HC Deb 07 May 1970 vol 801 cc551-2
1. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the total given by local authorities to support the arts, including regional associations; and what average rate poundage this represents.

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

Up-to-date information about municipal support for the arts will be available later this year when the survey now being conducted by the Institute of Municipal Entertainment is completed. The latest survey covering all types of local authority in England and Wales related to 1964–65 when the estimated expenditure on the performing arts was about £2.4 million, that is about 0.3d. rate product.

Mrs. Short

No doubt my right hon. Friend will feel the same as I do about the figure she gave at the end of her reply. Does she not think that this compares very poorly indeed with the increasing support which her Department is giving, and does she not further think that, as many theatres are now closing through lack of support from local authorities, something ought to be done to make them see that they have certain responsibilities here?

Miss Lee

I know what wonderful work my hon. Friend does and how concerned she is, but to be fair to local authorities they have contributed £5 million towards the "Housing the Arts Fund" to provide new buildings for art centres, concert halls and the rest. Edinburgh has said that it is willing to pay rather more than half a capital sum, so I do not want to sound too discouraging a note over the contributions being made by local authorities.