HC Deb 28 February 1986 vol 92 cc1173-228 9.34 am
Sir William van Straubenzee (Wokingham)

I beg to move, That this House welcomes the growth in business sponsorship of the arts and believes that everything possible should be done to encourage arts bodies to market themselves more effectively.

I am grateful that the accident of chance of the ballot has allowed me to raise this comparatively narrow, but very important, aspect of the arts expenditure and arts support. I am delighted to see other hon. Members on both sides of the House present today who I know have interests in these matters and who I trust will be successful in catching your eye, Mr. Speaker.

This is an appropriate moment to say something about the sponsorship aspect of arts support, timed as it is shortly before my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer presents his Budget. We can now look back and examine what has been achieved and also examine what some of us hope we shall achieve in future.

We should at the outset estabilsh that we are talking about a very considerable success story. I intend to be reasonably brief today, but I shall later re-emphasise that I have never considered, and do not know anyone who considers, that business sponsorship of the arts is a substitute for direct or indirect Government support. I have always regarded business sponsorship as an additional assistance. Nevertheless, such sponsorship has grown significantly in recent years.

Business sponsorship of the arts in 1975 was about £500,000 and it is currently running at the rate of £20 million. That is a very substantial increase. We should start by congratulating all those involved in sponsorship and those who have contributed towards it. It is evident that we work from a base of considerable success.

No one is suggesting that business sponsorship is a replacement for official funding. I have no doubt that hon. Members read an interesting edition of The House Magazine which appeared on 14 February. Sir Roy Strong, the distinguised director of the Victoria and Albert museum, had some penetrating comments to make about business sponsorship. He reminds us in the article that he speaks with some authority as the longest serving national museum director of this century as he has had 20 years in office and a decade still to go—modesty has never been one of Sir Roy's vices. He continued in the article to state: There is no doubt that we must look to plural funding and that those refusing to do so are only piling up misery for their successors. Our basic existence will continue, of course, to be secured by government but growth and development will have to spring henceforth from sponsorship, the realisation of our commercial potential and persuading our visitors to dig even deeper into their pockets. The financial swing has certainly sharpened our focus. I believe that he is right. He draws attention to the dual nature of the funding. I wish to make it clear that, although the motion refers to business sponsorship, I continue to attach immense importance to direct and indirect Government sponsorship of the arts. There are times when people feel that Government money, which, after all. is taxation in one form or another, spent on the arts is spent on something that is snooty, distinct and detached from the ordinary person.

We should remind ourselves, for example — I shall not give a long list of statistics because they bore—that 5 million more people a year go to the theatre than to football matches. The theatre is not an activity confined to the rich, the cultured and the terribly upper crust. It is an activity widely enjoyed by increasing numbers of people. Our theatre is something of which both sides of the House can be immensely proud. At the moment it is a growth industry. Hon. Members will have read accounts of the recent reopening of a theatre because of the demand for it in London. I am sure that all hon. Members have had experience similar to mine. When we are delighted to entertain foreign visitors, in particular those whose mastery of the English language is good, one of the first things they wish to do during their visit to London is to enjoy the immense range of our theatrical offerings. Without being unduly superior, may I say that, conversely, when one is privileged to visit some other capital or great city, one is struck by the comparative paucity of the theatrical provision.

Let us establish, as is unquestionably right—not with great columns of figures—that since 1978–80 there has been an increase in real terms in Government support for the arts. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister, whose presence I appreciate, will be able to add to that. Although it has happened only recently, I should like to say what enormous pleasure all those who admire his work have obtained from his recent elevation to membership of the Privy Council. It is a fit and proper recognition of his work.

It is not easy to make direct comparisons because of the forthcoming abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan county councils. I see the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), who no doubt will refer to that aspect of the matter if he catches your eye, Mr. Speaker.

The Select Committee of which I have the privilege to be Chairman studied that matter. It is remarkable that on an issue which arouses, understandably, such passionate feelings both ways—the abolition of those authorities—it was possible for a Select Committee, of course drawn from all parties, unanimously to agree upon a report, without a vote, about the effect on the arts of the abolition of those great authorities.

I recommend to my right hon. Friend the ideas contained in that report. They combine the stick and the carrot in terms of support from the authorities which will have the responsibility in the future. Comparison of figures is not easy because of the abolition. Nevertheless, taking into account central funding and funding which has nothing to do with the Government, there has been a substantial percentage increase in arts funding since 1979–80. That is warmly to be welcomed.

Although the motion concentrates on business sponsorship, it is not intended to be—I am sure that ray right hon. Friend will not take it from me as being—a replacement for official arts support. I have always felt that in the mechanism of the Arts Council, which, of course, dates back many years, we have a typical British compromise which makes a great deal of sense. It is approximately analogous to what we have in education with the University Grants Committee. In both cases, the vast majority of the funding comes from central Government, but there is not the detailed daily supervision and intervention by central Government which most hon. Members would find abhorrent.

The essence of sponsorship is that there is something in it for both parties. There is a considerable amount in it for the art form which has benefited. True sponsorship is normally tax deductible, and, entirely legitimately, there is a spin-off—if I may so express it—for the firm doing the sponsoring. No one finds that an unattractive concept.

I should like to draw attention to the remarkable business sponsorship incentive scheme which is associated with my noble Friend the Earl of Gowrie, who was formerly Minister for the Arts. It is a most imaginative idea, and I am delighted to see how successful it has been. The House is well aware of how it operates, but those outside the House may not properly appreciate that there is a pound-for-pound matching contribution from the Government for first-time sponsors. That idea has caught on and substantial additional revenue has been made available.

One of the most welcome features of the scheme is the way that it has encouraged the arts outside London. Some years ago I was answerable to the House when the then Minister for the Arts, my noble Friend Lord Eccles, was in another place. He was something of a pioneer in focusing attention upon the necessity of getting out of the capital city a higher proportion of our artistic performances —of all kinds—than had previously been the case.

There must be many hon. Members here today who, like myself, obtain enormous pleasure from the arts in the provinces, including museums. Few aspects of education have improved recently more than the presentation of exhibits and so on in museums. I am sure that all hon. Members can think of examples outside London —sometimes in small towns — of open-air museums associated with agriculture or local industry which are imaginative in the extreme. I know that some people find commercialism unattractive. My first and only visit so far to such a museum was to the Yorvic exhibition in York. I found that an absolutely fascinating experience. When one bears in mind that it has repaid its capital expenditure in a short time in commercial terms, that shows exactly what can be done and yet be educative at the same time.

Seventy per cent. of the BSIS money is spent on encouragement of the arts outside London. That is a most encouraging proportion and I commend the BSIS on it. As the House well knows, there is an enormous revival in the theatre at the circumference, and one thinks here of some of the great, well known theatre groups such as the Royal Exchange in Manchester. There could not be a more exciting experience than witnessing the Theatre in the Round at Manchester Royal Exchange, and it employs an imaginative use of buildings that are no longer used for the purpose for which they were originally built. One hopes for the continuance of that remarkable company, and of the smaller groups that travel to small towns and villages and schools and bring some of their enormous artistic abilities to the young in particular and to those who do not find it easy to travel to the centre of, in this case, Manchester.

I find infinite pleasure and refreshment from time to time in the modern, rebuilt and charming theatre at Salisbury, and I rejoice in the fact that it is there because of a combination of private and public money raised by many tens of hundreds of people. I realise that sponsorship money causes anxiety to some people, but I hope that we will not hear the argument that we should form some separate judgment on the source of the money, and should apply in terms of arts expenditure some separate sieve through which that money should go. Surely the test is: is the activity in which the commercial company or partnership engaged legal or not?

I know that some hon. Members are uneasy about sponsorship by tobacco companies. To select tobacco and only tobacco seems an odd order of priorities. So that I reveal everything, I must say that I am—as long as the adjective is recorded—a very modest smoker. I do not think that I ever smoke more than two cigarettes a day and very often I smoke none at all. I am also a modest eater of sweets.

It seems to me astonishing that a Right-wing Conservative Minister should have intervened in the advertising of one product in one area which has simply removed competition and secured the position of the big companies. Never mind, that is in the past. We must remember that other activities, which may be perfectly lawfully carried on, if carried to excess, are harmful. Every year tons of children's teeth rot because they eat too many sweets. At the moment it is perfectly legal to eat sweets.

The biggest single killer in this country is obesity, and when I look around the Chamber I can see a number of lost battles. Fortunately, I am not standing in front of a mirror. In this sense nature is unfair. I am certain that my right hon. Friend the Minister could eat a cloche of potatoes at a sitting and it would make no visible change to his elegant shape. I have only to look at a potato, let alone eat the beastly thing, and I put on weight. If we really want to reduce the pressures on our hospitals we should do something drastic about obesity.

I am simply making the point—I am doing no more than this—that to select one activity in arts sponsorship and to use arts sponsorship as a method of proceeding with a campaign seems to get the matter out of proportion.

On the matter of taxation, there is a considerable success story that I gladly acknowledge. I know that my right hon. Friend has no responsibility as a Treasury Minister, but he represents the Government here and it is right for me to pay that tribute through him as the representative of the Government. It is enormously helpful that we have markedly lower rates of personal taxation than we had in 1979, and that we have abolished the investment income surcharge. That has been immensely helpful to the arts. As all charities know, associated with the name of my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary was a reduction in the period of years of covenanting. That has been of enormous benefit to charities generally and to arts operations, which, of course, are also charities.

I say all those things gratefully, because I do not want to be mealy-mouthed or mean about it or seem not to understand what has already been done. I am speaking within a short time of the Budget and I hope that the Government and my right hon. Friend in particular will look at the eighth report of the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts. The Committee reported in the last Parliament. My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) is present. I know he was much associated with that and I think he will agree that the Committee is especially associated with my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South (Mr. Cormack). My hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Brinton) was also a member of the Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South has binding constituency engagements, and I know he regrets that he cannot be here today. I think he was the founder of the parliamentary arts and heritage group and his work in that group immensely enriches our cultural life in the Palace of Westminster.

The Committee explored further ways of making available private moneys, whether from corporate or personal sources, and putting up specific schemes. I will not go through those schemes in detail because it would be wearisome for the House. Suffice it to say that I hope that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will be able in his Budget to take the next step forward. If he could come to the view that contributions made by individuals or corporate bodies to charitable projects should be fully tax deductible, that could unleash surprisingly large funds for the interests that we all have at heart.

I recognise, although I do not want to go into detail, that, as in the United States, there would have to be certain limits and parameters. However, the Government might be surprised at the extent and range of funds that would become available for the arts. I am talking not about wider charitable objectives, because today we are talking about the arts. One of my reasons for choosing this motion, timed for debate shortly before the Budget, is to see whether my view is echoed in other parts of the House and, if it is, to hope that it will be listened to closely and with attention in the Treasury.

There is a great tradition in this country of individual support for charitable objectives in general and artistic objectives in particular, but, in spite of the remarkable changes today, we still live in a nation that many others would regard as highly taxed. This deliberate incentive would go a long way to filling gaps in the funds available.

I welcome the changes recently announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister in connection with the marketing activities of a number of those with which we are concerned, particularly national museums and galleries. I notice with interest his reply on 10 February to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Evennett) on the changes that he is now making in the financial arrangements for a number for the national museums and galleries. As a result, forecast receipts will no longer be specifically netted off against total estimated requirements and a reasonable facility to carry over unspent moneys will be made available.

These seem to me to be very important steps forward. I have always been impatient about the argument, although I know that it is to be found in all parties, about charging. Admittedly, I am biased because, at junior Minister level only, I piloted through the House many years ago the Act that enabled charges to be made. That experience made me more than a little cynical, because quite a number of those who were loudest in their condemnation publicly hoped that the policy would come into force so that they could then operate it. They were right to want this policy to work, but I always wish that they would stand up and be counted.

Mr. Norman Buchan (Paisley, South)

This issue is still very much alive. The hon. Member has just made a serious allegation in a broad sweep. Whom does he mean?

Sir William van Straubenzee

It would not be helpful to name persons. Perhaps one day, if the hon. Gentleman has saved up, he will buy my memoirs, which will be the best way to find out what he wants to know. There is no doubt that this was the experience of all of us who were working in this sector then. I am not saying that everyone behaved like that, but some did.

I become very impatient and cross about this because, when we visit great galleries in foreign countries, we expect, as a matter of course, to pay our way. Provided that there are arrangements for bona fide students or the elderly, I cannot find this an unacceptable method of financing.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

Perhaps in volume 42 of his memoirs the hon. Member would like to tell us whether he feels that charging for admission should be seen, like business sponsorship, merely as a top up of good, solid base money from the Government or as a substitute for it. Three museums have announced in the past 24 hours that, because of a lack of central funds, they will have to resort to charging to make up their revenue.

Sir William van Strautbenzee

I hoped that I had established at the outset that I see all these methods as additional funding. That helpful intervention allows me to draw attention to the significant change that my right hon. Friend the Minister has initiated, which makes it clear how much more attractive it is for these institutions to charge so that they can keep and carry over, as they could not before, the proceeds. That was one of the great weaknesses of the situation until the recent and good announcement by my right hon. Friend.

I see this as a two-pronged method. I have never expected any of these great institutions to finance themselves solely from charging. However, there is an element of hysteria. I meet it in a different sector. For example, because of huge costs, some Anglican cathedrals are making a charge for admission either directly, which is the position recently established at Ely cathedral, or indirectly, for example, at Salisbury, where it is done by asking the visitor for a voluntary donation for which he is thanked by the issue of a ticket. Whichever method or combination of methods is used, it is always the people who would not dream of darkening the doors of the cathedral for its main purpose who complain.

At Salisbury, a small inquiry was carried out into the few people who complained, and it was found that overwhelmingly they were Non-conformist schoolmasters. Non-conformist schoolmasters are worthy people both because they are Non-conformist and because they are schoolmasters. However, under neither head do they have any right to free entry to an Anglican cathedral. I am relaxed, provided certain provisions are made, about making a charge for such an institution, bearing in mind the immense costs that are now necessary to maintain them. However, I must not develop that argument.

I very much approve, support and welcome all that my right hon. Friend the Minister is doing to get these institutions more market-oriented. Last night, I had the great privilege of being at the Royal Academy to see an exhibition, which I strongly commend to the House, of the work of its first president, Sir Joshua Reynolds. I have a personal interest because I am descended from two of his nieces. It is a beautiful exhibition, and, very fairly, a great commercial professional partnership had taken it for the evening. I imagine, although I did not wish to inquire because I was a guest, that the company paid properly for the privilege. We were able to enjoy it with great pleasure and it was able to do some sponsoring. When I refreshed myself at the bookstall — although that is a wholly inadequate word to describe it and perhaps "shop" might be better—I saw marketing of a high order.

Mr. Clement Freud (Cambridgeshire, North-East)

The hon. Gentleman has said that he is related to two great nieces of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Were they Siamese twins?

Sir William van Straubenzee

It is possible to be descended from two nieces. If the hon. Gentleman really wishes to know, I shall try to give him a tree some time. Suffice it to say that in two successive generations first cousins married each other. I dare say that the hon. Gentleman will think that that explains a lot.

I warmly support the general principle of Government policy. I welcome the actions of my right hon. Friend the Minister. However, I give him a gentle, respectful nudge — not a kick from behind — in his representative capacity, and not because it is his personal responsibility, in the direction of further moves in the Budget. I hope that the fact that we can discuss these matters will be of assistance to the arts in general.

10.10 am
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Wokingham (Sir W. van Straubenzee) on his choice of subject for debate this morning. Before I became a Member I had the privilege of giving evidence to the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts, which he chairs. I remember the experience well. He brought to the Committee all the wit, charm and courtesy that hon. Members have come to expect of him.

Sir William van Straubenzee

I was not the Chairman then.

Mr. Banks

In that case, it was someone who looked remarkably like the hon. Member, which sounds a rather unusual event. It was an enjoyable experience to appear before the Committee, although I am not sure whether that was the experience of the Committee members.

The hon. Member for Wokingham has given us a chance to discuss the subject in the presece of the Minister for the Arts, who has proved himself ready to listen carefully, and in some cases to deliver the goods. He has also shown himself capable of living off his ministerial salary, which is more than his predecessor was able to do.

The Opposition do not reject the concept of business sponsorship. The hon. Member for Wokingham mentioned marketing at the Royal Academy. I hope that when he is walking on the south side of the river—I see him on several occasions walking across the bridge and we nod at each other—he will go to the Royal Festival hall and see the improvements in marketing. When I was chairman of the Greater London council arts and recreation committee. I took a personal interest in marketing. We have increased audiences for concerts, the open foyer policy has meant an extra 30,000 visits a week and it is making money and showing a good return for London ratepayers.

