HL Deb 10 March 1988 vol 494 cc882-94

8.12 p.m.

Lord Parry rose to ask Her Majesty's Government what benefits they expect to accrue to the United Kingdom economy from World Expo 88 to be held in Brisbane.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I should like to follow one of the better traditions of this House and apologise for rising to introduce a debate at such an unconscionably late hour. There have been questions on this subject already in the House and noble Lords will be aware that this is Australia's bicentennial year. (I notice that the lights in the Chamber are going down. I do not think that it is in deference to this debate but perhaps the warmth is rising).

The House will also know that the central showcase of the bicentennial year is World Expo 88 which opens in Brisbane on 30th April. Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal Family will be associated with the opening and the whole of Australia is already en fete. Having celebrated the first months of its anniversary, Australia is now looking forward to the marvellous opportunity presented to the world to exhibit new technology in a context of excitement, fun and interest.

More than 40 international participants and 20 corporations will exhibit at this event costing over 600 million Australian dollars, which will display the achievements of the various participants under the general heading of "Leisure in the age of technology". The first international participant to announce its commitment was the United Kingdom. No one would be niggardly enough not to congratulate the Government on their initiative. When they announced their intention it reflected the interest of the whole country. It seems as though the British pavilion will be one of the more exciting pavilions. I have been in the building and I look forward to seeing the British exhibit in situ when I have the good fortune to return in a month's time.

Everything looks set to pre-sell its total expected 7.8 million visits in advance of the opening day thanks to record sales of season passes and three-day tickets. The total number of overseas visitors is expected to be in the region of 770,000 overall, including up to 90,000 visitors from Europe. When Expo 88 was introduced first of all by the Government of Queensland under the leadership of—and it will come as no surprise to anyone—an expatriate Welshman, Sir Llewellyn Edwards, it was not certain to catch the imagination of the whole of Australia, which is a rugged country that takes its politics seriously, and whose states are jealous of their own individuality. Yet, after shaky beginnings and some disagreements they have put together a pan-Australian appeal to the world which is already proving to be their best marketing initiative for many years—incidentally at a time when the country is facing the difficulties which followed around the world from Black Monday, the collapse of the stock market and the subsequent difficulties in the City.

International and corporate support for the event has been excellent. More than 80 companies have already committed 120 million Australian dollars as sponsors, exhibitors or suppliers to the event. The Expo 88 budget is on target to achieve a break-even financial result. Extra overseas visitors are expected to inject 400 million Australian dollars into the economy during the period of Expo 88. The exposition is expected to provide a total economic stimulus of around 1 billion Australian dollars and to create more than 14,000 jobs, 5,700 of them directly and 8,800 in indirect employment. I do not recite those figures in order to cause any embarrassment to the Minister to whom the Question is a friendly one, but in order to have them on the record and perhaps to advance the cause of the debate.

A 12 million Australian dollar monorail project is already in operation, a 9 million Australian dollar site landscaping operation is already under way, and a 50 million Australian dollar high-tech amusement park is ahead of schedule. So far as concerns visitors from the United Kingdom, Expo and its context, the brilliant Australian bicentennial programme, will result in a 35 per cent. increase in tourism for the period of the event. If that ratio were applied to the present splendid figures for tourism in Britain, what a boost it would give to the British economy! The result of that is that the number of visitors' and other temporary entrance visas issued to applicants from the United Kingdom has led to an average monthly issue rate of 35,000. Over the next six months that figure is expected to increase as the focus intensifies.

I am indebted to Mr. Alan Chard of the Central Office of Information for the following information, which I hope does not cut the ground from under the Minister. I am assured that Foreign Office investment will be in the order of £2 million at least and that private sector companies have provided goods and services worth at least £3.25 million. I was told of one company by the name of Super-Ex that is supplying a simulator for the leisure park, which in itself adds up to an investment in cash, kind, technology and training of probably as much as £0.75 million. When all that is added together with the promises that are forthcoming and the plans that are being made, the British pavilion, as I said, has been described to me as an exciting, vital and fine presentation for Britain.

