§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Report received.
§ 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: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Gray, will be familiar with this amendment. We discussed it at some length in Committee. A fair number of noble Lords took part in that debate and showed considerable interest in this amendment. I think that all of them supported the amendment that was tabled on that occasion. In the course of withdrawing the amendment at the end of our debate I suggested that we would resubmit the amendment in the hope that the noble Lord, Lord Gray, would read what had been said by various noble Lords and consult with his officials; and ultimately I had hoped that reason would prevail and he would agree to omit the word "only" from Clause 1 (2).
As my noble friend Lord Ross of Marnock said in Committee, it is a tautology to say that "only" with the consent of the Secretary of State shall the Scottish Tourist Board be allowed to take part in promotions
outside Scotland; whereas without the word "only" the Bill would read:
The Scottish Tourist Board shall exercise the power…to carry on activities outside the United Kingdom with the consent…of the Secretary of State".
The more I look at the inclusion of the word "only ", and I am sure the more noble Lords look at it, the more I wonder how much the Secretary of State is to be reprimanded. If it clearly says that they shall use the power "with the consent of the Secretary of State," it is absolutely implied that they must have the power of the Secretary of State, and therefore I believe that the word "only" is superfluous.
§ I am not making a great point of this only because of the word; but it has been suggested that the Bill was introduced because it is the one item of the Scottish Conservative manifesto that has been put forward which has been honoured. It may be easy enough to say to Scottish electors, "We have carried out this part of our manifesto", but how will the noble Lord feel when he realises, or when the people of Scotland realise, that, although a part of the manifesto has been put forward, it has been put forward grudgingly? We welcome whatever has been given in the Bill, but the whole question of the Bill has been grudging. We say to people, "Oh yes, the Scottish Tourist Board is to be given powers to carry on certain activities overseas only if it has the consent of the Secretary of State".
§ The noble Lord said that he did not want to discuss the figures, but we are speaking about £200,000. It is not a great deal of money, but we are grateful for it. In addition to that, the other parts of the Bill hedge in the whole question even more. The good aims of the Bill are hedged in by so many conditions. Having given the noble Lord time to look at the amendment and time to read the discussions that took place in Committee—the Liberal Benches took part, some of my noble friends took part and some of the noble Lord's noble friends took part—surely a little concession like this would at least indicate that the Scottish Office is in charge of the Bill and is aware of the importance of Scotland, and that there is seen to exist a certain amount of trust between the Secretary of State and one of the very important bodies promoting Scotland. I beg to move.
§ The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Gray of Contin)
My Lords, this amendment was given very full discussion in Committee. At that time the noble Lord, Lord Ross, said that he would give the Government time to think about it, and I certainly have been thinking very hard about it. I have listened very carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, has said this evening. But I am bound to say that I do not find the arguments compelling.
I hope that noble Lords and my noble friends will forgive me if I state what to them must be very obvious. The phrase "with Mr. X's consent" is ambiguous. It conveys a condition which may or may not be necessary. By contrast, the phrase "only with Mr. X's consent" clearly describes a necessary condition. The condition "only with the consent of the Secretary of State" is the logical form which makes clear beyond any possible doubt that under no circumstances is the activity in question lawful unless 944 the Secretary of State—and he alone—has consented to it.
The noble Lord, Lord Ross, may feel that in a legal context such nice distinctions can be disregarded. He may say that the phrase "with the consent" would, as a matter of statutory interpretation, invariably be construed as "only with the consent". This is arguable, but let us avoid all ambiguity and express our policy clearly. Why noble Lords opposite should find this little word so objectionable I really am at a loss to discover. It supports and gives due emphasis to our policy intention in the Bill. The phrase "only with the consent of the Secretary of State" is entirely natural in spoken language, adding useful emphasis which assists the reader to obtain more easily a clear idea of what is intended. The phrase is also well precedented in statute. Indeed, it is the usual way of expressing a requirement that a power can be exercised only if a particular consent is given.
The noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, is widely experience in these matters. As he will recall, I mentioned during the Committee stage that in 1968 the then Labour Government, of which the noble Lord was a member, amended the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Act 1965. The 1968 Act increased the powers of the Highlands and Islands Development Board in much the same way as this Bill increases the powers of the Scottish Transport Board. But in subsection (2) of Section 1 it is declared that the new powers:shall be exercised only with the approval of the Secretary, of State".All that is happening here is that the same form of words are being used to express the same intention as is in the 1968 Act. The new power should only be exercised if the Secretary of State consents. We could have arguments as to whether or not it is a good idea for the Secretary of State's consent to be needed. But that is not what we are arguing about in this amendment. We are arguing about the little four-letter word "only". There are many four-letter words which are often better left unsaid and unwritten; but this little four-letter word is important, and I believe it is necessary.
Of course, I want to see the best possible legislation for Scotland. The noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, said many things with which I could not disagree; but, naturally, this is what we all aim to achieve. Where we disagree is how best to achieve it. It is important to have absolute clarity. I believe that that is what we are achieving in the Bill; but the proposed amendment would be counter to the Government's desire. Therefore, I hope that in due course the noble Lord will agree to withdraw his amendment.
§ 7 p.m.
§ Lord Ross of Marnock
My Lords, the noble Lord does not like four letter words. There are many four letter words, he says. May I suggest that "Gray" is one of them?
§ Lord Ross of Marnock
I know, one is good and the other bad, you see. I want to thank the noble Lord for the thought he has given to this important 945 amendment. I wondered why he was absent from the Roads (Scotland) Bill, with all those hosts of amendments which have taken three days so far. Now I know what he has been doing. He has been looking at this amendment. What does he say? He does not know why we consider it objectionable. I consider it objectionable because it is unnecessary.
Let me thank him for telling us that it was precedented all over the place. He instanced one Act; the amendment to the Highlands and Islands Development Act, for which I was responsible, and I dare say I was also responsible for the 1968 Act. He now tells us it was the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Act 1968. It would have been helpful if he had got it right the first time. I have Hansard here. He said:he will not be surprised that I have in front of me a copy of the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Act 1965". [Official Report, 20/12/1983; col. 600.]Today he says 1968. Noble Lords will appreciate that my eyesight is not what it was. I am nearly 10 years older than the '65 Act and I spent the last two hours going over that Act of Parliament which the noble Lord cited as his precedent—that is, the 1965 Act, which laid down all the powers of the Highlands and Islands Board. I did not find his reference at all. Such is my faith in the Scottish Office and the briefs they give to Ministers that I was sure that the noble Lord, Lord Gray, must be right. So I did not read it once, I read it about six times, and still did not find it. So he owes me something, and that is one of the reasons why he ought to accept this amendment.
If it was so important to have this word "only" in, I should have put it in in the first Act. It was not there. All the important powers of the Highlands and Islands Development Board are there "with the approval of the Secretary of State", not "only with the approval of the Secretary of State". Why it should have come in the last one I do not know. I shall need to have another look at the Act, but I cannot do it in the middle of a Report stage. It would have been helpful if we had been told the page, the line, and the functions or duties to which this referred. There may be some reason.
I am not satisfied with what has been given. If you take the word "only" out of here you revert to the position in the majority of statutes where it says, "with the approval of the Secretary of State". The Secretary of State has to give his approval. No wonder the Lord Advocate is not here. It would have taken us another hour if we had had the Lord Advocate's advice. There is no ambiguity in this. It is perfectly clear. It is an unnecessary restriction. It is an offensive restriction.
The noble Lord, Lord Gray, must know that before the Bill was published and when the information was given to the people of Scotland at long last some measure of independent action had been given to the Scottish Tourist Board, there was great praise for the Government. Then of course the Minister in the other place brought us down to earth by saying, "Well, what has been happening is that the power given to Scotland is a very little one". The more the Minister of State in this House tells us why this word "only" is in, the less becomes the power given to Scotland. The more he hammers this word "only" and gives it a restrictive 946 importance, the less feeling of triumph there will be in Scotland about this breakthrough.
