HC Deb 11 July 1994 vol 246 c653
7. Ms Lynne

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what discussions he has had recently with organisations for the disabled about support for the arts.

Mr. Sproat

My Department is in regular contact with organisations representing the interests of disabled people in the arts sector; among them, I have just announced increased funding of £43,000 to the ADAPT trust for this year. The Arts Council and the regional arts boards together spend more than £1.5 million on arts and disability each year.

Ms Lynne

Is the Minister aware that the Arts Council disability unit is due to be scrapped? Following the demise of the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, this is another slap in the face for disabled people. The unit cost £50,000 to run. Will he consider making representations to the Arts Council, or providing extra resources for the council, to force it into keeping the unit going?

Mr. Sproat

That is, of course, a decision for the Arts Council, but I think that the hon. Lady has got it wrong. The Arts Council used to have a special unit which did nothing but look at the needs of disabled persons, of women and of ethnic minorities. It decided to scrap the unit and to share the responsibility for safeguarding those interests right across the council's work. That was the Arts Council's decision, but it seemed sensible to me.

Mr. John Marshall

Does my hon. Friend agree that words come cheap, and that the important point is that the Government have more than trebled provision for the disabled in real terms? We can take the credit for that, because we have done what the Labour party failed to do.

Mr. Sproat

Yes. As so often, my hon. Friend is exactly right.

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