Arts Funding

Prayers – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th May 1995.

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Photo of Terry Rooney Terry Rooney , Bradford North 12:00 am, 15th May 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage when he last met the Association of Metropolitan Authorities to discuss the funding of the arts by local authorities. [22465]

Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Secretary of State for National Heritage

I met the Association of Metropolitan Authorities on 24 January 1995 to discuss a number of issues.

Photo of Terry Rooney Terry Rooney , Bradford North

The Secretary of State will be aware of the increasing pressure on local authority budgets and he will be aware that, sadly, non-statutory sectors are sometimes the first to suffer. Is he not worried, especially, about the danger of charges being levied for entrance to museums and similar activities?

Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Secretary of State for National Heritage

The Government's policy has always been that it is a matter for individual museum organisations to decide whether they want to charge for entrance to museums. Regarding the pressure on local authority finance, the hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Audit Commission, when asked to examine the totality of local authority operations, concluded that £500 million was available to be released from excess administrative costs. I look to local authorities to release that resource to improve the quality of all the services that they are responsible for delivering.

Photo of James Clappison James Clappison , Hertsmere

When my right hon. Friend meets representatives of local authorities, will he give moral support to Hertsmere borough council in its efforts to bring the world-famous Elstree studios back into film production? Is my right hon. Friend aware of the strong support among all shades of opinion and all parties in Hertsmere for the idea that the present owners of the site should sell it to someone who is interested in film production?

Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Secretary of State for National Heritage

I entirely understand my hon. Friend's concern. I am sure that his hope that the site should continue to be used in the film industry to support the development of the British film industry is an ambition shared by many in all parts of the House. My hon. Friend's point underlines the opportunity that confronts the British film industry. I shall talk about that at greater length when I respond to the report of the Select Committee on National Heritage at the beginning of June.