We consider it important even from the point of view of just pure English, in view of what was said by the Stodart Committee Report. The Committee of Inquiry into Local Government of Scotland thought that the tourism aspect was so important that it may well he that they went a little beyond their inquiry powers:We are however convinced that the distinctive attractions of Scotland and its high dependence economically on tourism merit a separate promotional effort abroad…the Scottish Tourist Board should be given overseas promotional powers in its own right, and he solely responsible for promoting Scotland abroad".That was the background. Well, we are not solely responsible for promoting abroad. It is the British Tourist Authority which at the moment is spending £3,500,000 abroad on behalf of Scotland. I have seen a letter from the present chairman of that authority which I may get an opportunity of referring to later. Certainly in this Bill we are being given not the sole power but some power, and then this offensive "only" with the approval of the Secretary of State. Then there is another thing, he has to consult the British Tourist Authority. So we get a continous build up, reducing the measure of independence being given to the Scottish Tourist Board.
The word "only" does not make any difference at all. It may remove emphasis. That is all. But from a practical point of view it still means that the Tourist Board in Scotland has to have the approval of the Secretary of State. There is no ambiguity there. I have been complaining about combing through of statutes in respect of getting rid of the words "street", and "highway". I think we have got to 50 pages so far in respect of one of the sections of the roads Bill. I do not know what it is going to be like if we have to put this word "only" in to avoid ambiguity in all the statutes which refer to approvals by Ministers. In fact, in every statute you get where there is a power given, whether it is to a local authority, corporation, or board, it is with the approval of the Secretary of State and the consent of the Treasury.
You do not need the word "only". It is quite unnecessary. It may have been that the noble Lord's judgment has been warped by reading what we have been saying about the roads Bill (because it is within his duties, it is his department) and that he has just lost sight of the real meaning of this. I do not know who gave the noble Lord that speech, but there should be a bit of transferring down in his department because he is completely out of touch with the feelings of the people of Scotland, and certainly with the feelings of his own party when he underlines the fact that you are only going to get a small power, and only, and only, and only after, and after and after.
I am not happy about this. I hope that the Government will think again. In the meantime, I should be glad if the noble Lord would give me the proper reference to the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Act 1968 so that I can follow that one through at my leisure when I get away from inshore fishing Bills, roads Bills, education Bills, and all the rest of it, for Scotland.
§ Lord Gray of Contin
My Lords, I can see that the noble Lord is up to his usual form. The day that he gets away from all these Bills he will be a very sad man, and it will be a great loss to Scotland. Now I shall be nice to him. I shall tell him exactly where the reference comes from.
§ Lord Ross of Marnock
My Lords, the noble Lord is not being nice to me, he is being fair to himself.
§ Lord Gray of Contin
My Lords, the noble Lord enjoys having the last word. I will not deprive him of that. I am being nice to myself, and that is a nice thing to do occasionally as well.
I should refer to the reference, which is the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Act 1968. Section 1(2) says:The powers specified in the foregoing subsection shall be exercised only with the approval of the Secretary or State and the Treasury".That is the reference, and I have no doubt that the noble Lord will digest the rest of it at his leisure in due course.
I am sorry, my Lords. Before I said anything to the noble Lord I should have said, "By leave of the House I will reply". I apologise to your Lordships for omitting to do that.
The word "only" is not unnecessary. It makes the Government's policy in this matter absolutely clear. That is what I seek to do in the Bill. I want there to be no doubt what the Government's intention is, and in my view the word "only" emphasises that. It is only with the consent of the Secretary of State that the Scottish Tourist Board can proceed as outlined. We believe that the consent requirement should be observed without exception and that it is only fair to state in our proposals as plainly as possible that overseas activity by the Scottish Tourist Board is in no circumstances to proceed unless the Secretary of State has consented to it. By including the word "only" the consent condition is spelt out with the maximum clarity, and in that at least I am sure we have the blessing of noble Lords opposite. I hope that they may consider withdrawing the amendment.
