§ Mr. Bowis
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the three-year funding for the Arts Council has been widely welcomed, and would be even more widely welcomed if that was fed through to the client groups sponsored by the Arts Council? Will he talk to the Arts Council to see whether this could be achieved?
§ Mr. Luce
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his support for three-year funding. I started by allocating this money to the Arts Council, and it is now up to the council to negotiate three-year funding agreements with its clients. As I understand the position, the council has decided to allocate next year's grants to a number of its clients. The next stage is to negotiate three-year funding agreements with as many of its clients as can convince the council that it is right to have such agreements. The sooner that that takes place the better.
§ Mr. Tony Banks
In terms of confidence among the arts, what has the Minister been able to do to assure the arts world about the implications of the notorious clause 28 in the Local Government Bill, which was shamefully passed by the House? What discussions has the right hon. Gentleman had with his ministerial colleagues to ensure that there will he no imposition on artistic freedom by clause 28 being used by highly irresponsible homophobic individuals?
§ Mr. Luce
I am happy, once again, to give reassurances. I have been in touch with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, and I am advised that local authorities seeking simply to provide the public with access to a comprehensive range of artistic and literary material will not be put at risk by this provision. Indeed, recent Government amendments will strengthen that reassurance.