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The Tourism Advisory Council is only one of a number of regular groups giving the industry access to government. Other regular meetings include meeting the Tourism Alliance, the Tourism 2012 ministerial advisory group, the skills implementation group and the tourism leads at each of the RDAs.

Another recommendation from the tourism summit was the creation of an interdepartmental group of Ministers. I defer to the noble Lord’s comments on the challenges of interdepartmental ministerial groups being delivery vehicles rather than merely discussion events. This group first met at the beginning of May—so, relatively recently—and will meet four times a year. He is correct to identify that this group will be chaired by the Minister for Tourism in another place. I hope that my honourable friend will not be offended if I describe her as a forceful presence in the chair. So, notwithstanding her Whitehall ministerial status, I do not believe that her occupancy of the chair is a limit on that interdepartmental group’s ability to deliver. As a number of noble Lords have highlighted, tourism is often dependent on a range of government departments not making negative decisions as well as making positive ones.

The future success of VisitEngland will largely depend on its capability to form and maintain partnerships with regional development agencies and local authorities.

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The evolution of Partners for England is vital to that end. The Government welcome the group’s progress so far and its future aims. We are confident that these arrangements will make for strengthened leadership and better representation of private and public sector stakeholders and provide a more robust and more responsive vehicle to grow and sustain the industry in the long term.

The noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, made a point about marketing England domestically. Despite a tough Comprehensive Spending Review round, the Government are committed to providing £130 million between 2008 and 2012 for marketing Britain overseas and England to the British. In addition, between £3.3 million and £3.5 million is provided annually to the regional development agencies for tourism support.

Again, as my noble friend Lord Davies highlighted, this industry has a vertical contribution to make to jobs. For that reason, the Government have also made a significant investment in skills in relation to the tourism industry. Last year, we announced that we would focus an additional £210 million on the sector through the Train to Gain scheme and through learners who will be going through programmes approved by the National Skills Academy for Hospitality. In addition to this, the Government have committed £350 million to help small businesses to get the training that they need to get through the economic downturn. This is an investment across the country.

London, as the noble Baroness highlighted, is central to the visitor economy as a destination in its own right and, indeed, as a gateway route to the rest of the country. I recognise that there has been concern about the DCMS’s decision to discontinue its bilateral funding agreement with the GLA. This is, for the record, no reflection on the work of Visit London or the LDA, which we respect and value greatly. It is a matter of simple financial constraint and the requirement to make difficult choices, which our London partners have also encountered. We informed the then London mayor, Ken Livingstone, of this possibility last March, in order to give the GLA at least a glide path of more than a year to prepare for this eventuality.

We are not disinvesting from tourism. We will be reinvesting this money to support the recommendations of the British tourism framework review and to maximise potential national benefits. Indeed, as I said in the last debate—as I recall, I was asked to clarify the source of these funds—VisitBritain and VisitEngland are currently running a major £6.5 million marketing campaign focusing on England and Britain as high-quality, value-for-money destinations, which will naturally benefit London.

In response to the question asked by the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, about cuts and whether we would revisit that issue, I have to say no. Following the Comprehensive Spending Review in 2007, the DCMS was required to engage with its sponsored bodies and to seek to achieve value-for-money savings. Our funding decisions are final. The department then commissioned a review of public sector support for tourism, which we have discussed, and we agreed with VisitBritain that, pending the outcome of the strategic review, we

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would have a one-year provisional funding agreement for 2008-09. As I say, £350 million a year is being invested in tourism at national, regional and local levels. That is a significant commitment.

In line with the Prime Minister’s vision, which was outlined in the summit on improved partnership that was referred to, central government has increased its profile in relation to tourism in recent months. DCMS Ministers and tourism industry representatives attended a number of events during British Tourism Week, which ran from 23 to 29 March, both in London and the regions, to highlight the importance of tourism to the United Kingdom.

The DCMS has continued to pursue its advocacy role across government and it is fair to say that this is producing tangible results for the industry, including some more tourism-friendly strategic planning advice for local authorities—although perhaps not as much as the noble Earl would wish—as a result of intensive DCMS-led discussions with the DCLG, the Tourism Alliance and other organisations over 2004. I have another day job as the Minister for Regulation and will respond in writing to the noble Earl on his question about historic houses and the appropriateness of the religious application of regulation, as I have some sympathy with his view.