§ On Question, amendment negatived.
§ 7.12 p.m.
Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 1, line 15, leave out ("shall") and insert ("may")
The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is another amendment that we dealt with at considerable length last time. Part of the whole question of this Bill is its tone and style. Perhaps things would have gone through rather more easily if there had not been this continual grudging feeling behind it all. This was not started by the noble Lord himself but by his honourable friend in another place, the Minister of State for Trade and Industry, who kept retreating in the face of the comments from English Members and kept saying, "It is not really terribly important…it is not terribly important". I must emphasise that while we are glad for the Scottish Tourist Board to have the power to promote Scotland overseas, we feel that it has been spoiled by the grudging nature of it.
§ In our amendment we are suggesting that the Secretary of State, before giving or withholding consent to an action or promotion of the Scottish Tourist Board, "may" consult the British Tourist Authority rather than "shall". The point was made by a number of Members in Committee, particularly by the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, who made it clear that he thought the possibility was that the Secretary of State could be put to considerable trouble because an order was being given to the Secretary of State that he must consult a Government quango. He is not able to do something unless he positively consults that quango. He cannot give consent before doing that. There is no question that he "may" consult but that he "must" consult before he can give his consent.
§ At the Committee stage your Lordships were convinced that enough had been said from every side—from the Liberal Benches, from our own and from the Government Benches—to make the point that to instruct the Secretary of State in such a way, as the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, said, was a possibility and a necessity that might land the Secretary of State in great difficulty. I hope that the Minister will not take this as a personal matter, but the tone and style of the Bill has been so disappointing after the beliefs we had that the Scottish Tourist Board would have some real authority of its own. But that has been hedged round with so many conditions that what could have been a good idea, however small, has been badly spoilt. I hope he will take it in that spirit and consider this amendment very carefully. It is a small amendment, but it could, perhaps, in the eyes of the people of Scotland, retrieve the position a little. I beg to move.
§ Lord Gray of Contin
My Lords, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, is not being wholly fair in his suggestion that everybody is concerned about the style of this Bill. That is not what I have found in Scotland. I have found that the Bill has been received with a great deal of acclaim by those involved in the tourist industry. The Scottish Tourist Board is highly delighted with the Bill.
It has been suggested that the Scottish Office has done extremely well to manage to get £200,000 extra at a time when everybody is having to make cuts and is having to review their expenditure seriously. Therefore, I believe we have achieved a lot with this Bill. I accept that it is a small measure, but I do not for one moment suggest that it is an unimportant measure. The noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, was generous enough to say he was thankful for small mercies and that he welcomes the Bill in that way. But the Bill is much more significant than noble Lords opposite have given it credit for being.
This amendment would remove the obligation on the Secretary of State to consult the British Tourist Authority before deciding whether to approve the Scottish Tourist Board's overseas proposals. It would provide, instead, that such consultations may be undertaken at the Secretary of State's discretion. Our policy is that the British Tourist Authority should remain the organisation with prime responsibility for the coherent, co-ordinated promotion abroad of Great Britain and its constituent countries. We wish the British Tourist Authority to maintain its current, very significant efforts on behalf of Scotland abroad.
949 Recognising, however, that Scotland has in certain markets a quite distinctive and saleable identity and that there would be economic benefit in capitalising on this identity, we wish to enable the Scottish Tourist Board to top up the British Tourist Authority's Scottish efforts. We want the Scottish Tourist Board to be able to add a specialised and distinctively Scottish dimension to the promotional work carried out by the authority. The overseas role we envisage for the Scottish Tourist Board is limited. I acknowledge that that is so, and make no apologies for it. I believe that to allow promotion initiatives overseas to proliferate without central co-ordination would be a recipe for wasted effort. It would merely cause confusion among potential visitors.
