§ Mr. Simon Coombs
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on his plans for the London forum.
§ Sir George Young
My hon. and learned Friend announced on 21 October that Sir Allen Sheppard had agreed to be the first chairman of the London forum, and that Sir Hugh Bidwell has agreed to be a deputy chairman. The Secretary of State and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for National Heritage have' agreed in principle with Sir Hugh that the forum should merge with the London tourist board, of which Sir Hugh is the chairman. The merger will create a single powerful private sector body to promote London overseas, with the aim of maximising business investment in the capital and expanding London's role as a centre for tourism and culture.
The London forum will share an executive organisation with London First, a new private sector initiative of which Sir Allen is also the chairman. London First is a private and public sector partnership harnessing business skills to enhance London's attractions. It will improve the "product" which it will be the forum's job to promote internationally. A common supporting organisation under chief executive Stephen O'Brien will ensure close coordination of the efforts of the two bodies.
Sir Allen is now taking forward the development of a business plan for the forum, with a view to launching the new body around the turn of the year.