The noble Earl, Lord Caithness, asked about sustainability. One issue that is increasingly significant as we look to the future is the importance of a sustainable approach to tourism. Sustainability has never been so important as we face up to the impact of climate change. We all know that we have a clear and present responsibility to make sure that we act in an environmentally friendly way; tourism, given its size, can be no exception. Many tourism businesses across the UK are already doing outstanding work under the green agenda, but more need to do so and soon if we are to protect and value the world of the future. This will not be easy, particularly as we face up to difficult economic times. However, by adopting a more environmentally friendly approach to the management of resources, Britain’s tourism industry will be able to emerge stronger and more globally as well as domestically competitive.

When the Government published the tourism 2012 strategy, we committed to developing a framework in conjunction with the tourism industry, which we published in March. It sets out six key points. First, we must minimise waste. Secondly, we must address the impact of tourism transport. Most holiday trips, as noble Lords know, are by car and plane, so we must address the attractiveness of convenience and cost by advertising special offers and making people aware of alternative forms of transportation. Thirdly, we must ensure quality and making holidays accessible to all. Fourthly, we need to improve the quality of tourism jobs, as the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, said. Fifthly, we need to improve the perceptions of the tourism industry and make it more attractive to new and more diverse, talented and skilled people so that they view careers in the industry as long term rather than just temporary. Sixthly, a healthy and sustainable tourism industry can help to maintain and enhance community prosperity and quality of life, so we must try to reduce the

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seasonality of demand by increasing occupancy in the shoulder seasons and encouraging off-season activities and experiences. A version of this framework document, Sustainable Tourism in England: A Framework for Action, has been sent to the House Library.

Our national tourism strategy will therefore continue to focus on delivering a first-class welcome for our domestic and international visitors, providing high-quality product and accommodation for people to enjoy and improving the skills of the workforce, particularly in customer service and management. However, we cannot make headway in delivering these aims and a real and meaningful legacy from the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games without real commitment from the whole country and every region and without increasingly effective co-ordination with the RDAs and local authorities in particular.

There is a real momentum right across central government. These debates are material to improving the importance of tourism in the policy discussions in government and there is an increasing and effective working relationship between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Communities and Local Government. We now have an unprecedented set of conditions and ideas knitting together to show what our sector can deliver to the local economy and to local communities. That is now being made clear in a commercial way as well as in a policy way. The Government intend to maintain a constructive dialogue with the regions, focused, as two of the contributions this afternoon highlighted, on delivery rather than just on discussion.

I sense from the majority of the contributions this afternoon that there is not a unanimous view of the Government’s confidence in and optimism about the future of the visitor economy or about the Government’s programme of commitment. I recognise that, as indeed does my colleague in the other place. I would like to reassure noble Lords that neither in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport nor in government as a whole do we lack either vision or commitment to the importance of powerful industry sectors. The Government recognise that they need to concentrate on positioning the industry for recovery and exploiting future opportunities over the next decade.

There are real issues, some of which have been raised in this afternoon’s debate. There are questions around better co-ordination across government. There are legitimate questions around the application of the planning and regulatory regime to tourism industries. There are undoubtedly questions over how fast we can deploy the improvements in our transportation networks that we know we need to make.

I would say to noble Lords, however, that there has been significant progress. Institutional and organisational co-ordination is better than it has been. I genuinely believe that the overfocus on, verging on obsession with, the marketing budget is out of tune with the times and with the reality of what can be achieved with the money that is on the table and in the budgets of individual organisations. Last but not least, there is the significant capital, operating and marketing investment in the Olympic Games and the associated events. These are real opportunities. As I wander around this

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country to different centres and significant parts of the countryside, I rarely grumble about the quality of what is on offer.

4.22 pm

Lord Pendry: My Lords, this has been a good debate and I would like to thank all those who have made contributions. The noble Earls, Lord Caithness, Lord Glasgow and Lord Sandwich, and the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, all made thoughtful speeches. Although I did not agree with everything that they said, they made points that the Government should take up following the summit in Liverpool.

My noble friend Lord Davies of Coity was his usual forceful self, making sure that we all know the benefits of Manchester as a tourism venue. With regard to the comments of my noble friend Lord Rosser, we know that numbers of employees in the industry vary from survey to survey but we cannot ignore the fact that there are a lot of employees. That should be taken very seriously. I enjoyed the contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Valentine. In her, London has a real champion, as we always hear when she speaks in these debates.