We believe, therefore, that the authority should always have the opportunity to comment at the point at which the Secretary of State is considering whether to approve proposals put foward by the Scottish Tourist Board. The obligation on the Secretary of State to consult the British Tourist Authority ensures that that authority has the chance to make a final check on the compatibility of the Scottish Tourist Board's proposals with overseas efforts being undertaken for Britain as a whole.
I spoke at some length in Committee about the mechanics of consultation. I assured the Committee that the procedures would not be time-consuming or bureaucratic. I pointed out that we envisaged the Scottish Tourist Board preparing an annual programme of overseas proposals and submitting it to the Secretary of State well in advance of the promotion season. In the circumstances, there can be no real risk of the Scottish Tourist Board losing promotion opportunities as a result of the consent requirement. I would remind the House also that the British Tourist Authority is under a statutory obligation to advise any Minister on tourism matters in Great Britain. A request by the Secretary of State for Scotland for comment on the Scottish Tourist Board's overseas promotion proposals would place the BTA under a clear duty to respond.
Statutes abound in provisions requiring the Secretary of State to consult before taking a decision on permitting certain things to happen. There is nothing extraordinary in the consultation formula in this Bill and neither is there any inconsistency in requiring the Secretary of State to consult but yet maintaining that the final approval decision rests with him and with him alone. Consultation never forces the consulting party to accept the view expressed by the person consulted, only to give the view proper consideration.
This amendment would effectively erode the BTA's co-ordinating role. Such an effect would be fundamentally at odds with our policy to grant the Scottish Tourist Board scope itself to promote Scotland overseas while maintaining the integrity of the BTA's efforts on behalf of Britain as a whole. I therefore trust that the noble Lord, on reflection, will consider withdrawing this amendment.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Lord Ross of Marnock
My Lords, I am deeply touched by the concern and emotion that the noble Lord, Lord Gray, managed to get into his plea for us 950 to reconsider this and to drop it. We have been told—and told again in a letter recently—how concerned is the BTA for Scotland's interests and how it consults the Scottish Tourist Board on all points, despite the fact that there is no instruction in anything here that it should do so. I am suggesting that there is no need to put in these words here to clarify the position of the BTA. If the noble Lord, Lord Gray, would cast his eye down to the next clause of the Bill, he would see that subsection (3)(a) of Clause 1 of this Bill says:Nothing in this section shall…affect the power of the British Tourist Authority to carry out any activities outside the United Kingdom for the purpose of encouraging people to visit Scotland".There is no doubt that it remains there—and what remains, of course, is the power of the Treasury. At the present time, according to the British Tourist Authority, they are spending on behalf of Scotland £3.5 million. Against that, we can judge the suggestion that is made here that there may be an additional £200,000 for Scotland. There is nothing in the Bill about it. If the Secretary of State says, "You are not getting it. I don't approve of your project", then they do not spend it. Virtually, by writing this in in respect of the consultation with the BTA, one is imposing a veto on them in respect of the spending of this £200,000. So let us not be too happy about all these benefits.
The importance of this is, surely, that if the British Tourist Authority at the present time consults the Scottish Tourist Board—and remember that the chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board is a member of the British Tourist Authority—it is not likely that anything will go unconsidered by the tourist authority without this separate power of right of consultation being written in. Let us remember that the right is not given to the Secretary of State; the right is given to an outside body, the British Tourist Authority. It is an instruction to the Secretary of State that he "shall" consult, not that he "may" consult; not that he "may" through his appointment of a chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board (who, of course, he does appoint and who happens to be a member of the British Tourist Authority). In that way, he will get to know all that goes on before he gives his approval to a project.