We have no ideological objection to business sponsorship or to marketing the arts in a more imaginative and profitable way, but I am sure that the hon. Member for Wokingham would expect me to express a few words of caution. I feel uneasy about some types of business sponsorship. I do not intend to make a big issue of it, because I am sure that it will be taken up by other hon. Members. However, the products and sphere of activity of certain companies make them unacceptable as arts funders.

We should keep business sponsorship in some form of economic perspective. I do not wish to bore the House with statistics, but a few might put the matter into context. In 1985–86 the Government provided the Arts Council with about £106 million for central arts funding. Local authorities provided a further £170 million, and it is estimated that business sponsorship provided £17 million. That sum of £17 million in 1985–86 compares with £276 million worth of public funding. I am not sneering at that amount, because it was welcome and it was no doubt put to good use, but, as the hon. Member for Wokingham said, that can only be top-up money. It does not come over clearly from the Conservative Benches that it is not free money, merely because it comes from private companies. There is no such thing as a free lunch even if hon. Members are often encouraged to believe that there is. Most of that £17 million worth of business sponsorship for the arts can be written off as legitimate business expenses. In that way, the Treasury and taxpayers can be seen to be footing the bill, albeit in an indirect fashion.

We must consider the qualitative difference between public and business funding. Public funding of the arts is disinterested in the finest sense of the word. It is impartial funding for the arts. Those who accused the GLC of being politically motivated in terms of arts funding did not know the real truth. The council, when I was chairman of the arts and recreation committee, or as a member of the Labour administration, never sought to use the arts as a way of bringing political pressure to bear on any arts body.

Public funding is impartial and disinterested, but much business funding is specifically targeted. It tends towards the well-established art forms — high culture and prestigious arts activities. Immediately, the opera, ballet and classical music come to mind. The Reynolds exhibition is a fine one, and I am sure that companies are prepared to fund it, but there is a good arts centre in Brixton, with a fine collection of paintings and sculptures. It would be good if companies were prepared to fund that area of activity also.

It is relatively easy for prestigious arts activities to attract business funding. The difficulty of attracting private funding arises in the seed bed, which has less kudos. Marks and Spencer is an honourable exception, but most companies steer clear of the innovative arts and avoid the avant garde. The ethnic and community arts cannot secure local or national business funding. I assure Conservative Members that they try hard to do so, because money from most sources must be welcome.

Targeting of business funding often arises from the decisions of managing directors, who tend to be conservative, with a small "c" but often with a capital "C". They tend to consider the safe areas of arts activity which will not offend their clients or shareholders. I encourage Conservative Members to read the excellent report of the Association of Business Sponsorship for the Arts. I commend the organisation and its director, Colin Tweedy, on the excellent work of the association. When hon. Members have read the report, seen the arts bodies that are being funded by business and the monthly calendar of the Royal Festival hall showing the types of concerts that are sponsored and by which companies, they will recognise that I am speaking the truth about the targeting that companies adopt.

I would enter a further caveat and say that I do not want companies to become the arbiters of artistic taste or to determine, through their funding, the pattern of what will be made available to the general public. Every generation inherits an artistic legacy, and it is the duty of each generation to add to that legacy, not just to live off it. It is our responsibility to develop the arts that we inherit to increase their richness and depth. As the hon. Member for Wokingham said, that can be done only through the public funding of the arts, with business sponsorship providing only a little icing on the cake.

Another point about business sponsorship—I am not carping, but anticipating some of the things that are likely to be said later this morning—is that companies expect a great deal in return for what they put into the arts. Indeed, they expect red carpet treatment. Many of them expect numerous complimentary tickets for performances that they have sponsored, and the private use of hospitality suites. They want generous acknowledgment on posters, in programmes and in other forms of publicity. I do not blame them for that, but let no one suggest that altruism drives those companies to fund the arts. They are not disinterested in the sense that public investment and sponsorship of the arts is disinterested.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

When the GLC has funded an artistic activity and the posters say in large letters that it is GLC funded, is that altruistic?

Mr. Banks

It is not altruistic at all. I am merely trying to anticipate some of the remarks that might be made later by Conservative Members. I accept that companies have a right to expect something in return for their sponsorship of the arts.

When I was the chairman of the arts and recreation committee of the GLC, I was worried by the refusal of the BBC to acknowledge the GLC's funding of the arts in London. When the BBC broadcasts a concert from the Royal Festival hall, it is ready to say that the concert is sponsored by John Player, Unilever or Metal Box. Indeed, Ministers encourage the BBC to do that to encourage companies to put more money into the arts, which would be seen as a good return on their investment. When I asked the BBC to say that the concert was taking place in the GLC's Royal Festival hall, funded by the ratepayers of London, it refused to do so. I wanted to get that point over to establish in the minds of London ratepayers what they were getting for their rates. They are as entitled to know what they are getting for their rates as a shareholder is entitled to know what he is getting in return for his investment in a company. That is another reason why companies invest money in the arts—it is good for the corporate image and for their reputation among their shareholders.

Mr. Tim Brinton (Gravesham)

The logical conclusion of the hon. Gentleman's remarks is that every time the BBC radio broadcasts from this place it must acknowledge the fact that the taxpayers pay for it. It must stop somewhere. Taxpayers and ratepayers do not deserve the credit for such matters.

Mr. Banks

I agree that it must stop somewhere, but I do not believe that it should stop at the Royal Festival hall. I am interested in marketing techniques, and I believe that we must market the public sector as much as we must market the private sector. Image-building is as good for the public sector as it is for the private sector. I see no distinction between the two. What worried me was that the public funding of the arts, especially on the South Bank, was going almost unacknowledged. I did not want the ratepayers of London to believe that the concerts were all provided by the good intentions of private companies. Although it was good that the private companies had done it, unless the GLC had been prepared to invest £4.5 million of ratepayers' money every year, there would not have been a concert hall in which John Player, Unilever or Metal Box could sponsor concerts.

I do not object to companies asking for something in return for their business sponsorship of the arts, but I wish the House to acknowledge that this is what drives them to give money to the arts. It is not sheer altruism on their part. Of course, the hon. Member for Wokingham did not suggest that. I am in the difficulty of trying to anticipate some of the hairier speeches that I fear are likely to follow mine. It is tricky to do so when one has not heard those speeches, but I shall sit here and listen to them, and I am sure that I shall wish to intervene in the speeches of some hon. Members.

Private sponsorship often receives credit disproportionate to its level of arts funding. To cap it all, most of what companies spend on the arts can be claimed back as legitimate business expenses. Business funding represents good business propositions for companies, which is why most of them become involved in it.

In about four weeks' time the Greater London council and the metropolitan county councils will be abolished —[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members may say that, but it is all bravado. All thinking members of the Conservative party know that the abolition of the GLC is a complete mistake, brought about by the political vindictiveness of the Prime Minister. London's taxpayers and ratepayers will regret her actions in great measure until the next Labour Government can restore citywide administration to London.

Mr. Gerald Bowden (Dulwich)


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not seeking to intervene to discuss the abolition of the GLC. We are talking about business sponsorship of the arts.

Mr. Bowden

I am grateful for your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My ratepayers in Southwark have been greatly encouraged by the fact that since the decision to abolish the GLC and to introduce ratecapping their rates bills have been reduced by 25 per cent.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is defying the point that I put to him, which is that the House is discussing business sponsorship of the arts, not the rates.

Mr. Banks

I know exactly what you will say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so I say simply to the hon. Gentleman, "Just wait". The bill will have to be met at some stage.

I shall relate the abolition of the GLC to the arts and the motion on business sponsorship. The abolition will have an appalling effect on the arts. It will not take effect immediately, like the rate bills which the hon. Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bowden) mentioned. However, within six months to a year the true impact will become apparent. Up to 100 arts organisations in London could cease to exist in that time. Yesterday the Arts Council made an announcement about the funding of the arts organisations that will lose their GLC and metropolitan county support. The Arts Council has said that those companies' grants will not be reduced in 1986–87, but that is not the real issue. Will they receive money to replace the grant that they will lose after the GLC and the metropolitan counties are abolished?

The abolition of the GLC will have a severe impact on the community and ethnic arts — precisely the areas where business sponsorship has little, if any, effect. But it will no stop there. Some of the more established and larger arts companies in London will also face dire times and possible closure. We have heard several times about the problems of Sadler's Wells, the Almeida theatre in Islington, the Riverside theatre in Hammersmith, the Theatre Royal Stratford in my borough of Newham, and about the possible closure of the Cottesloe theatre on the South Bank. It was closed last year, but was reopened after the GLC provided a special grant.

The hon. Member for Wokingham correctly and properly drew our attention to the fact that the abolition of the Greater London council and the metropolitan county councils will have an impact on the arts. It is right, therefore, to ask what role business sponsorship can play. I have tried to find out from the companies that will be affected just how important business sponsorship is to them. I have already referred to the fact that business sponsorship of community and ethnic arts activities is virtually nil. It is usually provided for one-off projects and amounts to a few hundred pounds. Marks and Spencer is one of the companies which are prepared to provide that form of sponsorship. There is no kudos to be gained from sponsoring that kind of arts activity, so there is little, if any, funding of it.

Business support of the larger and more prestigious arts organisations in London still represents only a small fraction of their overall funding. I have already mentioned Sadler's Wells, which does very well from business sponsorship. It is very aggressive in the way it goes out to get business sponsorship. However, out of a turnover of £2 million it receives only about £230,000 in private sponsorship. It will have to find a replacement for the Greater London council's grant of £155,000. If it tried to replace the whole of that grant through business sponsorship, it would need almost to double the amount of money that it now receives. However, it is getting to the limit of what it can do by its own efforts.

Business sponsorship of the English National Opera Company, which is one of the most prestigious arts associations in the country, accounts for 3.4 per cent. of its budget, and 3 per cent. of the National Theatre's budget is accounted for by business sponsorship. After the abolition of the GLC, taking into account the additional money that the Government are prepared to provide for the arts, the shortfall of arts funding in London will amount to about £10 million. There is no way in which business sponsorship can even begin to replace that level of public funding. Because of the economic circumstances in which many businesses find themselves, it is evident that they would prefer to spend their money on other things rather than on business sponsorship of the arts.

If the Government are not prepared to increase the level of direct arts funding, they should consider a reform of the tax system which would provide tax incentives for corporate or individual support of the arts. I believe that the hon. Member for Wokingham made exactly this suggestion to his Front Bench. I hope that the Minister will discuss with his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer the abolition of value added tax on ticket sales. That would provide a tremendous boost for the arts. The taxpayers would be paying for it because the Treasury would not get those receipts, but the Chancellor might find that a better way to give money to the arts rather than through direct Government subsidy.

If the Minister cannot announce later from the Dispatch Box that he has been able to find another bag of money for the arts in London, will he please look at the activities of the Greater London Enterprise Board, which has invested about £1 million in the arts by means of a series of commercial loans through the banks? About 30 arts activities now receive loans instead of GLC grants and subsidies. Perhaps the Minister will ask the Arts Council how many arts groups have been recommended by the Arts Council for the Government's small business grant scheme.

The arts are big business, besides being something from which we derive great pleasure. The Arts Council says that, nationwide, 175,000 people are employed in the arts. If one takes a broader view of the arts and talks about the cultural industries, the GLC has identified about 250,000 people who are employed in those industries in London. In recognition of that, the Greater London Enterprise Board produced a cultural industries strategy. During his busy day, I hope that the Minister will find time to look through that strategy. If he does, he will see that jobs in the leisure, artistic and sports categories are due to increase by about 30 per cent. during the 1980s. Ministers, faced with the appalling unemployment figures that arise from the Government's economic policies, should be interested in those sectors of the economy which promise such substantial increases in employment during the 1980s.

The arts represent big business. The Arts Council says that they present a great British success story. At times I find that this is a slightly distasteful way of approaching the arts, but one has to be realistic. Faced as it is by hard faced, stony faced monetarists, no doubt the Arts Council feels that this is the way to get to the Conservative Government and entice some hard cash out of them.

The Arts Council points out that most of the direct Government grant to the arts comes back to the Government in one form of taxation or another. The Government get a very good return on their investment in the arts. The arts attract tourists, who represent one of the Government's finest returns on their investment. It is objectionable when Conservative Members refer to this as a subsidy to the arts. They should refer to it as investment in the arts. Our investment in the arts leads to a substantial return for taxpayers. We never hear about subsidies for defence or for education. We hear about defence expenditure or education expenditure. We should also talk about arts expenditure and investment in the arts.

Business sponsorship of the arts is small, and it is unstable, because it can be stopped at any time. It is far more unstable than public subsidy of the arts through the Arts Council or local authorities. I endorse the view of the hon. Member for Wokingham that business sponsorship can never, nor must it ever, replace the impartial funding of the arts. The arts in Britain are still grossly underfunded. It would be the mark of a truly civilised Government if they gave a much higher priority to arts expenditure, but for that we shall have to await the triumph of Labour at the coming general election.

10.37 am
Mr. Toby Jessel (Twickenham)

I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks). At one point he suggested that business sponsorship is inadequate because it is too selective. He suggested that businesses sponsor only prestigious national events, and are not prepared to sponsor events that are of local importance, such as events that are of interest to ethnic minorities in Brixton.

Yet last year in my constituency, Thames Television, which has studios at Teddington, gave £2,000 to sponsor a charity concert at St. Mary's college, Strawberry Hill. The concert raised about £12,000 for the Save the Children Fund famine in Africa appeal. Squires garden centre, a popular garden centre in Twickenham, gave £500 to sponsor a choral concert in St. Mary's church, Hampton, which raised about £1,500 for a new chapel there. That shows what can be done on a local basis.

Local sponsorship need not be confined to business sponsorship. There could be local authority sponsorship. If events in Brixton ought to be supported, there is no reason why Lambeth borough council should not be encouraged to support them. I should like very many more of the local authorities, including the 32 London borough councils, to supplement by local sponsorship the work of the Arts Council for which in London my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Arts was able to secure a large additional grant from the Treasury, largely to replace the Greater London council's funding of the arts in Greater London.

Mr. Buchan

The hon. Gentleman must take on board the position in the London boroughs. Islington has five important theatres that were previously supported by the GLC. Camden borough is home to the important theatre museum library and yet is expected to pay for it out of its own grant. Many such institutions have had a heavy clobbering, especially when boroughs such as the hon. Gentleman's borough are not prepared to contribute if the institution is not in their own direct area.

Mr. Jessel

The hon. Member for Newham, North-West three times mentioned Sadler's Wells which is in Islington. The problems of Sadler's Wells, thanks to the intervention of the Minister for the Arts, have been largely resolved.

If, in any borough, there are important arts institutions which can attract tourists and visitors to those boroughs, then local firms, from pubs to restaurants and shops, will derive revenue from those visitors which will ultimately be reflected in the rate revenues. There is no reason. why those boroughs should not support the institutions to a reasonable extent.

The hon. Member for Newham, North-West has suggested that there is something unstable about business sponsorship. I refer to the impressive speech of my hon. Friend for Wokingham, (Sir W. van Straubenzee), to whom we are all indebted for instituting this debate. He mentioned the growth in business sponsorship. Ten years ago business sponsorship amounted to £0.5 million. Today it amounts to approximately £20 million. That is a 2,000 per cent. increase in 10 years. It is growing steadily year by year, thanks to the excellent work of the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts, first under Mr. Luke Rittner and later under Mr. Tweedy. There is nothing "unstable" in such a dramatic growth in business sponsorship of the arts.

Such sponsorship is of benefit to the arts. to the sponsors and to the national economy. This was borne out by a notable paper presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Murphy) to the Council of Europe when the Assembly approved his document on business sponsorship of the arts, which will enable continental countries to learn from our successful experience. However, despite the amount of £20 million, there is a long way to go and I believe there is room for massive further expansion. We must build on our success.

Britain is one of the arts capitals of the world. There is a great flowering of artistic and creative talent, echoing the first Elizabethan age. We have magnificent theatres, great museums and art galleries, a tremendous range of wonderful historic buildings, we have first-class opera and ballet and, if you will allow me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we have the finest military bands in the world whose high standards of excellence are one of the glories of this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I hope that the Arts Minister will convey the support of the House, as expressed a moment ago, on this matter to the Secretary of State for Defence.

All these things comprise a network of tradition and heritage of the arts which are a great national asset. They are a strength to this country and it is a strength on which we must build. The arts not only serve to provide enrichment and fulfilment to the lives of our 54 million people; they attract visitors. The arts are what visitors come to see and hear. The arts and our heritage are to Britain what the sun is to Spain. Twelve million tourists come to this country every year and they spend £5,000 million. That is a vital part of Britain's invisible export earnings. Those visitors who are drawn here by our heritage and arts spend partly on those, but also spend a great deal of money on hotels, restaurants and shops. Such spending generates income, employment and a tax yield to the Government.

