HC Deb 23 November 1987 vol 123 cc14-5
69. Mr. Buchan

To ask the Minister for Arts whether he has had any representations made to him about the future organisational structure of the Scottish Arts Council.

Mr. Luce

I have received a small number of representations on this matter.

Mr. Buchan

Is the Minister aware of the representations being made to the effect that the Scottish Film Council should be brought under the Scottish Arts Council? Will he please resist the anomalous situation which would bring the Scottish Film Council under the bailiwick of the Minister instead of the Scottish Arts Council? Has the time not come to solve that ridiculous anomaly by devolving the Scottish Arts Council, so that we can be responsible for developing our own culture away from the rather bad habits in the arts policy offered by the Minister?

Mr. Luce

I should have thought that the announcement, two or three weeks ago, of a budget increase of 17 per cent, in the next three years would be a source of great encouragement to the people of Scotland. I have no intention of changing the present arrangements. The Scottish Arts Council has a large degree of autonomy, and under the present financial arrangements receives more than 12 per cent, of the total sum available to the Arts Council of Great Britain, although it has only 9 per cent. of the population of Great Britain. That is not a bad bargain per capita.

Mr. Menzies Campbell

Does the Minister accept that there is a parallel in the way that sport is treated in Scotland? There is an independent Scottish Sports Council with its own royal charter. Can we have the same for the Scottish Arts Council?

Mr. Luce

The present arrangements are working well in Scotland, and the latest settlement should be a source of encouragement. It makes sense to have a framework for the arts policy for the United Kingdom. It is right that there should be a high degree of autonomy for the Scottish Arts Council. That is how it works. It is healthy for the policy for Great Britain that the chairman of the Scottish Arts Council should be on the main board of the British Arts Council, so that he can influence the formulation of policy.

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