HL Deb 03 June 1964 vol 258 cc491-580

2.50 p.m.


rose to call attention to the Arts, with particular reference to the 18th Annual Report of the Arts Council of Great Britain, Ends and Means; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, your Lordships will recall that exactly three weeks ago to-day this House debated the subject of the problem of leisure on a Motion by the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry. You will recall that we had a very serious, useful and constructive debate and the noble Baroness herself played no mean part in achieving that end. To-day, My Lords, we discuss the Arts, with a special reference to the current Report of the Arts Council. It is perhaps a rather curious situation that in the other place the Second Reading of the Obscene Publications Bill is taking place, and I would say that certainly the two are not connected and, in any case, that Bill will be coming here.

This is the second time in fifteen months that I have had the privilege of moving a Motion on the Arts, and it is all too rarely that Parliament, with its great pressure of business, has the time or the opportunity to discuss this vital subject. I should like in advance to thank all noble Lords from all quarters of the House who have signified their intention of taking part. I would especially say how very much the House will be looking forward to hearing the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell. And may I say from these Back-Benches how very pleased we are to see the noble Earl who leads the Opposition in his place? The noble Earl himself has a great interest in the Arts; he spoke in an Arts Council debate back in 1958. We are all very delighted to see him here to-day.

My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, who is to wind up this debate has himself had some experience in this matter because he wound up the debate in 1958 very fully and courteously. I am only sorry that no other Scottish Peer will be taking part in this debate. The noble Earl is himself a very good Scot, and I shall have some things to say about Scotland and hope that he will be able to deal with some of the points. I have given him notice of a number of questions with which I will not weary the House now.

In last year's debate I made it quite clear that my main purpose was not to seek for more direct money from the Treasury for the Arts Council, although this money is badly needed. I would say to those, both in Parliament and outside, who criticise Governments of all Parties for not giving the Arts Council more money, which they perhaps should have, that we as a nation have a great many commitments, such as the social services, roads, defence and so on, which are essentials; whereas the Arts, while they are a vital part of our life and a great strengthener in international relations, must, in these critical times, to some extent play second fiddle. But I hope that the Treasury will not regard this as a matter for complacency, and that when the opportune time comes the Arts Council will be given the money which they richly deserve.

I should like at this juncture to pay tribute to the work of my noble friend Lord Cottesloe, who has again performed sterling service as Chairman of the Arts Council, and also to Mr. Nigel Abercrombie, the Secretary-General, with whom I had a most cordial and useful meeting the other day. Currently he has been the target of a great deal of sniping from various sources over the business of the London Opera Centre. I shall have a few remarks to make about that later, but I know that my noble friend Lord Cottesloe will be dealing with this somewhat delicate matter more fully in his capacity as Chairman of the Arts Council. The critics of the Arts Council are, of course, entitled to their views, because the Arts Council is subsidised from public money—as indeed, is the London Opera Centre; but those serving on the Arts Council, and particularly on the Advisory Boards of Music, Drama, Poetry and so on. often do so in addition to their normal jobs as singers, actors, poets and so on. So they really work very hard indeed.

My Lords, before I turn to the Report itself I should like to say that the Arts in this country are very widely supported by our youth. I feel that this needs to be said at this early stage, because we hear all too much about motor-cycle gangs and others going down to seaside resorts, tearing-up the place, beating-up people and making a nuisance of themselves. No one here condones that, and I think they deserve severe punishment. But if we consider the Bank Holiday periods of Whitsun and Easter, probably for every five youths who were at Clacton, Margate or elsewhere causing damage, there may well have been 500 who were at concerts, theatres, art galleries and other places of cultural entertainment, quite apart from those helping in church work, youth work, on rambles and so on. I think that even in a debate of this kind we must put this matter into perspective.

I should like at this stage to put one question to my noble friend: what is being done in the State schools to encourage appreciation of the Arts? I know that at the fee-paying schools, at my own for example, even during the last war, when C.E.M.A. did such wonderful work, we had performances from top-class instrumentalists, pianists, singers and so on. But I wonder whether the State schools are getting their share of what one might call the serious musicians, actors, lecturers and; so on; because I am quite convinced that the steelworker from Llanelly is often as great an appreciator of good music or good acting as is any Member of your Lordships' House. One has only to go to concerts in an industrial town to see in many cases how very well patronised they are.

I was interested in an article in last Sunday's Observer by Caroline Nicholson who was writing on the Leicestershire plan. At one of the secondary modern schools in Leicestershire they have a very fine orchestra, and indeed in the county they have 100 school orchestras. One of them has eleven violins, one flute, one clarinet, two trumpets and a cello. And throughout the schools in the county sixty paintings were lent to the Arts Council in 1961 for exhibitions, and that number has now probably increased. These are, as I understand, mostly State schools, and I think it does them credit.

One of the most vital documents on the Arts in the past few years has been the two-part publication on Housing the Arts in Great Britain, and this is where I think the real problem lies. Most of the concert halls and theatres in the Provinces are totally unsuitable for their present purpose. Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Sheffield—all desperately need new premises. Orchestras and theatre companies do wonderful work in these places, but quite often players, actors and instrumentalists, having travelled perhaps long distances by car, coach or train, change into their evening dress, if they are playing in a concert, in what are virtually slum conditions.

I should like to put to my noble friend, who, I know, has a very great interest in the Arts himself, this question. It is clearly not possible at present substantially to increase the grants to the Arts Council, which on its triennial system total nearly £9¾ million, which as I said earlier is not in itself a bad sum; but I feel that a separate sum could be granted to local authorities or to some board or something of the sort for either building new concert halls, opera houses and so on or for renovations, where possible. There is a special need for a really big new opera house in the Provinces. I have talked about this to a number of people who know a lot more about opera than I do, and it would seem to me that Liverpool might well be a good centre. Two New Towns are scheduled for the Liverpool area, Runcorn and Skelmersdale. The people of Liverpool are great lovers of the serious Arts, I know we hear about "the Mersey beat" and the Beatles and so on; they have earned us valuable dollars, and, speaking for myself, I am far from disliking them. But it should not be thought that Liverpool consists entirely of Beatle fans. It consists of many, many people who are really serious music and opera lovers, and indeed Lancashire can boast of one of the finest singers of all time, Kathleen Ferrier, whose death at the early age of, I think, 38 was one of the greatest tragedies in the whole history of the Arts in any part of the world.

Some local authorities have already done a lot towards rebuilding. For example, Eastbourne has a new congress theatre in which opera, plays and, of course, concerts take place. And this was built entirely from local resources. When it was first mooted the local ratepayers were not very happy about it, but it has proved to be a very real success, and much credit is due to those concerned in its planning and its use. It was built at a cost of £387,000. I have no doubt that other local authorities have displayed similar zeal.

This brings me to another rather delicate point, the part which local authorities play in helping the Arts. It is all very well to come to the Government for more money, but of course everybody wants more money from the Government, for doctors, nurses, defence, housing and so on. But local authorities themselves have a very real responsibility. I should like to ask my noble friend whether he will ask the Government Department concerned to impress upon some of these local authorities the responsibilities which they have.

The 1948 Local Government Act empowers local authorities to allow up to a 6d. rate for the Arts. I am very jealous of ratepayers' money, particularly as I am Vice-President of the National Union of Ratepayers' Associations, and I have been very critical in the past of ways in which ratepayers' money has been wasted, but a 6d. rate on a population of some 10,000 people would not be a very heavy burden, and there are many local authorities which could allow this. To be fair, it is by no means every local authority which falls down here, and the London County Council are in this category. I believe they have been most generous in their help for the Arts—some people think, too generous. I disagree with some of the policies of the London County Council, but certainly so far as the Arts are concerned I am right behind them.

To turn for a moment to repertory theatres, last year I talked at some length on the repertory theatre in my own area at Leatherhead. This is an exceptionally well-managed little theatre, and it is typical of the theatres which are carrying on in buildings totally unsuited for their purpose. This theatre I knew in 1945, when I was stationed in the Army there. It was then a tiny little—to use a colloquial term—flea-pit cinema. In 1948, the Leatherhead Repertory Company took it over. It is not the acme of comfort, but it has been most tastefully decorated and the standard of productions there is simply marvellous. I would invite both my noble friend Lord Cottesloe, as Chairman of the Arts Council, and the Minister, to come and see one of the productions there. I am quite sure that the board of management will give them a most cordial welcome.

