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Lord Graham of Edmonton: My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to intervene. I wonder whether it is recognised that, although the attractions of London are very real and patent, there are apparently limits to the ability of London to accommodate the number of people who are attracted to it. Would the Minister care to comment on an initiative called the Northern Gateway whereby, instead of people automatically coming into Britain through London, they are encouraged to come in, for instance, through Manchester? Visitors will always come to London to see the sights but if the strategy was for them to come through the Northern Gateway at Manchester that would provide an incentive for them to go more easily to Scotland, Yorkshire and other parts of the country.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for referring to the Northern Gateway. It is important to be clear that we are talking about two complementary matters. As I said, there is an enormous amount of evidence to suggest that London is the greatest attraction that our country has to offer. That has been empirically established. Once the visitors are here, we hope we can encourage them to travel further.

The Northern Gateway initiative is very valuable because it encourages people to travel direct to other parts of the country. But the reality of the market place is that those are not alternatives. London is an enormous attraction. The Northern Gateway initiative will enable those who know London well to bypass London when they come to this country, thereby relieving to some extent the congestion to which the noble Lord refers. The London Tourist Board and the Department of National Heritage are concerned about that. They are endeavouring to take steps to ease the problem so that it will not get in the way of an effective and successful tourist industry.

As I was saying, we must make more of this tremendous asset that we have. For that reason the Government have provided £2 million of new money over two years to the British Tourist Authority to improve the promotion of London in overseas markets. The British Tourist Authority will match this from its

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own resources, and it is using funds in conjunction with the London Tourist Board, which is raising matching private sector contributions.

The debate then turned to the other parts of our country and it was asked how funds were allocated between the statutory tourist boards within the United Kingdom. So far as the countries of the United Kingdom are concerned, it is clear that the tourism industry differs considerably from one to another. For that reason it is important that support for tourism in each of the countries of the United Kingdom is determined accordingly. So the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland determine allocations from their national budgets to support tourism in their own countries, while it is the Secretary of State for National Heritage who determines the grant to the English Tourist Board and the British Tourist Authority.

Going back to certain remarks made by the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, I myself, as an Englishman coming from just south of the Border and having no specific governmental responsibility in this regard, would say that I very much do not wish to get involved in the problems of the other home countries in this manner. However, I can assure your Lordships that all your points will be noted by those who have responsibilities in these affairs.

It is, I know, tempting to make simple comparisons between the amounts of grant given in each part of the United Kingdom or a grant per head of the population but, as I am sure we already know, it is not quite as simple as that. Public money must be allocated on the basis of an assessment of the need for and the return to public investment in tourism in each of the countries. It therefore follows that the amount of funding and the policies for distributing it will differ accordingly. It is

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worth pausing for just a moment to reflect that many industries which receive no grant at all contribute substantial tax revenue to the Exchequer.

As I mentioned earlier, my noble friend Lord Mountevans referred to the English Tourist Board. Of course it is true that the grant-in-aid to the ETB has been reduced; but this is a result of hard spending decisions and the need to preserve the BTA's capacity to promote overseas. It also reflects our view that the ETB should operate as a strategic organisation, offering leadership and advice, and should reduce its emphasis on running programmes and particular marketing campaigns.

Government support for the tourism industry has never been stronger. Direct financial support for the tourist boards for the United Kingdom in the current year totals almost £90 million, as has been mentioned earlier in the debate. In addition, substantial amounts of money from regeneration programmes such as the European Regional Development Fund are going to tourism projects. Furthermore, much of the £1 billion or so that is spent by the Department of National Heritage this year funds the arts, culture and heritage, which are among our most significant tourist attractions and which can in addition benefit from the huge success of the National Lottery. Equally important is the support from the Government and the statutory tourist boards underpinning the industry's efforts through the quality and promotion of its own products. Never has this support been more carefully considered or so wholeheartedly given.

The Government recognise the tourism industry as a vital component of the future success of the United Kingdom economy in creating wealth and securing jobs. In partnership with the industry we will continue to play our part fully in strengthening its performance and in ensuring that Britain remains one of the world's premier tourist destinations, underpinning one of the world's foremost tourist industries.

        House adjourned at four minutes past eight o'clock.

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