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Column 1238I say seriously that the Minister should recognise the very real difficulties that are arising in several areas. He must recognise that it is not about bad management. He should tackle a range of issues that cause worry and seriously affect users and carers in many parts of the country. I hope that he has listened to the constructive arguments that have been made from the Opposition Benches. I hope that he will respond to those arguments and consider some of those issues seriously.
I welcome the general support that has been given from both sides of the House for the policy of community care. That was emphasised at the beginning by the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe) for the Labour party and by the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) for the Liberal Democrat party. I think that similar support was expressed by almost everyone who has contributed to the debate. I very much welcome that.
It would be wrong--and I do not intend to do so--to refer to any of the matters that may be before the courts now or shortly, so the House will understand why I shall not follow one or two hon. Members down that path.
We have heard references to cost shunting, and to the guidance that we issued, to which I referred in my opening remarks about continuing care. Despite the conference that the hon. Member for Wakefield may have attended this morning, I have to say that those guidelines have been very much welcomed by those who manage social and health care--by the Association of Directors of Social Services, by the National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts, by the British Geriatrics Society and by those representing the carers and users, the National Care Homes Association. We have therefore made good progress in that.
We have heard reference to preserved rights cases. They are nothing to do with the report. That is a matter largely for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security, but at the time the House--and I do not recall the Opposition objecting--gave the people who were resident in the independent sector at that time that special degree of security by giving them preserved rights. They did not have to go through the assessment procedures. They retained their rights to income support for as long as they needed it.
The hon. Member for Stockport (Ms Coffey) made an argument about the additional safety net that we put in, which was not there before. That ensured that, if someone who was in a residential care home in the independent sector ran out of resources, the social services would have the power to pick up the case. As the hon. Lady well understands, the reason for the requirement that it not be in the same home was to remove any perverse incentive for any home to increase the rates to meet a top-up that was there. The actual rates are not a matter for the debate.
We have heard a great deal from Opposition Members of what I can only describe as hostility to the independent sector. We hear it again and again throughout the country. Conservative Members want quality and the best use of resources. Resources have been central to the debate.
Column 1239I have to say to the hon. Member who mentioned Devon that, in 1990-91, Devon received £63 million for its social services; in the coming year it will receive £135 million. I think that Devon can manage as long as it uses those resources well and efficiently; that was the message of the Audit Commission. The Audit Commission says that it has started well and that often, where problems exist, better financial control and better use of the independent sector are needed. The Audit Commission has also highlighted £500 million that could be spent on front-line services if local government managed its pay bills better. We have heard much from the Labour and Liberal parties tonight about resources and reference has been made to £700 million. But when I asked both parties to put on the table their pledge for more money in addition to what the Government spend and are prepared to spend, there was not a word. They will not give promises of additional resources; they merely engage in a political tease with people who are trying, responsibly, to use the generous resources that have been given for community care.
The report provides £647.6 million--real money and real resources. There is to be £5.1 billion for community care in the coming year and for personal social services a fraction under £7 billion. Those are fair resources and I look forward to working with the responsible leaders and directors of social services--the vast majority--up and down the country. I commend the report to the House.
Question put and agreed to.
That the Special Grant Report (No. 13) (House of Commons Paper No. 286), which was laid before this House on 13th March, be approved.-- [Mr. Kirkhope.]
Motion made, and Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 101(5) (Standing Committees on Statutory Instruments, &c.) ,
That the draft Railtrack PLC (Rateable Values) (Scotland) Order 1995, which was laid before this House on 8th March, be approved. That the draft British Railways Board (Rateable Values) (Scotland) Order 1995, which was laid before this House on 8th March, be approved.
That the draft Electricity Supply Industry (Rateable Values) (Amendment) Order 1995, which was laid before this House on 9th March, be approved. To be decided forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 101(5).
That the draft Non-Domestic Rating (Chargeable Amounts) (Amendment) Regulations 1995, which were laid before this House on 21st March, be approved.-- [Mr. Kirkhope.]
Question agreed to.
