Arts Council

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th October 1982.

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Photo of Mr Christopher Murphy Mr Christopher Murphy , Welwyn and Hatfield 12:00 am, 18th October 1982

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when last he met the chairman of the Arts Council; and if he will make a statement on the discussions which took place.

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

I met the chairman on 4 October, when we discussed various topics of mutual interest.

Photo of Mr Christopher Murphy Mr Christopher Murphy , Welwyn and Hatfield

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. I should like to elucidate more details about private patronage. Does he expect more encouragement for this important feature of the arts in consequence of actions to be taken by the Arts Council?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

Yes, I very much hope so. The chairman of the Arts Council is keen to encourage private sponsorship of the arts. My impression is that this is still increasing at a fast rate. I hope very much that this continues to be the case.

Photo of Mr Phillip Whitehead Mr Phillip Whitehead , Derby North

As the Minister, at an early stage, read Sir William Rees-Mogg's letter, will he accept that if the level of funding for the Arts Council next year falls significantly below £98·5 million, one of the four national companies based in London may have all financial support withdrawn? Will he accept also that a proper level of funding for those companies is needed, especially as we await the recommendations on this subject from the Select Committee on Education and Science?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

The Government have yet to announce public expenditure plans for next year. All these factors will be borne in mind. I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman would wish to raise alarms. There is no evidence that what he says is true and that any one of the four great companies is in danger.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , Staffordshire South West

Did my right hon. Friend see the excellent leader inThe Daily Telegraphabout candle-end savings? Will he take that carefully into account when allocating the Arts Council grant for next year?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

Yes, I certainly read that leader. I am sure that my hon. Friend will draw it to the attention of other hon. Members.

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough

In view of the widening interest in the affairs of the Arts Council and the demands for far more money to be put at its disposal, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the council is a somewhat remote and nebulous body and that even most people interested in the arts have no idea who serves on it? Will he think seriously about introducing an element of democracy into the membership of the council and allow groups such as the TUC—[Interruption.]—which has an important arts committee, although the ignoramuses on the Conservative Benches do not understand that, to be represented properly on the Arts Council?

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

There have often been individual trade unionist members of the Arts Council, and that might well be a very good idea again. What I cannot accept is that people should be represented as of right. There would be no end to that process. All sorts of groups want to be represented as of right, including all the local authority associations and many others as well. That would be even worse than the present situation.