This development is going on continuously. One of the main purposes of the increase of £1·5 million in the grant made to the Arts Council this year is the encouragement of the arts in the regions. A very welcome development in the past year has been the setting up of three new regional arts associations, in the North-West, North Wales and Greater London. In the South West, a conference held in Exeter on 23rd June, recommended the appointment of a committee to consider the establishment of a more broadly based regional body to take the place of the existing South Western Arts Association.
I welcome that Answer. Those in the South-West appreciate the fact that work is being done, perhaps for the first time, in this field. However, would not my right hon. Friend agree that cultural and artistic development is one of the most important parts of regional development?
I agree. That is why I place so much emphasis on encouraging regional arts associations. Where local people are willing to have a robust association, every possible support will be given from the centre.
I would need notice before stating the amount for the South-West. The general flow of expenditure is that over the country as a whole it has been over 18 per cent. for Scotland and for Wales it has been 40 per cent. in each case, and the South-West as a region has certainly been advantaged more than London.