24. Miss Ward
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the total sum of money allocated to the Arts Council which has been spent in acquiring permanent assets involving capital expenditure; and if he will give a list of the projects.
§ Mr. H. Brooke
The Arts Council receives a global grant from the Treasury annually, which it may use at its entire discretion for any purpose within its charter. It has acquired from time to time certain permanent assets; its latest balance sheet shows theatre and concert hall equipment, pianos, pictures, sculptures and lithographs valued at some £38,000, apart from its own office equipment, etc.
In view of the fact that the pictures purchased by the Arts Council carry an enhanced value, and in view of the fact that some of the pictures would not be acceptable to the taxpayers—some of them are appalling—would my hon. Friend consider whether it would not be a good idea for the Arts Council to pay attention to the fact that it ought to stimulate taste in art and leave our great galleries and contemporary art societies to purchase, in view of the fact that it has only a limited circle of people buying them, and that some of the purchases are most unacceptable?
§ Mr. Brooke
I am sure that the Arts Council also takes note of whatever is said in this House, but I hope my hon. Friend is not suggesting that the Chancellor of the Exchequer or I should become Minister of Taste.
§ Mr. Brockway
In view of the declaration by the Government against the principle of the colour bar, may I ask the hon. 1438 Gentleman whether he would approach the Arts Council to see that its exhibitions are not held in countries where people are excluded from such exhibitions on the ground of their colour?
§ Mr. Brooke
I think that supplementary question is a considerable distance away from the Question on the Paper.