Why then have I risen in an admittedly thin House at a late hour of night to ask this Question? Why is there so much unanimity about its importance to the economy? I believe that in Britain we took an initiative when this country, and the whole of Europe, were recovering from the world war. While Europe was devastated, and countries appeared unlikely to recover, the then Labour Government—and this is not a partisan point to make but a proud one by someone on my side of my side of the House—took an initiative which was perhaps unbelievable. They decided to hold a Festival of Britain to rejoice in the fact that Britain was regearing for a new phase in its economy. That also attracted a remarkable degree of support not only from all sides of the House in the partisan politics of the time, but the nation itself came to rejoice that that initiative had been taken.

It seems that our country has been going through an appallingly difficult time for historic as well as political reasons. There has been a shifting of the basis of our economy. We have moved, as I have said many times in this Chamber, from an industrially-based economy, earning our living out of making things, to one which obtains a greater part of its income from the service sector of the economy.

In case I am misunderstood, let me say that I consider it to be as vital as ever for the industrial basis of the economy to be renewed and retained, where possible, and to be developed with new technology in any new directions that arc available.

Having said that, it is absolutely essential that we too take the initiative and that we top up our own tourism lobby. I have a lettter from the British Tourist Authority which tells me that, with British Rail and British Airways, that authority will be making a major travel and tourism contribution to the Vudata system being run by the Central Office of Information in the British pavilion. From general information it will also be emphasising how to make the Australian dollar go further in Britain. That is a very important initiative at this time when the Australian dollar has hit a quite unexpected difficulty when everything looked positive and exciting for its economy. Most importantly, it is heavily involved in taking the Lincoln copy of the Magna Charta to Expo where it will doubtless be a major attraction and a major emphasis on the old associations.

That is why at this late hour I have asked this Question of the Minister and the Government. Perhaps I may make a positive conclusion to a positive presentation of our common interest in this opportunity. Can we not take an initiative over the next 12 years before the millennium in which we can celebrate World Expo Great Britain? With the advantages accruing to the economy of Britain from the initiative of Australia—accepting its example and leadership—can we not put them to use for the benefit of our country?

8.23 p.m.

Lord Auckland

My Lords, although the hour is late, the House will be very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Parry, for raising what is a very important Question even though it may be a somewhat parochial one to many people. I have for several years been a member of the Anglo-Anzac group of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Needless to say, it is the other Anzac country to which I have more affiliations. I hope that the city bearing my name will one day be able to mount an exhibition of this kind.

At the end of 1986 I had the privilege to visit Brisbane for one week as part of a delegation from the United Kingdom branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I should like to pay tribute to our vice-consul at that time, Miss Anita Sheldon, who looked after us so well, as I am sure will be the case in the future. I am quite sure that for this forthcoming exhibition British business visitors will be looked after very well by our consulate. I hope that the Minister can confirm that they will have the full services of our consulate in Brisbane.

Brisbane is a lovely city. When most British people talk of Australia, it is usually of Sydney, which is also a very splendid city. However, anyone who has walked, as I did to offset jetlag, in Brisbane's botanical gardens will know what a splendid and growing city it is. Among the commitments that the delegation fulfilled before going on to Canberra and Tasmania was a visit to the site of Expo 88, then unbuilt. The noble Lord, Lord Parry, is indeed fortunate, and deservedly so, to be able to see the finished site.

At this juncture I should like to pay a tribute to the Agent General for Queensland for producing a really magnificent brochure. I believe that this is a lesson to our own public relations people on how to produce a brochure of a limited number of words, with excellent pictures, and using English which everybody can understand. I hope that this brochure will be available to anyone who is going over for this very felicitous event.

The noble Lord, Lord Parry, has contributed much to the tourist industry in Wales and elsewhere. As he knows, tourism will be one of the outstanding features of this exhibition. The delegation of which I was a member visited among other places the Gold Coast. We went to Surfers' Paradise. My colleague from the House of Commons, Mr. Peter Snape, and I were dared to go on the Corkscrew—their big dipper—which we did. Any talk of cowardly poms—I shall not use the other word—immediately disappeared (as if it would have happened anyway). However, Surfers' Paradise is not my idea of heaven, but for young people it is well laid out, scrupulously clean, well-managed, and will undoubtedly attract a number of visitors, which of course will fill many coffers in the Australian tourist industry.

