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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I hope I can give the noble Lord the assurance that he seeks in order that there may be no humming and hawing and legal advice. I am advised that there is no legal barrier to the cultural strategy group setting up committees, including committees of co-opted non-members. I do not resist the amendment in any spirit of opposition. It is entirely appropriate that the members should be able to draw in others relevant to their work and discuss it with them in committees. It is simply that the amendment is not needed.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: With that assurance, I am happy to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Schedule 25 shall be agreed to?

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns: I gave notice that I would oppose the Question that Schedule 25 be agreed to in order to ask the Government how they would expect the cultural strategy group to relate to other similar groups which, we are told, will be established throughout the regions and how they might relate also to the Secretary of State. In effect, the cultural strategy group is the first of the regional cultural consortiums to be created. It is the outcome of the passage through the House last year of the Regional Development Agencies Bill. In a sense we have been told to expect that RCCs will be set up around the country. How will they relate to each other and how will they relate individually to the overall authority of the Secretary of State? Can the Minister explain how the creation of the cultural strategy group, which encompasses tourism within its remit, will then relate to RCCs and regional tourist boards nationally?

In another place, the Minister's colleague, the Minister for London, Mr Raynsford, sought to answer such questions by referring vaguely to the Government's aim to establish a network of organisations. These organisations are not equal and equivalent to each other. At the moment, of course, only this one is to be created. We have no view of how the others may be constituted or indeed whether there may be other cultural strategy groups for large metropolitan areas as opposed to RDAs. How will these organisations be networked? At the moment, as I have mentioned privately to the Minister, rather than there being a net, I can see the holes but I certainly cannot see the strings holding it all together. I hope that since the Bill left another place the Minister and the Government have had an opportunity to consider this matter further and can give the Committee greater guidance today or, if they cannot, then before the passage of the Bill through the House.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The answer I have to give to the noble Baroness builds on what she said a

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few minutes ago about the regional cultural consortia, the regional tourist boards and others not being equal and equivalent. Indeed, they are not. They are developing. They are developing as regional development agencies develop. The relationship between them and the cultural strategy group for London is one which in turn will, and must, develop. I see the noble Baroness's point about the need for a network. What I do not see is why and how it could possibly be a statutory network.

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns: I am not alone in saying that there needs to be a network, which is a fruitful way to function. I pointed out that the Minister's colleague in another place said that there would be a network.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am sure that there will be, but it will not be established by statute. That is the point I want to make. It is so clearly in the interests of the regional cultural consortia and the cultural strategy group for London to talk to each other, to co-ordinate with each other and to ensure that they are not missing things or overlapping that they will do that out of self-interest. What I cannot imagine is how we would amend Schedule 25, which is what we are debating, in order to ensure that that is the case. Perhaps I may give as an example the existing regional arts councils. There is no formal statutory network, but they meet from time to time. Indeed, until recently, their chairmen were members of the Arts Council. But when they ceased to be members of the Arts Council, they still met together. They do it because they need to do it and because they want to do it, not because we impose it by statute.

Schedule 25 agreed to.

Clause 301 [The Mayor's culture strategy]:

[Amendments Nos. 452TJ to 452YJ not moved.]

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 452ZJ:

Page 158, line 33, after ("tourism") insert ("(including visits for conferences)")

The noble Baroness said: This amendment is grouped with Amendment No. 455WA in this afternoon's alphabet soup. In the amendment we propose to include a specific reference to conferences after the reference to tourism, which is within the culture strategy group's remit. During the proceedings on the Bill and outside the Chamber we have talked about the mayor's role including that of being a voice for London to promote London. That is for many purposes, some of them economic. We suggest reference to London's role as a conference centre because we believe that tourism does not necessarily cover this method of attracting people to our capital city.

I have tabled the amendment in order to seek the Minister's assurance that the point is covered here or that it will come within the remit of the London Development Agency. It is not necessarily an activity that falls within the LDA's remit, which is to do with

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economic regeneration, so I think that the issue should be covered somewhere. I should be grateful for the Minister's comments. I beg to move.

