HC Deb 26 November 1990 vol 181 cc613-5
30. Mr. Tony Banks

To ask the Minister for the Arts how many appointments he has personally approved since assuming his responsibilities as Minister for the Arts.

Mr. Mellor

Twelve, Sir. Seven were for the British Film Institute, including the reappointment of Sir Richard Attenborough as chairman. Four were for the Crafts Council. The other was for the British museum.

Mr. Banks

I am certain that the Minister has backed the winner in the leadership contest for the Conservative party. When the goodies are handed out, will he impress upon the new Prime Minister the need to have the Minister for the Arts in the Cabinet? The right hon. and learned Gentleman would enjoy that, and the arts world would benefit from it. Now that the lady has almost gone and we can talk freely among ourselves again, will he drop the absurd Thatcherite obsession with attacking local authorities? Will he make it clear that when he makes appointments to the regional arts boards he will keep up the number of local authority nominees?

Mr. Mellor

I had the winner yesterday afternoon. I hope that I have got the winner tomorrow as well. The status of the Minister for the Arts will be a matter for the new Prime Minister. As for appointments to the regional arts boards, I have had a number of constructive meetings with local authority representatives. Our wish is that there should be a strong local authority presence, nominated by local authorities, on the regional arts boards. The fact that one third of the places are reserved for local authorities is a sign of the importance that we attach to an arts funding partnership with the local authorities.

Mr. Jessel

As those appointed to arts bodies can make good use of the excellent increase in the funding obtained by my right hon. and learned Friend, may I, too, congratulate not only him but the whole of the Government team at the Treasury, led by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major), the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because it is due partly to his support and firm encouragement that the arts are able to benefit in this way?

Mr. Mellor

I agree with my hon. Friend.

Mr. Fisher

On appointments, will the Minister confirm that every single regional arts association has written to him, protesting in the strongest possible terms against the proposal in his letter to the chairman of the Arts Council that he personally should appoint the chairs of the new regional arts boards? Does a single person or a single arts body support the Minister in this extraordinary centralist move? Will he withdraw it?

Mr. Mellor

The jury before which the proposals have to be judged is not composed of the regional associations as they are now constituted. We have to try to ensure, in accordance with various reports—including those of Committees of this House—that there is proper accountability for moneys that are spent. The money spent by the regional arts boards is overwhelmingly Treasury-obtained finance, although we also maintain a sense of regional ownership and the partnership with local authorities. The hon. Gentleman should await the deliberations of Tim Mason's committee, as I shall.

What is absolutely clear is that I will not shrink from establishing a framework that is, to my mind, consistent with ensuring that the bodies to be transferred—if, indeed, they are to be transferred; most do not want to be under the existing arrangements—can be reassured that the new structures will be strong enough to bear the weight of the evaluations needed for them. That is the important point. It has nothing to do with amour-propre and who appoints whom; it has to do with how we can best enhance the quality of artistic life in this country.

31. Mr. Corbyn

To ask the Minister for the Arts if he will list all appointments made by him to arts bodies in the last year.

Mr. Mellor

Yes, Sir. I have arranged for the list to be published in the Official Report.

Mr. Corbyn

Does the Minister accept that much of this country's activity is ridiculously overcentralised and that it is time that we brought some democracy into arts appointments? Should not there be guaranteed places for local authority members appointed by their local authorities, rather than by the Minister? Does he further accept that the minority ethnic communities and user groups of arts centres and theatres should be able to appoint and elect people to arts authorities, rather than the Minister's sitting in splendid isolation in London deciding who should be the members of every regional arts authority?

Mr. Mellor

That prompts the large question, whether the quality of the people appointed in such a way would ultimately be any better. I am closer to the hon. Gentleman than he recognises. I have already proposed that one third of the membership of regional arts boards should be local authority representatives.

Mr. Corbyn

Answer the question.

Mr. Mellor

Hang on a minute. I am coming to that. I got the point the first time, although I do not always.

We are asking the local authority associations to find a way of proposing a mechanism so that they can determine

Institution Position Name of Appointee Appointed
Advisory Committee on the Government Art Collection Member Mr. R. Shone 30 July 1990
Arts Council Members Ms. B. Anderson 1 April 1990
Mr. E. Hall 1 April 1990
Miss C. Mulholland 1 April 1990
Professor Sir Alan T. Peacock 1 April 1990
Sir Brian N. R. Rix 1 April 1990
Mr. A. Smith 1 April 1990
Professor C. St. John Wilson 1 April 1990
British Film Institute Chairman Sir Richard S. Attenborough 1 October 1990
Governors Mrs. B. Anderson 1 October 1990
Mr. T. Clarke 1 October 1990
Ms. B. Ferris 1 October 1990
Ms. P. Hoon 1 October 1990
Mr. R. G. Hughes 1 October 1990
Mr. A. Sapper 1 October 1990
British Library Board Chairman Commander L. M. Saunders-Watson 19 March 1990
Members The Lord Adrian 1 May 1990
Professor A. J. Forty 1 April 1990
Mr. D. A. E. R. Peake 1 July 1990
Mr. R. E. Utiger 1 May 1990
British Museum Trustee Professor C. Renfrew 19 October 1990
Crafts Council Members Mr. A. H. Doggart 11 October 1990
Mr. J. Jones 11 October 1990
Mr. J. Newton 11 October 1990
Professor D. Vaughan 11 October 1990
Greater Manchester Museum of Science and Industry Chairman Mr. A. Goldstone 27 January 1990
Library and Information Services Council Members Mr. S. A. Brewer 1 January 1990
Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey Bart 1 January 1990
Councillor C. Heinitz 1 January 1990
Mr. C. J. Koster 1 January 1990
Mr. D. Leabeater 1 January 1990
Mrs. S. I. Martin 1 January 1990
National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside Trustees Professor G. J. Davies 1 January 1990
Mr. J. Entwistle 1 April 1990
Mr. A. Swerdlow 1 April 1990
Lady Vaizey 1 April 1990
Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art Members Mr. G. Jackson-Stops 1 August 1990
Dr. J. I. R. Montagu 1 August 1990
Mr. A. G. Reynolds 1 January 1990
South Bank Board Chairman designate Sir Brian Corby 11 June 1990
Theatres Trust Chairman Sir David L. Crouch 6 April 1990
Trustees Mr. I. Albery 6 April 1990
Baroness Birk 6 April 1990
Mr. G. L. Harbottle 6 April 1990
Mr. R. M. Marshall 6 April 1990