HC Deb 25 January 1988 vol 126 cc15-6
37. Mr. Butler

To ask the Minister for the Arts how much of the grant to the Arts Council may be carried forward to the following fiscal year.

Mr. Luce

The Council is allowed to carry over at the end of the financial year a working balance of up to 2 per cent, of its grant-in-aid, subject to agreement with my Office.

Mr. Butler

I welcome the increased flexibility for the Arts Council. However, will my right hon. Friend tell me whether any money that is left over for the Arts Council at the end of the financial year can be carried forward to next year and used to increase the impact of incentive funding even further?

Mr. Luce

I know of my hon. Friend's interest in the matter. As I said, a working balance of up to 2 per cent, can be carried over, subject to my agreement. The money allocated for incentive funding will be £3.5 million in the first financial year, and that is an example of the flexibility in the arrangements, which will be of some help to arts organisations.

Mr. Robert Sheldon

Is the Minister aware that because of cuts in local authority funding the local authority contribution to the arts will be cut drastically? All that the right hon. Gentleman is doing will not cover that deficiency. Is it not important that any help, even to the extent of carrying forward extra spending, should be specially considered?

Mr. Luce

The practical evidence from round the country is that local authority support for the arts has been increasing, where local authorities identify arts projects that will be a good investment in their areas. Actual expenditure by local authorities on the arts, including museums and libraries, has been increasing. It is for the local authorities to decide how much to spend. It is their choice.

Mr. Cormack

Will my right hon. Friend, whose achievements are considerable, assure us that he regards 2 per cent, as a precedent, not as a final solution?

Mr. Luce

The present arrangements allow for a 2 per cent, carryover. It gives some flexibility, especially in incentive funding.

Mr. Heffer

Is it not clear that local authorities need all the assistance that they can get to ensure that the arts are made available to the local communities? The Minister mentioned the South Bank. One of the best exhibitions that has been seen on the South Bank for some time was the Diego Rivera exhibition, which should have been shown in every part of the country. Is it not important to ensure that every area has the opportunity to see such fine exhibitions.

Mr. Luce

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the arts are not only for London but for all parts of the country. For example, we have set aside a special sum from the heritage budget and asked the Museums and Galleries Commission to make it easier to enable exhibitions to be mounted in all areas. I warmly support the idea.

Forward to