Motion made, and Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 94H(1) (Scottish Grand Committee (sittings)),
That the Scottish Grand Committee shall meet:
1. on Wednesday 3rd May at half-past Ten o'clock to consider a substantive Motion for the Adjournment of the Committee;
2. on Wednesday 17th May at half-past Ten o'clock to consider a substantive Motion for the Adjournment of the Committee;
3. on Wednesday 14th June at half-past Ten o'clock to take Questions for oral answer and to consider a substantive Motion for the Adjournment of the Committee;
4. in the Aberdeen Town and County Hall on Monday 26th June at half-past Ten o'clock to consider a substantive Motion for the Adjournment of the Committee.-- [Mr. Kirkhope.]
Question agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.-- [Mr. Burns.]
The Secretary of State for National Heritage (Mr. Stephen Dorrell): I welcome the fact that we have a debate this evening on a key British economic interest--a sector that employs large numbers of people and represents an important source of wealth to this country. I shall begin by giving a few key facts to set the tourist sector in context. It accounts for £33 billion of expenditure in the British economy--about 5 per cent. of our national income. It employs 1.5 million people and, perhaps even more importantly, the number of people employed in the tourist sector has grown by 25 per cent. in the past decade. That is why the tourist sector is part of the answer to the question: where will the jobs of the future come from? We all know that, as an economy changes, employment in some sectors declines, and in other sectors it grows. The tourist sector is, overwhelmingly, one of growing employment and wealth creation opportunities. It is important to this country's economic interests and our constituents' job prospects for us to provide circumstances in Britain in which the tourist sector can grow strongly. There are other important aspects of tourism. It is an industry that is geographically widely spread. It does not lead to great concentrations of people away from rural communities, small towns and provincial communities. It allows people to live where they want, and provides jobs in those communities without requiring people to move to places where they might not otherwise choose to live. The fact that the industry has a wide geographic spread is important. The industry also provides attractive opportunities for the growth of small and family businesses. The success of the tourist sector over the past 25 years has been built on the success of small and family-owned businesses. It allows small business men and entrepreneurs the opportunity to build their own economic future through their own efforts.
As Secretary of State for National Heritage, I have a particular reason to attach importance to the tourist sector. Not only is it an important wealth -creating sector in its own right: it is also a key means of providing support to the national heritage, to the creative arts and to sporting activities in Britain. We in this country will increasingly be able to channel resources into our built heritage, theatres and museums. The tourist sector forms part of the answer to the question: where will the resources be found to develop those activities?
London's theatreland is the biggest concentration of
English-speaking theatres to be found anywhere in the world. It is built on the number of visitors who buy theatre tickets in London. The pattern of sale shows that 60 per cent. of the tickets sold for London theatres are sold to people who do not live in London. Some visitors come from overseas to buy tickets for London theatres, and some come from elsewhere in the United Kingdom. That is a good example of how the interests of national heritage are reinforced by the tourist sector, and how we are able to use tourism to expand our commitment to the heritage sector.
Column 1242It was that analysis that led to the creation of the new unified Department of National Heritage after the last general election. The Prime Minister's determination to see the links between the different aspects that now constitute the Department of National Heritage formed the logic for originally establishing the Department. Visitors are part of the support mechanism for theatres, museums, sport and the wide range of activities that are gathered together under the Department of National Heritage.
It is because I regard tourism as one of my key responsibilities and one of the key means of underwriting the development of, and delivering growth in, sport, the built heritage and the creative arts, that I have, since becoming Secretary of State, attached so much importance to the development of the Department's sponsorship function in relation to tourism. I want to dwell on my concept of sponsorship of tourism and the reasons why I attach so much importance to developing that aspect of my Department's work. The House will be aware of the work that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has done in the Department of Trade and Industry. He has worked to develop the Department's sponsorship function and to ensure that the Department understands the sectors for which it is responsible. He has worked to ensure that the Department acts as an ambassador and friend in Government and, more generally, in the industrial sectors for which it accepts a sponsorship responsibility.
In exactly the same way, responsibility for tourism falls on the Department of National Heritage. For that reason I have established a specific division in my Department charged with the development of a sponsorship function for the tourist industry. That is why we have made it clear that we wish to attract secondees from the industry into the Department, to ensure that we are properly informed about the concerns and up-to-date developments within that key industrial sector.
An important part of a Department of State's function, when it accepts a sponsorship role for a sector of the economy, is to ensure that Government accurately understand how development is driven within that industrial sector. When the Government make decisions about a sector, both the industry and the Government have their own reasons for attaching importance to ensuring that the Government understand and are well informed about what is happening in that sector.
