HC Deb 20 December 1982 vol 34 cc666-7
26. Mr. Murphy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what discussions he has had regarding the level of financial support for the arts in the Eastern region.

Mr. Channon

Funding is primarily a matter for the Arts Council, which is currently inquiring into the needs of and provisions for the arts in the Eastern region.

Mr. Murphy

Does my right hon. Friend agree with me, as a fellow Eastern region Member of Parliament, that, despite his excellent announcement, there is possibly a danger of some under-funding in the Eastern region as a consequence of a great increase in population in that area? Does he further agree that that is not, perhaps, taken into account when working out the amount of money for which the region is eligible?

Mr. Channon

Arts Council subsidies have never been calculated on the basis of the size of population in a region. They are related to the arts resources in any one particular area. That is the basis on which they have been calculated for all regions. However, my hon. Friend and many other hon. Members have made this point to me, which is one of the many reasons why the Arts Council is holding a special inquiry into the funds for the Eastern region.

Mr. Whitehead

Bearing in mind that the Eastern region receives only one-third of the amount of Arts Council subsidy that London receives, even after excluding the national companies, according to Mr. Hutchinson's recent report, will the Minister say whether any of the £5 million once-and-for-all figure that he announced today will be used to rectify this imbalance?

Mr. Channon

We shall have to await the Arts Council's detailed allocation of the money. The Arts Council is taking the problems of the Eastern region seriously and a special inquiry is going on.

Sir Derek Walker-Smith

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for the reasoned explanation that he recently gave me of the position of the Eastern Region Arts Association. Does he accept that I should be still more grateful if he could give sympathetic consideration to ameliorating its relatively disadvantageous position? Does he appreciate that this would bring great pleasure to the association and not least to its president, my eminent friend and constituent Henry Moore?

Mr. Channon

I should be delighted to give any pleasure I could to Mr. Henry Moore. One of the problems in the Eastern region has been the relatively low level of contribution by some local authorities. Local authorities must spend within their means, but they should examine some of the contributions that they have made to the association.