Here, Esher Council, Dorking Council and, of course, Leatherhead Council, give reasonably generous help. Unfortunately, the Epsom Council falls behind. Each year this council decides by a slight margin of votes that it cannot afford to help Leatherhead, but I am glad to see that each year the voting against the proposal gets less and less. I myself wrote a letter to the local Press pleading with the Epsom Council to change its mind, and I only hope that next year something also will happen. The average attendance at this theatre is 85 per cent. of capacity. It is a small theatre, it holds only just over 200 people, and I may say that of the patrons some 2,000 come from the Epsom area. It is largely from that theatre that the scheme for training young theatre managers was born and the director and the staff have really worked hard.

Only the other day, my wife and I saw there a production of Emlyn William's play, Spring to 1600. It was marvellously done, beautifully acted, beautifully staged, but they did not receive any grant either from the Arts Council or from the Treasury towards that production. I should like to ask my noble friend how much money the Treasury have given to the theatre, apart from the Shakespeare theatre, for the Shakespeare Quarter-centenary Year. I think the answer may well come as a shock to many people.

One of the criticisms levelled at the Arts Council is that repertory theatres which are doing well do not get enough visits from the Arts Council Theatre Board of Management, and I think that is a matter that might be looked into. Possibly my noble friend Lord Cottesloe may have something to say on that. It is, of course, difficult, because naturally they have many theatres to visit, and some of them are quite scattered. But it would help morale considerably, particularly as in Leatherhead, and elsewhere, actors are virtually subsidising these theatres by taking an enormous cut in salary; and few theatre managers, who have an enormous job to do, get more than £1,500 a year, and some much less. It is interesting to note that two repertory theatres, one at Colchester and one at Salisbury, receive great support from the local authority. In regard to Colchester, there is help from Braintree, West Mersea, Halstead and Lexton; at Salisbury, there is help from Winchester, Wilton, Romsey and Amesbury—and Romsey and Winchester are in a different county. I think this is quite creditable.

May I now turn to music? Here I think that one of he problems is that we have four full-time symphony orchestras, and naturally the Arts Council finance cannot be expected to cover all their needs. In the London Symphony Orchestra, London now has one of the finest orchestras in the world. A trust has been set up under Mr. Edward Heath which will help musicians, who will now get benefits hitherto denied them because there is no pension scheme, and if a player is ill he gets no compensation. This, I think, is something which is quite sad. The London Symphony Orchestra is making a world tour in September, when for three months it is going to Korea, Japan, China and other countries. It will give 55 concerts, and 32,000 miles will be travelled. Players' salaries will amount to £55,000, and subsistence will account for £35,000. These are just some of the expenses which will have to be met. The British Council grant is £30,000, and the estimated receipts are £100,000.

This is outside the Arts Council's scope, but I should like to put this question to my noble friend—a question which I and other noble Lords have put before. Can there not be more liaison between the British Council and the Arts Council on these matters? Two years ago the London Symphony Orchestra visited Israel. They played to packed houses but financially they were very badly off; the expense to which they were committed was at times most embarrassing. Recently, as my noble friend Lord Dundee will know, the London Symphony Orchestra visited Dusseldorf in aid of the British Fair, and a report from a friend of mine who was in the orchestra spoke very highly of their playing and of British music and drama generally during that Fair, but I wonder whether they were given sufficiently generous support from central sources. Apart from that there are the City of Birmingham Orchestra, the Hallé and the Bournemouth Symphony, all of which have carried out tours. The City of Birmingham Orchestra visited Germany last year and gave a very good impression there.

To turn to opera, we are, of course, faced with this controversial question of the London Opera Centre. I have no financial or any other connections with the Arts, so that any remarks I make will be quite dispassionate. I have followed the correspondence in the national Press and elsewhere, and I would only say this. It is absolutely vital that this argument is terminated at the earliest possible moment. There is no doubt that it is the shortage of accommodation for our orchestras and for our students which has sparked off this row. It is clearly quite unsatisfactory, for example, at Covent Garden for the ballet to have to rehearse at Baron's Court and for singers to have to go down to the East End of London. I have not seen this particular Centre, but, unless some satisfactory conclusion is reached, I feel that the Government will soon have to step in, otherwise we may well lose some of our finest young student singers. As I understand it, a committee has been set up to look into the matter, and as the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, is going to speak on this matter I will say no more. Covent Garden, of course, has problems of its own which are outlined in the Arts Council Report. The annual grant is in the region of £700,000, which is totally inadequate for its present needs. At the present time it is closed for repairs and rebuilding in some sections, but this will help matters only marginally.

I should like to pay a tribute to my noble friend Lord Drogheda and to the administrators of Covent Garden for the excellent work which they have done. Some of the sniping at Covent Garden recently has been very unfair. Prices have been criticised. When Callas and Gobbi came to sing in Tosca there were criticisms that the prices were too high. If one had gone to Rome or New York one would have had to pay far more. I am not saying that something could not be done. No doubt a higher grant from the Arts Council would allow prices to be lowered, but if one is going to have stars of international calibre coming to London and elsewhere one has to pay the prices. One cannot expect them just because they are coming to London constantly to undercut their prices, and the general public must realise it. Of course, the main problem surrounding Covent Garden is the moving of the Market, and no doubt when that is done and when the International Centre is sorted out there will be more room. My own feeling is that it is very much more vital to have a really good, first-class opera house than to have an international centre or anything of that kind. I realise that this is a controversial comment and it is purely my own view as an ordinary opera lover.

Here again, as I have already said, the Provinces need help. They badly need a new opera centre. It is interesting to note that many of our own stars have been asked to go abroad to the famous opera houses there. It is quite wrong to think that it is only Italy and Germany which can produce first-class opera singers. My wife, my elder daughter and I went to see Carmen at Sadler's Wells (another theatre which is direly in need of more money) and saw a really excellent production, for which seats were priced very reasonably indeed. I feel that this point ought to be made. Last year I mentioned Opera for All, and the Arts Council's Report for the current year gives an impressive story of their achievements. Right down from Newquay, in Cornwall, up to the Orkneys they have performed in halls of all sizes and shapes, and have catered for small towns which have just as great a love of the Arts as have our big cities. They often have to rely on an ancient piano, and I hope that the Arts Council will see fit to increase their grant so that at least in some places they can have a small orchestra, which would be of great help to the singers.

I should like now to turn to Scotland. One of the finest theatres in this country, in my view, is the Festival Theatre at Pitlochry, which receives from the Arts Council a grant of just over £4,000. But under Mr. Ireland's vigorous secretary-ship they really have done marvellous work. Their current productions this season include such excellent plays as Daphne Aureola, and last year J. M. Barrie and other famous dramatists were represented. Again, though, despite generous grants from the Perthshire County Council and the Pitlochry Town Council, they are starved of cash. It is a lovely theatre in a most glorious setting, and it deserves better than the support which is given to it financially.

As with so many theatres, it is through coffee mornings that the finances are raised. This is the case at Leatherhead, Pitlochry, Salisbury and elsewhere. It has to be what one might call private functions which raise the money. Coffee mornings are quite a usual thing in political circles, in art and elsewhere, but it does seem rather terrible that some theatres virtually owe their existence to a coffee morning. At Leatherhead over Whitsun the annual theatre fête raised £600, due largely to the hard work put in, and also to good weather. This will enable some redecoration to be done and a room to be built for the set designer. Chichester has, of course, done very good work. The productions last year of Saint Joan and Uncle Vanya really set a new standard for the British theatre of the middle-1960s. The Arts Council have also granted financial allowances to eighteen provincial art festivals; and I have already mentioned the enterprise of the schools in Leicestershire.

I shall not say anything about the visual arts, because I am hoping that my noble friend Lord Croft may deal with that point. But it is vital to remember that it is not only in the Royal Academy—with all respect to that fine body—that our finest pictures are seen. One can go round villages, into pubs and into L.C.C. parks and see some excellent paintings by our own art students. In my view, we do not boast sufficiently about our achievements in this respect. I would say, despite the criticism of the Arts Council, that without a Minister of Arts the Council's grant has been multiplied tenfold in eighteen years. I think that is really the crux of the current Report, which has been very well set out.

There are twelve other speakers to follow me, some of whom will deal more exhaustively with the actual technicalities of the Report. But I should say, in conclusion that I feel that, however much we may criticise the Arts Council, the Treasury, local government and anything else, the public themselves have a part to play. The Arts cannot function without patronage, and it is therefore the more vital that the Provinces have a larger share of the cake. My noble friend Lord Cottlesloe quite fairly took me to task last year for my saying that the Provinces were starved. I am sure that the Arts Council are doing their utmost there, but it is not only London which produces either our finest singers and actors, or our best audiences; and, of course, they must have premises. This, I believe, is the real nub of this year's problems. The actual money going to the Arts themselves is probably adequate, but music and the theatre cannot function in what are often slum dwellings, and I hope that the Government will pay particular attention to this point. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.37 p.m.


