HC Deb 07 March 1988 vol 129 cc12-3
50. Mr. Boswell

To ask the Minister for the Arts if he will take steps to ensure that suitable musical instruments are available at reasonable prices to talented young musicians.

The Minister for the Arts (Mr. Richard Luce)

No, Sir. It is not the Government's policy to subsidise the purchase of instruments, but there are several trusts which make loans for the purpose, at nominal rates of interest.

Mr. Boswell

Does my right hon. Friend agree that our young musicians — teenagers as well as young professionals — need instruments commensurate with their talents? While recognising, as he does, the invaluable contribution made by the loan fund for musical instruments, other trusts and private patrons, may I ask whether he will consider getting together all interested parties, preferably with a number of financial institutions, to ensure that Britain can maintain its musical preeminence?

Mr. Luce

I acknowledge the fact that musical instruments do, or can, cost a great deal today, and that that can pose a problem for certain people, but, as my hon. Friend said, the loan fund for musical instruments has been set up especially to help professional musicians or potential professional musicians. There are also other grant-making trusts that make loans for this purpose and help other people who are not necessarily professionals. That is the right way to go. I do not think it is right to give taxpayers' money direct to this end, but if my hon. Friend has more specific, detailed ideas, I should like to hear them.

Mr. Tony Banks

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the excellence of the musical education provided by the Inner London education authority, particularly by its special music school? What provisions will he made for safeguarding ILEA's musical education, and particularly its school? What discussions is the Minister having with his colleagues at the Department of Education and Science?

Mr. Luce

There is no doubt about the importance of the support given by ILEA to the musical side of things, and discussions are taking place between my Department and that of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science.

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