HC Deb 23 November 1972 vol 846 c1499
9. Mr. David Clark

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she is satisfied with the operation of the Arts Council; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Yes, Sir.

Mr. David Clark

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there was great pleasure on both sides of the House when, following a letter from one of his predecessors, the Arts Council gave a grant to the National Youth Orchestra? Will he now dispel any suggestion that the Arts Council is biased against workingclass culture and send it a similar letter requesting a grant to the National Youth Brass Band?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The allocation of individual grants is a matter for the Arts Council. My noble Friend the Paymaster-General cannot do it. He is like Bagehot's constitutional sovereign. He has the right to be consulted, the right to encourage and the right to warn, but not, himself, to make grants. But I am able to say that he and I are of the view that "culture" should be widely interpreted, and we believe that brass bands give great enjoyment and provide opportunities for participation to a large number of people, and that in its own way a brass band can make as big a contribution to our culture as the Amadeus String Quartet.