HC Deb 11 November 1975 vol 899 c1125
12. Mr. Strauss

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he can announce any progress on the completion of the new building for the National Theatre.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

I am glad to say that steady progress is being made towards the completion of the new building, with a view to the National Theatre Company opening in it to a paying public next March. The company is already rehearsing in the new building.

Mr. Strauss

I am delighted that my hon. Friend is able to announce a firm date for the opening of the theatre. Can he relieve the widespread anxiety which exists about the future of other theatres, operas and ballet companies supported by the Arts Council, resulting from the particularly severe impact of inflation? Will these bodies be enabled to function effectively in the future without a severe diminution of standards?

Mr. Jenkins

The Government are well aware of the difficulties posed for the Arts Council and its beneficiaries by inflation. Discussions are taking place. One problem is that the Arts Council is being asked to carry, on its own grant, not only the consequences of inflation, but a larger share of the total cost of its operations. I expect to meet the Chairman and members of the Arts Council next week.