However, it is our exports that are important here. It is good to see that much is being done in this field. What can we export to Australia? Our clothing industry is doing much better now. I hope that possibly the textile industry, books—we can produce some admirable books—and the chemical industry, one of the growth industries in this country now, will be in evidence there.

Brisbane is a city which not only has this admirable Expo 88, but an excellent cricket ground, the Gabba, at which my colleagues and I spent five hours before the business side of our tour began. Obviously this exhibition will put Brisbane right on the map, as indeed it should. It is important to remember, so far as my researches go, that the last major international exhibition in Australia was in 1888 in Sydney. This is 100 years on and it is a great credit to a city such as Brisbane to have gone to the lengths of mounting this exhibition.

The noble Lord, Lord Parry, mentioned British Airways. Obviously a number of British people will be going to Brisbane, as the noble Lord has said, whether on holiday, business or both. This should be an enormous boost for British Airways, and that is all to the good. I am very honoured that the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Lewin, is following me because I know what an enormous amount his department has contributed to the exhibition.

I conclude by saying that this is a major epoch in the history of the Commonwealth. The noble Lord mentioned the achievements of Australia. Mr. Whicker does not always produce the best parts. Most people who have visited Australia, even officially, as I and many of my noble and honourable friends have, will always be welcomed if we treat the Australians on their own ground. I am sure that your Lordships will wish this exhibition the maximum success.

8.30 p.m.

Lord Lewin

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Parry, for giving me the opportunity to inform your Lordships about another attraction at Expo 88. This is a major exhibition which will be mounted by the National Maritime Museum in cooperation with a joint venture of Australian business interests. The subject of the exhibition is Captain Cook. It will be the finest, most comprehensive exhibition on this great British seaman ever to be mounted. It will include a number of paintings, many artefacts that have never or rarely been seen outside this country before and will include the magnificent and dramatic Hodges' portrait of Cook which we discovered two years ago and acquired for the National Maritime Museum after it had been lost for 190 years.

The exhibition will occupy a pavilion in the centre of Expo 88. We are sharing the pavilion with the Treasures of the Vatican. I hesitate to suggest that it will be a pool of culture in the middle of a desert of high technology.

I very much hope that a large proportion of the 7.8 million visitors, which the noble Lord, Lord Parry, mentioned—my estimate was 10 million—will go to the Cook exhibition. I hope that the noble Lord will be among them. After six months at Expo, the exhibition will be touring the major cities of Australia, spending a reasonable period in each and including a period at the new Australian National Maritime Museum at Sydney which will open early next year. It will then go on to tour the three major cities in New Zealand. We are considering negotiating venues in Honolulu and Vancouver on the way home. At Expo 88, and all the other places where the exhibition will go, there will be great opportunities for British business to follow the flag. We at the National Maritime Museum are ensuring that British business is aware of these possibilities.

The initiative will bring a significant income to the National Maritime Museum in the coming years. That will enable us to undertake improvement and developments at this magnificent institution at Greenwich which the current level of public funding will not permit us to do. I very much hope that the Minister's colleague, the Minister for the Arts—who is aware of the exhibition ahead of your Lordships—will remember our enterprise when he considers incentive funding.

8.36 p.m.

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, we should all be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Parry, for having given us the opportunity, by virtue of his Question, of discussing the results of what the Government consider to be the economic benefits accruing to the United Kingdom as a result of World Expo 88. The House will have been most grateful to my noble friend for having raised his Question in which he was kind enough to inform us that some 680,000 non-Europeans will be attending. I arrive at that figure by inference because from a total of 770,000, if there were 90,000 European visitors, it would follow that 680,000 people from other parts of the world will visit the exhibition.

The noble Lord, Lord Auckland, touched on the question on the Order Paper by suggesting some of our own products and exports that might possibly show reasonable prospect of development. He mentioned textiles and coal and I have no doubt that he could have mentioned many other products. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Lewin, was kind enough to remind us that the National Maritime Museum will be there in force, thus somewhat nostalgically perhaps recalling the whole essence of our past and its connection with the development of Australia.

I have only a vague association with that continent in that the school I attended in my youth had an association both with Matthew Flinders and George Bass, who are not entirely unknown in that part of the globe which we are discussing.

