HC Deb 11 July 1994 vol 246 cc655-6
11. Mr. Ian Bruce

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what are the latest figures from the business sponsorship incentive scheme.

Mr. Sproat

The business sponsorship incentive scheme is continuing to be remarkably successful in encouraging businesses to sponsor the arts. Since its inception in October 1984, the scheme has attracted almost £74 million in new money for the arts.

Mr. Bruce

I thank my right hon. Friend for his excellent answer. Can the principles that are being applied for Sportsmatch to get finances also be used for heritage projects? I have in mind the preservation of steam railways, such as that at Swanage, or tall ships, such as the 70 that will come out of Weymouth on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Many charities spend a great deal of money keeping those in working order for, in particular, young and disabled people.

Mr. Sproat

My hon. Friend is right. He could play his part in encouraging the Association of Business Sponsorship of the Arts to set up more offices around the country so as to encourage more businesses to participate. I am pleased that ABSA recently opened a new office in Birmingham. It also opened a new office in Halifax in June 1992, which has led to the amount of business sponsorship for the arts since then rising by no less than 68 per cent.

Mr. Pike

The Minister will be aware that preserving industrial heritage is extremely expensive, so what he has just said is welcome. Will he make it his task to encourage business to support that sort of heritage, because many of the museums will go out of business if they cannot find sufficient resources to survive?

Mr. Sproat

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. I know that he will welcome the fact that the Department played some part in ensuring that an additional £300,000 was allocated to the Yorkshire mining museum the other day, which will help to keep that important part of Britain's industrial heritage in being.

Mr. Clifton-Brown

I welcome my hon. Friend's announcement and the fact that his Department will find £4.8 million this year for that scheme, which is cash-limited. Will he give sympathetic consideration to the problems of the Cirencester festival, about which I have corresponded with my hon. Friend, which does have business sponsorship, but, because the scheme is cash-limited, is not eligible for money from it this year?

Mr. Sproat

I thank my hon. Friend for his kind words. We do everything possible to keep raising the funding, which currently stands at £4.8 million. As he knows, we increased it by 10 per cent. last time. If he cares to write to me, I will certainly look again at the details of the scheme that he mentioned.