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Fire Services

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total element of standard spending assessments related to fire services in the most recent year for which figures are available; and what was the annual spending of fire authorities within the same period. [15250]

Sir Paul Beresford [holding answer 11 February 1997]: The information requested is in the table:

£ billion
YearFire standard spending assessmentRevenue expenditure on fire

Figures for 1993-94 and 1994-95 refer to fire and civil defence.


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Television Licence Fee Regulations

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if she will make a statement about the television licence fee regulations. [15562]

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley: I have today laid new consolidated television licence fee regulations before both Houses. These will:

The basic principle of the TV licensing system has always been that a TV licence is required for any place, vehicle or vessel in which TV is installed or used. The changes summarised in the following paragraph are designed to sustain the integrity and enforceability of the licensing system, to protect the BBC's income and to be fair and reasonable in applying the basic principle to the increasing use of television outside a household's main place of residence.

Hitherto, the regulations have permitted a household's TV licence to cover all the TV sets at one place, vehicle or vessel, but no sets elsewhere, except in the comparatively rare case where such sets are powered by their own internal batteries. The regulations I have laid today extend the coverage of a TV licence in a number of ways:

The Government undertaking concerning the impact of the right-to-buy legislation on the concessionary television licence scheme--under which qualifying households pay only £5 for a TV licence--was made during the Commons Committee stage of the Broadcasting Act 1996, on 18 June 1996, Official Report,

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columns 749-51. The new regulations will enable residents of sheltered housing schemes which meet all the other qualifying criteria to benefit from the TV licence concession, provided that not more than 25 per cent. of the dwellings in the scheme have been purchased under the right-to-buy provisions.

The consolidated regulations will also incorporate other changes made last year, by separate amending regulations. These relate to deregulation of the previous requirements for TV dealers to register with the licensing authority and to hold a separate TV dealer demonstration licence and the introduction last August of a new cash instalment payment scheme aimed at making it easier for those on low incomes to pay the licence fee.

Tourism Strategy

Mr. Matthew Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what response she has received to her Department's new strategy for tourism, "Success through Partnership". [15829]

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley: "Success through Partnership: A Strategy for Tourism" builds on the successful programme we have completed over the last two years, which has developed a closer working relationship than ever before between Government and industry. The recent report of the National Heritage Select Committee has helped to inform the development of this tourism strategy. The Government's strategy document has been warmly welcomed as a joint initiative with the industry.

The strategy provides a clear statement of our objectives for the tourism industry and an agenda for future action. It represents a true partnership and involves key players from central and local government, tourist boards, the industry, trade and professional bodies and consumer groups. All have been fully involved in preparing and taking forward the strategy and are committed to developing tourism as a high quality, profitable and sustainable activity to realise the growth potential of the industry and the associated social and cultural benefits for the nation.

The strategy covers six main areas:

Copies of the document are available in the Libraries of the House.

Tourism (Suffolk and Norfolk)

Mr. Porter: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if she will make a statement on the impact of Government tourism policy on (a) Suffolk and (b) Norfolk since 1987. [12722]

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Mr. Sproat [holding answer 28 January 1997]: Norfolk and Suffolk have benefited from significant growth in tourism in the UK in recent years. The number of employees in the British tourism industry grew by approximately 24 per cent. between March 1986 and March 1996. In 1995, earnings from tourism were £38 billion--a record in real terms--and signs are that 1996 will be even better. The UK is now fifth in the world in terms of tourism earnings. The UK's domestic tourism earnings were £22.7 billion in 1995. Figures for tourism spend in individual counties are not available. However, domestic tourism spend in the east of England region increased from £490 million in 1987 to £960 million in 1995 and overseas visitor income increased from £183 million in 1987 to £566 million in 1995. International passenger survey figures show that the number of visits by overseas visitors to Norfolk increased from 164,000 in 1994 to 176,000 in 1995, and those to Suffolk from 129,000 in 1994 to 142,000 in 1995. Government support for the industry is channelled through the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourist Board.

I am pleased to note that over £10.5 million of lottery funding has been awarded to Suffolk and Norfolk to date for projects to promote culture, heritage and the arts. Other Government programmes include a seven-year regeneration initiative launched last April in Lowestoft, which aims to improve and develop the local area, and also, to develop the tourism potential.

London is one of this country's main draws for overseas visitors, and one of the main aims of the Focus London campaign, which has received £7 million of public funding over three years, has been to promote London as a gateway to the rest of the country. The Government are committed to encouraging overseas visitors to travel to all parts of the country. In 1995, the British Tourist Authority's British travel centre in London gave help and advice on travelling outside the capital to almost half a million overseas visitors. These initiatives will boost tourism in the regions and greatly benefit the employment prospects and wealth of those living locally.

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