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Tourism

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 12:32 pm on 29th November 1996.

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Photo of Mr Simon Coombs Mr Simon Coombs , Swindon 12:32 pm, 29th November 1996

The hon. Gentleman asks me to plug a well-known Yorkshire fish restaurant. My next comment would have drawn attention to the fact that the ubiquitous Harry Ramsden's is well established in Cardiff bay. I am pleased to add that it will shortly open a new emporium in my constituency. The Cardiff bay development is recognised in south Wales as likely to lead to an enormous increase in the number of visitors who come to that already fair city.

My hon. Friend the Member for Gosport (Mr. Viggers) spoke about the glories of Portsmouth harbour. He probably knows that I am a native of Portsmouth. That is why I am delighted at the prospect of lottery money being used to transform Portsmouth harbour. I was christened in the dockyard, though I am not sure that that is of great significance. However, the Mary Rose, HMS Warrior and the Victory are tremendous tourist sights that are likely only to become more attractive.

To complete the round Britain tour to which I have subjected the House, I shall return to London. My point in emphasising the regions was to agree with hon. Members who have spoken about the importance of encouraging tourism in the regions. However, we cannot neglect the fact that London acts a magnet for the whole world. Few people who have heard of it do not regard it as a place that they would like to visit at some time in their lives. That is why so many do. The London of 10 or 20 years' time will be a very different place from the London of today. The developments that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State mentioned along the River Thames are of great significance. I hope that I can look forward to seeing the Tate gallery of modern art in Bankside power station in time for the millennium. When I visited the power station with the Tate gallery a couple of years ago, it talked of the possibility of a river boat shuttle service between the existing gallery and the new one. I suggested that it might be known as the Tate-à-Tate service.

The millennium wheel causes considerable emotion among hon. Members but there is a misunderstanding about it. It was suggested during National Heritage questions recently that it was a millennium project in the sense that it was likely to attract money from the millennium fund. That is not so; it is an entirely private sector venture, primarily the initiative of British Airways. I welcome it on the understanding that it is a temporary construction. It would not be appropriate for the south hank to have it for the rest of time. On the understanding that it will be there for five years to celebrate the millennium, I think that it will add a little extra something.