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Our five-point plan for tourism makes clear the Government’s support for the tourism industry. That includes a commitment to encourage tourists to explore the country beyond London. I am delighted that we have secured the £40 million Discover England fund. That competitive fund will encourage public and private sector partners across the country to come together and improve our English tourism offer.
My hon. Friend is well known as a real champion for his constituency and for Northamptonshire, and I commend him for that. I recognise the importance of privately owned heritage such as Rockingham Castle in supporting tourism. I am pleased to say that historic houses can apply for Heritage Lottery funding of up to £100,000 on projects that are a public benefit. Sites on
Historic England’s heritage at risk register can apply for funding from Historic England.
It is very important for Maria Eagle to know the facts.
Mr Speaker, before you reprimand me, may I remind the House that John Clare was a Northamptonshire peasant poet? The John Clare Trust has opened his wonderful cottage to visitors and tourists, and the Minister would be welcome to pay an official visit at any time. Will he also tell the world that the trust supports the Every Child’s Right to the Countryside campaign to get kids out into the country and learning?
The hon. Gentleman makes a powerful point. I endorse his comments and I look forward to visiting the area.
Northamptonshire and Rugby share a heritage in leather products: in Northamptonshire it is footwear and in Rugby it is balls for the game that bears the town’s name. The town saw 50,000 visitors during the Rugby world cup, which established an interest in sport tourism. Does my right hon. Friend agree that now would be a good time to develop a permanent rugby-themed visitor attraction in the town? When we get that attraction, I will invite him to come along and visit.
I commend my hon. Friend’s hard work in ensuring there were visitors to the birthplace of rugby during the Rugby world cup. I am interested in his proposition. I look forward to seeing what progress can be made and to visiting his area.