Once again I think that the Government have gone out of their way to be offensive to the Scottish tourist interests. If they want it that way, let them have it, so that we can demonstrate to the people of Scotland how grudging they are. The Minister of State forgets, too, that not everything in the BTA shop window has been absolutely perfect. He will remember the words of his honourable friend in another place. There had been a review of the activities of the BTA and, in another place, it was said—and it is a Minister I am quoting—that they should not forget that the whole question of different tourist boards was looked at by consultants who reached the conclusion that there was a considerable overlap and that some money was not being wisely spent—and that was by the British Tourist Authority.
The solution to it is that the English Tourist Board and the British Tourist Authority should come together. They are going to share accommodation. And, after the retirement of the present chairman, the chairman of the English Tourist Board is also going to 951 be the chairman of the British Tourist Authority. Now we are a suspicious lot in Scotland and we think that this could have been done a little more generously and a little better. I am perfectly sure that there will be consultation, as there is at the present time. But, to give this virtual power of veto to a soon-to-be-reorganised British Tourist Authority, the chairman of which is going to be the chairman of the English Tourist Board as well, is, I think, asking just about too much.
I am saying this merely for the good of the noble Lord. He said that, as far as he knew, everyone in Scotland was delighted with this. I can understand their being delighted in the Highlands, which is where the noble Lord comes from, because it does not affect them. The noble Lord is fully acquainted with the Highlands and Islands Development Board. He has told us this today. The Highlands and Islands Development Board have the power to do what is being denied the Scottish Tourist Board. They have independent rights to project the Highlands overseas, and they do not need to consult the British Tourist Authority. It may be that they do consult, it may be that they ask them to help; but they are not are not bound by statute to do so.
I can understand the people in his area being quite pleased about it, but let me assure him that, so far as the people of Scotland are concerned—with the hopes and expectations that arose from the Stodart Report that full powers were going to be given to the Scottish Tourist Board in respect of overseas advertising of Scotland for tourists—they will be far from pleased with this. I think it is quite unnecessary.
We do not seek to remove the whole thing. We merely suggest that the word "shall" should come out, that the word "may" be put in and to leave it to the good sense of the Secretary of State rather than telling the Secretary of State what he should do. There are times when I would have divided the House on an important matter like this. I have no doubt at all what will happen when it goes elsewhere. It would have been more graceful to clean up the Bill here than to leave it to people who will use rather less tender words when it goes elsewhere.
§ Lord Gray of Contin
My Lords, by leave of the House, may I comment on some of the points that have been put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock. First, he mentioned the Stodart Report on a number of occasions. I should tell the House that the noble Lord, Lord Stodart, has dropped me a note, saying how sorry he was that he could not be with us today. But of course the noble Lord will recall that he has welcomed the Bill; and, although it does not go so far as he would have liked and so far as he suggested in his report, he has given the Bill a warm welcome.
On the question of consultation, consultation does not mean or require consent. There will therefore be no BTA veto. At the end of consultations the matter will lie entirely with the Secretary of State, and the decision ultimately will be his and his alone. The noble Lord, Lord Ross, raised the question of the two boards, the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourist Board, coming together. I am sure that the noble Lord will accept what I say when I tell him that 952 no decision has vet been taken on this matter and that the new chairman, Mr. Bluch, is going to look at this possibility. But there is no commitment at all to a merger: no decision has been taken, and this is a matter which will require a considerable amount of study. I give way to the noble Lord.
§ Lord Ross of Marnock
My Lords, I did not suggest that there was to be a merger. What I said was that the boards were going to share accommodation, they were going to be in the one place and they were going to have the same chairman.
§ Lord Gray of Contin
My Lords, the noble Lord may not have said that in so many words, but he did imply that with them moving into the same premises and with one chairman, it was a logical step ahead. But what I am saying is that no decisions have been taken and the chairman is merely looking at this possibility: nothing more. The noble Lord reiterated a number of arguments which we considered at Committee stage, some of which were deployed by him at the time. But I must tell the noble Lord that despite his silver tongue and his persuasive style, I still believe that the Bill would not be improved by amending it in the way that he suggests. I therefore regret that on this occasion I cannot accept the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Ross, and his noble friends.
