HC Deb 06 March 1958 vol 583 cc1324-5
29. Mr. G. Jeger

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the proposed merging of the Sadlers Wells and the Carl Rosa Opera Companies which will curtail their activities; and whether he will take immediate action to make the necessary financial aid available by direct grant to ensure the continuance of both opera companies.

Mr. Simon

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes", and to the second "No". These are matters for the Arts Council and, following the policy of successive Governments, my right hon. Friend does not propose to intervene.

Mr. Jeger

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman not aware from various letters and articles which have appeared in the Press lately of the great concern in the country over the proposed merger of these two companies and the gross curtailing of their joint and several activities? Is he aware that this disaster could be averted for what by comparison is the paltry sum of £35,000? Could not the Government take this step as an immediate measure of alleviation, while setting up a committee to inquire into the general position of the arts in this country and how far they should be financed from public funds and what the future policy of successive Governments should be?

Mr. Simon

I have indeed followed the controversy in the public Press, where a number of conflicting views have been put forward. As to the grant to the Arts Council, as I said in answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), my right hon. Friend has decided to propose a grant of 11 ner cent. more than the previous year—that is a figure of no less than £1,110,000. I think it would he generally accented that that is treating the Arts Council with great generosity.

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