My Lords, I know that all on this side of the House will wish to thank the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, for raising this subject and for the way in which he has done it. If it is not too senile a compliment to pay him, I feel that no one has worked harder than the noble Lord in this House in recent years, and he has certainly earned the increasing approval of your Lordships. He has done well to attract so good an attendance in spite of the rival attractions—the obscene publications on which his mind seemed to dwell, and the Derby which, of course, has interested other noble Lords. But many have resisted the other blandishments. It is not part of my duty to announce the result of the Derby, but I have always believed in Santa Claus and I believe more than ever in Santa Claus at this moment. I know that my pleasure in that thought is shared by the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, and so many others who combine high-mindedness with a knowledge of racing.

My Lords, I am not going to deal in a general way with the Report of the Arts Council. I am leaving that to other speakers on this side: the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, who will wind up; the noble Lord, Lord Willis, and the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, to whom the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, paid so graceful a compliment. I think we are all looking forward with special interest to her speech. We combine such admiring, affectionate memories of her husband with confident hopes, equally affectionate, for her own success. It was said of the famous Lord Rosebery by his tutor at school that, if not a poet, he was of the stuff that poets delight in. It may be said that Lady Gaitskell, if not an artist herself, is of the stuff that all artists delight in, and she is specially well qualified to take part in this debate to-day.

With the permission of the House I am going to deal with a single issue—the position of the author. I need not embark on a metaphysical discussion of what is and what is not an author. Having myself, like other Members of the House, perpetrated a book or two, I suppose that I must declare an interest. But my application to be a member of the Society of Authors has not yet, so far as I know, been considered (I assume that it has not been turned down), therefore, I do not feel that I have altogether forfeited my amateur or objective status.

A few days ago I was talking to one of the most famous of British authors, an acknowledged master of English prose, and he was complaining that so many politicians insisted on intruding into his field—in other words, in writing books —in spite of writing so badly. "Why don't you all chuck it?", he said to me, a trifle testily. I retorted that professional writers tend to he frequent, if rather laborious, speakers, and that no one ever said that they spoke particularly well. "In any case", I said to him, "if you had your way "—he is one of the greatest writers, I suppose one could say, in the country—" how many books would you allow to be published every year? ". He replied, "Fifty in every year, at the outside "—which would cut down the number very drastically. I do not think that is the point of view of most of us. Most of us here in this House, and in the country, who claim any degree of education, and a great many who would not make any such claim, derive much of our joy in life and our continued education from a wide variety of books; and most of us, I think, on reflection, are grateful not just to a few superb writers but to a large number of authors, and would like to identify our happiness with theirs.

How are authors treated by the Arts Council, to whose work I should like to pay a measured tribute?—in other words, I recognise their sincerity and devotion, while on this subject I cannot congratulate them. The Arts Council Report for 1962–63 shows that the total sums allocated by the Arts Council to all projects which come under it amounted to £1,723,000—about £1¾ million. The dramatist may benefit to a small extent, indirectly, through the royalties he gets from theatrical productions which are stimulated by Arts Council subsidies and guarantees against loss; the poet may benefit to an even smaller degree from the Arts Council-aided poetry readings. But of the total sum now allocated annually by the Council (and I shall be corrected by the eminent noble Lord who is going to follow me if I am going too wrong, one might say) between £1,000 and £2,000 (certainly not more) goes directly to the author. I would describe that as a wretched little figure.

My Lords, are we surprised that this direct aid to the author should be so infinitesimal? Perhaps not. Perhaps noble Lords take it for granted. I suppose we are accustomed to the fact that the Arts Council has interpreted its Charter in such a way as to put the emphasis on benefit to the consumer (that is, the public) rather than benefit to the producer (that is, the author). But ought we not to be rather surprised? Is it not rather surprising that, when the State has decided to concern itself with the Fine Arts, the State should almost entirely overlook one very important part of that field—namely, the author? And surely it is quite wrong, as I suggested just now, to treat this as a matter in which the interests of producers and consumers can be separated. I may be asked: "Why should the State look after the author? "A good many years ago a very wealthy man, then and now a much respected Member of this House, whom I shall call Lord Bloggs—he is not, so far as I can see, in the House this afternoon —spoke to me as follows: "People often say, 'Why does Lord Bloggs complain so much of all this taxation? Why can't Lord Bloggs look after himself? 'I can tell you this", said Lord Bloggs, dropping his voice confidentially, "Lord Bloggs is blank well looking after himself "—and, so far as I can judge, he has continued to do so very successfully ever since.

People may say, "Why can't the authors look after themselves? ", and what I am saying is partly a reply to that kind of implicit suggestion. I would just remind noble Lords that we should not be misled by headlines about the great riches made by a few authors. Most of us have read and enjoyed a book such as The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and some of us have enjoyed, and others not enjoyed so much, the books about James Bond and the works of Agatha Christie—and, of course, there we have household names. But the reality for the vast majority of authors is totally different.

When I decided to speak in to-day's debate I consulted the Society of Authors about the situation of authors generally, and I learned that from a sample survey taken some years ago it was discovered that something like 60 per cent. of the members of the Society earned less than £500 a year from authorship. They no doubt have to earn their living in some other way; but 60 per cent. of their members—and to be elected a member you must be a reputable author—earned less than £500 a year from authorship. And this £500 a year is not a steady, predictable income: it is an average over a number of years —years which are so full of ups and downs that making any kind of budget for the future is impossible. I would just add—and these figures were shown to me in confidence—that the financial position of some of our most respected writers, now elderly, would astonish and horrify the whole House if I were at liberty to reveal the figures. Some of these splendid writers would be found to have given away quite a lot of their money, when they had it, to help younger writers—but now, of course, they have none to give.

I may be told that the lot of the author is the lot of every self-employed person. I think there is some truth in that, but I should like to submit that this particular type of self-employed person, the author, suffers under disadvantages which, if not peculiar to him, are borne by him to a specially marked degree. I should like to mention five disadvantages under which the author suffers. In the first place, his earning capacity depends on his health. Perhaps more than almost any self-employed person, nervous and physical exhaustion makes it impossible for him to work at all. If he is ill, not only does his current income dry up but he may lose the chance of future commissions. He has behind him no office to provide him with sick pay, or even to pay the employer's half of his National Insurance contributions; and he has no assistant to take over temporarily. Secondly, when he gets old he has nothing but his old-age insurance pension. The precariousness of his active life has enabled him to put little or nothing by for his later years.

Thirdly, the author has special difficulty in obtaining at a reasonable rate accommodation in which he can live. This is something which was rather new to me. His unpredictable income means that he is unlikely to be able to obtain a mortgage on a house. Few building societies, I am told, will accept him; and he has no "local job" qualifications for a housing list. Again, that last point was something which had not occurred to me. Fourthly, in many cases, because of the risky nature of the income from writing, he has to have a subsidiary job, and often his literary work cannot begin until he is already fatigued from his other occupation—and, therefore, it sometimes cannot begin at all.

Finally and fifthly, the capital, the copyright property, which he creates is automatically extinguished 50 years after his death, in the sense that it can be exploited without any benefit to his heirs. During his lifetime it cannot, like other forms of capital, be disposed of in any way without attracting tax. The Society of Authors has for many years unsuccessfully pressed for the author's right, if he wishes to exercise it, to raise a tax-free capital sum by selling a copyright, or part of a copyright. Those are some of the disadvantages under which the author labours, and, while I would not say that they were entirely peculiar to the author, they are borne by him to an outstanding degree.

Now what of the future? With the advent of the shorter week and leisure about which we have heard so much in recent times, we are told that books will become necessities. Taking that argument for a moment, are we sure that the producers of these necessities are going to be treated on a par with the producers of other or material necessities? No doubt there is going to be more reading, and that may involve a great deal of extra recourse to the libraries; but it will not necessarily involve more book buying or more royalities to the authors. The only way to ensure that would be if the author benefited each time his book was borrowed from the library. It may be that a writer of fiction may best be aided by funds made available by small payments from public libraries. I will not go into this question now; it has been and is being argued elsewhere. I will not argue whether these payments should come from the borrowers, from the rates or from the Treasury; but I think that novelists, particularly, are good candidates for help of this kind, because there may in this country be something like 300 million free issues from libraries every year. But the novelist at present benefits to a very small extent from that.

It seems to me an approach of that sort is far from the only one open to the State. Is it not the responsibility of the State to do anything to enable the author to produce serious and solid works of literature? There is something to be said—or so it seems to the older people—for the young to have to fight their way. After all, we older people suppose it good for the young to learn about life, and that forces them to embark on some career apart from authorship; but the young can be assisted and are assisted to a limited extent by a number of awards. For example, there are the Eric Gregory and the Somerset Maugham awards which are administered by the Society of Authors. Those are awards for young writers. I urge that more should be done for the young; but it is the middle-aged and the old who are likely to be in much worse trouble. I am advised that unless a middle-aged writer can write a near bestseller every few years he is almost certain to be tied to a second job; and he is almost certain to have family responsibilities. He simply cannot afford to take a sabbatical year to write a major work which will almost certainly involve a great deal of research.