§ On Question, amendment negatived.
§ 7.34 p.m.
Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 3:
Page 1, line 20, after ("Scotland") insert ("after consultation with the Scottish Tourist Board").
The noble Lord said: If one looks at subsection (3)(a), we see it says that nothing in this section shall—
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;
§ After all that we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Gray of Contin, about the necessity of having the law made absolutely clear and having conditions made absolutely clear, I shall wait with considerable anticipation to hear what he has to say on this amendment. I appreciate what the chairman of the British Tourist Authority says in his letter—and I am sure that the noble Lord will have a copy of the letter—about the amount of co-operation there has been in the past. Tributes have also been paid by people such as the Lord Provost of Glasgow to the great help given by the Tourist Board. I am sure that this is true. But this is merely present practice; and we are not discussing present practice but, as the noble Lord has said on many occasions in the two previous debates, we are discussing making law.
§ It has always been the fact that the British Tourist Authority in the past have helped the Scottish Tourist Board as much as possible and they have had very close relations with them. Nevertheless, they do not need to consult the Scottish Tourist Board, according to the Bill as it now stands, and as has been continually emphasised by the noble Lord the Minister. The words are very important and the omission of words is also very important; so as the Bill stands at present, the British Tourist Authority could make its own 953 assumptions as to how best to promote Scotland, no matter what the Secretary of State or the Scottish Tourist Board says.
§ The Scottish Tourist Board may say, "We think it is crazy; we think it is damaging and a waste of money", but in law there is nothing which would stop the British Tourist Authority doing what they want to do. They need not take advice from anyone. Of course, we hope that they will take advice. They have always taken advice up until now and as the Minister said, the chairman of the Scottish Tourist Authority Board is a member of the British Tourist Authority. But the British Tourist Authority are under absolutely no obligation to pay any attention to what is said by the Secretary of State for Scotland or by the Scottish Tourist Board. This goes back to the point that I tried to make earlier; that the Bill, with all its good intentions, has fallen down very badly in its wording and in its thrust. I know that it is very difficult to write an intention into a Bill, but I believe that this is one point which the Minister, using the arguments he has used previously, could not possibly refuse to accept.
§ Therefore I hope that on this occasion the Minister will see the importance of this amendment for the Scottish Tourist Board and for the promotion of tourism in Scotland, and perhaps it will save something of the intention and the fiavour of the Bill, because we all want tourism in Scotland and we all want a good co-operation between the British Tourist Authority the Secretary of State and the Scottish Tourist Board. You cannot have it all one way: there must be a come-and-go, and I suggest that this amendment would certainly provide some respect for the Scottish Tourist Board and for the Bill itself. I beg to move.
§ Lord Gray of Contin
This amendment is intended to ensure that the Scottish Tourist Board has a say in the scope and style of promotions which the British Tourist Authority undertakes on Scotland's behalf. I have no hesitation in saying that I subscribe to the underlying principle which the noble Lord has in mind, but the key point for the purposes of this discussion on this particular Bill is that this amendment is technically unacceptable.
First—and this is a minor point—the provision, if amended as suggested, could be subject to the interpretation that the British Tourist Authority undertakes activities abroad to encourage people to visit Scotland after they, the people, have consulted the Scottish Tourist Board. Secondly—and much more importantly—the Bill is designed not to affect the British Tourist Authority's powers under the Development of Tourism Act of 1969, and Clause 1(3)(a) is an avoidance of doubt provision. Noble Lords will know that one cannot introduce a new power or duty into such an avoidance of doubt provision. Any change in the British Tourist Authority's powers or duties would have to be effected by separate amendment to the 1969 Act. Any such change relating to the British Tourist Authority, moreover, would be outside the Long Title of this Bill.
