I welcome the increase that my right hon. Friend has mentioned and I thank him for it. Does he agree that the Royal Shakespeare company has given outstanding service to the arts in both London and Stratford on Avon and in tours around the world? What specific help is the Arts Council giving the company in grants this year?
I agree entirely with my hon. Friend about the Royal Shakespeare company. This year it received an extra settlement of £850,000 from the supplementary grant that I announced on 20 December 1982. It is to receive grant next year of £3·6 million as opposed to £3 million last year. Extra money has been made available to it, exceptionally, of nearly £1½million.
Is it not true that there is a clear emphasis in allocation of Arts Council grants towards the more affluent areas, leaving the industrial areas very often culturally deprived? What will the Minister do to redress that imbalance, particularly as the quality of life is so closely linked to the pursuit and support of the arts?
I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's premise. He may be interested to know that this year the basic grant for the northern area was £1·72 million, which was a rise of 11 per cent. over last year, and that in addition it received a further £60,000 in supplementary grants. There has thus been a substantial increase for the north.