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns: With the permission of the Committee, I shall speak to Amendment No. 455A, which is grouped with Amendment No. 452ZJ.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Amendment No. 455WA.

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns: I am grateful for the Minister's help.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It is all part of the service.

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns: I am glad to hear that it is all part of the Government's service. We may call upon that even more later on.

Like the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, my amendment addresses the issue of the conference industry. In fact, I would take it rather further. My amendment seeks to raise questions about the Government's intentions towards the meetings and incentives industry. The industry contributes significantly to the United Kingdom economy yet politicians in both Houses pay it relatively little attention. In Clause 306(1)(b) there is a fleeting reference to business travel. That defines "tourist amenities and facilities" to include those used by people travelling in London on business. But it is a very general use of the term "business travel", and, like the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, I seek reassurance from the Government. After all, it could simply mean a resident of London who is a sales person travelling within London in the course of his or her normal daily work.

I am advised that the convention and incentives industry is worth about 200 billion dollars worldwide, and in Europe about half that. Its impact on communications and its role in every aspect of daily life--financial, cultural, political and social--are enormous.

Here I can declare something of an interest, which I always try to do when I manage to enjoy one. In May this year the British Tourist Authority was kind enough to nominate me and my Whip, my noble friend Lord Luke, to attend the meetings and incentives annual exhibition in Geneva--at the Palexpo--so that I could learn more about the industry. I was pleased to see the Liberal Democrats also represented. Regrettably, none of the Government's party happened to be there, on the day that I was there, nor, I am informed, later in the week. They missed an interesting and informative occasion.

Europe still has more international congresses than any other continent, but the European market share is being whittled down by other areas, by between 2 per cent and 3 per cent a year. It is the industry's view that this can be stopped only by careful, planned promotion of the industry in all EU countries, aimed particularly, of course, at the North American market.

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The industry is well established in London, but it needs to work hard to stay ahead. I am sure that other noble Lords will join me in congratulating the London Tourist Board and the Convention Bureau, which are working hard to do just that. But more needs to be done.

The British Hospitality Association very recently produced a helpful leaflet, Convincing Arguments for the UK Hospitality Industry, in which it argues:

    "As one of the world's leading capital cities, London lacks a world-class congress centre which is able to attract the largest international conferences. Such a centre is regarded as a fundamental element in the UK's business tourism strategy and represents a key initiative in developing the industry's full job- and wealth-creating potential. Government support is required to help plan, locate and pump-prime this essential development for the 21st century."

Do the Government agree with that analysis? If so, what measures do they believe should be taken by them and the GLA--the mayor and the authority combined--to create a world-class congress centre in London?

Indeed, what action do the Government expect the GLA to take to develop facilities for the meetings and incentives industry generally? What discussions will they hold at the EU level to ensure that there is EU co-operation on this issue?

Finally, can the Minister reassure us that the Government expect that the Dome site could have long-term use for the meetings and incentives industry after the Dome itself has been hired out very profitably for corporate hospitality uses next year? I am aware that bids are in the pipeline. It would be helpful if the noble Lord could indicate whether there are one or more bids that include the conference industry. I support the amendment.

5 p.m.

Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare: I wish to support my noble friend Lady Anelay of St Johns and to tell the Minister something that I am sure he is aware of, but which is worth placing on the record.

With regard to the need for a convention centre in London, Munich has a convention centre that holds between 15,000 and 20,000 people, and it is booked up until 2006. Without being rude to the entire German race, I think more people would prefer to have a convention in London than they might in Munich. We now have three or four convention centres in London, ranging in size from 1,500 to--pushing one's luck--7,000.

It is remarkable that in arguably the greatest city on earth we do not have a world-class convention centre. When the Minister responds and says, "I understand the wording clearly to mean that the mayor will have such powers", I hope there will be no doubt that there will be the opportunity for London to have, as quickly as possible, a world-class convention centre, because the

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important point about Munich, which will please the Minister and anyone who is privileged to hold the post of mayor, is that it makes a profit every single year. If one is booked until 2006, one obviously has a real chance of making a profit.

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