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The Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting (Dr. Kim Howells): The British Tourist Authority's £5 million UKOK campaign was launched in January and continues to run in a number of markets. The campaign has been successful in reassuring potential visitors about
Mr. Swire: Given that the Government were able quickly to find £5 million for the UKOK campaign, and given that the Minister, in a debate on south-west tourism in Westminster Hall on 1 May, admitted that abandoning the marketing role of the English tourist board had been a mistake, may I suggest that it is not okay to delay funding any further, especially for areas such as the south-west that have suffered so badly in the wake of foot and mouth? Will he give a commitment, as regards the figures that come out at the end of the summer, to do something to redress the imbalance of the £28 million and the £22 million allocated this year to the Scottish tourist board and the Wales tourist board?
Dr. Howells: I cannot answer for the Scots and the Welshthey have their own decision-making powers and can allocate whatever funds they see fit. The hon. Gentleman clearly does not understand devolution. It has occurred, it is there and he had better realise it.
The British Tourist Authority has done a tremendous job in persuading overseas visitors to come to this country. Last year, there was a big fall-away in numbers of in-bound tourists. This year, so far, there has been a very small decrease in year-on-year terms. The south-west tourist board has done a magnificent job in getting visitors back in. It had a record autumn and has good forward bookings. At the moment everything looks extremely good, and I am very optimistic about the future of tourism.
I say to the hon. Gentleman, as I said to the hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Miss Kirkbride), that this is not the place to decry the tremendous efforts made by the tourism authorities to recover from the most difficult year that the tourism industry has ever experienced. I hope that he will continue to support the south-west tourist board.
Mr. Stuart Bell (Second Church Estates Commissioner, representing the Church Commissioners): Detailed figures on the costs of running the office of Archbishop of Canterbury for 2001 are in preparation. Published figures for 2000 totalled approximately £1.2 million.
Mr. Prentice: A total of £1.2 million. Given the great wealth of the Church of England, is it not a disgrace that the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is retiring this year, will have to get by on a pension of £17,000, and that the 110 bishops in the Church of Englandwho are all menwill be on £15,000, and the clergy on less than £10,000, when they retire? However, my question is this. What about the vicar of Dibley? What about the women
Out of the total of £1.2 million, the main elements of the archbishop's costs are staffing costs of £800,000 and office costs of £150,000. My hon. Friend referred to the archbishop's imminent retirement, and this would be an appropriate moment for the Church Commissioners to thank him for all the work, seen and unseen, that he has done on behalf of the Church, and to wish him and his wife Eileen a very happy and long retirement.
Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire): I echo the hon. Gentleman's words about the archbishop. Does he agree that the archbishop has been incredibly good value for money and that we should look to expanding rather than reducing the budget?
Mr. Bell: I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's remarks. He will know of the report of Lord Hurd of Westwell, which suggested that the archbishop, as a national and international figure, has less assistance at his disposal than anyone else who serves in a similar capacity. To take up the point of my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice), it is worth considering the matter, perhaps taking inflation into account and making adjustments accordingly.
Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey): Because it is always less embarrassing to review, change and possibly increase the budget for someone such as an archbishop when the individual is not in post, are there plans for a review before the announcement of the new archbishop's appointment? Now that we know that Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss has been appointed to chair the selection panel, what is the timetable and when do we expect an announcement?
Mr. Bell: I anticipated that question and I am happy to say that the Church Commissioners have no role in choosing the archbishop. On the timetable, gossip has it that the selection will take place in late rather than early summer.
The hon. Gentleman referred to possible talks between the current archbishop and his successor. He will know of the report of Lord Hurd of Westwell, which will be discussed by the archbishop and his successor before the latter takes up his office.
Mr. A. J. Beith (representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission): Mr. Speaker, your Committee has approved the commission's corporate plan for the next five years. It includes provision for making policy development grants to political parties under section 12 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. It also includes a commitment to conduct a review of the case for a cap on political donations and the related issue of state funding of political parties.
Kevin Brennan: Given that Short money is state funding of party political activity and that it has increased by 300 per cent. since 1997, is not it time to consider extending the scope of state funding of political parties, especially to overcome the sort of smears made by the Opposition over the weekend? Is not it worth reminding the public that we do not know the source of Conservative party money when it was in office because the information is locked away in files in Smith square, unless it has had Andersen in to shred it?
Mr. Beith: The commission monitors the system whereby political donations are recorded and publicised. It continues that work. The hon. Gentleman's wider points recognise that the system has been extended to include policy development funding and incorporate the fact that the commission will look into the matter.
Tony Wright (Cannock Chase): When we asked the previous Government whether they would refer funding of political parties to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, they routinely refused. When we came to office, we referred the matter to the Committee and we believed that its recommendations, for which we have legislated, provided the transparency that would solve the problem. Transparency has clearly not solved it, and the funding problem remains. Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that the Electoral Commission gets stuck in and that we have a proper, comprehensive review of funding of political parties?
Mr. A. J. Beith (representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission): The commission will fund the development and provision of training for electoral services staff in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland before next year's elections to the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the National Assembly for Wales. The training programme is expected to deal with methods of ensuring access for people with disabilities to the electoral process. Later this year, the commission will also publish a series a good practice handbooks, which include advice on the matter.
Mr. Beith: I hope that information on this will emerge from the evaluation that the commission is carrying out into the various experiments and pilots that were conducted at the local elections. I know that the commission is keen to work with organisations such as Scope, the Royal National Institute for the Blind and the Disability Rights Commission to develop policies in this area, and to identify the issues that need to be tackled.