HC Deb 03 November 1966 vol 735 cc643-4
25. Sir Knox Cunningham

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether, in view of "US," the anti-American play recently produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, he will withhold payment of the £90,000 subsidy from public funds to this company, so long as it remains the policy of Her Majesty's Government to support the policy of the United States in Vietnam.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Miss Jennie Lee)

I have no intention of interfering with the discretion of the Arts Council in making grants. As the hon. and learned Member knows, this has been the policy of successive Governments, and it is indubitably the right policy.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Is not the attitude of the right hon. Lady a little inconsistent since Her Majesty's Government are supporting the policy of our American allies in Vietnam yet at the same time she is paying £90,000 of public money to the Royal Shakespeare Company to enable it to produce plays such as "US" which is full of poisonous anti-American propaganda? If she does not agree with the truth of this statement, will she have a word with her right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary or the American Ambassador?

Miss Lee

With all respect to the hon. and learned Gentleman, it would be a very bad day for this country when our theatres and arts simply begin to reflect whatever happens to be the policy of the Government, of either the hon. and learned Gentleman's party or my own.

Mr. John Lee

Would my right hon. Friend agree that the £160 million subsidy to Northern Ireland should be withheld for as long as the Northern Ireland Government pursues anti-British policies?

Miss Lee

I shall have to have due notice of that question.

Mr. Hogg

Would the right hon. Lady agree that the general support for grants of this kind might be adversely affected if proper facilities for critics at these performances happen to be curtailed with a view to censorship of criticism?

Miss Lee

I entirely agree, but I do not think there is any danger that either the artist or the critic will be unduly curtailed so long as the present Government are in charge.

Back to