I have received a number of representations. In particular, the Society of West End Theatres has advocated the removal of VAT from theatre tickets, and the report compiled last year by the National Campaign for the Arts argued for the zero rating of the arts for VAT purposes. As the House knows, these are primarily matters for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Although it is the job of his right hon. Friend to look into these matters, will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear to his right hon. Friend that a vast amount of work is done for no purpose other than raising subsidy for the theatre, and that that subsidy is then given to the Exchequer? If he could make that clear to his right hon. Friend, a great amount of work would be saved and much finance could be generated for the live theatre.
Of course I acknowledge that the theatre world and the arts world contribute VAT to the overall revenue of the Government. The hon. Gentleman must accept that this policy on indirect taxation is part of the broad strategy of the Government. We want to put greater stress on indirect taxation and seek the reduction of income tax. Against that background one must seek the broadest base for indirect tax, and one must acknowledge that. The best way we can positively help the arts is by of the kinds of changes that we saw in the last Budget, which encouraged individuals and corporations to give more to the arts. This is the time for the arts world to generate support from those sectors.