Too often, repeatedly, through long periods of our history, Governments have been inadequately informed about what is happening in a specific economic sector. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has set out to remedy that problem in the sectors for which his Department accepts sponsorship responsibility. I am setting out, in the Department of National Heritage, to remedy that problem as it relates to tourism, for which my Department accepts sponsorship responsibility.
Mr. David Harris (St. Ives): My right hon. Friend says that he wants to know what is going on in the industry--presumably that covers the industry's concerns. Is he aware of the great concern in the south-west of England about the effects of revaluation of hotels, and particularly caravan and holiday parks? I am sure that that subject will be raised during tonight's debate.
Is my right hon. Friend aware of that concern and, if so, what representations is he making to his right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer who has
Column 1243responsibility for local valuation officers? The proposal is causing dismay in some sectors of the tourism industry, particularly in Cornwall.
Mr. Dorrell: My hon. Friend is quite correct to raise that point. I am well aware of the concern, particularly as it relates to the revaluation of caravan parks. The revaluation of hotels is part of a much broader issue involving the effect of revaluation under the unified business rates system. No element of that system relates specifically to hotels, but concern is certainly concentrated around the question of caravan parks.
I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me if I do not answer directly his question about what representations I am making within the Government on the subject. I am old-fashioned enough to think that such matters are bound by the rules of collective
responsibility. However, I assure him that I am well aware of the present concerns, particularly those of caravan park operators.
Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland): Has the Secretary of State's understanding of the industry's predicament been enhanced by the report of the British Tourist Authority and the English tourist board that the Government's proposals for the privatisation of British Rail have evoked more widespread concern in the tourism industry than any other issue about which they have surveyed?
Mr. Dorrell: That view has been expressed by a large number of people. I would expect that anyone who is interested in the future of British tourism would want to see our railway system--indeed, our entire public transport network--develop in order to meet the demands of would-be travellers more effectively.
I have never understood how people can say in one breath that the railway system does not meet the needs of the travelling public, and in the next argue in favour of preserving the management system that has brought about that much-criticised state of affairs. Privatisation will improve the quality of the railway system and ensure that it matches passenger aspirations more effectively than it has done in the past.
Mr. Chris Smith (Islington, South and Finsbury): How can we match the aspirations of passengers who wish to travel on the sleeper from London to Fort William, when the train will no longer run after the end of May?
Mr. Dorrell: The key question is surely not whether it is absolutely essential to continue to provide a sleeper service which almost nobody uses, but how to ensure that those who want to travel from London to the north of Scotland can do so with maximum convenience. The evidence suggests that not enough people wish to take the journey to which the hon. Member attaches great importance, so it is not a reasonable economic proposition to continue to provide that service.
The hon. Gentleman should answer one question: if he wishes to continue to underwrite a service that the travelling public do not use, how does he defend that decision to those members of the travelling public who wish to use another service but who find that the resources
Column 1244that might otherwise be devoted to improving their service are being diverted to a service that the travelling public obviously do not want to use?
Mr. John Cummings (Easington): Why does the Secretary of State assume that London must be the gateway to the regions? Why should not Newcastle, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh or Prestwick be the gateway to London? Is the Minister aware that it is cheaper to travel on a return train ticket from Newcastle, Edinburgh or Glasgow to London than it is to travel to those centres from London? Why is the emphasis on London and not on the regions?
Mr. Dorrell: I was beginning to get concerned that my speech was being distracted to a debate about railway privatisation. However, the hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Cummings) conveniently takes me to my next point. By developing the sponsorship function for tourism, I can champion the interests of that industry within the Government. The Department of Transport also deals with tourism. In alluding to that Department, I was going to refer first to the Secretary of State for Transport's announcement today about tourist signs, but I will deal with that in a moment. The second point that I intended to make concerning the Department's responsibilities is precisely the one that the hon. Gentleman has raised.
In autumn last year, the Secretary of State for Transport announced the liberalisation of air transport. That means that, instead of flying directly to London--which was the usual route in the past--transatlantic flights can fly to Newcastle, Birmingham and Manchester on a liberalised basis. That avoids forcing people to fly to London when they wish to travel to Newcastle, Birmingham, Manchester or Glasgow.
