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Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 2:07 pm on 29th November 1996.

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Photo of Mr Iain Sproat Mr Iain Sproat , Harwich 2:07 pm, 29th November 1996

I gave way for a minute and a half. That gave the hon. Gentleman plenty of time to say, "We will abolish the airport tax." Did he say that? No. There was plenty of time for him to say, "We will give an extra £100 million to the BTA." Did he say that? No. It was a total waste of time. He was asked a question and he did not even attempt to answer it.

The key point is that we have a giant industry worth £37 billion. It employs 1.8 million people, with another million jobs, we hope, to be created in the industry in the next 10 years.

This year, we have had a record number of foreign visitors—24 million. We have had record earnings from foreign visitors—£12.1 billion. We have got 5 per cent. of the world tourism market. We have gone up in the league; we were down to sixth, but we have gone back up to fifth. We have not slipped, but Labour Members do not understand that. We have gone from sixth up to fifth, and why? The reasons are the economy of this country, the general prosperity, the steadiness, the low inflation and the falling unemployment; all those factors have contributed to an economy in which tourism can flourish.

At the heart of Labour's policy is not only the poisoned pellet of the minimum wage, the social chapter and the working time directive, but plans that, if Labour ever came to government, would wreck our economic stability, our low inflation and our falling unemployment. The tourism industry would be in an infinitely worse state.