Let me explain here how the British Tourist Authority sets up its overseas activities. In preparing its annual marketing plan, the British Tourist Authority invites each of the three national tourist 954 boards to make suggestions for English, Scottish and Welsh promotions to be carried out by the authority. These suggestions are then assessed by the British Tourist Authority and developed into a coherent package of promotional items covering Britain as a whole. Further consultations take place with the three boards at appropriate points. Therefore, the consultation which this amendment proposes already takes place. Indeed, the British Tourist Authority does not have the staff or the resources to go about compiling its overseas programme without this consultation with, and indeed assistance from, the three national tourist boards.
Let me also remind the House of a point which I made in Committee about the composition of the British Tourist Authority Board. The 1969 Act recognises the need to involve the national boards in decisions about the British Tourist Authority's marketing plan by placing a national tourist board chairman on the BTA board. The Scottish Tourist Board chairman therefore has a say at board level on the BTA's proposed activities. Such board level consultations supplement and safeguard the official level discussions which I described a moment ago. For these reasons, I am afraid that I cannot accept the amendment proposed by the noble Lord.
§ Lord Ross of Marnock
My Lords, for once the noble Lord has a reasonable brief. I think that, technically, it is not a good amendment. It would have been a better amendment if it had been put in two lines earlier. We should then have avoided this business of the visitors consulting. The truth of the matter is that paragraph (a) of subsection (3) is quite unnecessary. If it were not there, the principal statute would remain giving power to the British Tourist Authority to do the overseas work for Scotland. So if you get into trouble with this clause, it is because you are doing something that is quite unnecessary. In other words, this is saying that the law remains unchanged. There was no ambiguity until somebody in the Scottish Office thought: we had better put this in to please the chairman of the British Tourist Authority.
There has been pressure and it is obvious from the letter that some people have received—I did not receive it, but I saw it—that there is a feeling of unfairness in the British Tourist Authority that it has not got the credit for all that it has been doing for Scotland over all these years, promoting overseas, spending £3½ million, working with Glasgow and getting credit from the Lord Provost of Glasgow for £27,000. But they did not get it from the British Tourist Authority; they got it from the British Government. The fact is that the authority did it because nobody else could do it.
The authority glories in the fact that money spent in Scotland by overseas visitors has increased by 50 per cent. in the past 10 years. Goodness gracious, my Lords! What has inflation been in these last 10 years? It should have done far better than that, even to retain the standard. The chairman goes out of his way to say that he employs Scots. That is terrible, is it not? Let me tell him that the Scottish Tourist Board employs Englishmen. I do not doubt that the present chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board is an Englishman. A former chief executive was certainly not a Scotsman.
955 We are much more catholic in our approach and I daresay that the chairman will be the same, if he happens to have a good marketing man who is a Scot. He would be foolish not to have him. In fact, if he wants the best men it is inevitable that he must employ Scots. But he has no right to expect that we should bow down and worship his fairness. When a Scot is working for a firm, then he is working for that firm. He is not working for something that is not in his remit. He is working for England, Scotland and Wales. He is working for the British Tourist Authority. If he is doing his job properly, he is not giving all his time to only one.
I admit that it is not a good amendment, but it allows me to say these few words about this rather sad letter that we have received from the chairman of the British Tourist Authority. No one will deny him any credit, but the fact is that nobody else, apart from the Highlands and Islands Development Board, has the right to do what he has been doing. He has been given all the money. What we are seeking to do is to ensure that there are even better statutory rights to consultation. If it is so good to write it in for the Secretary of State to consult the British Tourist Authority, why should the British Tourist Authority not have a statutory obligation to consult the Scottish Tourist Board? That is fair enough. The noble Lord says, "But they do it". He was not prepared to accept that argument in respect of the Secretary of State, that he would do it as a matter of common sense.
But the amendment which we should have put down was to leave out subsection (3). We might come to that at the next stage of the Bill, because I like to hear the voice of the noble Lord, Lord Gray of Contin. It would be a shame if there were Scottish legislation without his voice being heard. We have missed him so much on the Roads (Scotland) Bill. So I advise my noble friend to withdraw this amendment and not to do it again.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.