Although I have said that the noble Lord, Lord Lee, was the best Tory Minister that I encountered in my days in the other place, it was a bit rich of him to suggest that, between January and now, the Government should have acted on all those recommendations. I hope that he will reflect on what he said. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Howard, for his contribution and the Minister for his thoughtful response to the debate. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.

Motion withdrawn.

World War II: Bomber Command

Question for Short Debate

4.24 pm

Tabled By Lord Richard

Lord Richard: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to raise the Question of whether the Government will accord formal recognition to the men and women of Bomber Command during the Second World War. It is a short and relatively simple point, which I will not labour too much by repetition. The short point is that it seems to me to be a matter of plain justice and fair dealing that the members of Bomber Command who served in the war should be recognised on the same basis as those who were members of other services.

I approach this issue with very few preconceptions and with no particular ties to the Air Force. I did not serve in it; neither did my father. The only connections that my family have had with the services are two uncles who served on the Somme, who by some miracle survived, and a brief period a long time ago when I

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was a very junior Minister in the Ministry of Defence with responsibility for the Army. I do not come to this debate as someone who is committed to a particular service.

It seemed to me when I first looked at this matter, and it seems to me now, to be a matter of basic equity and fairness. I do not think that many people would question the huge support given by Bomber Command to the war effort. Nor do I think that anyone would dispute or quarrel with the statistics, a few of which I shall give the House because they are important in this respect. During the war, a total of 120,000 air crew carried out no fewer than 366,000 sorties of which 297 were by night. During those long and dangerous occupations, 55,573 pilots and crew were killed—a ratio of 1:2. Every other member of Bomber Command who flew was killed. One Member of this House, our noble friend Lord Mackie, was a pilot in Bomber Command. I am told that he went on no fewer than 70 sorties and was much decorated as a result for his bravery. He is still waiting, as are the others, for proper recognition of that valiant career.

When we are looking at the figures, it is also worth remembering the countries from which the total figure was made up. These are the realities of that dreadful time. The 55,000 members of Bomber Command who died while on duty included 38,500 Britons, 9,980 Canadians—no less than 58 per cent of Canadians who flew with Bomber Command were killed—4,000 Australians, 1,700 New Zealanders, 977 Poles, 480 Czechs, 218 Free French, 188 members who were then known as Rhodesians, 68 Americans who were attached to Bomber Command from the United States Army Air Force, 34 Norwegians, 12 South Africans and three Indians, as well as 1,479 ground crew and 91 members of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Those figures have been slightly revised upwards, not downwards; but, no matter, the argument still stands. The casualties were huge whatever the difference may be in the statistics.

In addition to those who were killed, 8,403 members of Bomber Command were wounded in action. Nearly 11,000 were taken prisoner. They spent the rest of the war in German captivity and faced the harsh forced marches of the last months of the war. As many as 1,000 evaded capture after being shot down, most of whom made their way back to Britain to fly again. In all, Bomber Command was awarded 19 Victoria Crosses, nine of them posthumously. Two members of the Advanced Air Striking Force also received the Victoria Cross posthumously for a bombing raid on 12 May 1940 on a bridge being used by the Germany Army to advance into Belgium. They were Flying Officer Donald Edward Garland, aged 21, who was the first of four brothers killed in the war, and his observer, Sergeant Thomas Gray, aged 26.

As well as the war on land, the war at sea called for the attentions and exertions of Bomber Command, which carried out the mine-laying at sea. It sank German warships and bombed dockyards. It attacked submarine bases. It carried out the sustained bombing of Germany’s military forces, stores and supply lines on all the war fronts, striking at the German V1 and V2 sites, whose missiles were aimed specifically at Britain. That, too, was a Bomber Command task.

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Weakening Germany’s formidable capacity to make war—its oil storage depots, munitions factories, aircraft factories and parks, railway marshalling yards and railway traffic, coastal fortifications and tank parks, troop concentrations and transport links—all depended on Bomber Command.

The scale of the achievement of the brave men who carried out these wide-ranging essential tasks was expressed by Sir Winston Churchill, when he wrote at the end of the war to Sir Arthur Harris, Air Officer Commander-in-Chief, Bomber Command:

“All your operations were planned with great care and skill. They were executed in the face of desperate opposition and appalling hazards. They made a decisive contribution to Germany’s final defeat. The conduct of the operation has demonstrated the fiery gallant spirit which animated your air crews and the high sense of duty of all ranks under your command. I believe that the massive achievements of Bomber Command will long be remembered as an example of duty nobly done”.