However, the question is still: what benefits do the Government expect to accrue to the United Kingdom economy as a result of Expo 88? One can understand and welcome a certain preoccupation in that area, because at 1987 prices we were still exporting £270 million less of our goods to Australia than we were in 1972. There has been a very significant drop in exports from the United Kingdom to Australia—not only to Australia, but to other parts of the Commonwealth as well. This, at a time when we are running a deficit of some £11 billion of visible trade with EC countries, presents us with a challenge. It is very wise indeed of the Government to be able to look once again to those ancient parts of our old empire and the new Commonwealth with a view to expanding trading operations with that part of the world.

I have been in politics now for over half a century. There is a certain rhythm in history which I apprehend. There will perhaps in the not too distant future come a time when the common agricultural policy in Europe collapses, thus leading to the virtual disintegration of the EC. The Government have to take this into account because the British public may not indefinitely wish to wear a situation in which £10 a week is added unnecessarily to its shopping bills. Moreover the British taxpayer will probably not be prepared to contribute £1 billion per annum to a common agricultural policy. So it is wise, if we are political economists, to consider the rhythm of history and to take into account the possibility that we shall have to expand our effort and our trading links with our Commonwealth on a far more extensive basis than we have in the past.

In that connection the initiative of the Government must be most welcome. In relation to Australia, we on these Benches wish to pay our tribute. It is very good that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff in the United Kingdom and abroad have devoted so much time and attention to the matter. That applies particularly to our people in the embassy and commercial offices in Australia. I am sure that British industry will be greatly indebted to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

I am sure that we all conceive the concept of a move to be a step in the right direction. However, I could hardly believe my eyes when, about a fortnight ago, I read in the press of a decision made by the Government in relation to the Commonwealth and which I can describe only as stupendous stupidity. Your Lordships will recall that a fortnight ago the Government announced that they would not provide the BBC Overseas Service with approximately £1 million which it required in order to commence on a trial basis transmission of television by satellite to the world at large. That includes the countries down under, which are extremely interested in what happens in the United Kingdom.

I can still barely believe that the Government have taken such a decision when we are told time after time that the function of government is to create a climate within which business may prosper. We know perfectly well—I have the records—that the reaction from overseas countries, including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, to the prospect of receiving news transmissions from the BBC Overseas Service via satellite was that it was extremely welcome. I could provide the noble Lord with quotations from the articles that were written when they thought that that would happen. What better way—

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Glenarthur)

My Lords, I know that the noble Lord is most enthusiastic about this proposal, but I wonder whether he intends to develop a theme devoted entirely to the BBC and television. If I had known that, I would have come to this House prepared to answer him.

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, if the noble Lord has read the documents concerned he will already have observed that the brochure states: Our television programmes are recognised as being the best in the world. The British cinema is receiving the acclaim for which it has worked so hard for many years". That is advertised in the brochure. After all, the Expo is about the leisure interests, television, and so forth. Surely it would have been far better to allow the limited experiment in order to create the climate in Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the world which would form the perfect setting for this type of exhibition.

Why is that? The Government spent £3 million on the Falklands exercise. They have spent £5 million in tarting up the DTI. We see nothing on television these days if we do not see the DTI—the department for Enterprise—redesigning its stationery and everything else. The department has been hyped up. Surely, under the circumstances, it would have been reasonable to support the overseas service of the BBC. On purely non-partisan lines it must be recognised as being a most desirable course of action. In relation to Expo 88 it would have been a most valuable addition, particularly in the light of the television and leisure interests which are already in focus. I hope that the Government will think again about this matter.

Noble Lords will recall that the same point was raised—I am sorry that it is inconvenient to the noble Lord, but it is most certainly relevant. The noble Lord will recall the outcry from all Benches in this House when the Government sought to make cuts in the overseas service ordinary radio programme, and how silly that turned out to be. Why cannot the Government reconsider this matter?

On the assumption that they do so, and that the sum involved is not vast, it would top up what they are already doing very well. It would be only a comparatively minor addition. In terms of its effect throughout the world, it would be a significant addition to the prestige of the United Kingdom and to the climate of world opinion which should increasingly value the provision of those services and the export of our products which are so vital to the British economy.

8.47 p.m.

