HC Deb 02 March 1981 vol 1000 cc14-5
23 Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will take steps to assist the acting profession.

The Minister for the Arts (Mr. Paul Channon)

The Government already give substantial support to the professional theatre through the Arts Council. I shall gladly look at any ideas the hon. Member puts forward.

Mr. Canavan

Is the Minister aware that members of the National Youth Theatre had to take to the streets last week to protest about the withdrawal of the Arts Council grant because of Government expenditure cuts? Is it now official Government policy to discourage young people from going on to the stage, so that the only competitors for the actor and actress of the year award will be an ageing B-movie cowboy and his sidekick, the grocer's daughter?

Mr. Channon

I am sure that the hon. Member would want to be fair and accurate in what he says to the House. This is not to do with Government expenditure cuts; the grant to the Arts Council has increased with the level of inflation from £70 million to £80 million. The Arts Council decided to withdraw the grant from the National Youth Theatre on the grounds—as I understand it—that at a time when it was withdrawing grants from professional companies it was not right to subsidise amateurs. That was the Arts Council view.

Sir David Price

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the acting profession is well represented in the House, although not all are members of Equity? Does he agree that"Love's Labour's Lost" is running to a full house at present?

Mr. Channon

I do not think that I can recall any occasion on which I have disagreed with my hon. Friend, and this is not one.

Mr. Freud

Will the Minister accept that the acting profession would be substantially financially assisted if his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade would come to a realistic decision about royalties on video cassette recordings?

Mr. Channon

I must put that matter to my right hon. Friend. I note what the hon. Member says.