Welsh Tourist Board

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th March 1973.

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Photo of Mr William Edwards Mr William Edwards , Merionethshire 12:00 am, 19th March 1973

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how much money has been made available to the Welsh Tourist Board for grant in the current year.

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

Over £2 million for the year ending 31st March next.

Photo of Mr William Edwards Mr William Edwards , Merionethshire

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that investment in the tourist industry is now probably the easiest and cheapest way of creating new employment in Wales? Will he confirm also that the amount he has mentioned is woefully inadequate and is already totally taken up by applications which have been pending for over 12 months awaiting the approval of the tourist board, and that a doubling of this sum would mean that a very large number of new jobs could be created in many areas?

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

I do not accept that the figure is woefully inadequate, but if the hon. Gentleman will let me know of any particular instances of hotel proprietors in his constituency who have particular problems, I will put them to the tourist board.

Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Flintshire West

How does this figure, which may or may not be adequate—I am inclined to think it is adequate— compare with the figure for the year 1970–71?

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

The figure then was woefully inadequate. It was £314,000 outturn compared with an estimate for next year of £2,950,000.

Photo of Mr Neil McBride Mr Neil McBride , Swansea East

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the imposition of value added tax could have harmful effects on employment and the revenue in the tourist industry, entailing the need for more grants from the tourist board? Does he realise that revenue from tourism in Wales in 1971 was £128 million, which underlines the belief that this needless tax will have a damaging effect on the industry?

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

No. The combination of selective employment tax, brought in by the Labour Government, and of purchase tax was far more unpopular than value added tax.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Edwards Mr Nicholas Edwards , Pembrokeshire

Is not my hon. Friend aware that a large number of projects have been held up because of the exhaustion of funds in the hotel improvement grant scheme? Will he, as many of my hon. Friends have pressed him to do, take another look at the whole matter?

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

I do not disagree when my hon. Friend says that the tourist industry is of the greatest importance to Wales, but I repeat that the funds coming from the Government are very encouraging.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the half truth of his reply to his hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) did him no credit? Is he aware that to expenditure on tourism in Wales during 1970–71, the period he mentioned, there should be added expenditure on the hotel development grants scheme, an open-ended grants scheme? The hon. Gentleman gains nothing by not giving the full picture.

Photo of Mr David Gibson-Watt Mr David Gibson-Watt , Hereford

If the right hon. Gentleman wants the full truth of tourism as it was under his administration, I must remind him of the fact that the overdraft of the Welsh Tourist Board had to be secured by the chairman of the tourist board himself, not the Government.