HC Deb 19 November 1959 vol 613 cc1333-4
37. Dr. Stross

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement on Government policy with regard to the creation and financing of a National Theatre Company which shall work mainly in the provinces, Scotland and Wales; and when he proposes to establish it.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Edward Boyle)

My right hon. Friend has recently invited the Arts Council to review the priority which should be given to the National Theatre in current circumstances and to advise him on the form which such an enterprise might most appropriately take. I cannot, of course, anticipate its recommendations.

Dr. Stross

Is that really a satisfactory reply? Is it not fairly apparent that, without asking advice from anyone at all at this stage, the Treasury has made up its mind as to the desirability of the steps suggested in this Question? Have we not had some hint from the Treasury that it is so satisfied? When are we to have a National Theatre Company? Cannot we have it soon?

Sir E. Boyle

I think my right hon. Friend is right in feeling that the best means of dealing with this matter, in which I know of the hon. Member's concern, is for the Arts Council to consider the whole question of priorities within a limited total expenditure. I am sure that is the right way to approach the matter.

Mr. Jeger

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind, and impress on his right hon. Friend, that, unless something is done about the formation of a National Theatre Company to work in the provinces, very shortly there will be no theatres left in the provinces for a theatre company to act in?

Sir E. Boyle

That question raises rather wider issues, but I am sure my right bon. Friend and the Arts Council will take note of the views expressed this afternoon.