HC Deb 07 December 1967 vol 755 cc1645-6
12. Captain W. Elliot

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action he is taking to encourage the work of young British musicians and conductors; and if he will make a statement.

Miss Jennie Lee

The Arts Council spent over £8,000 last year on awards to musicians. Individual awards included the commissioning of 10 works from British composers. This year more than £17,000 is likely to be spent in this way.

In the current year the Arts Council has also given grants of £20,000 to the National Youth Orchestra, £5,000 to the Yehudi Menuhin School and £2,000 to the Central Tutorial School for Young Musicians.

Captain Elliot

I know the difficulties of interfering with the work of the Arts Council. But is the Minister aware that many young British musicians and composers today are not getting a real chance, and the feeling is growing that those responsible for these matters favour far too many foreign conductors? In view of the amount of public money going into the arts, will the Minister investigate the matter, with the object of formulating a definite plan to encourage young British musicians and conductors?

Miss Lee

Yes, Sir. The engagement of conductors is a matter for the orchestras and other bodies; permits are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour. To put the question into perspective, the Arts Council's expenditure on music this year is £3.25 million, last year it was £2.87 million, and the year before it was £2.19 million. Therefore, within that general sum, better opportunities are being given to young musicians, including coductors, than in the past, although I am still not satisfied.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

The Arts Council is doing good work in this direction, but could the Minister also use her influence with the B.B.C. and I.T.V. to use British composers? Copyright fees sent abroad, particularly to America, are pretty high because they look after their people in that way.

Miss Lee

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman's comments are being noted.