HC Deb 15 May 1973 vol 856 cc1231-2
17. Mr. Strauss

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress she has made in arranging the establishment of a theatre museum in Somerset House; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

My hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction hopes to make an announcement about the use of Somerset House for this purpose before the recess.

Mr. Strauss

I am very pleased to hear the hon. Gentleman's answer. In view of the large number of interests involved and the consequential danger of delay in bringing this admirable venture to fruition, will the hon. Gentleman take some responsibility himself in ensuring that his Department carries out the necessary negotiations with vigour and speed?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I should like to be more forthcoming to the right hon. Gentleman but unfortunately the responsibility for this building does not fall within the responsibility of my noble Friend or myself. I am most sympathetic to the project which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned. If he will be patient, I feel that his dreams may be fulfilled.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that it is recognised that there are what are known as interdepartmental influences which can be brought to bear? As far as they exist in his Department, will he make certain to use them? Is he aware that we are the centre of theatre-land in the world and that its economic advantages go far beyond the cultural influences? Does my hon. Friend agree that this is a matter to which full attention should be given because of its great potential?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I have never thought of myself as an inter-departmental influence. I shall do my best to see that the project is brought to a conclusion satisfactory to all parties.