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10.10 am

Mr. Lawrie Quinn (Scarborough and Whitby): I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this short debate. I congratulate the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) on securing it, thereby giving the House the opportunity to discuss tourism and hospitality. He and I share the view that those industries are important not only to Britain and our constituencies, but to the economy and the social well-being of all our citizens. Most commentators predict that they will soon be the largest in Britain--indeed, globally. I rise to offer the House a snapshot--a postcard from the seaside, I suppose--of local developments in the industries.

If you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, were to travel to my constituency, which would of course be a great honour, you would see on entering Scarborough a sign which says, "Welcome to Scarborough . . . Britain's First Resort". That is true, and it represents the industries' vision in Scarborough and Whitby. I am very pleased that the Minister's tour of seaside resorts and of representatives of the tourism industry included a visit to my constituency in August. It was very closely followed by a visit from the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth), the Opposition spokesman. So both parties are apparently in listening mode.

As in the rest of the United Kingdom, the tourism industry in my constituency is fragmented and segregated. It is spread throughout rural areas, small villages, market towns and large conurbations such as Scarborough and Whitby. Tourism is of special and growing importance in north Yorkshire, especially in the North Yorkshire moors national park, which constitutes about 60 per cent. of my constituency.

Perhaps I should send you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, a postcard from the beautiful parts of the national park, such as the Esk valley. Instead of the comic seaside card that I had in mind when I got to my feet, perhaps I should be saying to all in the House, "Wish you were here." That is certainly the message that all people who work in tourism and hospitality in my constituency want me to convey. We do indeed wish that hon. Members would spend some of their hard-earned money in our resorts.

People visit Britain not only for the great delight of its scenic beauty but for our arts and culture--our museums, galleries and theatres. Indeed, one of the best regional theatres in the country is the Stephen Joseph theatre in Scarborough, which is run by Sir Alan Ayckbourn.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley (South-West Surrey): It is funded by the lottery.

Mr. Quinn: The right hon. Lady is quite right to say that the theatre received a substantial capital contribution from the lottery, although revenue support was not thought through, and we failed to supply money. I am glad that, on the Minister's visit to Scarborough, I was able to accompany her to the theatre, where we discovered from Sir Alan Ayckbourn, no less, that tourism and hospitality are not only creative but vital industries. I take issue with the suggestion of the hon. Member for North Essex that the Department's vision does not cover the industries' creative side. The aspect is clearly stated in the Department's vision statement.

Sporting events are very important to our industries, attracting many international visitors. There has been the recent European football championship, and there are bids

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to stage the world cup and the olympic games. Given Scarborough's experience of hosting the Bulgarian football team, I would urge a note of caution. We were promised that many thousands of football fans would accompany the team, filling vacant spaces on caravan sites and in bed-and-breakfasts and hotels. Unfortunately, the fans did not visit the delights of the Yorkshire coast.

I therefore urge that, in planning international sporting events and attractions at globally renowned venues, such as the Millennium dome, which is not too far from Scarborough, the Government contemplate ensuring that the virtuous aspects of trade and tourism spill over to the more peripheral areas, such as the north-east of England and the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (Miss Smith). We need to plan and think about where visitors will stay.

When my hon. Friend the Minister visited Scarborough in August, we were able to share a business breakfast with many key members of the local industry. On that occasion, she showed not only that she was in listening mode but that, a mere two weeks into her new job, she was willing to take on board the ideas, problems and concerns of people who work in the industry in my part of the world. She certainly greatly impressed many people who attended. I know that she has received many letters from my constituents who were grateful that she visited us.

Mr. Spring: Has the hon. Gentleman asked the Deputy Prime Minister how many letters he received following his visit to Scarborough, which caused great hilarity because he left on a train but descended at the first available stop to get into his ministerial Jaguar? That was part of his listening to integrated transport strategy.