That tax yield cannot be measured directly and for that reason I am afraid it may not be given sufficient weight by the Treasury. I believe emphatically that the Treasury should not overlook it. The Government have done a great deal to support the arts especially in the past year or two. The funding of the arts in real terms has increased by about 10 per cent. in recent years. There are numerous tax reliefs which no doubt will be mentioned by my right hon. Friend. The Minister and his predecessors have actively promoted business sponsorship and have encouraged the work of the Association of Business Sponsorship of the Arts and of the sponsoring companies. However, in terms of direct Government finance, the proportion of our national budget devoted to the Arts Council and other support for the arts, is at present only one part out of 1,300. I believe this could be usefully supplemented by further tax reliefs as suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham. We can learn from the United States, both in terms of individual and business sponsorship. We should not overlook individual sponsorship. It is true that the period for the deeds of covenant has been reduced from seven to four years—that is a step in the right direction. I believe that if individuals were able to give to charities, including arts charities, even on a one-off basis and still claim tax relief, it would result in a large net increase in the support for charities and the arts—even if the percentage of the sums did not amount to the 80 per cent. of art donations achieved in the United States.

Business sponsorship too is extremely important. Businesses can now advertise arts and other charitable events in brochures and claim tax relief as it is an advertisement and therefore promoting their business. Businesses, however, cannot, by a donation, obtain tax relief that would benefit the arts or charitable body unless they covenant to donate for three consecutive years. I see no need for that. There is no compelling reason why the Government should not look favourably upon the proposal that businesses should be able to claim relief from corporation tax and other taxes by one-off donations to the arts and charities. This would be a great encouragement to the arts and charities and would encourage businesses to do more in support of these bodies. The promotion and expansion of the arts would help to improve their high standards of excellence, encourage an increase in tourism, which would generate income and employment and would repay the Government in tax more than the relief that they give directly.

10.48 am
Mr. Clement Freud (Cambridgeshire, North-East)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Wokingham (Sir W. van Straubenzee) on his good fortune in the ballot. It is salutary that the gods of chance smile upon him who answers for the Church Commission in this place. I commend the hon. Member for choosing this important subject for debate. We get far too little time to discuss the arts.

I was pleased to hear the hon. Gentleman concede that business sponsorship would supply only part of the money that is required for the arts. He will remember when, under his chairmanship of the Select Committee, the former Minister for the Arts gave evidence to it and said: We do not look upon business sponsorship or private patronage to take on the role of state funding but to provide a welcome addition to it. That is exactly as it should be.

I took the point made by the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel) about endowment funds and tax concessions for the provision of continuing money. One of the most difficult things that theatres and arts companies have to put up with is the annual grant-aid, which prevents them from making long-term plans. We must support an endowment fund. We favour a move from charitable donations to a more long-term commitment to give stability to arts groups and organisations. Unlike covenants, they do not have to tie up sums of money for years to come, but give arts groups a fixed budget to manage. It probably gives them greater independence—it certainly gives them greater maturity.

Endowments can come from a one-off grant from corporate or individual donors or from the proceeds of commercial revenue operations. The shift to endowments could be achieved gradually. I should like to give the Minister a word of warning about the much heralded tax concessions, which may come in the Budget, in respect of contributions to charity. A substantial number of theatrical organisations, however charitable in effect, do not have charitable status. I refer to small and successful theatre companies, such as the Almeida theatre company. My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) has the Northumberland theatre company based in Alnwick which tours around Northumberland. My wife runs the Southwold summer theatre, which also is not a charity, but nevertheless greatly needs sponsorship.

I wonder whether it might not be sensible for regional arts associations to establish regional charitable trusts into which money, which would be VAT effective, could be put. The money could then be passed to theatrical organisations without charitable status. I realise that it is not that difficult to achieve charitable status — about 3,000 charities are registered every year—but one of the problems of people in the theatre is that they are not particularly good at administration. I wonder whether, apart from the welcome injection of capital, business help could include the provision of at least the training of administrators, public relations people and marketeers, so that theatres could run that much more efficiently.

The Minister will know that all theatrical companies which pay their staff tend to be under-staffed. The time spent filling in applications, looking for sponsors and trying to find money could be spent much more gainfully on production if business sponsors were generous enough to provide an element of administrative help with their money.

I should like to say something about tobacco sponsorship. I have always believed that an industry which is geared to killing should not be allowed also to enhance life. Sir Roy Shaw, talking to the British Medical Association, used the memorable words: I sympathise with those who are driven by poverty to accept tobacco money, but it is surely wrong to use the life-enhancing image of arts and sports to put a glamorous mask on the ugly face of a life diminishing product".

I am basically unhappy to have purveyors of death enhancing the arts, but I am substantially unhappy when such contributions are matched by Government money. I am extremely unhappy about a scheme in which manufacturers of cigarettes sponsor a theatrical production and the Government, who spend millions of pounds on health authorities, warnings on cigarette packets and directives to radio and television regulating advertising, now, under the business incentive scheme, contribute extra money to support such theatrical ventures in the name of cigarette companies. Tobacco is the only product which the Government agree is dangerous to health. The industry tells us that it is involved in product differentiation; it says that it sponsors, not to get new people to smoke, but to get people who smoke another brand to come over to the advertised product.

But it is naive to accept that the images created do not reach non-smokers and influence them. It is quite appalling that Britain's youth is led to believe that it cannot play cricket decently unless it smokes Benson and Hedges or that part and parcel of driving a racing car is the inhalation of Marlboro.

Sir William van Straubenzee

I am sure the hon. Gentleman remembers that I explored this matter quite fully in my speech. He knows that there is a great problem with alcoholism among young people. I should like him to make clear whether he accepts sponsorship from brewery companies or others who make and market alcoholic drinks.

Mr. Freud

I was coming to that. The hon. Gentleman must accept that tobacco is the only product which harms the person who takes it, irrespective of the quantity. All other harmful products are harmful only in excess. There is no harm at all in drinking in moderation or in eating potatoes in moderation. Actually it is not the potatoes that made the hon. Gentleman fat; it is the combination of the fat in which the potatoes were fried and the gravy that he puts over them. However, there is genuinely harm in having even one or two cigarettes; none in having one or two potatoes or one or two small whiskies.

Sponsorship makes the companies look like good guys and is thus an exercise in public deception, which is why I should like the Minister to think again most carefully about allowing the business incentive scheme to recruit cigarette companies. It means that he is helping cigarette companies to spread the message.

Warren Mitchell described the National theatre's decision to accept Imperial Tobacco money as whoring, and I do not disagree. Paul Eddington has resigned from the board of governors of the Old Vic because it accepted £20,000 from a tobacco company. If we are told that cutting sponsorship will hurt jobs, it is clear that sponsorship must increase total consumption and not be just about product differentiation. If so, the arguments for stopping tobacco sponsorship are even clearer, as it is obvious that accepting it increases illness and death.

I am chairman of the Friends of the British Council, which has done an excellent job. It strongly favours business sponsorship. In the past year it received £250,000 in business sponsorship out of a budget of £3 million. It needs such money to be paid for substantial periods of time and for it to be matched. Although uniquely Brunel received sufficient money for a three-year period, it is rarely enough to go to a business sponsor and say, "Do this for us," without saying, "Here is our investment, help us to top it up".

The hon. Member for Newham, North-West, (Mr. Banks) said that the Arts Council employs 175,000 people. If we could get business sponsorship for the arts right, if we could provide greater incentives and better administration, the figure of 175,000 would be immensely increased. The frightening figure is how many people in the arts are not employed. A huge percentage of the members of Equity are out of work and have little hope of finding more than one job every other year.

Mr. Tony Banks

The hon. Gentleman puts his finger on a crucial point. The largest support for the arts comes from the low wages and poor conditions of the 175,000 people employed within the industry. Equity suggests that three out of four of its members are out of work at any given time.

Mr. Freud

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that information; I share his concern.

I once again compliment the hon. Member for Wokingham on his choice of subject. I also compliment the Minister, who to date has done an excellent job, as I am sure the whole House would agree. He has been courteous and attentive to the arts lobby and has appeared at a surprisingly large number of events. The world of arts is grateful to him.

11.2 am

Mr. Roger Sims (Chislehurst)

This time last week I was addressing the House on my private Member's Bill on tobacco sponsorship of sport. I do not intend to repeat my speech today. However, following the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Sir W. van Straubenzee) and of the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud), and as I am chairman of the all-party group for action on smoking and health, I have to say that, on balance, I find myself nearer the position of the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East than to the position of my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham. Tobacco is harmful per se, whereas other products such as alcohol are harmful if abused. After all, smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in this country, with 100,000 people a year dying prematurely as a result of using tobacco products.

I feel less strongly about the sponsorship of arts than about the sponsorship of sport. I hope that eventually the advertising and promotion of tobacco products will be completely stopped. However, I believe that we must start with sport and then move to arts as the next step. If there is any promotion or advertising of tobacco products, it is important that it is made clear that a deadly product is being promoted.

I agree with the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East that it is one matter for a tobacco company to sponsor an arts promotion if it is self-evident that that is what it is doing, but it is another for the Government to be party to a proper campaign to persuade people to stop smoking and young people not to begin, while at the same time encouraging tobacco companies to encourage the arts. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will take to heart the points made on that matter.

I want to relate my comments to the two areas of which I have some experience—an amateur choir and a local theatre. I have been a member of the Royal Choral Society for more than 30 years—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear —give us a song."] Even if I did not have a cold, I would not risk transgressing the rules of order by bursting into song, although part of the Messiah would not be out of place occasionally.

I am grateful to the business managers of the House for so arranging business on Thursday next that in between votes I shall be able to sing Brahms' Requiem at the Royal Festival hall, with or without the sponsorship of the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks). Knowing of your interest, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I hope that you will be able to join us on that occasion, together with any other hon. Members who may be free to do so.

During the 30 years that I have been a member of that choir, things have changed a great deal. When I first joined there were no financial problems facing the choir, but now it is difficult for it to keep going. It has to charge a subscription to its members. which was unheard of years ago. It has to undertake all sorts of fund-raising events. For example, last year I was happy to sponsor a reception on the Terrace that raised money for the choir. Of course, it receives grants from some quarters, but there is not sufficient money available to meet the much higher costs of running a choir of that character. The hire of halls is far more expensive today than it was a few years ago, as is the hire of orchestras, artistes' fees and music.

Happily, of course, today there are far more demands on the funds available. The mass of theatres in London has already been mentioned, and the Saturday newspapers show the enormous number of concerts and recitals available in London. That is a great pleasure for those who live in London, for those who take part in the events and for visitors. However, they all cost money.

The consequence is that choirs such as the Royal Choral have to seek sponsorship, and that is hard work. We are grateful to companies such as Braun Electric and Whitbread, which have supported us for some years. The managers of the choir have to spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to ensure that the choir is financially viable. They are literally living on a hand-to-mouth basis, one season to another, each season not knowing whether the following season will be financially practicable.

My right hon. Friend the Minister recently visited the Churchill theatre in Bromley, which is situated only a few yards outside my constituency. Many people from the borough of Bromley regularly attend the theatre. I hope that my right hon. Friend was impressed with the building, the management and the quality of production. His visit was very much appreciated. I know that he will have gained his own impression of the quality of the theatre.

The Churchill theatre is in a very difficult financial position, not least since the arbitrary withdrawal of its Arts Council grant which would probably have been about £100,000 this year. I hope that the trustees appreciate that, although the Government rightly give funds to the Arts Council—increasing funds, thanks to the efforts of my right hon. Friend the Minister—the Arts Council, and not the Minister, decides how the money is spent. Nevertheless, there is understandably some disappointment, if not ill feeling, at the way in which the grant has been summarily withdrawn.

The Churchill theatre has therefore had to step up the efforts that it was already making to obtain business sponsorship. It has had some success, but the task is proving very difficult. The administrative director of the theatre comments in a letter to me that the main point about sponsorship of the Arts is that it is a very very small proportion of the total turnover of Arts organisations. When it is won it is 'fickle' money in that the sponsor may not wish to continue for a second year or longer period and his decision may have absolutely nothing to do with the Arts organisations' performance. It is therefore a very unreliable source of income. It is not a new thought in this debate, but the director continues: To increase sponsorship of the Arts by any substantial amount I believe that the tax incentives to the sponsor have to be very much more positive. In America for instance Companies are allowed to give 10 per cent. of their expenditure to charities and offset this against their tax which encourages them to give heavily rather than to the Revenue. If the same sort of tax provision could apply to sponsorship of the Arts whether to charity or not, it would obviously be an incentive for firms to support Arts organisations in this manner rather than, at present, supporting them out of their advertising budgets and having to weigh up if every penny is as well spent on sponsoring as on paid advertising.

The director is encouraged, as are we all, by what appear to be inspired leaks about what may be in the forthcoming Budget, but he makes the important point that it is desirable that those receiving the donations can give benefits to those giving the donations and still be eligible for tax. If there is a covenanted donation, the tax benefit goes to the recipient, but in the case of sponsorship, although there is clearly some publicity value for the giver, the material benefits may be limited, and if the sponsor wishes to have material benefits such as free tickets to give to customers he may lose the tax benefit. I therefore endorse the pleas for changes to be made so as to encourage more private funding for the Arts.

A great deal has been done already and tribute is due to my right hon. Friend the Minister and his predecessors for the enormous increase in business sponsorship and the various measures taken to encourage it. Nevertheless, there is scope for much more. One appreciates that this is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, but I very much hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister has the Chancellor's ear and will ensure that he gets the message and, to return to the metaphor with which I began, sings the right tune.

11.13 am
Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby)

First, I thank the hon. Member for Wokingham (Sir W. van Straubenzee) for giving the House the opportunity to debate this important subject. I did not intend to speak this morning, as I am, as it were, passing through on my way back to my constituency. The House will appreciate that Liverpool has problems which require my attendance from time to time, and that is where I shall shortly be. I must therefore apologise to the Minister and to the House if I am not here for the whole of the debate. I shall, however, study with great interest what the Minister says about the future of the arts on Merseyside.

On Merseyside, as in Greater London, the arts receive generous contributions from the business world—from companies, trade unions, chambers of commerce and individual businesses. My postbag shows, however, that the people of Merseyside do not regard business sponsorship as any substitute for the loss that will be incurred after 31 March when the Merseyside county council, like the GLC, is abolished. Many of my constituents and others, some of whom would certainly not have voted for me or for the Labour party at the last election, believe that on 1 April they will have lost a very good friend in the Merseyside county council.

That is not to diminish the role played by business organisations, which for many years have contributed to the Royal Philharmonic orchestra, to the city's theatres and to sporting activities, if I may broaden the term "arts" to that extent. Merseyside is renowned for its arts activities, and the county council has been second only to the GLC in municipal support for the arts, as the figures clearly show. The demise of the county council will leave an enormous gap which in all honesty cannot be met by business organisations. Even if Merseyside were relocated in London, which despite its problems is a far more prosperous focal point of arts and business activity, there would still be insufficient prosperity in the business life of the community for it to contribute generously enough to fill the gap now filled by the county council. Merseyside has suffered considerable economic decline over the years and businesses must look to the investment of every penny to ensure a suitable return. The House will appreciate, therefore, that the business community on Merseyside cannot possibly he expected to fulfil the role now carried out by the county council. Many of our institutions are under serious threat. Constituents write to me asking me what I am doing about the Royal Philharmonic orchestra and the Philharmonic hall, the Playhouse and the ice rink. I hope that the Minister will deal with those points.

Liverpool is a large city, covering six constituencies. My constituency, in the centre of Merseyside but on the outer perimeter of Liverpool, contains the Croxteth hall and country park, a magnificient old hall which is in danger of going to seed and parkland being converted by the county council for community use. There is a model farm to give children and others who live in urban areas an idea of a rural setting, but the animals are now threatened with slaughter. The problem is as serious as that because the body being asked to take over is a rate-capped authority — Liverpool city council. Whatever our differences about the political life of Liverpool, it is clear that that authority cannot possibly provide sufficient funds for the hall and country park to survive.

That park is part of the heritage of Merseyside. When my constituents write to me, they do not want me to get more business sponsorship, but they put pressure on me to say to the Government. "What are you going to do about it? Will you provide adequate resources to Liverpool city council so that it can cater for such halls and estates? Will they provide organisational backing, with funding?"

If all is lost and Liverpool city council finds that it cannot provide the funding, given the Government's financial policies towards local authorities, with which I disagree, the Government should be looking for a way of dealing with those important aspects of the cultural life of my city and the surrounding area. It is part of Britain. Indeed, in a debate last year the former Minister responsible for sport talked about Croxteth hall and country park. He said that it was not a city matter, but a regional matter. I should say that it is a national matter, because Croxteth hall and country park, left by the Earls of Sefton to Liverpool city, and inherited by Merseyside county council, cannot exist against the background of Liverpool's financial stringency.