A number of middle-aged British authors are going to the United States for a year as visiting professors; and this helps them, no doubt, to pay off some past debts and to save a little while they are there. There is no doubt that this is entirely to the good and they benefit from the experience. But can we do nothing here ourselves of a comparable kind? The total donated to writers through literary prizes and benevolent funds administered by such bodies as the Royal Literary Fund and the Society of Authors—and of course the Arts Council—is not more than £15,000 a year. This is tiny compared with the amounts donated in the United States.

In short, my Lords, if I may draw to a conclusion, if the State is to recognise a responsibility to authors it seems to me that there are two ways or headings under which the effort to help them should be made. First, money should be made available for the writing of serious literary work; and, secondly, really adequate pensions should be provided for authors who have made their contribution to the nation's literature or even to our enjoyment, if that is to be distinguished from high literature. Taking that point, the assistance with research, I would suggest that the Arts Council must receive a much larger grant. I would say straight away the grant should be doubled. And a large part of it—and it is for the Arts Council themselves ultimately to say how large a part of it—should be earmarked for grants to authors who can provide evidence that they wish to engage on serious literary work. As I have said, in the case of non-fiction this will usually involve a good deal of research.

I know that at one time it was assumed that the words "fine arts" in the Arts Council Charter excluded literary works. But since Sir Alan Herbert took up the matter with the Chancellor of the Exchequer I realise they are no longer compelled to interpret—and the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, will have something to say about this—their Charter so narrowly. It may be asked: how is the right choice of recipient to be made? Of course, no perfection is possible here, but the Society of Authors themselves are satisfied—and I would myself believe it right—that people experienced in this field, including the Arts Council themselves, have devised various successful ways of allocating grants. We must therefore not be defeated by the argument that, even if we have the money available, no one will know who deserves it most.

While still on this question of assisting the practising author I could dwell on tax concessions, but this would take us rather far afield to-day. I would suggest that the second aim of assisting the older author could best be achieved by making a dramatic increase in the sums available in the Civil List for making grants to authors. I can only say a "dramatic increase" because no one can tell me —and the Society of Authors themselves do not know—what the grants to authors from the Civil List amount to or how much money is available for them from the Civil List. What I have been able to discover is that the pension normally granted from the Civil List to an author is in the region of £175. That is a derisory, contemptible figure, the sum of £175 for some aged author who has earned our profound gratitude. I wonder how many noble Lords were aware that this was the average grant. Certainly, if a distinguished author—and this applies to many —has earned the nation's gratitude he should be entitled to a sum at least ten times £175.

In short, my Lords, I believe that the fault underlying all the grants to authors, whether from the State or made in other ways, is the minuteness, the pathetic, infinitesimal size of the sums available. Time and again it is a question of just a very little, and that tends to be too late. Why should official help from all these quarters take so niggardly a form and be doled out in so patronising a way; and why on such a miserable scale? I would submit that the whole attitude, the whole national attitude, here needs drastic re-thinking if we are going to make any showing at all as a nation that cares for its culture and realises that culture depends on those who create it.

3.58 p.m.


My Lords, we should all of us be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, for the thoughtful speech with which he initiated this debate. Just before Whitsun we had a most important and interesting debate on the Motion of the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, on the Problem of Leisure. Since then we have seen at Margate and Brighton demonstrations of what is liable to happen when young people do not know what to do with their leisure time. We have in front of us, and not very far in front of us, the prospect of such developments in science and automation applied to peaceful purposes as to enlarge enormously the leisure available to the whole community, to the rich and to the comparatively poor—though I suppose there will be no poor in this millenium—to the old and to the young alike. It is essential that they should all have every opportunity and every encouragement to learn how to use that leisure, that the fantastic increases in leisure that lie in front of us should not result in a terrifying increase in boredom and frustration as they might so very easily do.

We are, I think, in grave danger of becoming, not the masters of science and automation, but their victims. If that is not to happen, if the almost universal preoccupation in every country in the world with science and its applications is not to lead us into one or another of a number of possible worlds all equally horrifying—the world of George Orwell's 1984 is one of them—the Arts and Humanities must go hand in hand with the Sciences, to temper and humanise them. The Arts are indeed only one facet of the problem of leisure, but they are perhaps the most important, and a balance between the Sciences and the Arts is essential if we are to develop into a fully balanced and civilised community. That is why, as Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain, I particularly welcome this debate, following so soon after our debate on the Problem of Leisure.

The Arts Council is charged, under its Charter, with the duty of spreading the knowledge of the Fine Arts in Great Britain and raising the standards of performance. The precise words are set out at the beginning of the Secretary-General's introduction on page 3 of the Report that is the subject of the Motion we are now discussing. They could not have been more aptly devised to set up an attack on the problem of leisure. On the whole the Arts Council is, I hope and believe, generally felt to be carrying forward the requirements of its Charter reasonably well, but the expansion of knowledge and activity, and the improvement in standards are never as rapid as ideally they should be, never nearly fast enough to keep pace with the growth of science and its application to the production of leisure and of wealth. We do all the time go forward, in spite of setbacks in one place and another, but we never can go forward fast enough. Finance is not the only limitation. What we do to help, to encourage, to advise, is in many ways more important than what we can do to prime the pump of artistic activity with money. But it remains true that finance is the greatest of our limitations. However, there is all the time some real progress.

Perhaps your Lordships will forgive me if I speak more of things as they now exist than of the year actually covered by this Report, a year that ended more than twelve months ago. If I may first take opera, as the most sophisticated and most expensive of the Arts, it is absolutely untrue, as was suggested a few days ago in another place by a Member who ought to have known better, that none of the political Parties could have made such a mess of the operatic world as the Arts Council. The fact is that opera in this country has never been so good nor so widely accessible as it is to-day. At the Royal Opera House, the standards of production and performance are higher than they have ever been, as high as anywhere in the world. We have heard at Covent Garden this year, among much else that has been good, superlative performances of Tosco and Otello, and performances of I Puritani, Falstaff and Figaro so fine that one can hardly expect ever to hear better. If Covent Garden now leads the world, as it does, much of the credit must go to that great artist, Mr. Georg Solti, the artistic director, and we are very fortunate in this country that we have him there.

At Sadler's Wells the standards are admirable and the repertoire most enterprising. The double company not only plays constantly at Rosebery Avenue, but also carries opera of high standards into the Provinces, with an average of 38 weeks of touring in the year. The astonishing triumph of perfectionism at Glyndebourne, which owes nothing to public funds and is unparallelled in the world, continues on its wonderful course. The English Opera Group, the Handel Opera Society and the New Opera Company continue their invaluable work in their own respective fields. Intimate Opera and Opera for All carry small-scale productions of good quality to places all over the country, where productions on a larger scale can never be possible, and enlarge the public for opera; as do the special performances arranged for young people by Sir Robert Mayer's organisation, Youth and Music.

The Arts Council does not for a moment claim the credit for all this, though I am happy to think that it has been able to be of assistance in many quarters and in many ways. The whole picture of opera in this country to-day is healthier and more extensive than ever before and the fine work that is being done to-day will bear increasing rewards as the years pass.

The one unhappy spot in the whole operatic picture is the London Opera Centre, which has lately received some notice in the public Press. This school for advanced training in opera was opened only last September. Its first year of training for its students has not yet been completed and it is far too early to assess the measure of its success or failure, as some small part of the Press and some small section of the public seem to have been anxious to do. There has been a great deal of misconception about the origins of the London Opera Centre. The National School of Opera, founded in 1948, did good work, but it was not broadly based and its limitations were such—let me make it quite clear that those limitations were inherent and were no reflection on those whose admirable work founded and built up the school—that it was widely felt that something more was needed.

Five years ago, Covent Garden, Sadler's Wells and Glyndebourne, the three permanent organisations who are particularly interested in the end product, together asked the Arts Council to carry out an inquiry into the training of opera singers in this country. And let me emphasise that it was the opera companies who were dissatisfied and wanted the position investigated. The Council invited a strong independent committee, under the chairmanship of Lord Bridges —whose impartiality no one can question —to make the investigation.

Lord Bridges's Committee, after hearing evidence from the six schools of music in this country that include opera training, from the National School of Opera itself and from various other sources, as well as from the opera companies I have referred to, recommended unequivocally the establishment in London of a new and independent school for advanced opera training. It was implicit that the new school should take over the work of the National School of Opera on a broader footing and in association with the permanent opera companies.

