HC Deb 20 January 1986 vol 90 cc16-7
24. Mr. Tony Banks

asked the Minister for the Arts if he has received any requests from the Arts Council for additional funding for the South Bank arts complex; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Luce

The Arts Council included the needs of the South Bank arts centre in its general statement of funding requirements and I took these into account in determining the figure of £25 million for post-abolition funding which I announced on 14 November 1985.

Mr. Banks

Is the Minister aware that there has been a reorganisation over at the Royal Festival hall by the South Bank board, which has resulted in the general administrator, a GLC employee on £23,000 a year, being sacked and the appointment of two general administrators and nine additional directors on salaries ranging from £22,000 to £35,000 a year? Is he further aware that blue collar workers have not been told what jobs they will have, except that 60 of them will be declared redundant? Does the Minister believe that that is how to handle the situation post-abolition? Does he agree that it is a disgraceful example of the Arts Council creating jobs for itself?

Mr. Luce

I have great confidence in the new South Bank board under the leadership of Ronnie Grierson. It is determined to make an exciting job of the future for the South Bank and I believe that there is every prospect of that happening. We are still waiting for figures of the Arts Council's allocation. It is for the board to decide what staff it should have. I ask the hon. Gentleman to remember that its responsibilities are much larger than those of the GLC until 1 April. They include the whole of the South Bank, whereas the GLC covers only three concert halls.

Mr. Buchan

Does the Minister remember that when the Government took the foolish and malicious decision to abolish the GLC it was on the ground that it was undemocratic and costly? The Government have now created a quango of a quango to operate the South Bank and have doubled the cost of administration alone. Does he agree that costs are escalating, that the South Bank has demanded that they be met, and that the only source of funding is the inadequate sum provided to make good the shortfall resulting from abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan counties?

Mr. Luce

The hon. Gentleman is ignoring the point that I have just made. The responsibilities that the South Bank board has taken on are wider than those of the GLC, which cover only three concert halls. The board, therefore, has wider responsibilities. It is determined to involve the private sector and the Government in the longer term. That provides a very good prospect.

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