it is a separate market from the rest of the country, and certainly from London, and it would bring tremendous returns if the promotion were well done throughout the world. If my arithmetic is right £200,000 is about 0.1 per cent. No business promoting itself would consider that 0.1 per cent. was a big deal with regard to bringing in fresh business. I would say only that it is a step forward. I hope that the Government, encouraged by this first step, will take further steps and provide a decent amount of money to allow the Scottish Tourist Board to co-ordinate their efforts, in order to get the people and put in the work of getting more tourists into Scotland.

5.48 p.m.

Lord Ross of Marnock

My Lords, I think that the Government will be well pleased by the reception of the Bill. It gives to the Scottish Tourist Board a power which has been pressed for, over a long time, and I join those who welcome the Bill and the fact that we have made this breakthrough. My first task is to congratulate my noble friend the former Member for Kelvingrove, and now Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, on his maiden speech. The ultimate accolade in Scotland is to say, "I kent his faither." I can also say, "I kent his mither as well." His father became a Member of Parliament just a few months before I did in 1946. Before that, his father was very well known as the secretary of the Independent Labour Party of which I, too, had been a member, and he was always the election agent for Jimmy Maxton.

Neil has proved to be a worthy son of his father. I do not know whether people know it, but his brother-in-law is also in the other place, so politics has been in the blood. He was a very hardworking Member of Parliament. He held junior office at the Ministry of Technology and also at the Ministry of Transport, and there is no one who welcomes him more to this Bench than I do. Noble Lords will appreciate that when in future we discuss a long Scottish Bill a Division will not need to be called in order to allow Lord Ross of Marnock to get a smoke. Somebody else will be sitting in the Front Bench to look after everything.

It has been an interesting debate. We trod paths which I thought we would never reach: the merits of the old and the new British Rail sleepers, the trials and tribulations of the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, and his American friends, and the defence of the new sleepers by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie. I should mention, although I am probably out of place in mentioning it, that a very distinguished civil servant wrote an elegy on the old sleepers. When he spoke about the new sleeper the tag line at the end was always "Aye, but there's nae place to hang up my watch". I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, about the questionable value of that little shelf. As soon as you turn round you knock it up—and everything that is on it.

We may have done some good by mentioning British Rail in this debate, although we are giving a much more important power to the tourist board. I have a considerable interest in it; I was Secretary of State when it became a statutory body. Until that time the tourist board in Scotland was almost a self-perpetuating body. Lord Rosebery was the chairman when I took over. People have forgotten that Lord Rosebery was Secretary of State for Scotland in the months leading up to the declaration of a general election and the holding of Parliament in 1945. He thought highly of the tourist board. Its main promoter was Tom Johnston. In the early days the board did not get a very large grant-in-aid from the Government. On one occasion after Lord Rosebery had won a race at Newmarket he gave £1,000 to Tom Johnston to set up a genealogical society.

The noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, made the valid point that for hundreds of thousands of Scots and for the many, many more people of Scottish descent all round the world Scotland means something. So we have a ready-made market. I am glad that we have already tapped that market to a very considerable extent by means of the Highlands and Islands Development Board. We were shown to be growing up in Britain as far as tourism is concerned when we created the statutory boards and the British Tourist Authority in 1969.This was followed up immediately by special grants for refurbishing old hotels and building new ones. Considerable advantage was taken of those grants. They improved the hotel situation no end in places like Edinburgh and Glasgow; private developers took advantage of what was on offer. A certain amount of similar activity is still carried on—a great deal by the Highlands and Islands Development Board and some by the tourist board. We have every reason to be grateful for the success of the tourist board under its various chairmen. Alan Devereux, the present chairman, is certainly a headline hunter, but if he puts Scotland on the map I am content. Everybody who goes abroad is a tourist authority for Scotland. That applies even to Scottish football teams.

Noble Lords


Lord Ross of Marnock

Noble Lords should have been with me in Spain for the World Cup and seen the welcome given to Scottish football teams and Scottish supporters. They would have been proud of the Scottish supporters if they had seen them going through the streets of Seville arm in arm with the Brazilians who defeated them. They created tremendous goodwill for Scotland and for Scottish football. The Aberdeen football team do the same wherever they go. That applies, too, to Celtic and to Rangers. We have every reason to be proud of the quality of Scottish supporters. I am not going to say anything about English supporters. Indeed, I am trying hard not to say anything at all about England! Scotland has a distinctive character. There are the glories of the Highlands and the heather. We have something which symbolises Scotland to put into any exhibition. It puts England into the shade. Let us be honest about it. When it comes to tourist or trade exhibitions, the fact that we have tartans and heather, which are recognised symbols of our country, is to our advantage. They are jealously looked upon by other people.