The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong in assuming that I see London as the only gateway for tourists into the United Kingdom. Not only do I think that that is untrue, but the Government have taken action to reverse the prevailing situation whereby people are forced to come to London when they wish to go somewhere else.
Mr. Hugh Bayley (York): I will resist the temptation to take up the right hon. Gentleman's points about rail privatisation, other than to say that the latest report from the British Tourist Authority contains a feature article with a photo and a caption which reads "Rail privatisation could hit overseas visitors". If it is clear to the Secretary of State that rail privatisation will benefit tourism, I am surprised that it is not also clear to the BTA.
On the issue of airports, will the promotion of the transatlantic trade stress the environmental advantages of using northern airports on transatlantic routes? Every plane that travels from London to the east coast of the United States flies directly over Liverpool and Manchester and, by using those airports, it would save 400 miles worth of fuel on the round trip.
Even those people who wish to travel to London, perhaps for a business conference, should be urged to fly to Manchester, spend a weekend in the lake district,
Column 1245Blackpool or the north as a tourist, and then catch the fast rail service to London. Surely that should be the way to promote Britain.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse): Order. I remind the House--although it should not be necessary to do so--that interventions are supposed to be brief and to the point; they should not be mini-speeches.
Mr. Dorrell: It is a fairly basic rule that, if one wants to expand a business opportunity--as I have said I wish to expand the tourism business opportunity--one must ensure that one meets the demands of one's customers. If people wish to travel to the regions of Britain to enjoy the Lake District or the city of York, I want to make it as easy as possible for them to get there. If they wish to travel to London, I want to make it easy for them to get there as well. I certainly do not wish to introduce a planning principle which requires them to land at Manchester and board a train.
Mr. Harold Elletson (Blackpool, North): Before the Secretary of State moves on, will he join me and my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Hawkins) in recommending to the Department of Transport that it make it slightly easier for visitors to reach Blackpool in the summer season? The M6 is currently chock-a-block with motorway cones as part of a road-mending programme which apparently will continue until August--despite the fact that it has been going on for at least a year. Will the Secretary of State join me in telephoning the cones hotline to suggest that it might have overlooked that problem?
Mr. Dorrell: As a regular visitor to the north of Britain via the M6, I empathise with the plea by my hon. Friend about the cones on the M6. The M6 maintenance programme will ensure that that motorway is able to offer a high-quality service to users in the future.
Mr. Dorrell: Quite a lot of the backlog of motorway maintenance was built up between 1974 and 1979, when the hon. Gentleman's party was responsible for it. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport will plan the motorway maintenance programme to ensure maximum quality of motorway service when tourists are travelling to the north-west of Britain for their summer holidays. I am sure that my hon. Friend will want to take every opportunity to encourage them to do just that.
Before I leave the Department of Transport, I want to draw the attention of the House to the fruit of the sponsorship process--the announcement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport about the liberalisation of tourist signposting. It is the result of a substantial amount of work by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary who is responsible for deregulation within the Department of National Heritage, in pursuing the Department of Transport and making sure that that Department is aware of the interest throughout the tourist sector in improving signposting so that people are aware of tourist opportunities within Britain. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has today announced that there is to be a brief consultation on the details of liberalisation, but once those
Column 1246details have been decided, we shall widen eligibility for white-on-brown tourist signs and extend tourist signposting to hotels and restaurants, so that, as is the case in many countries on the continent, tourists will be able to rely on signposting not just to attractions, but to hotels and restaurants.
I hope that the House will welcome the liberalisation of rules that have become overly strict, with the effect of restraining the growth of a key sector. That is part of what sponsorship is about.
Mr. Nick Hawkins (Blackpool, South): Before my right hon. Friend leaves the welcome news about signs, will he work with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to liaise not only with the Department of Transport but with local authorities? There have been problems when local authorities restrict sensible signposting such as the proposed sign to wonderful Blackpool pleasure beach, which my right hon. Friend enjoyed only two weeks ago in the company of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Elletson) and myself. The new road that is about to be opened by Lancashire county council with Government money apparently will not have a sign, even though it will be the most direct route. I hope that my hon. Friend will get rid of that silly regulatory approach.
