HC Deb 20 December 1999 vol 341 c517
13. Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)

What discussions he has had with the board of the Royal Opera house on the level of ticket prices. [102007]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Chris Smith)

I have discussed ticket pricing with Sir Colin Southgate, other board members and Michael Kaiser on a number of occasions. The board and management of the Royal Opera house are committed to enabling the public to experience world-class opera and ballet at affordable prices.

Mr. Leigh

But the truth is that there would have been many more seats available at affordable prices if the Secretary of State had not raided the national lottery so that the money available for good causes such as this has decreased from 28 to 18 per cent. Is it not the case that once the friends and corporate entertainers have taken their share, there will be a limited number of tickets at prices people can afford? Getting one of those tickets will mean joining the new ruling class, either by working for the likes of Bernie Ecclestone or marrying into the Sainsbury

Mr. Smith

The hon. Gentleman confuses his capital and his revenue. The funds for the refurbishment of the Royal Opera house through the national lottery were funds for capital building work. Funds to support cheaper ticket prices at the Royal Opera house come through annual revenue subsidy from the Exchequer. We have increased those funds by 25 per cent. between this year and next year.