A noble Lord

And there are our golf courses.

Lord Ross of Marnock

But we do not take them abroad to trade exhibitions. I shall come to golf courses in a minute. The Scottish Tourist Board has been offering specialised holidays—golfing holidays, fishing holidays. Golf is cheaper in Scotland than anywhere else in the world.

A noble Lord

And better.

Lord Ross of Marnock

Of course; that goes without saying. We have not yet translated St. Andrews to any part of England. And we are not going to hand St. Andrews over entirely to the British Tourist Authority. We have got tremendous tourist advantages. I agree with those noble Lords who said that visitors do not necessarily go first to London. They go to London for perhaps different reasons. We are concerned that work should be done within the United Kingdom to ensure that we take full advantage of the tourist efforts which are being made by the local authorities and the heritage organisations. I happen to be the vice-chairman of the National Trust for Scotland. I know exactly what that trust means to Scotland and the attraction that it holds for tourists and people with specialised interests. I know, too, of the co-operation we receive from the Scottish Tourist Board and from the Countryside Commission in the work that we are doing. Many bodies are concerned with improving access for tourists and with improving the facilities for their entertainment and enjoyment while they are in Scotland. We should appreciate all that is being done.

It is right that we should extend this new power to the Scottish Tourist Board. If one thinks of it, we are only giving them the power which district councils already enjoy. When it is put into perspective, one sees that we are not doing anything that is world shattering. We are not giving the board as much power as the Highlands and Islands Development Board already enjoy, power which I gave to that board in 1966 when it was created. There were of course special circumstances in that case.

I say to the Minister of State that no good at all was done to this Bill and to the efforts which the Scottish Office have made to achieve this power by what was said in the House of Commons by the Minister—Mr. Lamont, I believe. I do not know whether he was trying to appease the English and the Welsh when he said that Scotland was getting only a very limited overseas power. The Minister said it more than once and he kept on saying it—so much so that a former Solicitor General spoke of the suspicions of the Scots about what is being done. The fact is that the main drive overseas will still be made by the British Tourist Authority. They are going to spend£2 million. The British Tourist Authority is to be reorganised. They will share headquarters with the English Tourist Authority. The chairman of the English Tourist Authority will become the new chairman of the British Tourist Authority. Although it is not on the cards yet, it may well lead to a merger. This tends to make the Scots rather suspicious as to whether the proper amount of attention will be given to Scotland's needs and Scottish potentialities.

This brings me to the point which was made quite fairly by the noble Lord, Lord Stodart of Leaston, concerning what his committee said, which was fairly clear. It was less than fair to quote Lord Stodart, who supported the Bill, and, in quoting him, the noble Lord, Lord Gray, missed out one very important word: The Scottish Tourist Board should be given overseas promotional powers in its own right and be solely responsible for promoting Scotland abroad". I should not have minded if they had been given the main powers in consultation with the BTA because I think the BTA will have a task to do for Scotland in areas we cannot always reach. But they have been given this very subordinate power after the trumpets have blared in Scotland for the great breakthrough, though we have at last what the Conservatives offered in their manifesto—£200,000-worth. That is a pretty small sum in relation to the job that should be done and is being done. It may be that the job is not being done properly on our behalf by the BTA. That sum is very small in relation to the job that should be done.

I should like to ask a direct question of the Minister. How much is the Highlands and Islands Development Board spending on tourism and how does that compare with what is being spent by the tourist board on the whole of Scotland? And I do not just mean overseas. They have had a tremendous success. Tribute has been paid to them by members of the House who come from that area and who know what happens there. They have had a tremendous success this year. Even in October they had 53 per cent. occupancy of some of their hotels which they still continue to support with grant.

Somebody mentioned Barra today. One hotel in Barra—and one was put up under the Highlands and Islands Development Board hotel scheme—probably employs the equivalent of the number of people in Birmingham who are employed by the motor industry. That is what a big hotel and a successful hotel can mean to a small place. Who was it that mentioned Barra? Who was it who said that people had never heard of it? Have they never heard of Compton Mackenzie? That is where he lived and where he wrote Whisky Galore; they have probably heard of Whisky Galore.