If the funds are not provided for Liverpool, the matter needs to be taken up by the Merseyside Residuary Body. Of course, we can appeal to the organisations on Merseyside—we shall appeal to business organisations —but I emphasise that with our rich heritage in music and the arts we cannot rely upon that. I invite the Minister to come to Croxteth hall and country park and talk to the local community.

Mr. Buchan

What does my hon. Friend expect to happen to that marvellous piece of industrial archaeological development, plus modern art—the Albert dock?

Mr. Wareing

I cannot answer that, because no answers are coming from the Government. In the past there has been co-operation between Merseyside county council and the Merseyside development corporation, a quango which the Government set up in 1981. I cannot say whether it will take over the Albert dock development. However, the resources will have to be there.

The Minister should look carefully at what Merseyside county council has done. He might even have cause to regret the fact that the Government are abolishing it. If he went there, he would see marvellous works, a whole area around the pierhead in Liverpool, which has been developed by the council. The Albert dock development has shops. It is similar to the St. Katharine's dock development in London. I should say that it was more extensive than that. Albert dock was opened by the Prince Consort in the 1850s and developed as part of the port of Liverpool. There is now a marvellous maritime museum and residential accommodation along the river, in a beautiful setting. Liverpool has one of the most marvellous water fronts in the world, and I have seen quite a few, including San Francisco. Liverpool has much to offer. We also have a heritage in music, whether it is the Beatles or the world famous Royal Philharmonic orchestra. Such aspects of our heritage need assistance, not only because they are part of the attractions of Merseyside, but because they are part of our economic development.

As chairman of Merseyside county council's economic development committee between 1981 and 1983, it was my lot to try to sell Merseyside. Many hon. Members will say that Merseyside has a bad image for this reason or that — quite unfairly, to a large extent. That is largely because we have in our area the motor car industry and the docks, which, nationally, have always been strike prone. One of my tasks was to consider how to attract businesses to Merseyside. If we are to attract not only workers, but investment, into Merseyside, we must have the attractions of the arts and culture that Merseyside has been able to provide so well in the past.

I appeal to the Minister not to get up and say, "Yes, the business community will provide." We hope that the business community will provide something, but it cannot provide all that is necessary. We on the county council always believed that tourism had a part to play in economic development. Indeed, when Sir Trevor Jones was leader of Liverpool city council under the Liberal administration, I told him that we would take over the tourism office near Lime Street station. We did that. We have much to offer in tourism.

According to the English Tourist Board, Croxteth hall and country park is one of the top 20 tourist growth points in the country. It needs assistance. I would welcome any contribution from anyone outside the House in the business community. I can see Conservative Members putting their hands in their pockets, but more than that is required. We need an administration with the expertise to enable the hall to be developed, and to enable the Philharmonic hall to remain open. It was under threat until only a few days ago, when the Minister made a statement and allowed it to go to the residuary body. We do not want the Philharmonic hall to go the same way as St. George's hall, which is a marvellous piece of architecture, but is now closed and serving no useful purpose.

I appeal to the Minister not to rely on the business community to help and sustain the arts on Merseyside. There is the danger of tobacco sponsorship, to which the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) referred. I sympathise to some extent. If we leave the business community to pick up the pieces after the abolition of the metropolitan counties, there is the danger of censorship in that those who pay the piper will call the tune. We do not want to see that happening. If the Minister takes up my offer and visits Croxteth hall, looks at some of the other attractions on Merseyside and talks to the local community, I shall be much obliged, and will assist him.

The Minister for the Arts (Mr. Richard Luce)

Is the hon. Member aware—I imagine that he is—that I was recently on Merseyside, when I had the chance to see a remarkable range of arts and museum facilities?

Mr. Wareing

I was aware of that, but the Minister has not been able to talk to many of the organisations in the community, and I should like him to do that. It is not just a matter of speaking to the leaders of a city council that is rate capped and in difficulties. If he were to come with me and meet members of the Croxteth hall community forum, and if he were able to talk to those working in Liverpool, he would learn a lot more about how they have depended upon Merseyside county council, and how they depend on public funds, despite the generosity of others.

I am sorry that I may not be able to be here when the Minister replies. I have passed a note to him, and I hope that he will understand. I look forward with great interest to reading what he has to say.

11.32 am
Mr. Tim Brinton (Gravesham)

The hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) has aroused my interest in some detail in speaking about patronage, and not sponsorship, of the arts. That is a perfectly laudable way of funding the arts, be it by the Earls of Sefton, the Government or local authorities. There is a difference between the Earl of Sefton and the Government and the local authorities, in that the latter are spending other people's money. The earl was spending his own.

Mr. Tony Banks

Where did he get it from?

Mr. Brinton

I may or may not dispute where he got it from, but he owned the money.

Mr. Wareing

May I now inform the hon. Member that the last Earl of Sefton was, indeed, the last Earl of Sefton? There were no heirs. When he left his property to the Liverpool city council, the council looked upon it as something of an imposition because it knew that it would have to use other people's money to provide for something that had been within the fiefdom of the Sefton family.

Mr. Brinton

I am grateful for that information, because it leads me naturally to the next point. Who will provide the money, and how will it be spent? I listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) because, although I fundamentally disagree with almost every policy that he would support, he occasionally utters golden words, and golden words he uttered today. He said that funding of the arts by the Government should be an investment, not a grant, not a subsidy. He objected to those words—grant and subsidy—and so do I.

There is a good reason why the Government should think carefully about changing attitudes here, and perhaps even the name whereby funding of the arts is carried out. If it was described as some form of investment it might make a lot more sense, particularly for the performing arts. If there is investment in a business employing 175,000 people, to which the hon. Member referred, that business has to show that it is effective in using the investment. Hon. Members will have noticed that I have omitted the word cost, which is very often used to talk of cost effectiveness. Although that is one way of assessing the effectiveness of assessing the arts—and a good way in many circumstances—there are many areas in which sheer cost effectiveness would be brutalising and destructive and by no means the correct way of going about things.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham on his success with this motion. As he said, it presents many opportunities today. I am assuming that the word "business" in the title applies as much as to the individual business man as to the corporate body, and that the word "sponsorship", from the way the debate is going, refers to the idea of patronage. On that basis, I must confess that I have a known and inbuilt prejudice against the idea of subsidy and grant for the arts. I do not like it. I accept that a hefty contribution in support of the arts has to come from the Government.

There is another thing that I accept, and that it is that whichever Government may be in power in the next 10 to 15 years, it is most unlikely that there will be much by way of increasing sums of money available to be spent on the arts. That is why the motion of my hon. Friend is so important, because the money has to be found from elsewhere. That can be done only by increasing the incentives to individuals and businesses to invest in the arts.

I was a member of the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts in the last Parliament, which produced the eighth report. That report made two specific recommendations, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham referred briefly, though not in detail. I should like to put those recommendations on the record again, as I believe that they show the way forward. Recommendation 55 of the eighth report stated: Business companies should be exempted from tax on a percentage of their pre-tax profits for all donations to the arts. Recommendation 59 in that report stated: Donations from individuals to non-profit arts organisations up to 10 per cent. of pre-tax income should be tax deductible on an annual basis.

Those two recommendations were not made simply to find more money for the arts. If the arts are to thrive, we must obtain more participation and interest in the arts. If people find that they can invest individually up to 10 per cent. of their income and have that free of tax, they will become interested in investing in the arts. They will take an interest in what is happening in the opera, ballet, the museums and other aspects of the arts, and they will want to go along and take part in those arts. The recommendations are an enormous incentive to get people who perhaps do not know much about the arts to participate.

I sense that other hon. Members wish to speak, and I shall not delay the House for long. However, I should like to discuss what I would refer to as the moralistic issue of arts sponsorship, an issue which was raised by the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East and by my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Sims). They raised the issue of sponsorship by tobacco companies. I believe that the arts are a business. If business was to rule its conduct by moralistic priciples, world business would collapse as entrenched viewpoints—and I respect this view—against smoking, against the motor car being a killer, the dairy industry and alcohol being killers, would all conflict with one another. The business man does not, on the whole, unless he has a particular hang-up, consider such moralistic aspects when conducting his business.

Mr. Tony Banks

Is the hon. Gentleman really suggesting that there is no case for morality in business objectives? Is he suggesting that, to the average business man, ethics is a county south-east of London?

Mr. Brinton

I am not suggesting anything of the sort. I believe that the Government would be poorer, and our defence budget would be poorer, if the Government did not allow people to sell arms. I know that that is a subject of political controversy, but people who carry on business must have ethics about the way that they do that business. He who brings moralistic personal prejudices into his business is less likely to succeed in business.

There are those who believe the utter rubbish that people who smoke one or two cigarettes a year are doing harm to themselves. I accept that prejudice, but it should not intrude into their judgment on how the arts should be financed.

Another reason why I have intervened in the debate is that I wish to deal with another prejudice that is liable to cause considerable harm to future arts funding. This prejudice relates to the form of legislation going through the House. I refer to the private Member's Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) to amend the Obscene Publications Act 1959. Before your rise, Mr. Speaker, to call me out of order, I should say that I have no intention of arguing that issue now. I wish to make a point on funding. The report demonstrated that the BBC and the ITV had been spending £155 million a year on supporting the arts. It must be much more now. The only point that I wish to make—it is deadly serious — is that in that Bill there is an assumption in law that every television programme, whether it be shown at midday or midnight, will be watched by young people under the age of 18, and thus there is a real risk to serious arts programmes broadcast on public television. Those arts programmes support the arts to the extent that I have just mentioned. That is an important argument to consider.

We must create investment, incentive and interest—the three Is of the arts. I hope that today's debate will further stimulate the three Is and bring better funding and more success to the arts.

11.40 am
Mr. Gerald Bowden (Dulwich)

I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Sir W. van Straubenzee) on introducing a subject which we often take for granted but which is nevertheless serious and crucial to this country's cultural and social life. The motion draws attention to the warm support that my right hon. Friend the Minister has given to the arts directly, and indirectly through sponsorship and other schemes. That will ensure the health of the arts in the future.

I had the great advantage of being brought up in the part of London in which 1 now live. I did not realise it at the time, but it was a great advantage to be young and relatively poor in London because one then looked around to see what was freely on offer. Museums, churches and other sights could be readily seen by those who had little money.

I have experienced a born-again approach to the arts by seeing them through the eyes of my children. I am sometimes taken and sometimes coerced to see the sights that they want to see. I have been obliged to look with new eyes at what is available. I have been seeing old sights through new lenses.

The hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) said that there was no such thing as a free lunch. I have come to realise that there is no such thing as a free museum, a free theatre or free arts. However it is described, someone has to pay for them.

The way in which my right hon. Friend has tried to draw attention to how changes can be made to ensure the health of the arts in the future deserves congratulation and support. We can no longer look to one source of funding —the Government, through the taxpayer and the public purse. We must seek a plural approach. We must seek funds from many sources to ensure the health of the arts in the future. There is something corrupt about funding the arts from one source only.

I am pleased to see the hon. Member for Newham, North-West in his place because I have mentioned this matter to him before. I recall him in his previous incarnation as chairman of the GLC arts and recreation committee. He was responsible for agreeing a donation to the Dulwich picture gallery. In 1983, the then Minister for the Arts was invited to the Dulwich picture gallery. I took him there and enrolled him as a friend of the gallery. He spoke to other friends of the gallery. When the matter was reported to the hon. Member for Newham, North-West, then wearing his hat as the chairman of the GLC arts and recreation committee, he was said to be hopping up and down and threatening to withdraw a grant of £6,000 per annum which the GLC gave the Dulwich gallery.

Mr. Tony Banks

The hon. Gentleman does me an injustice. He is aware of that because I have mentioned this point to him before. He should tell the House the rest of the story, which is that the visit took place at the time of the general election and the Minister walked into the gallery wearing a large blue rosette and made a party political speech. I subsequently received an apology for that from the gallery's director who said that he knew nothing about it and that he rather objected to the way his art gallery had been used as a party political platform by the Conservative party.

Mr. Bowden

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. Many of the friends of the gallery object to the way that it has been used as a plaything by the GLC to which it threw money or withheld it. The blackmail that the GLC used on that occasion demonstrates the iniquity and corruption of having single funding for the arts. Although the GLC may have funded many good things, it has clone it partially and in a way that is unhelpful to the arts.

Mr. Jessel

As a friend of Dulwich art gallery, may I say how grateful I am to my hon. Friend. No sponsorship of the arts could have been more effective than his sponsorship as the Member representing Dulwich. He obtained a grant of £25,000 for the gallery, which had a crucial effect on its work.

Mr. Bowden

I am grateful for that intervention. The part I played was small. I pay a small subscription as a friend of the gallery. It has a number of other generous friends. They give their services free so that the administration of the gallery is not a public or private charge. The friendship extends to manning the gallery bookstall and the other services that it provides for the public. That is not sponsorship, but it is another form of support and patronage which demonstrates that there are many people who have an interest in the arts who may not have a great deal to spend on them but nevertheless have time and energy which they can devote to propagating the arts. That has been the great strength of the Dulwich gallery.

The director, Giles Waterfield, has been mentioned. His dynamic leadership of the team at the Dulwich gallery ensured that it has become not just a centre of scholarship for those with a keen academic interest in the visual arts, in particular painting, but a popular place where schoolchildren can freely look at pictures and talk about them amongst themselves in a friendly atmosphere. The Dulwich community holds social events there, notwithstanding the disincentives—

Mr. Tony Banks

How much business sponsorship does it get?

Mr. Bowden

The question was asked from a sedentary position. I shall take pleasure in answering it without giving way. It has little business sponsorship, but it does not depend entirely on the sponsorship, the patronage and the client relationship which the GLC wishes to have over so many of the arts.

I hope that all hon. Members will go to the Dulwich gallery. I have no objection to anyone of whatever political persuasion going there. Honourable Members can go as my guests. I will take them there.

Mr. Banks

A free lunch?

Mr. Bowden

There is a good canteen nearby. I shall ensure that anyone I take will have the opportunity to become a friend of the Dulwich gallery. I do not mind what party political colour is worn.

I should like to linger longer at the Dulwich gallery. However, I must now turn to the Victoria and Albert museum. It is a friendly place that I have known since earliest childhood, and I find it reassuring that it now looks to the future with optimism and a positive approach. The artefacts and the items in that museum are familiar in my mind. The ambience and the architectural surroundings in which they are housed are something I have loved and known for years. It has become clear that museums do not consist merely of the items they house. Museums are businesses, institutions and houses, and they require upkeep. The upkeep often far outstrips the value of the materials that the museums display.

The Victoria and Albert museum has been facing a crisis. The expenditure necessary to ensure that it has a stable fabric to house the beautiful objects within it is a cause of great anxiety to those of us who know and love the museum. I am delighted to say that the dynamic director, Sir Roy Strong, with his new constitution and board of trustees, has found a pragmatic way to approach this. A great deal of opprobrium and derision has come from the Opposition about a decision to give the opportunity to those who go there to make a voluntary donation to the upkeep of that museum. There is no such thing as a free lunch, nor is there such a thing as a free museum, and those of us who go to that museum may feel there is a great advantage in keeping it there by making a financial contribution.

Mr. Tony Banks

The hon. Member is quite right: there is no such thing as a free museum. We already pay for the museum through our taxes and rates and I object to paying for it again. [Interruption.] I am in the middle of an intervention and I should not be drawn by other interesting remarks. We already pay through our taxes. Why should we pay again? Surely the hon. Member recognises that since the voluntary charges system has been in operation attendances have fallen off dramatically.

Mr. Bowden

I am always grateful for interventions from the hon. Member for Newham, North-West because they help my argument to go rather faster than I could make it go myself. Of course those of us who are taxpayers and ratepayers contribute towards the upkeep of the museum, but when we go there we might feel we are making a contribution to something that we want to see remain. There are those who come but do not pay taxes or rates here, the tourists. They feel they are receiving something of our cultural heritage and would like to make a voluntary contribution towards it. As my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham said when he was talking about Salisbury cathedral, many of us who have money in our pockets will willingly pay for the privilege of seeing what is there and we feel that that is the contribution we want to make. At the same time, the Victoria and Albert museum allows those people who have no money to go in without paying. The obligation is in no way represented in terms of moral pressure. The museum allows students, artists and those who want to go regularly to feel that they can go and see without being forced to pay.

The hon. Member for Newham, North-West mentioned falling attendances. Taken on a long-term rather than a short-term basis, over the last 10 years attendances at the Victoria and Albert museum have doubled.

