I am sure that my right hon. Friend welcomes the recent success of the "Carmen" production at Earl's Court, given that the two London opera companies receive the lion's share of the Arts Council's support for opera. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, for the regional opera companies, Arts Council arid local authority funding is vital to their existence and to achieving a wider audience? Is he aware that, in its 10th anniversary season, Opera North achieved 90 per cent. audience penetration?