HC Deb 28 July 1966 vol 732 c1875
20. Mr. Hannan

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether consideration has been given to the memorandum sent to him by Howard and Wyndham Limited requesting a subsidy of £50,000 for each of five theatres in Scotland and the north of England or alternatively offering to sell each of these theatres for £300,000; and what reply he has sent.

Miss Jennie Lee

The company has informed me of approaches it has made both to the Arts Council and the local authorities concerned. The Arts Council tell me that it is seeking to help the company by putting it in touch with Dramatic and Lyric Theatres Association, which is the organisation comprising Covent Garden, Sadler's Wells, the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Mr. Hannan

Will the right hon. Lady give an assurance that no public subsidy will be granted to this commercial enterprise, which is concerned only with making money for its shareholders? Is she aware that part of the proposal is that the theatres should go to the local authorities during the lean summer months when less support is afforded to them?

Miss Lee

As my hon. Friend knows, the allocation of public funds is the responsibility of the Arts Council. The Council is carrying out a Committee of Inquiry into opera and ballet, and it will consider whether the theatres at present used for operas in Manchester, Glasgow, and Edinburgh would be suitable as permanent homes for opera and ballet. If the conclusion is that they could be adapted satisfactorily, the possibility of purchase or lease will then be considered.