Mr. Tony Banks

Since the charges?

Mr. Bowden

Since the pickets are outside, since those attendants from the Science museum and the attendants at the Victoria and Albert museum have used their lunch breaks to go outside and try to dissuade people from coming into their museum. The miserable faces of the people outside trying to dissuade people from going into the museum, the faces of those who are there to discourage people from going in saying, "Don't pay", are in sharp contrast to the cheerful young faces inside the museum of people who say, "Come in. You can contribute if you like, and although we would like to have your money, you do not have to contribute." That is a contrast which the hon. Member for Newham, North-West cannot take.

The Victoria and Albert museum is finding a way to escape from the shackles of local authority and central Government funding, and it is doing it in a great way and deserves every support. That has its implications for an institution or a museum like the V & A, or the Dulwich gallery, or any other institution we care to talk about, because they have to direct their attention towards looking to somebody other than a Minister, or the chairman of the arts and recreation committee of the GLC, to find money. That requires a skill which is perhaps in line with business rather than scholarship.

In future the directors of such arts institutions will have to have fund raising talents rather than purely museum directing talents. That is not unusual in other fields. In discussions on the appointment of the head of many Cambridge or Oxford colleges, whereas in the past the colleges would look for the most eminent scholars to fill the post, now they have to see whether they have the ability to chat up sources of endowment and support for the future. That has implications for museum direction which need careful consideration. The people who do it may not necessarily be the best scholars or the most pre-eminent exponents of a specific art form, but must be able to raise the necessary finance.

I hope that the Minister will take it as a thought for future appointments in which he may have a hand that perhaps a twofold directorship is necessary for our major art institutions. The director will have to give, as it were, the scholarship, the academic leadership to an institution which may be pre-eminent in the arts, and at the same time he should be able to give the business direction, drive and enterprise which those institutions need.

I welcome this debate and the contributions made to it. The debate has drawn attention to the need for a many-funded arts approach. There should not just be one source of finance. If there is funding from many sources, and especially from sponsorship, the arts will flourish.

11.58 am
Mr. Christopher Murphy (Welwyn Hatfield)

I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Sir W. van Straubenzee) was true to his text by allowing a commercial break for his coming memoirs. I trust that he has already taken advantage of business sponsorship to ensure that they come out at a reasonable price for hon. Members. More seriously, I hope the House will take note of his wise words about museum charges. He speaks from experience, having been the Minister responsible, and despite all the academic arguments put forward by Members on both sides of the House about this, his practical experience should be heeded by all who have the interests of the arts and heritage at heart.

I welcome the growth in business sponsorship of the arts, and I should like to refer to the Second Reading debate on the Museum of London Bill, when I drew the attention of the House to a report which I had the privilege of preparing for the Council of Europe on private sponsorship of the arts. The report was adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of that body, as my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel) was kind enough to mention. On the Third Reading of the Museum of London Bill I was able to confirm that the Council of Ministers had received the report favourably. Hon. Members need not be alarmed, because I shall not outline the points I made during those debates again. Perhaps I could summarise by saying that recognition of the value of commercial sponsorship is now well established and that there is an increasing desire to stimulate it further.

Far too often in the past it has been a case of private sponsorship versus public funding, rather than private sponsorship and public funding. Now, more realistically, plural financing is becoming the accepted norm. Nevertheless, it must be recognised that reservations have long been held about the perceived "problems" of private sponsorship. It is claimed that it may lead to a decline in the willingness of public authorities to spend public money and that there will be a diminution of control by elected policy makers. It is claimed that artists might be less well protected and their artistic freedom might be threatened. It is claimed that the amount of private funds might vary with economic conditions and lead to problems of continuity in financing arts projects.

Reservations have also long been held about the perceived "problems" of public funding. It is felt that political intervention may lead to a lack of continuity of cultural policy, and that it can be highly inflexible, with the earmarking of funds for special purposes. It is felt that there is no guarantee that public subsidisation of the arts favours low-income or minority groups. It is also felt that the amount of public funds may vary with economic conditions, and also lead to problems of continuity in financing arts projects.

Many of the fears from both sides are found to be common, and perhaps the plural financing of today will assist in overcoming such prejudices of the proponents of both views. The extension of the practice of commercial sponsorship is dependent upon a financial and fiscal climate, compatible with, and favourable to, that approach. Like many of my hon. Friends, I look to the coming Budget for further moves in that important direction.

At the same time, it should also be recognised that the phrase "commercial sponsorship" covers a number of different aspects. There its business sponsorship—funds given as a consideration for a service provided by the arts organisation, usually some form of advertising or marketing facility, in a business relationship There is corporate patronage—the provision of a donation, which is equivalent to a private gift, with no expectation of direct or indirect return.

There are tax advantages which the Government make available to companies, whether they are involved in sponsorship or patronage, and which appear to be crucial in encouraging the growth of this sector. There is also the involvement of the Government in stimulating such activity, as with the business sponsorship scheme, which can provide a great fillip, as well as advice to both potential sponsors and receivers, as its publications have shown.

I conclude my speech on the motion proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham, my former Member of Parliament, by asking that particular attention be paid to his reference to the need for arts bodies to market themselves more effectively. It is imperative, if commercial sponsorship is to develop further, that the expected recipients do not sit back in idle anticipation, nor sit up and beg. Instead, they must capitalise on their unique talents and records of achievement and present that to potential sponsors and patrons.

They must also capitalise on the insight into private sponsorship given by the former secretary-general of the Arts Council, who said: I think most sponsorship of the arts is done under the general umbrella of corporate rather than commodity advertising and corporate public relations is an increasingly important activity in the lives of many companies and that is an area in which arts sponsorship becomes most useful. With that advice, with its own special advantages, and with a Government dedicated to such advances, business sponsorship will surely flourish as another glory in that oft-referred to arts garden.

12.4 pm

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

It is always a great pleasure to follow a speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Murphy). He and I were Conservative candidates in east London twice in 1974, and we saw the stuff of politics and the arts there, and the renewal of that acquaintance on the Floor of the House is always nice.

The arts have a fundamental function of their own in inspiring man to new thought and activity beyond himself, and they have a civilising effect on all of us. One has only to read William Golding's book "Lord of the Flies" to be reminded that there is the philistine and perhaps an element of fallen man in each of us, even in the hon. Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan), who is shaking his head. That element needs to be constantly civilised in the way that arts, religion, and other such activities do.

I intervened in the speech of the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks). I am sorry that he is not in his place. He drew a false parallel between sponsorship by the GLC and by business. He said that it was equally legitimate for the GLC to push its name and political interests as a Labour-controlled authority by showing sponsorship on posters, advertising events, as it was for business to push its commercial interest. The two cases are wholly different. Business wants to advance the interest of potential customers in its products. For the GLC to do the same thing on party political terms is wholly wrong, and must be when it is done with taxpayers' and ratepayers' money.

Mr. Buchan

The criterion for sponsorship is that there should be satisfaction that the sponsors' support was for the purpose of promoting their name or services. The GLC is concerned about exactly that. It wants its name to be known—after all, it is under attack—and also the fact that it is providing services for the whole of London. That fits exactly into the category of sponsorship. Perhaps the Minister will come forward with matching money for the amount put by the GLC into halls and theatres.

Mr. Greenway

I have a high regard for the hon. Gentleman, but that was a vain attempt to defend the hon. Member for Newham, North-West, whose theory is indefensible. On his own admission, the hon. Member agreed that the GLC was party political, and he has to take the consequences of what he said.

Mr. Gerald Bowden

Is not the misuse of the word "sponsorship" clogging the debate? We do not say that the London borough of Southwark sponsors the emptying of dustbins, because it is its duty so to do. The GLC has a duty to foster and encourage the arts of London, so therefore it is not sponsoring.

Mr. Greenway

I take that point. It was the duty of the GLC to fund the arts, but it was not its duty to try to extract strong party political advantage out of it. That was indefensible, and not only because it was done crudely and at taxpayers' expense.

The hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) touched on an important point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Sir W. van Straubenzee), who I congraulate warmly on initiating the debate, when he went for tobacco sponsorship. I speak as a non-smoker — I have not smoked for many years. However, 700 of my constituents work at Gallaghers in Northolt. They are good honest people, and make a product as well as they can. They take the greatest exception to false arguments such as those that we have heard. The claim that my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham is damaging his health seriously because he smokes two cigarettes a day cannot easily be proven.

The move towards prohibition of tobacco advertisements by the Labour and Liberal parties and other bodies is dangerous in a free society, because people must be free to choose whether or not they smoke. I do not, and would not advise them to do so, although I have no qualifications for doing that. In a recent conversation with me at Northolt they pointed out that valium, alcohol and drugs are addictive and can cause cancer and damage equally as destructive as that caused by tobacco.

Although I have personal reservations about anything that induces people to smoke, people's freedom to choose is crucial in a free society and should not be violated. My hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham need not worry about obesity, which he mentioned in relation to tobacco. He is one of the fittest hon. Members in the House, which we know from the way in which he spirits about physically and in every other way. I commend him not to worry about his weight.

I was a member of the Select Committee which produced that massive and special report in the previous Parliamant on public and private funding of the arts. I am the sole surviver of that Committee to sit on the Committee of this Parliament. We travelled widely before making our recommendations, two of which have been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Brinton).

My hon. Friend did not, however, mention the most crucial recommendation, which was that the Minister for the Arts should also be the Minister responsible for tourism and a member of the Cabinet. There could be no more worthy member of the Cabinet than my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Arts. His membership of the Cabinet, because of the extra heavy responsibility of tourism being added to his duties, would enhance the profile of the arts and tourism and bring the two together in a sensible way. It is absurd that tourism should be considered by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and be divorced from the inspiration of tourism, which is the arts.

Mr. Brinton

I was my hon. Friend's colleague on the Select Committee in the previous Parliament. Does he agree that one problem that we encountered during that comprehensive inquiry was the fact that responsibility for the arts was split? Films come under the Department of Trade and Industry, but television, for example, is the responsibility of the Home Office. I am against creating bureaucracy, but it is necessary urgently to gather the arts together under one banner.

Mr. Greenway

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and he enforces my point by underlining it. Tourism and the arts must be brought together. There is no need for greater bureaucracy if the Minister for the Arts also becomes the Minister responsible for tourism. It would be valuable and stimulating if the arts and tourism came together. It is in the interests of the Minister and the Government for him to put that argument strongly to the Government, as I am sure the Select Committee will continue to do.

I welcome the fact that business sponsorship for the arts has increased from £500,000 in 1976 to about £20 million this year. All concerned are to be congratulated on that splendid figure, which represents a substantial commitment to the arts by people in business. It shows the potential of a greater commitment in personal and financial terms. Tax incentives for businesses to contribute or sponsor the arts is essential.

I was in the United States about 10 days ago.

Mr. Buchan

A jolly?

Mr. Greenway

It was a short visit and hard work, as was the visit by the Select Committee of the previous Parliament to consider how tax incentives for businesses worked. We could achieve in Britain what they have achieved in America if we could set such contributions against tax at up to about 10 per cent.

Large businesses would tend to go for national sponsorship, because it would give them a high profile, and they have the necessary resources. Smaller businesses would become involved in local activities. In my constituency, the Hanwell arts festival, founded by Fred Secombe—brother of Harry Secombe—about 14 years ago, has never had a sponsor. It has always survived on its own resources, but it would be greatly helped if it had a sponsor. Also in my constituency the Academy of St. Mary, of which I am proud to be president and which is directed so admirably by Bowles Bevan, would benefit from an injection of local business funds.

Mr. Tony Banks

How much business sponsorship does it receive?

Mr. Greenway

We are considering the matter. However, we are proud to be independent. We must take into account the way in which people feel about these matters, but it is certainly a possibility and may be of future benefit.

Arts contributions and sponsorship should be on the agenda of every business. If tax incentives were written into the Chancellor's Budget, as I hope they will be, perhaps at every business meeting arts sponsorship would be an item on the agenda to discuss what they would do or to review what they were already doing. That would maintain a high level of business interest in an important area.

I believe that hon. Members can help in achieving sponsorship. In my constituency I put on two pensioners' concerts a year. Business contributes £1,000. Each concert costs £500, and 600 pensioners attend. They have a fine afternoon. Sometimes, I introduce the concert. I raise the money and I organise the front of house and lighting. The artists are professional and the concerts are professionally produced. The distribution of tickets is done by the community, and it is a wonderful community occasion, sponsored by local business.

That is an admirable way of furthering the arts in the heart of the community where it matters. If business sponsorship can relieve a grim winter for pensioners and senior citizens, that is an extra good thing. Perhaps the hon. Member for Newham, North-West would take a leaf out of my book and try to do something like that without using taxpayers' and ratepayers' money, for which he has such a penchant.

Mr. Banks

I am not as good on the spoons as the hon. Member.

Mr. Greenway

The hon. Gentleman should get working on it.

I plead for more public and business support for the music hall, which is an area of the arts which is almost entirely forgotten. The music hall has been popular in Britain for generations. It has given wonderful entertainment, but it has no home. The people concerned in that art form must hawk around to obtain a hall or somewhere to perform. The music hall form of art is very popular. It receives no public money, and scarcely any sponsorship money, but it must have both if it is to survive. It is very much in Britain's interests to keep the music hall going, because it is a highly popular art form and deserves to be supported.

Business sponsorship could be developed much more than it is now in schools and local colleges. Why not use school-industry links, which are being created across the country, and certainly in my constituency, in Industry Year, to carry out much more arts sponsorship? Businesses could do more than go into schools to get across their business message. They could put up money for concerts and for theatrical productions, including plays. I suggest that links between industry and schools would become almost organic by such a device, and I hope that the matter can be investigated. I shall try to achieve it in my constituency.

Business could sponsor orchestras, buy musical instruments for pupils and help to complement the work undertaken by local authorities. While my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham was attending the Reynolds exhibition last night, I was attending a concert in Brentside High school in my constituency. It was mighty fine. We heard works ranging from the Beatles to Tchaikovsky and Mozart — very different. but dynamic and beautifully performed. More support from business for schools which undertake such attractive programmes would help considerably.

I urge businesses to sponsor specialised galleries and exhibitions, as has happened with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, which I have had the pleasure of visiting, as no doubt have many of my colleagues. It is devoted to science, especially flying and space. One can see exhibits including a model of the first plane flown by the Wright brothers, the first vehicle in space, Skylab, the vehicle that landed on the moon, and much more. It is supported by business sponsorship as well as by public money, and it draws tourists from all over the United States and the world. People of all ages can see the superb scientific achievements of the United States, and the exhibition is an inspiration to more research arid to a greater interest in science, with all the potential that that has for countries and communities. We could usefully achieve support for specialist institutions and their establishment where they do not yet exist. Of course, I do not overlook the excellent work of the Victoria and Albert museum and our other specialist institutions. but their scope could be widened considerably.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham mentioned the problems of religious institutions in maintaining the staff that they need to keep going. I sympathise with what he said. He did not mention Westminster abbey, but he said that Ely cathedral has had to introduce an admission charge to cope with the wear and tear on the cathedral and to pay for the staff that it needs to supervise its many visitors. Ely attracts about 1 million visitors a year, but Westminster abbey attracts at least 2 million people a year, so how much greater must be the problems of Westminster abbey?

It cannot be right that the congregation and the Church Commissioners alone must carry out all the repair work that is needed to enable those 2 million visitors to see such a superb building. Some public money or private sponsorship is needed, and I wonder whether London firms would consider donating money to Westminster abbey or to St. Paul's cathedral to enable those institutions to carry out repairs. The same could be true of religious buildings throughout the country. Indeed, I do not restrict my suggestion to cathedrals and beautiful churches; other institutions need sponsorship.

I conclude by emphasising the fact that 12 million visitors to Britain spent £5 billion last year. That expenditure has inspired the largest growth of jobs in Britain in recent years. I hope that, as part of making life more vital and more cultured, local and national community festivals on a grand scale, such as the Salzburg festival, and on a smaller, but nationally renowned scale, such as the Aldeburgh festival, can be established from John O'Groats to Land's End. Local people and larger institutions should look to business sponsors for financial help with such arts festivals.

Our efforts to establish the arts, new art forms and interest and activity in the arts — be it play acting, singing or making music—must be valuable in an age when people have more leisure time. We should pay special attention to the fact that unemployed and retired people could spend their time usefully and happily in that way, and this debate will help substantially towards that end.

12.27 pm
Dr. John G. Blackburn (Dudley, West)

I offer three congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Sir W. van Straubenzee). The first is on his good fortune in coming first in the ballot. During my seven years' service in the House, that honour has signally eluded me. Secondly, I congratulate him upon the excellent subject that he has brought to the Floor of the House for debate. Finally, I congratulate him on his excellent and constructive speech. It reflects the greatest possible credit on him and the constituency that he serves with such great distinction in this House.

