HC Deb 24 May 1982 vol 24 c644
21. Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what statistics he collects about expenditure by local authorities on the arts.

Mr. Channon

Each local authority supplies details of its expenditure on local services to the Government. My direct interest is in libraries and museums only; local authority spending on other aspects of recreation and the arts is a matter for my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Wales. Statistics of local expenditure in these various fields are published annually by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Minister aware of the large discrepancies in those statistics between one authority and another? Will he liaise with his right hon. Friends—the Secretary of State for Wales in particular—to encourage local authorities to make greater contributions towards the arts, libraries and other forms of the arts?

Mr. Channon

I certainly would not be against that, provided the local authorities concerned kept within the Goverment's overall spending figures. I shall willingly discuss this with my right hon. Friends, but, as the hon. Gentleman will know, the various tables include a wide variety of matters and it is extremely difficult to single out the arts from other recreational matters, such as swimming baths.

Mr. Whitehead

Can the Minister say how many local authorities have had to reduce expenditure on museum services, for which he is responsible?

Mr. Channon

None that I have noticed, but I am glad to say that local authority spending on the arts is holding up very well. Am Ito congratulate the hon. Gentleman on assuming a new portfolio? If so, it will be a delight to see him.