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, in answer to the noble Lord. Lord Parry, I should like to begin my remarks by saying that the definition of an exposition under the rules of the international body which controls these events, of which the UK is a founder member, is: A display which has as its principal purpose the education of the public". I do not think that it is necessary for me to go into the history of expositions, other than to say that that history goes back to the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. The idea of them was originally a British concept in which commercial considerations were overlain by a wish to inform the man in the street and the world at large of the achievements of our industry. Since that time developments have taken place as regards the purpose of expositions.

Tangible benefits arise from them. First, there are the political benefits, because participation which is wholehearted can be a visible demonstration of the closeness of relations with the host country. I fully endorse what was said by my noble friend Lord Auckland in referring to the closeness of our connection with Australia. Perhaps in this bicentennial year that is more true than ever. I also have recently visited there, as I shall make plain in a moment. That participation can underpin and promote other aspects of the bilateral relationship. Better understanding of our culture can help to promote specific foreign policy aims. Conversely, absence from an exposition can have a negative effect. There is no doubt that Britain's contribution to the Australian bicentenary would have made for less impact had we not gone to Expo.

Secondly, participation can bring important commercial dividends. I believe that this second point principally concerns the noble Lord, Lord Parry, and other noble Lords. The rules to which I have referred preclude the use of expositions for direct trade promotions, and I am sure that the noble Lord is aware of that. However, I assure your Lordships that we in government will do everything possible within the rules to ensure that the British commercial interest is advanced in Brisbane. I can of course confirm to my noble friend Lord Auckland that our consul general is more than fully involved. He is the British Commissioner General for Expo and is doing a lot of work to ensure that our contribution is a success.

As the noble Lord, Lord Parry, has indicated—I am grateful to him for his comments on the part that the Foreign Office and the Central Office of Information have played in setting it up—our pavilion will provide an excellent shop-window. We cannot actually sell from the shop-window but we can use it to advertise in a very vivid way, to an enormous audience, the range and excellence of our products. Over 250 products wil be featured there in one way or another.

We can make sure that businessmen visiting our pavilion know where and how to buy these products. The pavilion aims also to increase Australian tourism to Britain, a feature in which I know the noble Lord, Lord Parry, has a particular interest. More widely, the exposition and our pavilion will provide a focus for a series of co-ordinated activities to promote British goods and services in Australia.

The noble Lord, Lord Bruce, seemed to wonder what benefits might accrue to us in our trade with Australia. Tonight is not the night to go into a long diatribe on the CAP, although that seemed to be part of the theme of the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington. However, with regard to the United Kingdom exports in 1987 of £1,124 million, the drop has largely been as a result, at least since 1984, of the state of the Australian economy. However, we are optimisitic for the future and Expo will help.

The noble Lord referred at length to the BBC. If he wishes me to answer what he said, no doubt I can do so should he put down a Question on the matter. However, the BBC has representation in Australia and close links with the Australian television networks. Of course these are developed independently of Expo. I recognise that there is considerable interest in the world service of the BBC and, indeed, the world news issue which was discussed in another place some time ago. However, so far as concerns Expo, I do not believe that this evening is the right moment to go into this in greater detail although I should be happy to do so at another time.

The results of our participation in Vancouver in 1986—this is perhaps the answer to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington—which was the most recent exposition, well illustrate my point. Three and a half million people visited the British pavilion. Many British companies provided exhibits and a number of them sponsored cultural events. We were able to extract distinct commercial advantage by publicising modern British achievements in transportation and communications, to the benefit of British industry. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, has forgotten, but as a direct result of their participation one company succeeded in selling four aircraft and obtained an option for the sale of a further 16. Two of the four hovercraft which operated in Vancouver during the Expo were sold. The turnover in the public restaurant in our pavilion amounted to 5 million Canadian dollars, and the souvenir shop a further three-quarters of a million Canadian dollars. Six local retailers held store promotions as part of the British Week celebrations; about 800 stores across Canada promoted British goods, leading to sales worth 5 million Canadian dollars.

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. The noble Lord will recall that he said he would answer me at a later stage and proceeded to answer me immediately. In reply perhaps I may point out to him that the matters to which he refers—the advances which have accrued—are very welcome to all of us on this side of the House. Unfortunately, if the noble Lord reads the monthly figures published by the DTI, they have yet to have any significant impact compared with the massive deficit with Europe.