If a nation loses its vision of the arts, my considered judgment is that it has lost its vision. It plays a very important part in enriching the society in which we live and the quality of our life. I have spent a great deal of time in the House working for the furtherance of the arts, and it is those features that have always provided the greatest challenge.

State support has created a foundation upon which business sponsorship can flourish. The way forward is by means of plural funding. This important aspect of financing the arts must be coupled with sound management and value for money. In the financial sector of the arts world, value for money is sometimes forgotten. However, that is the cornerstone of the financing of this important industry.

Having been away from the House for two years on account of illness, I found that I was attracted by some of the arguments of the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks). I gaze across the packed Opposition Benches to see whether he is in his seat, but unfortunately he is not. However, I was impressed by his comment that business sponsorship for the arts is, in his judgment, the icing on the cake. I am attracted by that argument. But it is some icing, and it is some cake. The cake is £100 million and the icing is £20 million. As this debate was opened by my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham, who is the Second Church Estates Commissioner, representing the Church Commissioners, may I suggest to him that if he had the gift of prophecy—which he may well have—he might prophesy that the figure of business sponsorship, which amounted to £500,000 in 1976 and which amounted to £20 million in 1985, will be doubled in the next three years.

I was particularly impressed by the plea on behalf of the Military School of Music at Kneller hall by my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel). He blew his trumpet loudly on that issue and the House supported him entirely. I am surprised by the amount of talent that surrounds me on these Benches, for I was equally impressed by the contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Sims). He told us in glowing terms of his dedication to the Royal Choral Society. My hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham may have blown his trumpet loudly about the Military School of Music, but he did not say that the sponsored concert in St Mary's church which raised £12,000 for the Save the Children Fund had, as the most important item on its programme, a Mozart piano concerto, whose soloist was my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham. I find myself on these Benches in the position of a musical sandwich, with the Royal Choral Society on my left and a distinguished concert pianist on my right.

In all honesty I must pay a most warm and generous tribute to Sir Roy Strong, the director of the Victoria and Albert museum, for his sponsorship of the arts. In his presentations to the British public over two decades he has shown enterprise, immense care and marketing skills of a high order. The disciples of art owe a considerable debt of gratitude to him. He has created a new code, a new vision that we should be wise to follow with the same spirit of dedication as he has betrayed.

The unchallengeable figures which have been presented to the House by my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham concerning business sponsorship are encouraging. They reflect the greatest possible credit upon the business world for the encouragement it has given to the arts. Perhaps on this occasion someone should pay a tribute to the business community for its continuing and improving support of sponsorship of the arts. It is fitting that in this debate a very simple but sincere vote of thanks should go from this House to those companies which have had the vision to support the arts.

I claim, as a result of my six years's service as secretary to the Conservative parliamentary committee for arts and heritage, to have become a dedicated disciple to both aspects of the arts. The sponsorship of today would not have been brought about without the encouragement and outstanding contribution, to which I pay tribute, from JP Getty the second. I pay tribute unashamedly to the Sainsbury brothers for their contribution for the extension of the National gallery. The sponsorship of the arts makes this an exciting period, but more important we will be leaving something for future generations because of the charity, kindness and dedication of sponsoring businesses.

I do no believe that the word "profit" is obscene. Through the medium of responsible business and profitability many benefits will come to the world of art. The two examples I have quoted are a fair and honourable example of that.

I should like to take the debate away from the London area because there have been few contributions from Members beyond that mystical line—north of Watford. I wish to refer to sponsorship in my native city of Manchester. It is a source of encouragement and inspiration to know the outstanding work that has been done by the friends of the Manchester city art gallery. They have raised over £1 million through business sponsorship to enhance the collection.

I will quote—I think it is worthy of the attention of the House—some of the things that have been done in sponsorship of the arts. I hope that the House will be generous with me when I mention these figures, which are not authentic, but I hope that it will accept them. It is my view—I am as honest as that-that when one goes to some of the art galleries, which I do, probably only 25 to 30 per cent. of the collection is ever on show to the public. Perhaps 10 to 15 per cent. is part of a travelling exhibition for an artist, but the remainder is never shown to the public.

The concept that has been introduced through business sponsorship in Manchester is quite simple. The gallery will invite a company to sponsor the arts and pay a donation. For that donation one of those paintings will be hung in the reception area or board room of the company. Indeed, it is one of the most thrilling experiences to go into a department store and see a work of art on display. Business sponsorship is generating revenue with which it will be possible to enhance the Manchester city art gallery.

Mr. Greenway

My hon. Friend is describing a most interesting scheme. Could he tell us about its scope, about the size of the businesses involved and about the amount of money that is put up, as it is a scheme which we might talk up in our constituencies?

Dr. Blackburn

If asked to give £1,000 to support the arts, a modest family company will almost certainly decline, but if it is offered an opportunity to display a work of art for a donation of £200 or £300, a well of good will is usually revealed. Such arrangements must, of course, be subject to proper security provision.

There have been exciting developments in Dudley, which I have the honour to serve and represent here. We are blessed with the brightest jewel in the crown of the west midlands. We have an outstanding castle which celebrates its 900th anniversary this year. The restoration work of the past five years has been undertaken by the Conservative-controlled council under the outstanding leadership of councillor Edmonds and has been fully supported by the business community in the form of sponsorship.

Because of local companies' affection for the town in which they operate and have made their wealth, they have invested in the borough's heritage and arts. The heritage is ours, but we have a solemn duty to pass our treasures on to future generations. I trust that I reflect the cry of the world of the arts when I commend to the Treasury the critical importance of encouraging the financing of the arts through incentive schemes, which I hope will be presented to the House in the Budget on 18 March and will form part of the Finance Bill. A single gift should be offsettable against income tax or corporation tax.

I am attracted by the debate on the financial structure of supporting the arts. There was much merit in the well-balanced argument advanced by the hon. Member for Newham, North-West about the opportunity that might be created by relaxing the payment of value added tax for the performing arts. I should like to pursue that avenue of thought.

Perhaps I might take the House a little further north to my adopted city. I have spent most of my life in a little fishing village on the west coast called Liverpool.

I am especially impressed with the recent outstanding campaign to save the internationally famous Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra, which has produced for the music world Sir Malcolm Sargent and John Pritchard. We recently had the opportunity of listening to the skills, gifts and craft of music through the baton of Sir Charles Groves. The orchestra has been saved by the intervention of my right hon. Friend the Minister. Never in my service in this House could I ever pay a greater, warmer arid more sincere tribute to him than I do today. It was his work that brought about at least a temporary reprieve, not only for the orchestra but for the hall itself.

I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Thornton)—almost single-handedly—quietly and constructively made representations to my right hon. Friend that resulted in that remission. It is all that is good for the performing arts. The days of constructive examination and pleading by my hon. Friend reflect the greatest possible credit upon him and the constituency that he represents with such dedicated loyalty.

However, there is no medium or long-term future for that orchestra or hall unless they attract business sponsorship. The hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) was correct to bring that matter to the attention of the House this morning. I know from my experience and knowledge of the city of Liverpool that many companies have hitherto demonstrated their faith in the arts in Merseyside. I refer especially to the wonderful business sponsorship of the Royal Insurance company.

The future for the arts in this country is good, but the plural funding by business must make it outstanding. It will be a source of pleasure, of education and, as has been pointed out time and again in the debate, of revenue from the tourist industry. These things will prosper even more under the Government's sound policies.

This debate is historic. The entire House is indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham for bringing this subject before us. When the pages of history are written about the financing of arts in this country, a chapter will be centred around this debate. It is because of that that I once again pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham.

12.48 pm
Mr. Norman Buchan (Paisley, South)

It is always a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Dudley, West (Dr. Blackburn). In the unhappy event of my funeral rites taking place, I cannot think of anyone who I would rather have reading them. If the hon. Member for Wokingham (Sir W. van Straubenzee) began with a baroque libretto, the debate has ended with an oratorio. Even when the hon. Member for Dudley, West speaks of his native Manchester, it sounds a little like Handel putting some notes to the doings, derring or otherwise, of the ancient Israelites.

This is an important debate and we must pay tribute to the hon. Member for Wokingham who has a deep interest and genuine concern in this matter. We thank him for the opportunity that he has provided to discuss this matter today.

The Minister will appreciate that the Opposition cannot accept this debate as a substitute for a full-blown debate in prime parliamentary time as opposed to the quietness of private Members' business on a Friday. We shall, therefore, not cease applying pressure for a full debate on the future of arts funding. Nevertheless, the hon. Member for Wokingham has raised a matter of importance and relevance and I wish to ruminate a little around the situation. The hon. Members for Dudley, West and for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) reminded us of the importance of these matters. The hon. Member for Ealing, North referred to the civilising influence of the arts and the hon. Member for Dudley, West saw a new code and a new vision in recent events. I wish to deal with some of those recent events.

The Opposition welcome the development of business sponsorship, but we do not regard it as a substitute for proper public funding and we cannot offer comments or congratulations on it without expressing our deep anxiety about what is happening to public funding of the arts both by central Government and local authorities.

The hon. Member for Dudley, West said how noble it was that a new code and a new vision had come out of the recent action by Sir Roy Strong. His use of the word "betrayed" was perhaps a Freudian slip. Most people actively concerned with museums and galleries and above all the curatorial staff regard it as a kind of betrayal to bring in charges in museums such as the Victoria and Albert.

This is related to the question of private sponsorship as there can be few more direct forms of private sponsorship than asking individuals to pay to enter a museum or gallery. The man from Islington with two or three children receives no matching funds when he pays to enter the Victoria and Albert museum. The betrayal is the greater in that it has given the green light for other museums to follow suit. This week it has been announced that the geographical, zoological and natural history museums are to follow that practice. Two of those museums, like the Victoria and Albert, are in south Kensington. People used to be able to take their children to the three museums in south Kensington on a Saturday, but triple charging will make that impossible. It is no use — indeed, it is dishonourable—to say that exceptions will be made for the poor. That is almost the most obscene aspect.

The results of such a policy are clear. In November, following the introduction of this most pernicious form of private sponsorship from individuals, attendance at the Victoria and Albert fell by 20 per cent. compared with the previous year. It is difficult to obtain accurate statistics, but it is generally accepted that the fall in attendance was about 20 per cent. In December, attendances were down by 47.8 per cent. to just over half the level for the previous December.

Mr. Jessel

Will the hon. Gentleman roundly condemn the pickets who are there to deter people from going into the museum?

Mr. Buchan

I strongly applaud the pickets. Their action has recovered some of the conscience of the museums. To use a word of which the hon. Member for Dudley, West is fond, it is the noblest of behaviour. The pickets' message is, "Please enter, but do not pay"—and they are absolutely right. They are not preventing people from entering. They are telling people the truth so that, in the words that others have used today about cigarette sponsorship, people will have the freedom to choose. "Freedom" is a strange word. Sometimes it changes shape on the Floor of the House. The freedom to choose is given in relation to those charges.

In January, there was a drop of 38.7 per cent. in attendance. There is nothing unusual in that. We knew what would happen; we told people what would happen. We have gone through the experience already. It happened in 1973–74, under the stewardship of the present Prime Minister, then the Secretary of State for Education and Science. By the way, the museums that are charging this week are primarily educational museums. Those charges lasted three months—we abolished them when we came back to office. During that time there was also a drop of between one third and one half in the case of the V and A.

It is peculiar that, when there is a proper interface between the community as a whole and educational institutions, and when we are developing the educational aspects, it is at that very point that a price barrier is imposed. That is vicious, nasty, reactionary, and should be changed. Therefore, I cannot accept the development of the new code and the new vision, nor do I think that this is a praiseworthy action for the Government of the nation. The hon. Member for Dudley, West is putting me into a rhetorical mood. It is not praiseworthy that our National gallery has to be saved by the intervention of Paul Getty or the Sainsburys. All the acquisition money that the National gallery got last year was £2.7 million, which would have bought exactly one quarter of the canvas of the previous Turner painting that was sold. It could not afford that one picture. No one would carve it up into four, except perhaps this lot in the Conservative Government, during their privatisation programme.

When we say that we are in favour of private sponsorship, and when we say, as is said by Conservative Members, that it should not be a substitute for public funding, the difference is that we mean what we say. It is no use the Conservative party saying that private funding is not a substitute for public funding if at the same time the cuts in public spending impel the museums into adopting private sponsorhip methods, and charging for admission.

This week the three museums to which I referred are saying that they deplore the fact that they had to take that action, but that otherwise they would face a deficit of £1.5 million in the year, and it might mean a loss of jobs. They think that by the end of the decade the deficit will be £2.5 million. Therefore, it is not as if the museums are choosing that method as a new code and a new vision. They were impelled by Government action to do so.

Private sponsorship is seen by some as the icing on the cake, but there is a difference when it becomes essential to save some of our best national institutions. It is shameful that the National gallery—in one of the major capitals of the world — has to be saved by the intervention of Paul Getty. I take little pride in that.

I liked the speech of the hon. Member for Ealing, North and what he was doing last night. It is the most harmless activity I can think of for a Tory Member of Parliament to listen to a Mozart concerto. I congratulate him. He referred to a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks). He said that we are in favour of business sponsorship, but do not let us conceal the fact that it is bringing a good deal of benefit to those who are doing it. The Government are saying that under the present scheme they want to make it possible for private firms to sponsor the arts, and will encourage them by bringing in matching funds. Private firms accept that that is part of business activity. That does not, however, show that they are being generous, kind or charitable, which were the phrases used about Mr. Paul Getty. Though I accept that Mr. Getty has money to spend and does not wish to make a profit, business must make a return.

For sponsorship to be operated at the present time, the administration of the scheme must be satisfied that the sponsor is getting a significant return from the arts organisation in terms of overall publicity. In other words, it must be worthwhile and compare with tax relief on advertising. Incidentally, the firm would get entertainment for its guests, free tickets for performances and so on.

That is the idea put forward for such sponsorship. There are other reasons but they do not include the Paul Getty option for sponsorship which means anyone with money can give it. I would guess that Mr. Getty would do that even if matching funds were not going to the National gallery as a result of his action.

Mr. Brinton


Mr. Buchan

I will give way shortly, but I wish to finish my point. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West asked why the GLC — which also funds concerts and, in a sense, must advertise them at the South Bank—should be prevented from saying that a concert was being peformed in a GLC sponsored and maintained hall.

The hon. Member for Ealing, North said that such sponsorship would be party political. Of course, the GLC is not in that sense party political. It is a governing body. When the Prime Minister speaks for Britain in Brussels, she speaks for Britain. The Opposition do not like the way she speaks but she is speaking for Britain and, I would hope, not being simply party political.

When the GLC helps to support an orchestral event by providing a hall, it is speaking for the GLC which includes, heaven help us, Tories as well. There is nothing party political in that. On the contrary, the GLC knows that it will not receive any money in return as it is not a business and is not lashing out free entertainment and tickets when concerts are held. However, the people of London pay for such concerts and are entitled to know that they are supporting them.

Mr. Greenway

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman and I will agree on this matter. The difference between business sponsorship and GLC sponsorship is that the former usually comes from money owned by the company. The business is entitled to the tickets and other privileges through its sponsorship. However, even though the business is sponsoring the arts for business purposes, it is promoting the arts. The GLC is also promoting the arts and we must not forget that the GLC carried out enormous arts promotion when it was Tory-controlled. In those days we had to endure Socialists, as we do now. The difference between then and now with the GLC is that the GLC's promotion of itself on its arts promotions ticket is a political effort.

Mr. Buchan

I have no doubt whatsoever that cigarette companies' promotion of snooker and other sports is intended to promote the company's name or its service.

Mr. Brinton

This is a simple matter. The hon. Gentleman is totally confusing patronage with sponsorship. Patronage is Paul Getty and the GLC, while sponsorship is the tobacco company he was talking about.

Mr. Buchan

I agree with the hon. Gentleman but I am not confusing the two. I have had a long correspondence with the previous Minister and I am sure that the present Minister will have read the correspondence on that point. It forms a thick file. Would the British Broadcasting Corporation object to a concert being staged under a firm's patronage and not being able to mention on the radio that the concert was under that firm's patronage? Of course, the BBC should not be part of advertising.

Mr. Greenway

The hon. Gentleman is missing the point. The point is that the GLC is using tax and ratepayers' money for party political advertising. That is wrong as it amounts to Labour party advertising.

Mr. Buchan

That applies to the business man. We are paying through the tax relief they receive on their advertising. To that extent, every ratepayer and taxpayer helps to pay. We all know that. We should not dodge the point. All taxpayers and ratepayers pay when they go to theatres or museums or private meetings of the Royal Academy, as has been said. Last time I saw Joan Sutherland I had to pay £37. That was a great deal of money, but it would have been twice as much if the people in the street did not help to keep down the cost.

