HC Deb 24 February 1966 vol 725 cc618-9
33. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a statement on future financial support for the arts.

Miss Lee

The Vote on Account which was published yesterday shows that the proposed figure for the Vote "The Arts Council and other grants for the Arts" is £6,070,000. The total of grants for museums and galleries is £5,845,000.

The detailed Estimates will be published next month.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Is my hon. Friend aware that the figures and statements which have appeared in the Press have been received with a great deal of enthusiasm? Can she say whether the provinces will receive a fair share of the distribution?

Miss Lee

Most certainly. In this first year we have been most anxious to make quite clear that there is no reduction in our artistic standards. Our national institutions are being sustained to the best of our ability. But we are well aware that in many parts of the country there is considerable regional feeling that more attention should be paid to their needs.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

While welcoming what the hon. Lady has said, may I ask her whether she will try to publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT as much information as she can about allocations? Can she tell us what her proposals are for the South Bank opera site and whether the sum suggested by the Publishers' Association is included in the overall figure?

Miss Lee

Perhaps it would be more helpful to wait until the Greater London Council has announced its decision in regard to the South Bank opera site. The Government are firmly committed to fifty-fifty support for the National Theatre, but the problem of whether an opera house should be added rests with the G.L.C.

Mr. Robert Cooke

How much of this new money will find its way into new theatre building in the provinces? How much of it will go to museums, particularly the museum of British Transport?

Miss Lee

The sum set aside for building for the arts is being doubled. It was £250,000 last year. It will be £500,000 next year. Of course, we will ensure that there is fair play. The question of the Museum of British Transport does not rest with me. The hon. Gentleman should address his question on that matter to the appropriate Minister.