Mr. Dorrell: My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to that, and to stress the importance of liberalising the rules operated by the Department of Transport and encouraging a flexible attitude from local authorities. We shall be doing exactly that. I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to put a picture on the side of the road drawing attention to the Blackpool pleasure beach and to the Big One. For those who enjoy the thrill of such rides, it is the highest and most thrilling to be found anywhere in the world.
I want to move on from the relationship with the Department of Transport to the slightly broader view of what I believe the Department of National Heritage can do as the sponsoring Department for tourism.
In addition to acting as the champion of the industry within the Government, the Department has a responsibility to set out the context within which the industry operates, and a clear view of what Government can do to assist the development and expansion of that key sector. That is why, six weeks ago, I published the document "Tourism--Competing with the Best", which sets out the Government's programme for the coming months in seeking to ensure that Britain takes advantage of the economic opportunities in the tourist sector. First, the document sets out some of the issues which the tourist industry has to address. It states that our share of world tourism earnings has declined over the past 10 years, from around 6 per cent. in 1985 to about 4.5 per cent. now. We should aim to reverse that decline. Every time our share of those earnings declines, it represents a lost economic opportunity for Britain.
Secondly, having identified the fact that, although our tourist sector has been successful, it has not been as successful as other tourist sectors elsewhere in the world, the document sets out a programme of Government activity to address some of the reasons for that decline in our share of world tourist earnings.
Column 1247If one asks visitors to Britain which aspects of the tourist experience in Britain they found attractive and rewarding and which aspects they found less attractive, one gets some fairly clear answers.
There is concern about the quality of information available to people when they book accommodation. That is why I announced in that document that we are to review the crown classification scheme to ensure that, when people book hotel space, they have access to the best-quality information we can provide about the accommodation. The market works effectively if the information provided to it is as accurate as possible. That is the purpose of reviewing the crown classification scheme.
The document also sets out the Government's commitment to fund a benchmarking project in the accommodation sector, to try to generalise good experience and good practice in the management of high-quality tourist accommodation. We shall be working in partnership with the CBI, which is concentrating on the larger end of the accommodation market while the Government concentrate on the smaller end. We are picking up on the experience of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade in seeking to generalise good practice in the efficient management of that type of business. The third project set out in "Tourism--Competing with the Best" is a commitment to improve the performance of our overseas marketing. We shall be working with the British Tourist Authority to ensure that we continually apply rigorous tests on the value for money of our advertising promotions overseas through the BTA. The BTA will be seeking to ensure that its own work is subject to keen
value-for-money testing, and we shall seek where we can to mobilise private money in support of the promotion programmes of the BTA. The fourth project in the document involves the additional £2 million of Government money, backed by £2 million from the BTA, totalling £4 million of Government money over the next two years, to promote London as a tourist destination and to draw it to the attention of the world tourist markets. That is not to cut across the point I made in reply to the hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Cummings).
I make no apology for my view that we should be seeking to attract more visitors to London. London is one of the world's arts centres. It has more to offer the visitor than any other city anywhere in the world. It is an exciting place to visit, and offers a breadth of tourist experience that has no match anywhere in the world, and we shall be seeking to promote that around the world.
Finally, the document sets out our commitment to improve the accessibility of British holidays by improving the booking mechanisms and trying to address the concern we often hear expressed that it is easier to go into a travel agent on a high street and book a weekend or a holiday on the other side of the English channel than in Britain.
I make no pretence--indeed, I make a virtue of the fact--that the document is not an all-embracing plan for the tourist sector. I have made it clear in my introduction that I do not aspire to be--and it would be quite wrong for me to do so--chief executive of British Tourism plc. My job as Minister in charge of the sponsoring
Column 1248Department for the tourist sector is to create circumstances in Britain that are as favourable as I can make them for the continued growth of the industry, and for our share of world tourist earnings to grow again.
That is the objective we set. As a sponsoring Department, we do that, first, by ensuring that we properly understand the dynamic of the industry; secondly, by ensuring that the Government use the opportunities that are open to them to improve the conditions for the industry; and thirdly and most importantly, by recognising that the growth of the industry will be provided by the private sector entrepreneurs, the people who have made it the successful industry it already is and who can make it more successful still if the Government provide them with the right circumstances.
