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Lord St.John of Bletso: My Lords, does the Minister agree that a review of quarantine laws would be somewhat difficult for the Government ahead of the general election next year? Does he further agree that if the system of pet passports were to be introduced, and if as the British Veterinary Association has recommended, a system of electronic tagging were to be introduced, there would then be no justification for the quarantine laws not to be reviewed or to be totally scrapped?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, as I said, we are certainly reviewing the current regulations and we are doing so very much in the light of the technical advances to which the noble Lord referred. But the question is how it would or could be implemented in practice. There is also the matter of how we may achieve European Union agreement to any proposals which we may make which concern us and which are likely to take some time, even with the best will in the world.

Baroness Strange: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that six months is a very long time in the life of a dog, equivalent to three-and-a-half years of our lives?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, indeed, I am well aware of the inconvenience and unhappiness caused to many

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people by the current quarantine regulations. But that must be set against the inconvenience and unhappiness which would be caused if we had rabies in this country.

Lord Hayhoe: My Lords, in view of the rather curious reference to the Governor of Hong Kong, is my noble friend aware that the Governor has made it absolutely clear that he will abide by the regulations in force when he returns to this country? It is monstrous to make any suggestion to the contrary in this House. Will my noble friend tell us how many animals in quarantine have been identified in the past 12 months or two years as actually having rabies?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I am quite well aware that my right honourable friend will follow the customs of this country and will obey the law. I can also tell my noble friend that there have been no cases of rabies in quarantine in recent years.

Lord Carter: My Lords, it is rather curious that the Minister's answer to my first supplementary question put a gloss on the statement of the Chief Veterinary Officer which is not supported if one reads the whole discussion. Can I ask the Government to make it clear that they will not decide to review the policy and then have the risk assessment because that would be the wrong way round?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, a risk assessment must compare the current system with a new system. We must reach the point of having a proposed new system before we can have the risk assessment.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, is it not the case that dogs, cats and foxes are not the only carriers of rabies? I read of a goat giving rabies to a child which it had nibbled. Also, there was the recent case of the bats which had rabies. Can the Minister explain why quarantine regulations apply to dogs and cats but not to any other animals?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, my understanding is that the quarantine regulations apply principally to pets and if the noble Countess had a pet goat, the regulations might apply to it.

Lord Strabolgi: My Lords, is the noble Lord satisfied with the conditions in the quarantine kennels because from what one reads in the press, many of them seem to be below standard?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I believe that the conditions in the quarantine kennels have been considerably exaggerated for the worse. There is a code of practice which we are very much encouraging and helping to supervise but as I am sure the noble Lord is aware, the legislation is deficient in that we are unable, under the law, to impose welfare requirements on quarantine kennels.

The Earl of Liverpool: My Lords, when conducting a review, will my noble friend bear in mind the amount

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of smuggling which it is generally agreed is taking place? Sweden had approximately 300 or 400 animals coming into that country per year before it adopted the inoculation, tagging and blood-testing provisions. In the first year in which those provisions were in operation the figure rose to 6,000-plus animals coming in. That must indicate that there is a very high level of smuggling taking place.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I believe that smuggling will take place under any system because any system is likely to impose considerable cost and inconvenience on people who are bringing pets in and out of this country. That means that there will always be a temptation for people to smuggle.

UK Visitors: Figures

2.53 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the number of overseas visitors to the United Kingdom, for holidays, sport and conferences, in 1995; and what is their forecast of the equivalent number in 1996.

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, the International Passenger Survey suggests that, out of the record 24 million overseas visitors to the United Kingdom in 1995, 10.5 million came primarily for holidays and nearly 600,000 came to attend conferences. The survey does not record the number of people coming to the UK for sport.

The British Tourist Authority estimates that, in 1996, the UK will receive 25.8 million visitors. We do not expect that the proportion of people visiting for holiday purposes or for conferences to be radically different from 1995.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his encouraging reply. Does he agree that there is no reason why the numbers should not continue to increase, as will the value to the national economy? Since our history and heritage are prominent attractions, is it possible to entice visitors at all times of the year, thus reducing the seasonal aspect of employment in our tourism industry, and to spread them to different parts of the country, thus avoiding the mass overcrowding and traffic jams which have detracted from cultural centres in other parts of Europe?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, my noble friend is quite right. The British Tourist Authority predicts that the number of visitors will increase in 1996 and that it will be another record year. That will continue the encouraging trend of recent years and suggests that we are maintaining our market share. My noble friend referred to historic attractions and all-the-year-round appeal. Great historic buildings and other indoor heritage attractions make an important contribution to attracting tourists all the year round.

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My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has asked the chairmen of the tourist boards to review the use that we make of our heritage attractions with all the relevant bodies.

Lord McNally: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the Financial Times estimates that the Treasury receipt from Euro '96 was some £64 million? Does that not make it extremely short-sighted that the policing of that competition was left entirely in cost terms to the local authorities concerned? If we are to attract major sporting and cultural events which bring hundreds of millions of pounds into the country and tens of millions of pounds to the Treasury, we must have a better way to police it than leaving it to the local authority where the event is to take place.

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I do not agree with the noble Lord. I believe that Euro '96 was a great success because it attracted 250,000 extra visitors to this country and generated revenue of an extra £100 million. One must look to the future, and the world cup is the next logical step, building on the success of Euro '96.

Lord Clark of Kempston: My Lords, does my noble friend not agree that the fact that the UK tourist industry last year attracted 24 million people, and the fact that they spent some £12 billion, is a great boost to our invisibles? Does my noble friend not agree that the attraction of the UK is not confined to tourism? Because of its competitive position, the UK is very attractive to inward investment. Would it not therefore be a folly to sign up to the social chapter and a minimum wage?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I heard somebody say "planted question" but nothing could be further from the truth, although this is my number one answer. My noble friend is quite correct. That is an area of great concern to us all. As we are aware from the Statement made by my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade, which was repeated by my noble and learned friend Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, action is being taken on that matter.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, does the Minister agree that wear and tear and damage to historic buildings and monuments is a consequence of the number of visitors who go to see them? Is he satisfied that English Heritage takes that into account in its budget for future years in view of the expected increase in the number of tourists? Does the grant paid by the Government to English Heritage allow for that increase in expenditure?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I cannot answer that question in relation to the funding of English Heritage. However, it is quite interesting to note that the Environment Select Committee of another place

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in July 1995 concluded that compared with other activities, tourism does not cause significant damage to the countryside.

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