Arts and Culture (Funding)

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 15 January 2015.

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Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 9:30, 15 January 2015

What assessment he has made of the effect of government spending on culture and the arts outside London.

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

Normal service is now resuming.

The Government strongly support the fair distribution of funding for culture and arts throughout the country to increase opportunities for access and participation. We recently announced new cultural investment in the north of England. The Arts Council intends to build on its current trend of 60% grant in aid and 70% lottery investment outside London. That will, of course, include Hull, which will become the UK city of culture in 2017.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

Despite the continuing imbalance of arts funding in favour of London, I am pleased that Rosie Millard and Martin Green are to lead our preparations for 2017. They are doing an excellent job. Will the Minister tell me, however, what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government about the disproportionate cuts that Hull has suffered under his regime—I believe that a further £24 million was cut in December—and about the impact that they will have on Hull’s ability to lead our national celebrations in 2017?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

The hon. Lady’s question raises the much wider issue of the work that the Government are having to do to clean up the chaos and mess left by the Labour Government and balance the books. It is highly hypocritical—that is, it is very odd to hear her mention this matter, given that Labour Members trooped through the Lobbies with us to secure the cuts that were necessary to balance the budget in the next three years.

We cannot put up with the chaos that is emanating from the Labour Benches. Last week they were tweeting that they supported cuts in the arts, boasting about them, while at the same time pretending that they opposed them.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Conservative, Harlow

Is my hon. Friend aware that Harlow is the cultural oasis of the east of England? We have the Gibberd gallery, the beautiful Parndon mill, the Harlow museum and much more besides, and we are also a sculpture town. Will he consider what he can do to support our beautiful town and culture and arts in Harlow?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

The first thing we need to do is designate my hon. Friend as a national treasure, and the second thing I am going to do is send the Secretary of State to Harlow. He will be visiting shortly.