The Arts Council accepted that recommendation and made the initial appointment of Governors for its formation and management. They included three of the Governors of the National School of Opera and the Chairman and chief executives of Covent Garden, Sadler's Wells and Glyndebourne, with Mr. Gerald Coke, Chairman of the Glyndebourne Trust and a Director of Covent Garden and of the Royal Academy of Music, as Chairman. The Governors appointed as Director Professor Proctor Gregg, and the two Principals of the National School of Opera, Miss Joan Cross and Miss Anne Wood, agreed to join the new school as Director of Studies and as Warden. It was a strong team of Governors and Principals.

The search for premises proved difficult. The Bridges Committee had recommended that the building should allow of full-scale opera rehearsals and should be easily accessible from Covent Garden and Sadler's Wells. After exhaustive inquiries, it appeared that the most suitable premises—indeed, the only premises available that were not quite unsuitable —were the Troxy Cinema. As Covent Garden was also in dire need of a rehearsal stage, it was convenient on various grounds that they should share in the use of the building. The cinema was acquired and improved. The London Opera Centre was established in it and opened on September 23 last year. All this is straightforward enough.

Differences, however, soon began to develop between the two ladies I have referred to and the Director. They had, of course, been used to running their own school in their own way. The differences were more, I think, due to a clash of personalities than to real differences of policy, though some differences of policy there were. When the Director told the Board that his health would not allow of his continuing after the end of the first teaching year this coming summer, and the Governors selected Mr. James Robertson as his successor, the ladies chose to resign, their resignations to take effect also at the end of the Centre's first year.

The reasons given in the Press for their decision were not communicated to the Governors or the Administrator before they sent in their resignation. Of course there were growing pains, but there had been no suggestion that conditions were unbearable. The ladies then took the somewhat unusual step of absenting themselves from duty without notice, in order to hold a Press conference for the purpose of publicly criticising the employers for whom they were still working, and they were not unreasonably suspended from duty.

The publicity given to these resignations naturally caused uncertainties, and some other members of the staff also resigned; and more recently three of the Governors, all of whom are closely connected with the National School of Opera, have also resigned. These resignations have not in most cases meant immediate withdrawal of the services of teaching staff. Tuition at the centre continues smoothly, and what little time has been lost by the students will be made good by the end of the term. Both the Director and the Director Designate are at work at the Centre at the present time.

The Governors have appointed my noble friend Lord Robbins, Mr. Keith Faulkner and Mr. Norman Tucker as a Committee, with Lord Robbins as Chairman, to examine in detail the criticisms that have been made and to consider plans for the future, and have invited the Arts Council to associate themselves with these investigations. The Committee have, I understand, also invited Dame Ninette de Valois, Mr. John Diamond, M.P., and Mr. Jack Donaldson to join them in their investigations, and I understand they have all expressed their willingness to do so.

The most important of the criticisms put forward is that the training is too academic and is out of touch with the real requirements. This no doubt is a matter that the Committee will particularly wish to examine, and Mr. Norman Tucker, as the Artistic Director of Sadler's Wells, is especially qualified to judge of this matter. He knows just what sort of finished product is required by the opera houses. To the layman like myself, it seems that the end of the second term (there are, of course, three terms in the year) of the first two-year course of training at the Centre is far too early to attempt to pass any judgment. But no doubt the whole question will be the centre of the Committee's consideration of plans for the future; and I think the Committee should, and will, be much more concerned with the future than with the past. A preliminary inquiry has made it evident that many of the other matters of complaint, in so far as they are not trivial, have already either been put right or set in course of remedy.

The much-criticised building is not, of course, free from faults, but the building is commodious and well cared for, and the teaching accommodation is in fact extremely good. There are excellent large rehearsal rooms, a lecture theatre, plenty of good studios and satisfactory common room, canteens and dressing rooms. The auditorium is very suitable for full-scale opera rehearsals; experiments in improving it for student productions, which have a rather different requirement, have been encouraging and further improvements are in train. It can never be perfect—after all, few opera houses are that—but it certainly can and will be adequate for its purpose.

It is complained that it is expensive, and that excessive sums have been spent in converting an unsuitable building. It is expensive; and a high-class and broadly-based school for advanced training in opera will always be expensive. The building costs and some of the administration costs are, of course, shared by Covent Garden. But it is essential, if opera is to flourish in this country, that there should be such a school and that it should be good, and the expense of it is fully justified in relation to the whole operatic picture.

It is a matter of opinion whether the close link with an established opera house and company, which has been criticised, is advantageous. But the Bridges Committee have no doubt about the desirability of such a link, and I am bound to say that I have not either. It has been said that students have been required to leave the auditorium when they were about to watch a rehearsal. The fact is that on one occasion a world famous singer was not prepared to rehearse in the presence of an audience—and that will be no matter for surprise to anyone who knows anything at all about prima donnas.

It is said that the prospectus issued was misleading. It woud be naïve in the extreme to expect that the distinguished international figures who agreed to help as specialists in the work of the Centre would be in constant attendance there; but all the resident staff named in the prospectus have been teaching in the Centre, and all the specialists named were in fact interviewed, invited and themselves agreed to go to the Centre at appropriate times. If there are no students specialising in Handel or in Russian music, then the appropriate specialists, of course, are not called in. In the first year Geraint Evans, Sir Donald Wolfit, the Yugoslav producer, Vlado Habanek, Bryan Balkwill, Richard Bonynge and Joan Sutherland will all have worked at the Centre.

Finally, it is complained that there has been a lack of publicity of the right kind. My Lords, I wonder whether the complainants really feel that the publicity that they themselves have been at pains to give is of the right kind: it has certainly retarded the progress of a school that is still in its infancy. I am advised that such internal troubles—and I would emphasise that these are internal domestic troubles in a training school—are endemic in almost every university; but universities are more fortunate in being able to resolve their academic difficulties in a cooler atmosphere, without the glare of publicity and ill-advised public opinion focused upon them. The London Opera Centre will survive these troubles and will recover its health. What it now needs is a period of undisturbed convalescence in which it can settle down to solve its own problems and get on with its work. I am confident that it will make a valuable contribution to opera in this country.

I have felt it necessary to deal with this matter at some length, but I should not like your Lordships to get it out of perspective. Important though the London Opera Centre is, it is no more than a single facet of the broad picture of opera in this country to-day—a picture more encouraging than at any time in the past. Before I leave the field of opera and of Covent Garden, I think I must refer also to the Royal Ballet, which is one of the glories of this country and certainly the equal of any company in the world, and which with its second company takes ballet out to be seen and enjoyed by audiences all over the country. The Ballet Rambert and the Western Theatre Ballet make their own creative contributions, and it is as true of ballet as of opera that this country has never been better served than it is now.

If I may now turn to orchestral music, the great provincial orchestras, the Scottish National Orchestra, the Liverpool Philharmonic, the Hallé, the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are all firmly established on a permanent footing and doing valuable work. Since the year of the Report in your Lordships' hands their players have received a substantial but long overdue improvement in salaries, the additional £160,000 a year that is entailed being shared between the Arts Council and the local authorities concerned, so that the Arts Council subventions shown on page 82 of the Report are in the current year higher by about 50 per cent. The recently formed Northern Sinfonia Orchestra continues to make good progress. In all these cases, however, the orchestras are forced by economic pressures into too heavy a programme of concerts, with too little time for rehearsals. If the funds were available to remedy this situation their quality, good as it already is, might be raised; and this is some thing which is highly desirable.

The Metropolitan orchestras present at the present time a more unhappy picture. Of the five major orchestras in London, the B.B.C. has its own rôle, while the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic are well established and do excellent work. But the Philharmonia, a proprietary orchestra of very high quality, formed initially for recording work, and Sir Thomas Beecham's old orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, as it was called, have been in difficulties. Both have done great work in the past, but while it appears that the Philharmonia will be able to manage without Mr. Walter Legge, the future of the other orchestra is obscure. I think I should add that the difficulties do not appear to be primarily economic.

The four independent Metropolitan orchestras (I am not now speaking of the B.B.C.) are not on quite the same permanent footing as the great provincial orchestras. For the most part the players are engaged not on a permanent but on a sessional basis, and many of them do a good deal of outside work and prefer that arrangement. The Arts Council and the L.C.C. do not subsidise these orchestras as such, but they share equally in subsidising their concerts at the Royal Festival Hall. In conjunction with the other local authorities concerned, the Arts Council also subsidises orchestral concerts in the peripheral areas of Greater London. As the public are primarily interested in concerts rather than in orchestras, that system seems logical enough. Latterly, however, in the last year or two, a substantial proportion of the concerts at the Royal Festival Hall have been very poorly attended, and we have found ourselves in the uncomfortable position of subsidising empty seats—not a very rewarding use of public money.

