§ 28. Mr. G. Jeger
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what form of contact is maintained between the Treasury and the Arts Council.
§ Mr. Jeger
As the Arts Council exists entirely on public money granted by the Treasury, is there any attempt made by the Treasury to control or advise or influence the Arts Council in the way in which it allocates this money as between one specific object and another? Is there any means by which the Arts Council can be made responsible or accountable for the money that it spends?
§ Mr. Simon
The system which I think has commended itself generally is that the Arts Council is responsible for the allocation of the funds which Parliament places at its disposal. There are, of course, discussions and official contacts. So far as the Covent Garden allocation for this year is concerned, the Arts Council was content that it should be dealt with in the way that it has been dealt 1551 with, and my right hon. Friend made extra funds available specifically for that purpose.
§ Dame Irene Ward
As my hon. and learned Friend will presumably agree that Parliamentary control exists, will he explain how, when the Arts Council issues a report with gross inaccuracies in it, we are to control the Arts Council and enable it to issue a report which is, in fact, accurate?
§ 30. Mr. G. Jeger
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the conditions governing the annual grant to the Arts Council of Great Britain.
§ Mr. Jeger
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman consider that it is in accordance with the policy of promotion of the arts that the Secretary-General of the Arts Council should have recently stated that it intends to reduce the grant to provincial theatres and to cut down considerably and remove the majority of provincial repertory theatres from its benefits? Is it not a disastrous thing for provincial theatres that this should be done by the Arts Council without any responsibility whatever to the Treasury or to Parliament?
§ Sir G. Nicholson
Is my hon. and learned Friend telling the House quite seriously that neither the Government, the Treasury, this House nor anybody else has any power of even advice, much less direction, as to whether all the funds at the disposal of the Arts Council shall or shall not be concentrated in the major centres? Is he aware that there is strong feeling throughout the country that there 1552 should be a wider dispersion of these funds?
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman realise that many people will support him in refraining from exercising too detailed Treasury control over how the Arts Council spends this money?