HC Deb 09 February 1961 vol 634 cc596-8
7. Dr. Stross

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the mounting public interest in the possibility that, after long delay, the National Theatre will be built on the site allocated on the South Bank; and when he will make an announcement about this.

16. Mr. Jeger

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the proposals for a National Theatre to be built on the South Bank.

32. Sir H. Kerr

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he is now in a position to make a statement about the National Theatre.

Sir E. Boyle

My right hon. and learned Friend appreciates the interest taken in this matter on both sides of the House and has asked me to say that he will inform the House of the Government's decision as soon as he is in a position to do so.

Dr. Stross

Would the Financial Secretary be good enough to inform his right hon. and learned Friend that not only is there interest on both sides of this House but in all parts of the country in this matter, that the country has waited about a hundred years for this statement in reality, and we should very much like to have an affirmative answer upon it?

Sir E. Boyle

I quite appreciate the widespread interest. Of course my right hon. and learned Friend is as anxious as anyone to proceed to an early decision, but the subject is a large and rather difficult one and the Government must be sure that their decision is the correct one.

Sir H. Kerr

Would my hon. Friend be willing to receive further representations on this subject?

Sir E. Boyle

I should certainly be prepared to see my hon. Friend and any other hon. Members, on either side of the House, if they would like to come to see me.

Mr. Jeger

Is the Financial Secretary aware that this long continued and unnecessary delay in making up the mind of the Government on this question is building up their reputation for meanness and mediocrity? Are not the Government being put to shame in this matter by the imaginative and progressive policy of the L.C.C. in developing the South Bank?

Sir E. Boyle

I do not consider that the Government's record of support for the arts generally, in comparison with that of any previous Government, can be considered all that mean. In other respects, I do not think I can add to what I have said.

Sir P. Agnew

When the time comes when the Government feel able to give more money to art, will they consider, not putting it into bricks and mortar, but making it available to our provincial repertory companies, from whom and among whom so many of our leading dramatists have made their successful beginnings in their profession?

Sir E. Boyle

That supplementary question goes rather further than the Question on the Order Paper, but my hon. Friend will recall that last year's grants to the Arts Council resulted in considerable extra money for provincial repertory companies.

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