HC Deb 27 October 1986 vol 103 cc17-8
34. Mr. Robert Banks

asked the Minister for the Arts when he last met the chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain; and what was discussed.

Mr. Luce

I met the chairman on 6 October, when we discussed matters of mutual concern.

Mr. Banks

I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. Will he join me in congratulating Glasgow on having been selected as the city of culture in Europe? Is it not an example that should be emulated by other cities throughout the United Kingdom? Does he recognise that culture plays a very major part in creating an image for a city and providing enjoyment for its inhabitants?

Mr. Luce

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend. Last week I was very glad to be able to go to Glasgow to announce that the city is to be nominated as the city which, subject to the agreement of my colleagues, the European Culture Ministers, will be the city of culture for Europe in 1990. Glasgow has made great efforts in demonstrating the range of arts facilities that it has to offer. We have every reason to he confident that it will be an excellent city to be so designated in 1990.

Mr. Buchan

As someone who was totally neutral as regards the eight or nine cities that were bidding for the title, I am perfectly happy about the decision of the Minister for the Arts. Those who know Glasgow know that it will truly represent the best characteristics of the arts dial are developed in Scotland and in Britain as a whole. However, when the Minister has finished congratulating himself and his Back Benchers, will he tell me whether the chairman of the Arts Council has ever said that he also approves of the tapering off of the £25 million about which the Minister has just been boasting? Next year the €25 million will be reduced to £20 million, and the reduction in the rate of inflation has also to be taken into account. Very few of the bodies that were defended by my hon. Friend will survive such a policy.

Mr. Luce

On the hon. Gentleman's first question, it is very good to have had his unanimous support. It is the first lime since I have been the Minister for the Arts that I have seen him quite so cheerful. As for the taper, it has always been made clear that after finding £25 million in the first year of abolition to cater for the initial transitional cost the Government would be looking to the local authorities to play an increasing part in the years ahead. For that reason we look to them now to play an even more prominent role than they played last year, and I have every confidence that they will do so.

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