Prayers – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th May 1995.

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Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans , Ribble Valley 12:00 am, 15th May 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage how many tourists from abroad visited the United Kingdom for the last year for which figures are available. [22475]

Photo of Mr Iain Sproat Mr Iain Sproat , Harwich

In the 12 months between March 1994 and February 1995 there were an estimated 21 million visits to the United Kingdom by tourists from abroad.

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans , Ribble Valley

Does my hon. Friend agree that many of those visitors want to visit villages around the country because they are quiet and beautiful? Does he agree, therefore, that those drawing up structure plans ought to think twice before trying to build thousands of new houses in villages such as Whittingham and Calderstones in Whalley in my constituency which would detract from their beauty? Does he further agree that another village in my constituency might now attract many more visitors because it contains the training ground of Blackburn Rovers? Will he send his congratulations to Jack Walker, Alan Shearer, Kenny Dalglish and the rest of the team on winning the championship yesterday?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. The last part of that question was rather out of order.

Photo of Mr Iain Sproat Mr Iain Sproat , Harwich

If it is in order, Madam Speaker, I add my congratulations to those offered to Blackburn Rovers on winning the league after 81 years. That is a fine achievement and Blackburn Rovers deserve the credit.

With regard to the first part of my hon. Friend's question, it is extremely important, particularly in the case of the beautiful villages that he described, to ensure that the needs of housing are balanced by the benefits which accrue to the tourism industry. I am aware that my hon. Friend has followed the matter very closely over many months and I congratulate him on that. I will certainly draw the important point that he has made to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Mr. William O'Brien:

With regard to the 21 million people who the Minister says visit these isles, will the Minister consider the importance of developing tourism in west Yorkshire, particularly in relation to the Yorkshire mining museum? Will he do all that he can to ensure that we have our fair share of tourism in west Yorkshire so that people can see the heritage of the Yorkshire region?

Photo of Mr Iain Sproat Mr Iain Sproat , Harwich

Yes, I am glad to say that the percentage of tourists travelling out of London has been increasing. I very much support the Yorkshire mining museum and I am looking forward to visiting it again very shortly.