HC Deb 19 June 1974 vol 875 cc472-3
16. Mr. Anthony Stodart

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if any consultations have taken place between his Department and Edinburgh Corporation about the possible development of the Playhouse Cinema as an opera house.

Mr. Robert Hughes

This possibility was discussed by a corporation working party on which my right hon. Friend's Department and the Scottish Arts Council are represented. The corporation decided, however, not to acquire the Playhouse.

Mr. Stodart

As the opinion of experienced people is that the size of the stage, the quality of the acoustics and the number of dressing rooms are far superior to most other premises of its kind, has the hon. Gentleman, as the guardian of public money, considered the possibility of developing this theatre?

Mr. Hughes

The Question asks whether Edinburgh Corporation will proceed with this development. It has decided not to buy the Playhouse. We have had a report by theatre consultants on whether it might be used as a live theatre. Copies of that report have gone to Edinburgh Corporation. We must await developments.

Mr. Rifkind

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that, while a strong body of opinion believes that room must be found for the Playhouse, the vast majority of people in Edinburgh do not believe that it would be suitable as an opera house? They think that there is a need for the Government to repeat the Conservative Government's pledge of generous assistance in the provision of a multi-purpose theatre on the Castle Terrace site.

Mr. Hughes

The question of a multipurpose site and the Opera House, which is intended to be finished by 1981, depends on the matter of progress, design and other factors. We must await developments.

Mr. Lawson

In considering these matters, will my hon. Friend bear in mind that compared with any other city or place in Scotland Edinburgh receives exceptionally favourable treatment? If he has extra money to spend, will he consider spending it in some of the towns, notably Motherwell? We shall be very critical if there is much more special treatment for Edinburgh.

Mr. Hughes

In considering the allocation of public resources we take into account the competing demands and the worth of each project. The article by a newspaperman in a certain newspaper was grossly discourteous to the City of Edinburgh, which has done much for the arts.