Mr. Quinn: I am sorry to have to correct the Opposition spokesperson, but my right hon. Friend had been opening my constituency office--the first ever in Scarborough. My office is a mere five minutes walk from the railway station. The hon. Gentleman is right: my right hon. Friend took the train to Seamer. From there, he visited two proposed park-and-ride sites. [Laughter.] I am sorry, but that is on record. Those two sites are very close to Seamer railway station. Far from not being concerned with integrated transport policy, my right hon. Friend demonstrated his great concern to the people of Scarborough and Whitby. In fact, we are hopeful that, in due course, we shall be hearing about the policy.

As evidence of the high regard in which the Minister is held in the tourist industry and the impact that she has made, I shall quote the chairman of the Scarborough hotels association, who told the local media shortly after her visit:

Far from ignoring my constituents' concerns and comments, work is being done. I look forward to hearing the Minister make a statement, which will build on the Labour party policy devised under the auspices of my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry).

Labour's document "Breaking New Ground--Labour's Strategy for Hospitality" was instrumental not only in my election to represent the seaside community of

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Scarborough and Whitney but in helping to elect hon. Members across the United Kingdom. My hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale, too, was elected on Labour's promise to fill the vacuum in tourism policy that was created by 18 years of the previous Government's failure. We are fulfilling that promise by listening to the industry, dealing with its concerns and working in partnership.

I should like to mention to the House one local initiative in Scarborough with which I have been involved. We have established a Scarborough tourism forum that brings together everyone involved in tourism and hospitality. The forum is a place where we can debate the real issues of the day and look forward to the future. The Minister was able on her visit to hear about the forum's work, and I hope that she will take on board the lessons it offered when she considers any future tourism strategies and initiatives.

I hope also that, in the near future, we shall see at all points of entry to the United Kingdom signs stating not only that Scarborough is our first national resort but that Britain is the first global resort.

10.21 am

Mr. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) on securing this debate on such an important subject, and on using the time allocated so wisely. As I realise the enormous value and importance of tourism to the United Kingdom--especially to London, which itself draws in much tourism to the United Kingdom--I should say first, in a non-political speech, that our hereditary monarchy and hereditary peerage are extremely valuable and important to tourism in London.

As I said, tourism is important to London, and tourism in London is important to the United Kingdom. However, London is not everything in tourism. Also, with great respect to hon. Members who have already spoken in the debate, seaside resorts are not everything in tourism. We have to market the other parts of the United Kingdom abroad, and to market UK tourism inside the United Kingdom.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for North Essex, I am concerned by plans to abolish the English tourist board. What will replace it? We have heard that responsibility for tourism may be given to regional development agencies. I am troubled by such a proposal for various reasons, the first of which is that my constituency will be on the very edge of the south-west RDA, which will also include Cornwall and Devon. The south-west RDA would tend to promote Cornwall and Devon--I have nothing against those areas--at the expense of other parts of the region.

My constituency and Gloucestershire generally, have far more in common with Herefordshire and Worcestershire than with Devon and Cornwall, and there is a strong likelihood that we in Tewkesbury would lose as a part of the south-west region. If responsibility for promoting tourism is given to RDAs, or to any similar regional authority, Tewkesbury would lose. I do not want that to happen.

Tourism is extremely important to the town of Tewkesbury, to the Cotswolds, to many other villages in the area and to the racecourse in my constituency. In Tewkesbury, excluding the racecourse, 12 per cent.

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of jobs depend on tourism, compared with the national average of 7 per cent. Tourism is a vital factor in job creation and sustainability, in education and in the preservation of old buildings.

Tewkesbury has many old buildings. However, it also has many shops that have closed, primarily because of a shortage of tourists. Although Tewkesbury is a very beautiful and historic town, it suffers from proximity to Cheltenham, which has many chain stores. The town of Tewkesbury therefore specialises in and relies on speciality and novelty shops, on the abbey, on its many old buildings and on the river. Although those aspects of the town are extremely important--some of them are very beautiful--that is not enough. They have not only to look attractive but to draw in trade.

I should like to stress again the importance of tourism both to my constituency and to the United Kingdom.

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