I am glad that we have this new flexibility for the board. I hope that it is only a start. When one considers that £200 million was spent by overseas tourists in Scotland this year and calculates what the Treasury's take-off from that expenditure was, then it can be seen that we are not spending all that much on the expansion of the industry. I hope to see a very considerable expansion, and I certainly wish well to the tourist board in their new ventures.

I suggest, too, that they have been successful in taking up the power we gave them two years ago for the creation of the new area tourist organisations involving local interests such as hotelkeepers and shopkeepers plus the local authorities. They have started well—probably better in some places than in others, but the information they obtain from tourists can be fed through to the Scottish Tourist Board in respect of where the board can project special efforts overseas.

We have every reason to be proud of what we do in respect of tourism. We welcome the Bill. We have been wanting it. It is not that we distrust the British Tourist Authority, but we believe that we can do the job better because we know better just exactly what the advantages are of Scotland. I hope that this will be just the start of something and that we shall see the figures reversed. The Scots are the best ambassadors for themselves.

6.5 p.m.

Lord Gray of Contin

My Lords, first it is my very pleasant duty, for a second time today, to associate myself with those who have congratulated a maiden speaker. On this occasion, it is a great pleasure to welcome the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove to the House of Lords. We hope he will participate frequently—and not only in Scottish matters, though we are sure that Scottish matters will feature largely in his interests. I perhaps have a particular reason for welcoming the noble Lord because his brother-in-law who is in another place was for many years my pair. Therefore I have a special affection towards his family.

The noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, asked me for some clarification about the British Tourist Authority approval procedures and the relationship between the Scottish Tourist Board and the British Tourist Authority in that way. Let me emphasise that the purpose of consultation with the British Tourist Authority is to ensure that the Scottish Tourist Board in its own promotions does not duplicate what the BTA is already doing in the same place.

As to the actual decision on whether the Scottish Tourist Board goes ahead with a particular project overseas, that is the responsibility of and a decision for the Secretary of State and nobody else. The requirement is that the Secretary of State shall consult with the BTA. But let nobody make any mistake: the actual decision is that of the Secretary of State and nobody else. I hope that point is quite clear.

The noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, was concerned, as a number of speakers were, about the possibility of a merger between the English Tourist Board and the British Tourist Authority. He suggested that, since there was one chairman, it seemed likely. I should make it clear to the noble Lord that the chairman, Mr. Bluck, has been asked only to examine the possibility of a merger. No decision whatever has been taken on this matter. Indeed, so far as the Scottish Tourist Board is concerned, we believe that this Bill strengthens its role substantially.

I accept that on occasion the British Tourist Authority has made mistakes. Some of the examples which the noble Lord gave are distressing to Scots—of that there is no doubt. But, by and large, the British Tourist Authority has done a very good job by Scotland. Its promotion of our interests has been most acceptable, and over recent years particularly the relationship which has existed between the BTA and the Scottish Tourist Board has been very good indeed.

My noble friend Lord Stodart of Leaston gave a welcome to this Bill, and I was most grateful to him for the comments he made. There is little difference between us so far as our attitude to the Bill is concerned; perhaps a little difference in emphasis here and there. My noble friend did point out that we did not go the whole way—and this was raised also by a number of other noble Lords—in following the recommendation of his committee. On the other hand, we have made a very significant step towards what his committee recommended. We believe that it would have been a mistake to go the whole way because it is still in Scotland's interest that we should be allowed access to areas which are notably British areas. We do not want to exclude ourselves from the potential of gaining from the spin-off from projects which relate principally to Britain. We believe—and Scots are noted throughout the world for trying to get the best of both worlds—that we have actually achieved quite a significant step in obtaining the best of two worlds so far as promotional activities are concerned.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, if the Minister will allow me, can he clarify one point? Did I understand him to say that out of the British Tourist Authority's spending abroad, £2 million could be attributed to Scotland?

Lord Gray of Contin

Yes, my Lords, that was a point I dealt with in my opening speech—and that is correct. I shall deal in a little more detail with the financial questions in a few minutes, when I shall be dealing with another point relating to finance which the noble Lord raised.