This is a situation that has only recently developed, and we are discussing it with the L.C.C. as a matter of urgency. A careful survey suggests that there may not, in fact, be enough work in the Metropolitan area, taking into account the recording and broadcasting work as well as the requirements for public concerts, to support more than three independent major orchestras. It has been said that in the Arts the somewhat unusual proposition obtains that the supply creates the demand; and, indeed, that proposition is embodied in the whole philosophy on which the Arts Council is founded. But in the last year or two, in the field of the Metropolitan orchestras, things have not worked out in that way. The demand has conspicuously failed to keep pace with the supply. I think the fact is that it is an essential corollary of that proposition that the supply must be of a quality high enough—and for the Metropolis "high enough" means of the highest international standard.

The best approach to a solution seems to be to take what steps we can to raise standards by providing for more rehearsal time and better conditions for the players, and perhaps at the same time to try to attract audiences by lowering the prices, particularly of some of the more highly priced seats. All this we are urgently and anxiously examining. I feel confident that certainly one of the orchestras that have been in difficulties will successfully surmount them, and I have every hope that we shall be able to do something also to help the two fine orchestras which are firmly established to attain still higher standards by the sort of measures that I have outlined. I have spoken at some length of opera and of orchestras. But, of course, in the field of music there is a great deal more with which the Arts Council concerns itself, and I hope that your Lordships will look at the lists of grants and guarantees, on page 82 of the Report, and particularly at the remarkable list, on pages 113 to 123, of works performed by societies affiliated to the National Federation of Music Societies, which gives some idea of the extent of our musical activities and interests.

If we now look at the field of drama, which a year or two ago was a source of anxiety, more especially in the Provinces, here again the picture is a great deal healthier than in the year covered by this Report. The National Theatre Company has been launched with notable success and distinction, and the brilliant Company, led by Sir Laurence Olivier, plays to crowded houses. The Royal Shakespeare Company has gone from strength to strength. The total of the drama subsidies, £335,000 in 1962–63, has been raised in 1964–65 to £534,000, and most of the many provincial companies detailed on pages 108 and 109 of the Report are in better shape. I am happy to be able to assure the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, that the Drama Panel of the Arts Council has effective liaison with all our clients among the provincial repertory companies. We are hoping to be able to pay them more frequent visits, but that is difficult when we keep—and I think rightly—the administrative costs of the Council down to a small proportion of the whole. It is encouraging, too, to think that Mr. Denys Lasdun, the architect for the National Theatre, is at work on the plans for that great project; that new theatres have been completed at Nottingham, at Southampton University and at Eastbourne, and are being built, or are about to be built, at Guildford, Birmingham, Worcester and elsewhere, and also in a number of other universities. The noble Lord, Lord Auckland, is perfectly right in his reference to the Report on Housing the Arts in Great Britain. There is very much more that needs to be done, but at any rate something has started in the last few years in this field.

The extent of the Council's activities in the third of our main fields of interest, that of the visual arts, is shown on pages 110 and 111 of the Report, and your Lordships will see that there were during the year no fewer than 392 showings of Arts Council exhibitions all over the country. In this field, too, there is very much activity outside the Council's own promotions. If your Lordships wish to see one example of this, you should go to the Tate Gallery and look at the great international exhibition of painting and sculpture of the last decade, organised by the Gulbenkian Foundation. It gives an overwhelming impression of the vitality and imagination that are applied to these arts to-day—an exhibition that shows this country to be among those in the forefront, holding a position in painting that it has never held since the eighteenth century (if, indeed, it held it then); and in sculpture a pre-eminent position that it never began to approach until the last two decades. It is good to think that the new galleries that the L.C.C. are building on the South Bank to house such loan exhibitions have now been started and are expected to be completed the year after next.

My Lords, all this—and much else that I have not the time to speak of to-day: poetry and festivals, art centres and art clubs—goes to make up a picture of the state of the Arts in this country that in general is healthier and more lively than it has ever been. It is a condition that is due to the work of many people and many organisations, and one that the Arts Council, which has played some part in bringing it about, finds rewarding. It is, of course, a matter for rejoicing but not for complacency. We may look forward into the future with some confidence, but always with the determination not to relax our efforts but rather to redouble them.

The noble Earl, Lord Longford, spoke about literature and made an eloquent plea for authors. I should certainly not attempt to question the view that literature is one of the fine arts. It is; but it has always been held by the Arts Council to be one that is not so necessitous financially as the others of which I have spoken, and better able to look after itself. Of course, if the Government were to double the Arts Council grant we should be very happy to consider what we could do in the direction that the noble Earl has suggested.

Finance is one of the governing factors. On the whole we have at the Arts Council, certainly in recent years —my own experience there goes back only four years—been treated with sympathetic understanding and with a substantial measure of generosity by the Treasury. The total of the Arts Council grant in 1960–61 was £1½ million; in 1964–65 it is £3,205,000; so it has been doubled in four years. It is not enough, of course; if we had more we could do more with it. It is indeed a perpetual astonishment to me how much is done with a total sum that is, after all, insignificantly small in the context of the national finances. What is it?—£700 million for science, against £13 million for the Arts, of which the Arts Council gets £3 million. There is a lot of leeway to make up. This is the second year of the new arrangement by which the Arts Council grant—apart from that for Covent Garden, which rests on a separate formula —is no longer on a year-to-year hand-to-mouth basis. We now have a triennial basis with each year a 10 per cent. escalation, and can attempt to see and to plan a little way into the future. On the whole this new basis is a great improvement, and I hope that some such system may be continued. But in view of the leeway and the rate of future growth necessary if a balance is to be maintained, the rate of escalation should be much higher for the next triennium and there should be some provision for additional moneys for new kinds of activity as they arise. Art in the modern world is very much a growth activity, and the guaranteed grant ought to be regarded as a floor and not as a ceiling.

Covent Garden, which received in 1962–63 £690,000, this year receives £1,055,000; I think rather more than the noble Lord, Lord Aukland, supposed. Some people who are unfortunate enough not to be able to enjoy opera say that this is too large a share of the whole, but it is in fact a separate allocation based on a formula by which the Treasury provide 17s. 6d. for every £1 taken at the box office. The resulting figure is this year inflated by the need to renew the electrical wiring and to carry out other major maintenance work in a building now more than a hundred years old. The figure is indeed a large proportion of the total Arts Council grant, but Covent Garden certainly provides value for the money—indeed, provides better value at lower cost to public funds than most national opera companies elsewhere; and it may be some little consolation to those who think the money might be better applied elsewhere to know that a reduction in the Covent Garden allocation would not, in fact, release one penny more for any other Arts Council activity.

As to Treasury control, your Lordships may remember that I took exception to the Robbins proposals to transfer the administration of the Arts to a Minister of Arts and Science. I am bound to say that when I heard members of another place complaining recently of their extreme difficulty in trying to affect the policy of the Arts Council, in that their only avenue is through the Treasury, I felt that our opposition to the Robbins proposals had been very well founded. The Arts Council make no pretension to infallibility, and we will always consider representations from Members of either House, or indeed by the public at large. But that is a very different thing from having the detail of our policy dictated by politicians and subjected to Ministerial interference, which, I am convinced, would quickly prove fatal to any effective administration of the living Arts.

The Treasury is, of course, not the only source of funds to help the living Arts. Local authorities have powers of patronage on a considerable scale and are beginning to take a much wider interest in these matters. Some few are already exemplary, and the Institute of Municipal Entertainments Conference is taking a helpful lead. Big business, too, begins to recognise its opportunities for patronage, and the Art Advisory Council recently set up by the Institute of Directors to advise its members on patronage of the Arts is something which is very much to be welcomed. I hope it may grow and prosper, helped forward by the persuasive powers of Sir William Emrys Williams.

My Lords, I fear that I have spoken for longer than I had intended. I have been anxious to show, and I hope I have succeeded in showing, your Lordships that there has been substantial progress in the understanding and practice of the Arts in this country even since the year that is recorded in the Report in your hands; and although there are inevitably one or two aspects of the whole picture that give ground for concern—and have felt it necessary to deal with them at some length—they form but a small part of the whole. The broad picture is one of progress and wellbeing. It is our determination to continue and accelerate that progress in every way possible.

4.37 p.m.


My Lords, there are two remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, in the interesting speech with which he opened this debate on which I should like briefly to comment. The first is that I was very pleased indeed—and here I agree with him entirely —to hear what he said about the interest of young people in the Arts to-day. One is told a great deal about the wrong things but very little about the right things the young do, and it was a great pleasure to me when the noble Lord said something in that direction in the speech with which he opened the debate. At the present time, so far as I know, more young people are applying for places in Arts schools than can possibly get in. In all sorts of ways one finds the young taking a very active interest in the Arts of the country.

