HC Deb 09 December 1958 vol 597 cc199-200
39. Mr. G. Jeger

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has now concluded his discussions with representatives of the Arts Council and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; and whether he will make a statement on future grants for opera.

Mr. Amory

The amount devoted to opera from the Arts Council grant is a matter for the Arts Council and not for me. As to the level of the Arts Council grant for 1959–60, I must ask the hon. Member to await the Estimates.

Mr. Jeger

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Government spokesman in another place on 27th November stated definitely that discussions are going on at this moment about the position of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden? At the same time as London opera is being discussed with representatives of the right hon. Gentleman's Department, will not he discuss the position of the Carl Rosa Company with a view to getting more opera in the Provinces?

Mr. Amory

I think that the meeting to which the hon. Member refers was a meeting between the Covent Garden authorities and the Arts Council, at which two representatives of the Treasury were present as assessors.

Mr. H. Wilson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is not only on this side of the House but I am sure in all parts of the House and all parts of the country that there is a very strong desire that more should be spent on the arts? It is not good enough to say that we must wait for the Estimates, because we cannot amend the Estimates. Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the need for doing what my hon. Friend said both in London and in the Provinces and for spreading out more widely in relation to provision for the arts generally?

Mr. Amory

I am certainly having a wealth of representations made to me on this subject, not all of them exactly in line with one another, but all having one common characteristic—in other words, involving higher expenditure.