HC Deb 09 May 1968 vol 764 cc591-2
2. Mr. R. C. Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what grant was made out of public funds to the magazine "New Worlds" during 1967–68.

The Minister Of State, Department of Education and Science (Miss Jennie Lee)

Grants totalling £1,200 were made by the Arts Council.

Mr. Mitchell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a leading British newsagent refused to handle the March edition of the magazine? In view of the great shortage of money for all sorts of educational projects, does my right hon. Friend think that it is justified to spend any money at all on this sort of publication?

Miss Lee

A decision on matters such as this must lie with the Arts Council. I understand that its literary panel has expressed its disappointment at the fluctuating literary standard of the magazine, and has decided to offer a grant of £600 towards four further issues of the magazine on the condition that the money is used for fees for new contributors.

Mr. Channon

No one wants to see censorship applied by the Arts Council, but would not the right hon. Lady agree that there must be a minimum public standard of decency when public money is involved?

Miss Lee

I think that we must also agree on who will set the standards. I think that Lord Goodman, the Chairman of the Arts Council, put it very well when he said: We must be very slow to discourage experiment even if it runs counter to our own notions.

Mr. Strauss

On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, is it in order to discuss detailed grants by the Arts Council when the whole purpose of the Council is to remove authority for the distribution of public funds for the arts from the Minister and from this House?

Mr. Speaker

If the Question is on the Order Paper it must be in order.