The second remark on which I wish to comment—and it is one on which I do not agree with the noble Lord—is his statement that he thought it might be quite reasonable that the provision of money for the Arts should take second place to money for other important activities. I think he mentioned road building. I do not agree with him there. I think that money for the Arts is one thing which is extremely important, and I cannot see why it should take second place to money for any other form of activity in the country.


My Lords, I should like to interrupt the noble Lord to clear up that point while it is fresh in my mind. What I meant was that road building and hospitals are essentials, but the Arts are not an essential, in that sense. It is in that context that I made those comments.


I must thank the noble Lord for what lie has said, but I am bound to say that he has not convinced me and I do not agree with him at all. We must differ on that point.

My Lords, there are two parts of the Report of the Arts Council to which I should like briefly to refer. The first is the part which deals with opera in this country, and here, I think, one can have nothing but praise for the work which the Arts Council do. Where I think they are so sensible in their programmes is that they do not subsidise only works which have been given many times before, but take a special interest in contributing to the production of works which normally would not be heard: works which give a great deal of pleasure to people who, like myself, enjoy going to hear works which they do not normally hear. I am bound to say that the performances they subsidise seem to me to be of very high standard. That is something for which one should be very grateful to the Arts Council. I would especially mention the subsidy given to the Festival of St. Pancras, an event which has occurred every year for a number of years (I do not remember just how many), which is good evidence of what that excellent Council have done in the past, and I hope that now that it has been transmogrified into the Camden Council they will continue to do the same thing in the future. That is an example of a local authority going into the Arts in a proper way, with a certain amount of assistance from the Arts Council. I think that the combination of the two is admirable and gives great pleasure to a large number of people. I am pleased to see that performances in St. Pancras' Town Hall are now being played to capacity. Whereas for a long time they did not get a full house, for the last two years I have been there, and the place has been completely filled. I think that is a very encouraging sign.

Another point to which I was going to refer, though I do not need to now, because the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, has referred to it, is the trouble about the Opera Centre. The noble Lord has given a detailed explanation of the unfortunate difficulties there, and I feel that it is now better that it should be dealt with as a private and domestic matter rather than as something discussed too much in public. Talking rather generally about that (and I say what I do in no sense of criticism of the Arts Council), it seems to me that some of the singers and teachers of opera in the country—and, apart from those which receive a subsidy from the Arts Council, there are not many bodies that teach and train people in opera—do wonder whether the patronage of the Arts Council may be getting a little large and in time might, as tends to occur with big bodies, tend to stifle freedom. I do not think it is so, but that is a point of view that has been expressed to me by one or two singers and teachers. I have tried to soothe them and calm them down. But I feel that this is something in which the Arts Council could do much in the way of public relations to show that that kind of fear is not going to be justified. People, however, have said that this is what happens; one saw the Carl Rosa opera company die: I admit that went a long time ago, and I am not going into that controversy now. But that is one of the dangers which can occur when there is a good deal of money available from a body like the Arts Council, and I am very pleased to know that the Arts Council realise it and will take steps to stop people from saying things that are not really justified.

The other matter I want to mention—and here again the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, has rather taken a good deal of my argument from me—is the question of the visual arts, or painting. At the present time in London we suffer the appalling disadvantage that there is nowhere to show a new exhibition of pictures The noble Lord said that he thought the new gallery on the South Bank would be open in a year or possibly two. I very much hope that that will be true, and I trust that the Arts Council, with the great power and prestige they have, will see that the L.C.C. do not fall down on the promise to get the gallery open. So frequently, at the present time, when one of our picture galleries wants to give a special show of a collection the permanent exhibition has to be taken down.

The noble Lord referred to the Gulbenkian exhibition at the Tate Gallery. That is a very big exhibition, in size, and that means that a large number of permanent exhibits have had to be taken down. One has seen this happen again in the Victoria and Albert Museum; one has seen it even worse in the National Gallery, where, about two years ago, there was shown a very fine exhibition from Zürich. It belonged to a collector called Mr. Buhrle and it had been shown in Edinburgh, at the Festival. When the exhibition came down to London it was shown at the National Gallery, and the real drawback was that, although it was a first-class exhibition of painting, there was nothing there that we could not equal among the national collections and among the Courtauld Collection of the London University. But while the Buhrle collection was being shown a number of rooms at the National Gallery—three—which normally show Italian primitives had to be shut down and those pictures stored away for several months. That, I trust, is something from which we shall not have to suffer much more.

I begin to have doubts about the South Bank altogether. At present, the South Bank works quite well with the Festival Hall—though I have certain criticisms, which I shall mention in a moment; but there is plenty of room for people to park their cars. Will the same thing still occur when the Festival Hall is there, when the Gallery is there, when the National Theatre is there? Will there be room for people to park their cars? Because if people cannot park their cars they will not go to the Festival Hall, the theatre or the gallery. Car parking seems to them to be an enormously important thing.

The second thing one has to be sure about is that there is somewhere for people to go and get a meal when they have been to their concert or exhibition or theatre. At the present time one can dine at the Festival Hall, rather badly, at seven o'clock, before the concert starts; but one can get nothing at all at ten o'clock, which is just the time one wants a meal. And here, it seems to me, is a real tragedy. One has one of the most attractive sites in the whole of London for eating, a big restaurant overlooking the Thames, and the L.C.C. seem to have done nothing at all to make it an attractive restaurant for people who perhaps want to spend a certain amount of money on their meal, to make part of it an expensive and good restaurant, rather than all a cheap and bad restaurant. I am sure that if the aim is to attract people to come to the South Bank it will be necessary to do a great deal to make their journey there agreeable. It is a very strange thing that, for quite a number of Londoners, to make the journey across the Thames to the South Side is like going to some new country entirely: and it has got to be made easy for them to go, and they have got to have facilities when they get there. Although that is not the direct responsibility of the Arts Council, I am sure—because they are a popular body and they have a great deal of prestige and influence—that they could do a lot to ensure that these amenities about which I have spoken are provided.

There is one more matter to which I should like to refer, and that is to hope that the Arts Council will be able to continue to give us the very fine exhibitions of paintings which they have contributed to the Edinburgh Festival. That has always seemed to me to be one of the most important parts of the Festival. But if there is to be an exhibition of painting at Edinburgh there must be certain criteria: it must be a really first-class exhibition and do complete justice to the greatness of the painter. That is what has occurred in the past. At the same time, the exhibition must be good enough to encourage people to go, and to pay to go, to see it. I hope that the Arts Council will not allow themselves to waver from the high ideal and standard which they have set for themselves in the past. I should like just to add that, although in some ways I may appear to be rather critical of the Arts Council, I would far rather that they continued as they are now than that they should become a Ministry of Fine Arts. If that were to happen, I am sure that it would be the end of a great deal that I admire and enjoy in this country at the present time.

4.51 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, for initiating this debate and for his most careful speech. I am breaking my three months' silence—a period of silence which I felt was desirable as part of my apprenticeship in this House—and I should like to take this opportunity of thanking your Lordships for the warm welcome you have given me. It has been most heart-warming. I speak with some diffidence, and in a general way, because I cannot pretend that my interest in the Arts is matched by any special knowledge. We all have views about the Arts, and it is sometimes useful to subject these views to a more careful scrutiny, and in this the Report of the Arts Council gives us an idea of what we are getting for our money.

First, let us take a glance—not a world tour—at a few other countries. I take them at random. I am not taking the nine who have spent more on the Arts than we do. I have taken just a few. Let us examine their attitude to the Arts, because it is this attitude which explains the generosity or the meanness of the approach to them. The French have always esteemed and favoured the Arts. In fact, France has always regarded herself as mistress of the Arts in Europe. Subsidies are high there, and although there is a Minister of Culture, I think they get by, and he does not seem to have had an inhibiting effect on their freedom of criticism.

The Italians, it is said, sing all day and go to the opera at night. The Arts are a great pleasure to them, and they are prepared to pay for their pleasure. The State grant to their national opera, music and theatres is roughly over £4 million. The letter which I have from the Italian Embassy which embodied those figures included a sentence which I should like to quote: The greatest part in the Italian musical life is played by the subscribers, who can be called the backbone of all box offices and who provide some measure of stability to the whole business of music-making. I hope the time will come when we shall be able to say the same thing about our audiences. The West Germans organise their culture in a big way and spend in all £39 million on the Arts, getting their funds from the Federal State and municipal and local government authorities. The regional authorities actually give £15 million of aid to the theatres. These subsidies amount to 5s. per head of the population. Unbroken production and new building is thus made possible. Cultural centres can be planned for the drama, music and painting under one roof. I obtained this information from a West German leaflet, and in it there was one small voice of criticism. It is sometimes said there that, because of the heavy subsidies, the actors are not actors but performing civil servants. Can you imagine with what envy the director of a company like our Royal Shakespeare Company looks at figures like these and compares them with the aid it receives? There is not one farthing on the rates for the Arts in Stratford. A town which profits so much from this theatre should surely give a token amount of aid.

