§ 39. Mr. K. Robinson
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will provide the necessary funds to acquire for the nation the freehold of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
This proposal has to be considered in relation to the many other demands on the Exchequer, in respect both of the main services of Government and of support for the arts. At this period of the year, I cannot undertake to given priority to one particular project of this nature.
§ Mr. Robinson
Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer aware that last year the trustees spent £57,000 on maintenance 25 and that they have estimated that by the end of the 42-year lease, over £1 million of public money will have been spent on the maintenance of a privately-owned house? In view of this, does not the Chancellor think that action on the lines suggested would be in the interests, not only of British opera, but also of the Treasury?
The kind of consideration to which the hon. Member has referred—the relative advantages of renting or owning property—is perfectly relevant to this case and I shall certainly take into consideration the kind of points that he has raised.