The background was brilliantly explained by the hon. Members for Dudley, West and for Ealing, North. The background is not that of a Government massively dedicated to the public service but one who think that most public expenditure is bad. There is no such thing as a complete host of lost souls. There are some saved souls here today, even within the Conservative party and within this Government, with their drive to a Victorian philosophy. There are some people who recognise the importance of the arts and I welcome them here today. They must accept that the Government's drive has been against the concept of the public weal and public expenditure. The thrust to privatisation is part of the philosophy that allowed the Prime Minister to introduce charges 10 years ago. It is part of a philosophy that allows the Government so to squeeze the arts that museums have this week decided to charge for entry. We see the philosophy in the flogging off of oil and gas. There is a beautiful poster which states: If you go down to the wood tonight, you're in for a big surprise—they've flogged it. The philosophy extends to forestry and water. The same now applies to business sponsorship. We should not assume that business sponsorship is an attempt merely to put icing on the cake. On the contrary, it is part of the making of the cake. That is why we are worried.

If part of the Government's philosophy is to move everything towards privatisation, including the arts as far as possible, it follows that there will be a squeeze on the public sector. There is a squeeze on the public sector. I do not wish to go into all the figures. We shall do that when we have a major debate on public funding. The Minister is aware that I do not completely accept the normal definition of funding and the so-called increase that there has been over the last few years.

In the Department a great deal of artistic accountancy is being delivered in some of the answers to our questions. When the Government came into power in 1979 they cut arts funding by 2 per cent. in their first Budget. After winning the election in 1983 they again cut arts funding by 1 per cent. I recognise the amount of money that is being put into the arts this year. It was to try to replace the money lost through the local government abolitions. Thank goodness it is not just central Government who support the arts. We wish to devolve the support as far as possible throughout the country. Local authorities largely support the arts.

We must understand some of the effects of privatisation, in particular on the arts that have been supported by local authorities. I had a meeting with all the arts organisations in Birmingham last week. Without exception every one of the administrators of arts centres, theatres and orchestras said the same thing: that more and more the pressure was upon them to spend all their time searching for sources of funding. One of them said he had nine different sources of funding. That is because the squeeze on public funds is so great and has now increased because of the collapse of local authorities. The work of artistic administrators has now been diverted to this continuing quest for funding. Not only does that make the arts suffer; it puts an immense sense of anxiety and crisis on the arts in general in Britain. Every one of those administrators expressed that anxiety, and none of them knew whether he would still be operating in a year's time.

We know about the more significant and prestigious centres of art. We know about Sadler's Wells and the Liverpool Philharmonic. My guess is that we will save Sadler's Wells because even this Government would not want the shame of allowing Sadler's Wells, with its background of the Ballet Rambert, the London Contemporary Dance company, and the Festival Ballet, to close. It is too well known nationally and internationally, and one way or another we will save Sadler's Wells. But it will cost money to do that. The way of saving it is interesting. Northern Telecom has contributed £50,000. I have read that company's handout and it is interesting to see the number of artistic organisations that it supports, but Northern Telecom emphasises that it does that because it is good for business. That is the term the company uses and we are pleased that it did contribute £50,000.

Another £100,000 will come from the Arts Council by way of increased grants to the three basic companies that use Sadler's Wells. That £100,000 must come from other arts bodies. If the Arts Council is giving it in this concealed way to the companies using Sadler's Wells so that they can pay a higher rent, what contortions we are getting into. The Arts Council gives the three companies a bigger grant so that they can pay a higher rent to the theatre. That is the kind of position we are being forced into and, by definition, that means £100,000 less to the rest of the arts.

The more prestigious centres of art will be saved, but at the expense of the less well known and less important which are in trouble and will go down. None of us knows the fullness of what funding will come forward, but we do know that the present replacement money for the arts resulting from the abolition of the metropolitan counties and the GLC is dramatically short of what it should be. The Government estimate that £20 million will be necessary for the arts and an additional £17 million for films and museums, making a total of £37 million. They said they would not pay the full amount because the successor boroughs and councils should support the arts. Therefore, the £20 million to the Arts Council was reduced to £16 million. That was shown to be desperately wrong and that the real shortage was of the order of £44 million.

The Government came forward with an additional amount and pushed the total arts figure up by £25 million replacement funding. That meant that in place of a £44 million shortfall, brought about by the abolition of the metropolitan counties and the GLC, £25 million went to the Arts Council by way of its present grant. Any figures that Government Members look at will show, either in cash or in real terms for this year, that that £25 million, which is a replacement for other public funding, must be taken into consideration. That remains £19 million short of the proper estimate. The Arts Council said that it could not deal with £9 million of that because it covered cross-county border items and capital expenditure. Therefore, it said it was short by £10 million. My calculation is £19 million short and the Arts Council's original calculation was £19 million. Its present calculation is that it is £10 million short.

All of this is making assumptions about the ability of local authorities to meet the demands upon them. There is no means to decide how much they can give to replace the missing funds. It is a sick joke to argue that local authorities and boroughs should be able to replace that drop in funding. The Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra needs money. I am making no comment on the nature of the council, but it is hammered for money. It may be argued by Government Members that that is a result of its own actions, but that does not help the arts. How has Liverpool the money to replace any shortfall resulting from the abolition of the metropolitan county councils? In Liverpool, the metropolitan county met a large proportion of the cost of the arts.

Mr. Jessel

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan) to deliver such a long speech about abolition when we are supposed to be discussing business sponsorship?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

I have heard nothing out of order. A wide debate is permissible on this fairly wide motion.

Mr. Buchan

I thank you for that ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have been careful to remain precisely within order. I am talking about the problems that face the arts at the moment, and the possibility that a portion of their funding can be borne by private sponsorship. I am linking the theoretical proposition about private sponsorship to the Government's arts policy. In Liverpool, it is a sick joke to think that the council can replace the money lost through the abolition of the metropolitan counties.

The first argument about Sadler's Wells was that the local borough should be able to support it, but the local borough has eight different theatres, of which five are fairly significant, to support. By definition, the inner London boroughs are supporting more artistic ventures than the surrounding boroughs. Camden has similar problems, such as the British Theatre Association library. The council sees this as a national institution and asks why, just because it is placed in Camden, the council should have to support it. I dare say that the Minister has already discovered how much fear and anxiety there is.

That is the background against which the argument about private sponsorship has been brought forward. We are in favour of private sponsorship, but we are not in favour of it being used to buttress, or be a replacement for, public funding.

Two aspects of this are of particular importance. One is the argument as to whether it is an infringement of freedom if the Government, the state, society or the community say that certain forms of sponsorship are not acceptable. The hon. Members for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) and for Chislehurst (Mr. Sims) are against cigarette advertising, but the hon. Member for Wokingham said that he saw nothing wrong in it. The hon. Member for Ealing, North backed him up by saying that the hon. Member for Wokingham's two cigarettes a day probably do not do him too much harm.

That is not the problem that we are facing, nor is it the problem of including advertising on alcohol as well. On this commodity, there is a universal medical acceptance of the danger of smoking one cigarette, and the considerable danger of heavy smoking. I see no justification for the Government spending taxpayers' money in campaigning to prevent people from smoking —not just cutting down to two—whle at the same time saying that they will not only allow the advertising of cigarette smoking, but will let it be used to sponsor the arts, and even pay matching grants if necessary. That is an abomination and as an argument shows such incredible illogicality that I would have thought that not even this Government would have worn it.

This is a difficult subject, and I have also come under criticism for making plain my view. If and when I replace the Minister on the Government Bench, I shall seek to dissuade cigarette smoking being used to sponsor the arts by way of dropping matching funds. I follow the lead of my hon. Friend the shadow Minister for Health, the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, who made that point in relation to sport. If we cut production, society has a duty to ensure alternative work. One of the next Labour Government's first considerations, in the attempt to revive the decaying economy with which we shall be saddled, will be to make a conscious effort to ensure that before we make decisions in relation to defence or social good, we carry out our responsibility to replace the jobs lost.

In relation to sponsorship, I wish to mention the curious incident of the Sheffield Crucible, when NALGO, encouraged by myself and previous Ministers, including Lord Gowrie, adopted trade union sponsorship. Until midsummer, trade union sponsorship was not receiving matching grants. In an exchange of letters, Lord Gowrie, made it clear that he would like to match the grants and he interpreted the rules of sponsorship in such a way that although trade unions are not a business, they equally qualify. However, they must follow the same criteria of promoting their names and services.

NALGO, a trade union in the public sector, sponsored "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui". There was a display in the foyer showing cuts in the public sector which were destroying jobs of NALGO members. The display was refused for matching funds by the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts, the appropriate body to consider those matters, on the ground that it was party political. I have seen the text of the display, which deals with cuts in water services, the privatisation of electricity, health, local government, universities and gas—all the things that the Government have been unscrambling.

But NALGO is a public service union. To qualify for a grant it must promote its name or services. The name was accidentally promoted by the Government's action following the ABSA recommendation to refuse matching grants. Publicity was provided, but not the publicity that the union wanted. The display promoted the name. It encouraged people to join. If the union promotes services it should receive the grant. The union promotes the protection of workers' conditions and jobs. That is an absolutely legitimate trade union objective, and the reason why the Government allowed ballots to decide whether to have a political fund to campaign.

NALGO has no political fund. But the ruling given says that its activities in relation to protecting jobs in the public sector is a legitimate service. NALGO's action in relation to Government cuts — it originally called them the "Thatcher" Government and then deliberately cut that out —is precisely related to promoting services. NALGO's action should not have been defined as party political, especially as NALGO is not affiliated to any political party. It was shameful and the wrong decision, because by its nature that union can do no other than deal with matters of Government policy and that of other public bodies. If that is defined as party political, NALGO is put at a disadvantage in relation to other unions. The matter should be reconsidered. I seek a meeting with the Minister, and I apologise for my failure to meet him this week. But we must settle the matter. Although NALGO has had plenty of publicity because of what happened in Sheffield, I do not wish the Government's decision to act as a disincentive to other trade unions. Just as Conservative Members seek business sponsorship, I want the Labour movement to support the arts. However, it will not be encouraged to do so if ICI, IBM or the tobacco companies can obtain matching funds, but trade unions cannot.

I accept that private sponsorship represents an extremely useful but limited support for the arts. It is clear which arts it tends to support: the prestigious, the glamorous, the well-known and, above all, the bland. It does not support the new, the adventurous, the unknown or the scurrilous. Shakespeare and Ben Jonson were scurrilous in their day; the latter especially would have received no sponsorship from those companies today. Therefore, their support distorts the development of the arts. We see the effect on companies that are threatened by the collapse of local authority funding, because local authorities have tended to support smaller, locally based organisations.

Last year, at a conference about sponsorship of the visual arts organised by the Tate gallery, a spokesman for an international conglomerate said that it preferred to sponsor exhibitions with which it was comfortable —a beautifully bland term. In other words, it would not sponsor exhibitions that might hammer a little at or question the role of private enterprise. That is why a picket was established outside the Tate gallery objecting to United Technologies sponsoring the Stubbs exhibition. At least it let people know that the source of the money was military expenditure. The hon. Members for Wokingham and for Ealing, North played an honourable part in the production of the eighth report of the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts. It made several recommendations on tax relief for private sponsorship, which should appeal to the Conservative party. I am in favour of a good deal of that. I do not wish to bludgeon British taxpayers into paying for companies' sponsorship of the arts, but if we persist in placing so much of a premium on the importance of private sponsorship, it should be done intelligently and properly. Some of the limits that have been put on the acquisition of objects of art, for example, are nonsense. Some of the report's suggestions for improvements in tax matters, therefore, should be carried out. That extremely important report, which is four years old, has never been properly debated in the House. I hope that the Minister will use his influence to obtain such a debate so that we can at least demonstrate the common ground that we share on some aspects of the arts, even though we may quarrel about others.

I welcome the debate, but I repeat what I said at the beginning: it must not be considered a substitute for a proper and full debate on the crisis in the funding of the arts.

1.28 pm
The Minister for the Arts (Mr. Richard Luce)

I warmly congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Sir W. van Straubenzee) on drawing up the motion. He has done the House a great service by enabling us to have a constructive and fruitful debate. In his excellent contribution he said that he hoped one day to write his memoirs. I hope that he will, and that he will regard all the speeches this morning as so distinctive and remarkable that they will feature in his memoirs. If he goes so far as to publish his memoirs, I hope that he will qualify for sponsorship under the Government's business sponsorship scheme. All too often, however, the discussion is about particular cases—there has been no shortage of them today—and not about broad policies. However, it is important to pause occasionally and try to see the wood for the trees.

Particular cases are important. I recognise that some of them have surfaced in the debate, but they should not be used to detract from the main issues. As the motion indicates, one of those issues is the extent of self-help in the arts. This is central to the future health of the arts in Britain. Business sponsorship, marketing and all other means of increasing incomes through a plurality of funding are vital. The Government are, and will remain, a major source of arts funding. We have pledged ourselves to maintain arts provision, and that is a clear commitment. One of my first acts was to increase the Arts Council's sum for abolition from £16 million to £25 million. I am glad of this, but there is too ready an assumption that wherever there is a demand for growth it must be financed by the state. Even now the state is not the biggest funder of the arts, nor should it be. It ranks about fourth—after the general public, the local authorities and the film and television industries. That is not a bad ranking.

The Government, on behalf of the taxpayer, have an important role to play, but the future health of the arts cannot rely on them alone. It must depend on plural funding, from obtaining funds from a variety of sources. My hon. Friends the Members for Dulwich (Mr. Bowden) and for Dudley, West (Dr. Blackburn) emphasised those points effectively and strongly.

Before we look at the various sources of funding, it is worth while to reflect for a moment on the state of the arts in Britain. There are those who would have us believe that the arts are in a dire state, in a state of constant crisis. There are those—the hon. Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan) does it from time to time—who spread an atmosphere of doom and despondency, and the word "Armageddon" is sometimes used.

This is absolute nonsense. Of course abolition of the Greater London council and the metropolitan counties has caused some uncertainty about the transitional period, and some of this has surfaced in the debate, but the abolition problems are now being resolved by the Arts Council, in conjunction with the local authorities. Only this week I have announced further developments on Merseyside.

I endorse most strongly a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham about the arts being for the many rather than for the few. The real state of the arts is actually remarkably healthy, as even a cursory glance at attendance figures and at Britain's international standing in virtually every artistic field will show. West End theatre is booming. British Film Year has been a huge success. We are strong in all branches of music. Our writers are preeminent and Britain's younger contemporary artists are beginning to win the same high international reputation as their predecessors—for example, Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Henry Moore and Lucian Freud. All of these artists have many achievements to their name. Furthermore, attendance figures at museums and art galleries are good and they are growing. The crafts movement, which has not been mentioned today, is becoming increasingly popular. This record of success in the arts is based, not upon monolithic state support, but on a diverse and flexible base of funding from a variety of sources.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham referred to the Government's commitment to the arts, and at the same time the hon. Member for Paisley, South referred to devastating cuts that were taking place in many areas of the arts.

The plain fact is that we are committed to keeping up support for the arts. If we look at the overall picture in terms of Government funding of the arts, we can see that it has gone up by over 10 per cent. in real terms excluding abolition—25 per cent. if we include it—from the year 1979–80. The heritage has not been discussed much today, but the Government have shown their strong commitment to it, and indeed my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment recently announced that the National Heritage Memorial Fund would gain an extra £10.5 million for the tasks that it undertakes. The Government's commitment is present and we will maintain our support for the arts. That is fundamental to the Government's approach to this issue.

The Government will maintain their support, but a central part of Government policy is that they should be one amongst many sources of funds. The plurality of funding is extremely important, and within that term I include both sponsorship and the management ability of individual companies to help themselves. Self-help is an important and necessary discipline. It ranges from the efforts of individual art companies to increase their box office to business sponsorship and to private patrons who are generously helping the national galleries and the British Film Institute's new museum of the Moving Image.

We should remember that those who draw their funding from a variety of sources are much less vulnerable to changes and cutbacks, for whatever reasons. Plurality of funding is a better guarantee of stability than dependence on a single source. We should also remember that new sources of funding provide much greater potential for growth and development.

It is against that background that I shall deal with business sponsorship. Many hon. Members have contributed today, and I listened with great interest to the enthusiasm of my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Murphy). I welcome the fact that the hon. Member for Paisley, South and his colleagues, and indeed the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud), support the broad policy of encouraging business sponsorship. I welcome the climate of the debate that we have had today.

