HC Deb 04 June 1984 vol 61 cc17-8
21. Mr. Tony Banks

asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State answering in respect of the Arts if he will have discussions with the Greater London Council about the arts in London.

Mr. Waldegrave

My noble Friend has already met representatives of the Greater London council. He is, of course, willing to meet them again if they wish.

Mr. Banks

In that case, will the Minister convey to his noble Friend that one borough that will have responsibility for the GLC's arts activities if the GLC is abolished is Westminster city council? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that council has recently issued guidelines to arts organisations saying that money will not be available for the arts or activities that involve promoting the cause of CND or describing events in South Africa or Grenada? Does that mean that Westminster will not give a grant to a theatre which put on a play such as "The Trial of Steve Biko", or any play by a Third world playwright? Does the hon. Gentleman agree with Westminster's political diktat?

Mr. Waldegrave

What Westminster city council is saying appears to be rather sensible. It does not warn to give grants from its arts fund for political activities. It is not saying that if a good play meets the criteria on artistic merit it will not be a worthy recipient of support.

Mr. Jessel

Is my hon. Friend aware that in Greater London there is a tremendous amount of fine and splendid art, both visual and live, which uplifts the human spirit and emotions, but that there is also a great deal of decadent rubbish, including ugly architecture approved by the GLC? Is he further aware that many of us hope that when the GLC is abolished there will be more of the former and less of the latter?

Mr. Waldegrave

My hon. Friend tempts me into unbiased comment in support of a recent speech on these matters, which I shall not pass over. My hon. Friend is right, both about the treasures and the formidable achievements of the arts in London, but I agree that there is a need for some pruning in the garden. He is right to say that there is no reason why the arts in London should not remain as strong as they are now, or even gain in strength, after the Government's proposed reform of local government.

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