My noble friend Lord Stodart also suggested that it might have been better if we had gone the whole way forward and given complete autonomy to the STB. If I may add to what I have already said, we want to promote Scotland and Britain; it is not a question of promoting only Scotland. We want to supplement what is already being done by the British Tourist Authority and we believe we can do it better in this way and through this legislation.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Wilson of Langside, dealt with exactly the same point. He will forgive me if I do not repeat myself again, because what I had to say in answer to the point of my noble friend Lord Stodart is identical. There is also the point, of course, that at the end of the day the British taxpayer foots the bill and we must avoid wasteful duplication. We must ensure that we get the best value for the money spent. All those points are covered in the line which we have taken and in our decision to follow this form of legislation.

The noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, made some very interesting comments about the merit and demerit of British Rail. My noble friend Lord Lyell has handed to me an updated version of the railway timetable, which I shall pass on to the noble Lord, from which I see that there is a wide variety of services which could be available to him and that refreshments are available on a great many of them. The noble Lord asked me about the particular attitude of British Rail and how they might keep up to the mark as far as tourism was concerned. British Rail are, I think, very well aware of the importance of tourism, not just to the economy of Scotland but also to their own revenue, and I believe that regular meetings already take place between the Scottish Tourist Board and British Rail. I think that from those meetings British Rail will be kept very well aware of the sort of criticism which is made of them from time to time. But when we are making criticisms I do not think we should overlook the praise which is also given. No doubt those who read of our deliberations in this House will balance one against the other.

I turn to the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, for whose welcome to the Bill I was grateful. He said it was a small but important measure. I would go a little further; I would say it is a small but very important measure—indeed a very significant measure. I would suggest to him that the £200,000 to which I referred is, of course, only supplementing what is already spent. He rightly made the point himself that £2 million is already being spent, and this £200,000 is being supplemented by the Scottish Tourist Board, which will benefit from the original sum that will continue to be spent by the British Tourist Authority. We believe that the Scottish Tourist Board, being based in Scotland and having a most direct knowledge of the best way in which Scotland may be presented and projected overseas, is well equipped to work along with the BTA in this effort.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, if I may intervene, can the noble Lord tell us how the BTA calculate the £2 million spent in Scotland?

Lord Gray of Contin

My Lords, I am afraid I simply cannot answer that question off the top of my head, but I will certainly be very happy to contact the chairman of the British Tourist Authority on behalf of the noble Lord, and when I have the information from him I shall be happy to forward it to the noble Lord.

The noble Lord made mention of the good season, and, yes, I can confirm that this has been a very good season. Final figures are not yet available, but, from my own travels around Scotland during the Recess, I can confirm that the number of times on which I visited hotels where I was told that they were either fully booked or practically fully booked was encouraging indeed. I think it speaks well for the standard of service which is being offered in Scotland these days.

I take the point that the noble Lord made when he suggested there were some areas where there could perhaps still be improvement. We can never be satisfied with the service offered. I know that some areas are conscious of this and the local tourist organisations will be doing their utmost to see that improvement is made.

On the question of grading accommodation, this is a matter which is being actively pursued by the new Scottish Confederation of Tourism under the chairmanship of the STB chairman, Mr. Devereux. I agree that this is a very desirable step forward and I am glad that SCOT is taking it seriously.

Lord Ross of Marnock also welcomed the Bill, and I was interested in what he said about the Scottish football sides which travel abroad, the fact that they are ambassadors and are now accepting the responsibility which they have. There was a time, regrettably, when this was not so, but I think we can all now be very proud of the way in which Scottish football supporters are behaving when they go abroad. I do not think we ever had any doubt about the merit of the teams, but some of the supporters were not exactly as we would have wished. I think lessons have been learned and there is a marked improvement which could be followed in other parts of the country. The success of Aberdeen Football Club is being put to good effect. I can tell the noble Lord that the Aberdeen Tourist Board have mounted promotions to Sweden and to Germany with considerable success. I have no doubt that other clubs will give this idea to other tourist boards, and it must be welcomed.

The noble Lord asked me the direct question about how much the Highlands and Islands Development Board spends on tourism. Of its total budget of some £36 million in 1983–84, approximately £7 million will be spent on tourism, and, of that figure, approximately £200,000 on overseas promotions. Add to this the Scottish Tourist Board's total budget of nearly 8 million, and I think noble Lords will accept that Scotland has done rather well in Government support so far as tourism is concerned.

My Lords, I am most grateful for the enthusiastic welcome that has been given to this Bill and for the very useful contributions which we have had from all those who took part.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.