I am delighted with the recent increase in the level of business sponsorship. When the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts was founded in 1976, it estimated that the overall level of arts sponsorship was around £0.5 million. It is now estimated at about £20 million. Much of this increase has come in the past three years, with the strong encouragement of this Government.

Here I wish to say what a significant role my predecessor. Lord Gowrie, played in this connection. In 1984 he committed £1 million of his budget to start the business sponsorship incentive scheme—matching new or increased business sponsorship—but he reinforced this with speeches up and down the country publicising the benefits of sponsorship. In the 18 months since the scheme started, £1.7 millon of Government money has attracted £5 million of business money—a total of £6.7 million of new money for the arts. As the House is aware, I have announced an increase in the budget for this incentive scheme to the tune of £1.75 million for the year 1986–87.

I am pleased that the Select Committee, which produced its report in 1981–82, and to which my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Mr. Brinton) referred —he was a member of the Committee, as was my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway)— gave strong support to business sponsorship and that support was across party lines.

I disagree profoundly with those such as Mr. Januszczak, who wrote an article in The Guardian of 15 February, and who reflects the views even of some hon. Members who think that sponsorship goes only to the safe. He used the phrases the "Mozart factor" and the "London factor". To some extent, the hon. Member for Newham, North-West, who told me that he cannot be present for the winding-up speeches, echoed that view. It is not that he opposes sponsorship but that he expressed anxiety about its nature.

We should analyse what is happening under the sponsorship scheme. No less than 70 per cent. of the business sponsorship incentive scheme's awards have gone outside Greater London. New sponsorship has been found in Merseyside, Newcastle, Cornwall, Orkney, and other places where most people would have thought it unlikely. The enthusiasm and perseverance of local people have paid dividends in every area.

The geographical diversity is matched by the diversity of the arts and crafts that have benefited from sponsorship. Awards under my scheme have gone to modern dance, avant-garde art from Japan in Oxford, community arts in Durham, mystery plays in Lincoln, jazz in the south-west and Cardiff, international folklore, on which the hon. Member for Paisley, South is very keen, in Billingham, sculpture, pantomime, playwriting competitions, and printmaking. I noticed that there had been strong sponsorship at the Battersea arts centre in London when I visited it recently.

My hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Sims) told us that he has been singing in the Royal Choral Society for 30 years with great distinction. I am happy to announce that the Royal Choral Society has been awarded £4,000 under my scheme to match the Braun sponsorship. If only the rules of the House allowed my hon. Friend to display his voice here, he would no doubt have been able to encourage still further sponsorship. My hon. Friend also mentioned the Churchill theatre in Bromley. I much enjoyed a recent visit to the theatre and was deeply impressed by the range of facilities and management there. I strongly hope that it will persuade more businesses to sponsor productions there.

I should deal with the argument of those who are hostile to any private support for the arts. I find no evidence of sponsors attempting to influence the artistic content of the work that they sponsor. The allegations should be dispelled.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North spoke about sponsorship in his constituency, and my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, West spoke of magnificent sponsorship support of the Manchester art gallery. The more we talk about such news, the better, and the more that people realise what can be achieved under the scheme, the better.

A great deal of the credit for the growth in sponsorship must go to ABSA, which administers the scheme on my behalf and the regional administrators who advise businesses what to expect and ask bodies how best to present their case. Since the scheme started, 180 businesses have tried arts sponsorship for the first time and 190 sponsors have increased their commitment. I hope that the first-time sponsors will have valued the experience and found it worthwhile in commercial terms so that they will want to continue sponsoring.

It is important to stress the mutual benefit to be derived from sponsorship. The hon. Member for Newham, North-West seemed to decry that. The basis of the scheme is that the businesses also derive advantages in advertising and marketing terms in this great joint venture.

I have done my bit since taking over as arts Minister to keep the momentum going. I have added £300,000 to this year's budget for the scheme to keep pace with demand and to ensure that the money does not run out. No one who met the criteria of the scheme has been disappointed. For next year, I have increased the budget to £1.75 million.

Mr. Buchan

Will the Minister refer to the NALGO position?

Mr. Luce

I shall certainly respond to the hon. Gentleman's point later.

There have been outstandingly generous acts of patronage—gifts made purely for love of the arts, with no thought of a return. It is disinterested giving as distinct from the interested giving that is business sponsorship. Examples of that are Mrs. Jean Sainbury's recent most welcome gift to the Royal Opera House and Miss Aileen Woodroffe's bequest to the National Art Collections Fund. Much is also happening at local level with both companies and individuals supporting their local arts.

I repeat that the Government will stick to their commitment to maintain support for the arts. However, against that background of increasing interest and demand by the public, sponsorship and private funding can and must provide the fuel for expansion.

Mr. Buchan

Is the Minister really saying that private sponsorship will provide the fuel for development and expansion, so that, in effect, he is announcing a standstill on public funding?

Mr. Luce

No. I have made my position absolutely clear. There is no change. The Government will continue to provide the basic support and commitment. But when looking to growth and expansion—which is the exciting prospect for the future—other sectors should play the leading part. The Government will maintain their basic support. Indeed, I have already demonstrated that in real terms our support has risen beyond our manifesto commitments.

Mr. Buchan

The Minister repeats the Government's commitment to maintain their support. There is already a tapering off in future planning. I understand the Minister to be saying that he is relying on the private sector and sponsorship funding for growth and expansion, while public funding will remain at a standstill. Indeed, total public funding is planned to decrease by the taper.

Mr. Luce

The hon. Gentleman misinterprets what I am saying. I repeat that the Government will maintain their commitment in line with inflation. The figures show that over the past seven years we have more than done that. However, I think that the fuel for the exciting prospect of expansion must come from the private sector, of which sponsorship is an important part.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) raised questions about Merseyside. This is not the occasion to go into detail about how the problems with transition after the abolition of the metropolitan counties will be handled, although this week I have announced what I hope will be helpful news. The hon. Gentleman should be aware that, when I visited Merseyside the other day, I announced a scheme to support the Festival of Comedy in Liverpool—£25,000 to match the £25,000 sponsorship of the DER television rentals company. That is an example of sponsorship working in all parts of the country.

Almost every hon. Member who spoke raised the question of tax reforms—my hon. Friends the Members for Wokingham, for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel), for Chislehurst, for Gravesham (Mr. Brinton) and for Ealing, North, together with Opposition Members. I noted with care what my hon. Friends said on that matter.

Much as I would like to have charge of the Budget, it is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor and it is clearly not for me to comment on speculation as to its contents. I stress, however, that I am keen for the arts to grow by attracting additional private funding in line with the 1983 manifesto commitment to examine ways of using the tax system to encourage further growth in private support for the arts and heritage. Much has already been done in this respect. The reduction of the period for covenanting from seven years to four was a contribution. I have listened with great interest to the views expressed today, and I will ensure that my right hon. Friend is aware of the views of the House in this regard.

It is right that I should spend a little time on sponsorship by tobacco companies and trade unions as both subjects have been raised today. Strong views have been expressed about tobacco sponsorship by the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East, my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst, and the hon. Member for Paisley, South. I also listened with care to the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham on this aspect. I believe that it is principally for the arts organisations themselves to decide what sponsorship to accept and whether they feel it right or wrong to invite tobacco companies to sponsor arts activities. Such sponsorship represents about 10 per cent. of all private sponsorship, but it must be a matter for the arts orgainsations to decide.

Mr. Freud

I do not argue with that. Our argument is about whether it is right to match the amounts contributed or to give one third of the amounts contributed by tobacco companies, bearing in mind that this enhances the image of the tobacco industry.

Mr. Luce

Clearly, I do not feel that it is wrong to facilitate the prospect of tobacco company contributions being matched, as I allow it under the present scheme, but at the end of the day it must be for the arts organisations to determine whether it is right. In a free society it is right that that freedom should be given to those organisations and I feel strongly that we should proceed on that basis.

Mr. Buchan

If the Minister has the right to decide not to match money contributed by a trade union in relation to its services, why should he not make the same judgment in respect of another body and its services or commodities?

Mr. Luce

That is slightly different.

With regard to the proposed NALGO sponsorship of the Crucible theatre in Sheffield, my predecessor rightly announced that unions should be eligible under the business sponsorship incentive scheme in the same way as businesses provided that it was genuine sponsorship—that is, a payment made for the purpose of promoting the union's name, products or services. The application by the Crucible theatre for an award in respect of support from NALGO was rejected by the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts purely on the ground that it did not meet the criteria laid down by the scheme but was intended to promote a political viewpoint. I strongly supported the ABSA and said that it would be unacceptable for taxpayers' money to be used to support party political purposes in that way. Had a business been allowed to take part in a sponsorship scheme, and then moved into the foyer and indulged in a major attack on the Labour party, I know precisely what the view of the hon. Member for Paisley, South would have been. We devalue and destroy the credibility of the ABSA scheme if we allow that to take place. If unions satisfy the criteria, I welcome their participation.

Mr. Buchan

The point is that NALGO is a public service union. There is no means by which it can defend its members, their jobs and the services that they provide, other than by defending them against a privatisation process that would lose them jobs. NALGO would have done that with a Labour Government. Believe me, NALGO is not the strongest and most powerful supporter of the Labour party. The Minister is wrong. The union was defending the jobs of the workers.

Mr. Luce

I have explained why I am convinced that it was right not to allow that sponsorship. It did not stop the play from taking place. The criteria must be satisfied, and I believe it would be wrong to use taxpayers' money in that context.

Encouraging sponsorship, patronage and other private sector contributions is equally important for our national museums and galleries. Here too we have more than kept up the general level of public funding: indeed, recurrent and capital funding of the national institutions has increased by 19 per cent. in real terms since 1979, but further growth must come from outside, and museums must be consumer-oriented.

Patronage, for example, is growing, not only in the big gifts such as the immensely eye-catching and generous gestures towards the National gallery by Mr. Getty and the Sainsbury family, but in many other gifts. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, West referred to that. Many museums such as the Imperial War museum have appeal funds to which patrons make important contributions.

Business sponsorship is increasing for the museums as well as the performing arts. Within the past week Pirelli has announced £250,000 for a garden at the V and A, and ICI has pledged £300,000 towards exhibitions at the Science museum. There are endless examples of the way in which such sponsorship is increasing.

But let us not forget the visiting public. Visitors support museums in their shops and restaurants, the trading profits of which make an important contribution. I want to make it as easy as possible for each museum or gallery to raise revenue for its own benefit. I pay tribute to those who have started to do so effectively. Sir Roy Strong at the V and A is one among many of those who have taken important initiatives. That is why I have signalled a new regime for the treatment of receipts.

My proposals do away with the deduction of a year's forecast receipts from the museums Vote, and with the prohibition on carrying over surpluses from one year to the next. Instead, museums will have grants in aid which do not deduct increased receipts forecast for future years; and a facility to carry over unspent surpluses. Those proposals are in response to unanimous recommendations in the report of the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts and I am now consulting the parliamentary Committees on the detailed proposals. Let me emphasise once again, however, that the purpose is not to replace public by private funding. It is instead to provide an opportunity for growth, and I am confident that the museums will seize it.

The contribution of the paying public to the arts as a whole is the most important of all. As I have said, the number of visitors is growing at a great pace, and we have seen the expansion of the arts in many areas. There is a big paying public out there if the right incentives are offered and the right management followed. The effect of even small increases in the box office can be dramatic in turning around the trading position. That should be a challenge to every management.

One other aspect of the debate that has been touched on is the important part of the motion that refers to marketing. I say this as a former marketing manager. My hon. Friends the Members for Welwyn Hatfield, for Gravesham and for Dulwich (Mr. Bowden) all referred to the fact that the contribution that the paying public make emphasises the importance of marketing. This is a crucial aspect of the debate. Marketing means looking at what people need and want, and how it can be provided. It applies to the subsidised as much as to the private sector. I am firmly convinced that there are still many lessons to be learnt. The turnround in the fortunes of the London commercial theatre owes a lot to the marketing efforts of the Society of West End Theatre, with its ticket schemes and market research. British Film Year, against the odds, has seen a growth in cinema audiences for the first time in many years as a result of a marketing drive.

These are two examples from the independent sector. I visited Kendal yesterday and saw further examples at the Brewery arts centre and the Abbot hall art gallery, where there is a thrusting marketing policy.

Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Brent, South)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Luce

In fairness to other hon. Members, I think that I ought to proceed a little further with my speech.

I know that many subsidised theatres and public museums are trying hard to improve their sales. I am in touch with the Arts Council and others about what more might be done, and we shall look at ways of encouraging marketing as much as we can. I am glad to say that it has already been possible to support some very worthwhile initiatives in this area through the business sponsorship incentive scheme.

All these are steps in the right direction. They point to a growing awareness that, to succeed in self-help, selling one's product is the most important tool of all. The examples are there, the markets are there, and the disposable income available for the arts is expanding. Expenditure on theatres, sporting events and other entertainment — excluding cinema — still accounts for less than 1 per cent. of normal weekly income. In some income groups it accounts for very much less. A small increase in that margin of expenditure—to say 1 per cent. or 1.2 per cent. — would mean a great improvement in the finances of many arts bodies. The opportunities are striking, and if the right approach is adopted a great deal more could be achieved.

The record of arts sponsorship—where growth has been continuous and dramatic—speaks for itself. I shall continue to encourage it by all the means that I can. The arts are a successful industry, and their expectations—fuelled by past and present Government support—are are growing. They are also, I believe, a great power for good in society. Therefore, it is up to all of us to see that they are not starved of resources.

That is not simply a matter for Government. Indeed, it would be wrong for the Government to monopolise arts funding. It is far better that the arts pursue a mulitiplicity of ways to growth, in which self-help is the motto. Efficient management and a greater priority to marketing are the keys.

There are many examples of economic success in areas where the arts have helped themselves. We need only look at the explosion of small television and video companies following the setting up of Channel 4. The turnround in the fortunes of the theatre, the success of British Film Year and even the success of the pop music industry are examples of how the flair for marketing has succeeded. These examples have common factors. They have marketing know-how, energy, and flair. They have seen a need, and have moved to meet it. They are also risk takers, with pared-down management.

There are important lessons for the arts as a whole. I do not say that the arts should not be subsidised, but they should be efficiently managed and well geared to the public need. We need to persuade people to support the arts because they value them artistically and because they provide special enjoyment. They demand high skills of management, presentation and judgment, as well as artistic integrity. The consumer market is growing and the arts are in a good position to claim their share of that growth.

There are lessons there for all of us. Arts funding is a partnership in which we must all—central Government, local government, businesses, consumers and, above all, the arts bodies themselves—play our part. It is for that reason that I am immensely grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham for the opportunity that he has provided for me to discuss this issue.

2.4 pm

Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Brent, South)

I apologise to the House for not being present during all of the debate. I want to make only a brief intervention, as I do not wish to detain the House for long.

The Minister said that the attraction of extra business money to the arts would enable more people to participate in and enjoy the arts. People who go to the theatre, opera or ballet need to be able to hear what is going on. I wish to pay tribute to a well-known firm in Oxford street—I shall not give its name because I am not advertising or doing a television commercial — which has done an enormous amount for the deaf. There is no point in having empty seats in a theatre when there are a growing number of elderly people who would continue to go to the theatre if they could hear.

The House has had the privilege of having an electronic loop for nearly 10 years. That firm has been installing loops. I recently had the privilege of opening one in the heritage area of Leeds castle. As a result, people who are hard of hearing can now go around Leeds castle. People who go to the Duchess theatre, the Royal Festival hall and the Barbican can now hear. It is not just the subvention of funds to the companies and buildings that is important. People who wish to attend have been helped by the electronic loop and the infra-red system, which have been installed at the expense of the companies involved.

I hope that that is something the Minister will encourage with his matching scheme. There is a lack of that aid. People like me who love the theatre can continue to buy tickets for a long time, but we will not do so if we cannot hear a word of what is being said.

The Minister was kind when we discussed Sadler's Wells recently. There is great anxiety that it will continue only until the end of July. I understand that negotiations are continuing. The all-party British-China group is worried, because Sadler's Wells was to have a promotion of Chinese dancing in October. It will be sad if it does not take place.

The Classical theatre in my constituency, which is a little "on the fringe and way out", will be in danger when the GLC is abolished, as will the Arts theatre, which is bringing a complete show from Kingston, Jamaica, in March. Such events stimulate the arts.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Wokingham (Sir W. van Straubenzee) on introducing the motion. I feel sure that the Minister, who is one of the most friendly men in the House, will take back some of the ideas that he has heard and will continue to twist the arm of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as much as possible. We look forward to hearing the Budget speech, when the Chancellor may have one arm twisted a little behind his back, not just by the Minister, but by many others.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House welcomes the growth in business sponsorship of the arts and believes that everything possible should be done to encourage arts bodies to market themselves more effectively.

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