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, I do not believe that tonight is the moment to introduce an economic debate on Europe or anything else. The noble Lord has introduced it, not me, and that is his privilege.

Perhaps I may finish my point about Vancouver, that that pavilion was a catalyst for a substantial British commercial drive in Canada: the value of exports it generated far exceeded the official costs of participation.

We are approaching Brisbane in the same spirit. This will be the biggest single event in the celebrations marking the bicentenary of Australia—about 40 countries in all will take part—and our pavilion will be open 12 hours a day, seven days a week from 30th April to 30th October. As the noble Lord, Lord Parry, said, we were the first foreign government to accept the Australian invitation to participate—a fact widely known and appreciated there—and as a result we obtained a prime site fronting the Brisbane River. I have visited the site during its preparation and can testify to its excellence: I will be returning in May to see what we have made of it and to lend my support to the British effort. Perhaps the noble Lord and I will be able to meet there. Before then we will be holding a UK publicity launch on 15th March at the QEII conference Centre, to publicise the pavilion in this country and in Australia, and to attract more sponsorship. A special 16 page illustrated brochure, of which I have a version, has been commissioned for the launch. And I hope it will match that to which my noble friend Lord Auckland referred. This will also he distributed to VIP visitors to the pavilion in Brisbane.

Our pavilion is a collaborative venture with industry, co-ordinated by one of Britain's leading design consultants on the Expo theme "Leisure in the Age of Technology". The pavilion and the exhibits will show how Britain is putting modern technology to work for leisure in travel, tourism, entertainment, films, television and sport. There will be three main exhibition areas; an introductory area featuring historical and cultural links between Britain and Australia; the Exhibition's central audio-visual display which uses our world leading technology to show the best and latest of Britain's leisure products in action; a display of carefully selected high technology products with a leisure theme. The pavilion will also feature a British pub—which seemed to meet with the affection of our Australian friends when I was there—a shop selling British products, and a special reception area for business-men, suitable for seminars and business functions. An outside stage will be used to promote British theatre and stage shows. This programme which will be reinforced during British week in early August highlights our participation with a series of special events and gives even greater prominence to our presence in Brisbane.

The budget allocation from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as the noble Lord, Lord Parry, said, is about £2 million and the private sector has contributed about £750,000. To date about 50 British firms have contributed sponsorship in the form of exhibits, services and cash, greatly enhancing the original design. I am sure they are right to be involved—and indeed I hope that others who have yet to commit themselves will do so while they still have the chance.

The BOTB will separately be organising store promotions and trade missions to coincide with the Expo, and to draw to the full on the international attention which will be focused on Australia in bicentenary year. We also very much welcome such imaginative and impressive projects as the National Maritime Museum Exhibition on Captain Cook, to which the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Lewin, has rightly drawn our attention. I look forward to seeing that and I shall pass on to my right honourable friend the Minister for the Arts the comments of the noble and gallant Lord on incentive funding.

The noble Lord, Lord Parry, has raised some important points about tourism, especially as we look to the future and to anything which might be done here. I know he has great experience in this sphere. I have a little experience as the Minister in the Scottish Office responsible for tourism. However, I took note of the noble Lord's comments about the Festival of Britain. Although I cannot claim to remember it particularly myself, I remember receiving various trophies from it many years ago. However, many will remember that event and I am sure that the Government are mindful of the possibility of repeating it, or something similar, at some stage. I shall certainly draw the remarks of the noble Lord to the attention of my ministerial colleagues.

We are determined, within our limited budget, to provide an excellent display at Brisbane in this major shop-window. Working with the private sector, we shall use every opportunity to exploit it to the full. Interest in Expo is extending throughout Australia and the show will attract many foreign visitors. As we have heard, 8 million people are expected to be there. Expo will provide a platform from which to increase our share of the rapidly growing markets in the Pacific basin and more widely.

It is right that we should participate in Expo 99 for historical, cultural and political reasons. As nearly every noble Lord who has spoken said, there should also be tangible economic and commercial gains, our aim, which I know has the support of your Lordships, is to maximise these. I am grateful for your Lordships' support.