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Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 1:23 pm on 29th November 1996.

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Photo of Lady Olga Maitland Lady Olga Maitland , Sutton and Cheam 1:23 pm, 29th November 1996

It is with the greatest pleasure that I would encourage tourists to visit the lovely Yorkshire dales, to try the Yorkshire pudding, to sample the culture, to visit the pubs and, indeed, to try to understand the language.

We should focus more on the regions. I appreciate that the English tourist board gets much support in its effort to spread the good news across the country, but we need to build new images. We need to get away from the "Hi-de-Hi" television image that suggests that visiting the provinces is second rate. We are making good progress and we should endorse many new initiatives.

We could do more to encourage the development of country cottages and self-catering holidays; the quality of those lets is enormously high, and they provide a useful income, especially if the owners are going on holiday themselves. I have seen what a powerful role holiday lets have played in the East Anglian economy; they give enormous pleasure to the visitors and bring a great deal of income to the area.

I am proud of the achievements of the tourism industry, which have been built on a healthy economy that has had careful Conservative management over many years. It is encouraging that we have provided the right infrastructure, the right Budget and the right circumstances for small businesses to flourish. By reducing corporation tax, freezing business rates and raising the VAT threshold, we have set the stage for the most magnificent show on earth. I thank the Minister and the Secretary of State for making it all possible.