HC Deb 29 January 1974 vol 868 cc236-7
17. Mr. David Clark

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she can now state what increase she proposes to grant to the Arts Council in 1974–75.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I hope shortly to give the Arts Council the details of its grant, subject to parliamentary approval at the appropriate time.

Mr. Clark

Does the Minister know whether the Arts Council intends to spend any of next year's grant on any sector of the brass band movement?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

As the hon. Member knows, I have great sympathy with the brass band movement as a cultural manifestation, but this is a matter for the Arts Council. It is, I understand, having conversations with the National Youth Brass Band. It has asked for information from the National Youth Brass Band and is waiting for that information in support of its claim. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can encourage his friends to get a move on.

Mr. Faulds

Will the hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of making a special grant in view of the Arts Council's intention—which is a departure from its practice heretofore—to foster amateur activities in the arts? Does he realise that it is probable that in future community arts in the regions will depend to an increasing extent on eager and talented amateurs?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am very sympathetic to that point of view and I shall pass the hon. Gentleman's observations to the Arts Council.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

In making his calculations, will the hon. Gentleman take full account of the present enormous inflation? Will he recognise that unless he gives the Arts Council a substantial increase compared with the amount which it has received in previous years it will not be able to support its existing commitments, let alone take on fresh ones?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The current Arts Council grant is £17.388 million—the largest grant, in absolute and real terms, ever paid to the council. I cannot anticipate what the next grant will be, but its amount will be communicated to the council shortly and we shall take into account the rise in prices.