§ 39. Dr. Stross
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has noted the financial help given by the London County Council and the Independent Television Authority to the Sadlers Wells Opera Company; and whether he will now substantially increase the grant to the Arts Council so that Covent Garden may be adequately supported.
§ Dr. Stross
Is it accepted by the Financial Secretary and the Government generally that the greatest patron of Covent Garden is the Government themselves, who use it for prestige purposes? Has the hon. and learned Gentleman noted a recent statement by the Director of Covent Garden that if things continue 562 as they are, ultimately and, perhaps, not very far away in time, this institution will have to close down and we shall have no grand opera in London? Has the hon. and learned Gentleman further noted the view of Lord Bridges, and does he agree with it, that it might be as well to take this matter away from the Arts Council and put it on the Vote as it is, indeed, a national institution?
§ Mr. Simon
I have, indeed noted the observations to which the hon. Member draws attention. The actual distribution of the Arts Council grant is a matter for the Arts Council in which my right hon. Friend does not interfere. I would, however, point out that the grants to Covent Garden have risen from £25,000 in 1945–46 to £362,000 this year.