HC Deb 13 November 1958 vol 595 cc559-60
36. Mr. Dugdale

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has studied the 13th Annual Report of the Arts Council of Great Britain, 1957–58; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Simon

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes," and to the second part "No, Sir".

Mr. Dugdale

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman consider that £1¼ million is an adequate sum for the State and local authorities to give to the arts and music as compared with £16 million which they give, and rightly so, to public libraries and £1,600 million which is given to defence? Will not the hon. and learned Gentleman look into this matter again? Does ho have no regard for the fact that the arts and music have done far more for British reputation abroad than the present Government have done?

Mr. Simon

I can safely disregard the last part of that question. With regard to the first part, the requirements of the Arts Council will, of course, be kept under review at the time of the Estimates.

Mr. H. Wilson

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman recognise that this is not a party point? I am sure that hon. Members in all parts of the House feel that in these circumstances—[Interruption.] This is not a party point; I am not making one. Will the hon. and learned Gentleman recognise that in all parts of the House—if this can be denied, let it be denied—there is a desire that more should be spent on arts and amenities? In the period in which this matter is under consideration, will the hon. and learned Gentleman and his right hon. Friend give consideration to what, on all sides, is recognised to be the totally derisory amount which is given for this purpose? In a period of national expansion, can we not do more?

Mr. Simon

Expenditure on the Arts Council has risen from £235,000 in 1945–46 to £1,100,000 now. In each of the last two years, there has been an increase of £100,000 or more. I know that many hon. Members in all parts of the House would like to see more spent on the arts, but, on the other hand, my right hon. Friend has 'to consider the many claims made upon the Exchequer.