§ 4. Mr. David Ruffley (Bury St. Edmunds)
If he will make a statement on the funding of regional theatres. 
§ The Minister for the Arts (Mr. Alan Howarth)
Some 27 per cent.—more than £50 million—of grant in aid distributed by the Arts Council of England and the regional arts boards is planned to go to drama, including regional theatres, in 1999–2000. In addition, in recognition of the difficulties that many regional theatres continue to face, the Arts Council is undertaking a review of producing theatre in the regions.
§ Mr. Ruffley
Can the Minister give me an assurance that Eastern Arts will not cut the funding to the Theatre Royal, Bury St. Edmunds, in the coming financial year?
§ Mr. Howarth
Funding for Eastern Arts from grant in aid is up 15.4 per cent. It is for Eastern Arts to judge how to distribute that funding across theatres in its region.
§ Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington)
My hon. Friend will be aware of the theatre by the lake development in my constituency—beside the lake beneath the trees. He will know that it is possibly the most innovative theatre development in western Europe. When will Ministers in his Department be coming to visit us?
§ Mr. Howarth
My hon. Friend's invitation is seductive. I know about his determination in representing his constituency, and it would be difficult for us, even were we minded to do so, to decline his invitation.