Mr. Chris Smith (Islington, South and Finsbury): I agree entirely with the Secretary of State about the enormous importance of tourism to our economy. I have to say, however, that he and the Government are betraying too much complacency and self-congratulation about the current condition of that sector of our economy. The reality is that the United Kingdom is losing its global market share of international tourism.
In the decade from 1983 to 1993 world tourism grew by 13.4 per cent. per annum; United Kingdom tourism grew by only 11.9 per cent. per annum. Although of course growth is welcome, the Secretary of State should not be complacent about the fact that tourism in the rest of world is growing faster than tourism here. Britain has a £3.5 billion deficit in its tourism balance of payments. That, of course, contrasts with Britain's surplus in its tourism balance of payments when the Conservatives took office in 1979. Had Britain retained its share of the world tourism market over the past decade, nearly 200, 000 additional jobs would have been created in that period. Tourism is, of course, important. It is our third largest industry. It is our fourth largest source of export revenue. It employs directly and indirectly, as the Secretary of State pointed out, 1.5 million people. There is concern about what is happening, and that was demonstrated by the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry only three days ago, when he told a conference in Cardiff:
"A decade ago, 55 per cent. of holiday spending was at home. Today this has fallen to 45 per cent. and is still falling. The result is a balance of payments deficit in tourism".
"We are falling behind established industries"--
That is the verdict not of the Labour party but of the director-general of the CBI.
It is also important to remember that tourism is not only vital for our economy as a whole but crucial for communities up and down the country. For particular towns, cities, resorts and areas, tourism is undoubtedly a major source of employment, and it becomes doubly important for people living in those locations.
What has the Government's response been to the loss of global market share? Over the past three years, funding to the English tourist board has been cut by some 33 per cent. We have been told by the Secretary of State, on several occasions, that he has gallantly made available an extra £2 million for tourism in London. That more or less
Column 1249matches the extra amount that the British Tourist Authority now has to spend abroad because of the decline in the value of sterling over the past two years, so £2 million is not enormously generous. Then, of course, we have the time bomb that the Chancellor released in his Budget in November--the imposition of VAT on recreational transport. It is estimated that the total cost to tourism will be some £45 million per year. The increased cost to the people who run Alton Towers will run into seven figures.
Mr. Hawkins: Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it has been made clear, in subsequent statements on the original Budget statement, that a recreational transport facility such as a preserved steam railway--I declare my interest as an honorary unpaid consultant to the Association of Independent Railways--that has a route running from A to B is exempt? Even some of the lines in pleasure parks--for example, Blackpool pleasure beach, which I have already mentioned--may be exempt if they run a sufficient distance.
Mr. Smith: That may help in a limited number of cases, but it does not remove the basic problem, which has been clearly identified by people in the tourist industry. They have said that the additional cost to tourism in Britain is £45 million, so we need to take the Secretary of State's £2 million with a pinch of salt.
In terms of marketing ourselves abroad, we do not do terribly well by comparison with some other locations. I am indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry), who has been working on these issues assiduously on our behalf for many years, for pointing out that the island of Aruba in the Caribbean spends more on marketing itself in north America than does the whole of Britain. If that is the attention that we pay to the marketing needs of our tourism, perhaps it is no surprise that we are losing global market share.
Then we come to the Government's recent document "Tourism--Competing with the Best". It was trailed with considerable anticipation. As soon as it came out, I seized my copy and read it through with the expectation that it would be the answer to our problems. It would help if it were available to hon. Members in the Vote Office--it is not. It would be useful if the Department placed some copies there. The Secretary of State is guilty of the understatement of the year when he says that it is not an all-embracing document. It certainly is not. There is virtually nothing in it. It has 20 pages restating the current position, with no new proposals at all.
I am particularly concerned that the passage in the document relating to the crown classification scheme for accommodation is so weak. Yes, it says that the crown scheme has its merits and that it can be improved. Yes, it says that it is
"potentially a powerful weapon to raise hotel quality". We then learn that the English tourist board is conducting a comprehensive review. Labour Members are very clear on this: we want a statutory grading scheme for hotel accommodation. Such a scheme operates well in other countries. The Government should have been much bolder in seizing the initiative. Tourism as a whole would have greatly welcomed that. The document is deeply disappointing.