Today, there are approximately 30,000 pilots in the air crew of Bomber Command who are still alive. They and the next of kin of those who were killed in action, or who have died since the war, are still waiting for their campaign medal. It really is high time that justice was done for these brave men and women.

I have been trying, in anticipation of this debate, to anticipate the arguments that the Government might use for continuing to refuse this request. I have to say that I cannot think of any that stand up to very close examination. Let me dispose, first, of the bureaucratic argument. It has been said on a number of occasions that, because the Honours, Awards and Decorations Committee had considered this issue in 1946, and then rejected it, it is no longer open to review. I would refute that. There is absolutely no reason I can see why the matter could not now be sent back to the committee for further consideration, or, alternatively, why the Government could not take the decision, thereby acknowledging that the 1946 decision was wrong. Certainly, a decision of that committee cannot be considered irreversible. It really would be a nonsense to hold that a decision made in 1946 is permanently binding, no matter what change there is in circumstances. I will be very interested to hear what the Government have to say on that.

The Early Day Motion put down by my honourable friend Austin Mitchell in another place has now attracted more than 200 signatures. The Canadian Senate, by unanimous resolution, has asked that Britain be approached formally to give,

So there is an increasing political realisation that this anomaly should be corrected.

Their contribution was immense. Their treatment has been shabby and neglectful. It is time this is put right. The time is long overdue, and I hope the Government will recognise it.

4.33 pm

Lord Goodlad: My Lords, I wholeheartedly support the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Richard, about formal recognition of the men and women of the Bomber Command during the Second World War.

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Born and bred, as I was, in Lincoln, the second home of many of those men and women at the time, I grew up in a city that revered and loved those who, as the noble Lord just said, played a decisive role in the outcome of the war.

More recently while serving in Australia, I became aware that 20,000 Australians served with the Bomber Command of the Royal Air Force during the war. Under what was then called the Empire Air Training Scheme, the Royal Air Force in 1941 was, as the noble Lord, Lord Richard, said, recruiting approximately 20 per cent of its pilots from Commonwealth countries. I am advised that Australian casualties in Bomber Command were 3,486 dead and 246 injured, and after the war, 750 Australian air crew were released from German prisoner of war camps.

The first Australians to see action with Bomber Command were Australian-born Regular Royal Air Force officers, some of whom like Group Captain Hughie Edwards, who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1941, had trained with the Royal Australian Air Force. Australians continued to fly with Bomber Command until the end of the war, as did Canadians, New Zealanders and citizens of the other countries mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Richard.

Memorials may be dismissed by some as mere tablets of stone. To most they are a tangible and continuing reminder of the heroism and sacrifice of a generation which helped to secure the liberties that we now take for granted. They are a reminder and, for some, an inspiration for the present. The Minister has visited Australia and other countries whose men and women fought in Bomber Command and she knows as well as anybody in Parliament the importance with which our military and other links are still regarded both publicly and privately in those countries. I hope that she may be able to give some positive support to the Question put by the noble Lord, Lord Richard, and that recognition and gratitude will be accorded in tangible form to those who fought in Bomber Command.

We are now reconciled with our former enemies in war. That reconciliation should include a constant reminder to present and future generations of the horrors and sacrifices undergone by all our and their forebears.

4.37 pm

Lord Bramall: My Lords, as someone much swept up in the events of 1942 to 1944, latterly at what might be described as the sharp end, perhaps I may make three points. First, however much we may now regret having had to reduce so many German cities to ruins, there is no doubt that the bomber offensive by night by Bomber Command and by day by the US Eighth Air Force made a major contribution to writing down the German war effort, making it difficult for the Germans to go on sustaining their armed forces against the Soviet Union and latterly against the forces they faced from the west. That shortened the war because Hitler would never have surrendered.

More than that, because those offensives put so much pressure on the Luftwaffe to counter them, by 1944 the Luftwaffe as a potential weapon of war had virtually ceased to exist, which as much as anything else made the Normandy invasion possible, for which I

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personally was very grateful, otherwise it would have been hazardous in the extreme. Finally, against that background, and bearing in mind that statistically service as air crew in Bomber Command during the war years was by far the most dangerous assignment for the armed services who served in the front line, it seems more than appropriate that they should have special recognition, perhaps in the form of a special rosette on their Air Crew Europe medal.

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