The Austrians take the Arts as part of everyday life. It is as natural for them to go to the opera as to go out to dinner, and they do not begrudge their subsidies. Vienna gives £3½ million to the two State opera houses, and the two State theatres. The Austrian trade unions have a theatre of their own. With a population of 7 million they give the same aid to the Arts as the Arts Council to the whole of Great Britain. I am sure that they would find it most difficult to understand the Manchester City councillor who opposed a second grant of £11,000 for the Hallé Orchestra because he felt it would be better spent on housing for the old people. I think the Austrians would have wanted music for the old people, too. And now we come to ourselves, and what we feel about culture generally. The British are always faintly apologetic about the Arts, and regard them as a kind of highbrow sport, and a rather expensive one at that. This feeling has not been dispelled by some of our younger painters and dramatists, whose works a large section of the public regard as a kind of shock treatment to which they will not submit. However, in the last decade or so there has been a change in their attitude to painting, because no longer is a picture a beautiful and valuable object in itself, but it has been upgraded. It has become an investment—a word which is music to British ears. In fact, the prices of pictures and other works of art are as sensitive a barometer of national prosperity as are the prices of shares on the Stock Exchange.

Now I turn to the Arts Council itself, and to its Report called Ends and Means. The Council is a remarkable organisation, as I discovered rather late in life—virtually a voluntary body, as all the panels of the best experts in the country give their work for nothing. This, more than anything else, guarantees an independence of judgment. Looking down the lists of cultural organisations which could not even exist without the aid they receive from the Arts Council, one can only conclude that it does a fine job. Experts might quibble about the exact way the money is apportioned, but the facts remain. The list of works performed in music, drama and literature, and the number of art exhibitions held—all these activities are most impressive. The aim of the Council to develop a greater knowledge, understanding and practice of the fine arts is achieved within the limits of the money available. Another aim is: to improve the standards of execution of the fine arts. I think the standards obtained are high. But when we come to the third aim—namely, to increase the accessibility of the fine arts to the public", it is another matter. This they cannot do alone and they have a long way to go.

The text of the Report—and I hope I shall be forgiven for saying this—really has very little bite in it. In welcoming the Treasury's agreement to fix in advance the amount of the Council's grant for the years 1964–65 and 1965–66 (a very important innovation for them), it has this to say: This will deprive us of some of the speculative excitement of annual budgeting in an expanding economy and it imposes certain limits on the exercise of creative imagination. I suggest that there would be no limit on the creative imagination with a bit more cash in the kitty.


Hear, hear!


The creative imagination could flower and flourish on a grant from the Treasury of, let us say, £5 million—and £5 million is not too much to ask from any Government in this country for the Arts.

When dealing with the relationship between the Arts Council and the Government the Report frowns on the idea of having a Minister of Culture, and I add my own frown to theirs. I agree. But the present relationship is described as a case of private enterprise and, I quote, "ridden on the snaffle". I assume that this is an equine analogy. It is Derby Day and—I am not going to be done out of my quip—I am glad that some noble Lords have put the Arts Council before the horse, and perhaps one of them will explain this phrase to me afterwards.

The whole problem of patronage, which is the present dilemma affecting the Arts, is handled with kid gloves. The local authorities are let down too lightly by the Arts Council Report, especially as one of the aims of the Council is to advise and co-operate with them. Some local authorities face up to their responsibility and make great efforts to promote the Arts, though over the country as a whole, as has been said so often, while empowered to spend up to a 6d. rate, they spend a fraction of 1d. This means £3 million instead of £50 million. The Greater London Council, the old London County Council, is the exception to this and stands out as the most generous patron of them all. Perhaps the most important part that the local authorities have to play, as the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, has said, is in housing the Arts. We have not enough theatres or concert halls or art galleries in this country. Big business, the trade unions and even the magnanimous millionaire—all these can join to become the new patrons of the Arts.

It should be as usual to see works of art in large stores, banks, offices, indeed all the places where people work and come together, as in churches and cathedrals. Whenever I go into Sanderson's, the wallpaper manufacturers, I never fail to be struck by the beauty of a large, modern stained-glass window by John Piper which faces you as you go up the stairs. Until a wider patronage is involved the Arts Council will be frustrated in its efforts to make the Fine Arts more accessible to the public. The responsibility for progress here lies with the local authorities. What is the use of our spending (I believe Lord Auckland asked this question) one-fifth of the £1,000 million on education in teaching our children to appreciate the Arts if the opportunities for continuing this are so limited afterwards?

I do not wish to give glib explanations for the hooliganism of a small section of our young people. However, parents, teachers and psychologists know that the aggressive energy and exhibitionism in the young is very strong. They know that boredom forces these into destructive channels and that the Arts can be a powerful instrument for guiding these energies into more pleasurable and creative activities. We speak increasingly of the life of leisure that lies ahead, though for some of us it seems rather like a mirage. What are we going to do with all this leisure? We have not enough sun just to idle away our time. We are condemned by our climate, if by no other considerations, to engage in pursuits which make our lives fuller and more interesting, and in this an understanding of the Arts has a very great part to play, so we should be prepared to give them much more support than we do.

I come nearly to the end of my remarks. It is known that some animals are endowed with a keener sense of sight and hearing than human beings are. This, in effect, is what an education and knowledge of the Arts does for us: it sharpens our senses and our perception. We can literally see and hear better. Psychology and philosophy can never by themselves replace literature or the drama in explaining the mystery of the human personality. I come again to the Manchester City councillor who stated that there were only a very small number of people who appreciated good music, as if it were a fact for all time. Personally, I do not agree with him. There is a fund of appreciation in this country, which is untapped and uneducated, of which the Arts Council has skimmed only the surface. Unaided it cannot do more. When the rest of the community play their part leisure will present no problems and there will be no limit to the pleasure we shall be able to derive from the Arts.

5.7 p.m.


My Lords, I regard it as a great honour indeed that it falls to my lot to be the first to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, upon her most moving maiden speech. Everyone suffered with her at the time of Hugh Gaitskell's tragic illness and death, when she bore herself with such tremendous dignity in her sorrow. She is deeply loved on all sides and adds great distinction to your Lordships' House. I am bound to say, I am prejudiced, because what she said was very much in my own interest; but I think she realised, from the reception accorded to her, that she made a very strong impression. I hope that now she has broken the ice she will be heard here on many occasions and on many subjects. She certainly should not follow my terrible example in that respect.

On the last occasion your Lordships debated what seems to be becoming Lord Auckland's annual Motion on the Arts, I was unable to be present, but as I am Chairman of Covent Garden I hope I may say a few words to-day. May I first of all thank Lord Auckland for his kind reference to myself, which I much appreciate? Covent Garden is the largest single receiver of funds from the Arts Council. During the year to March 31st, 1963, we received about £700,000, and last year we received rather more than that. While this is much less than is received by a number of opera houses on the Continent, it is undoubtedly a large sum of money, and I feel that I must pay a tribute to the understanding spirit shown by successive Chancellors of the Exchequer and their senior officials and also by the Arts Council to Covent Garden.

I am afraid that our needs are bound to go on growing. We are responsible at Covent Garden not only for the presentation of grand opera, but also for the two companies of the Royal Ballet. One of these companies, as your Lordships know, normally appears at the Royal Opera House, but it has also undertaken several major tours of the United States and it is going to undertake another one next year. It also made one very successful visit to the Soviet Union in 1961, and I hope we may be going back there again in two or three years' time. The other Ballet Company is the so-called touring section of the Royal Ballet, which spends many weeks of the year touring the Provinces and the Continent or elsewhere abroad. This is a gallant and most hardworking band for whose devoted spirit no praise can be too high, for they work very long hours in most difficult conditions, and I consider they do great service.

I believe that our ballet and our opera have now attained a very high level of excellence by the most exacting international standards, and this is obviously as it should be. But this standard cannot be achieved or maintained on the cheap. There used to be people who said that those who wanted opera and ballet should pay for it, but lately we have not heard very much of that, and even the Daily Express has been pretty silent. I believe there are now very few people who do not think that these are Arts which ought to be encouraged. It is a simple fact that without Government support admission prices would have to be doubled, and that would surely have a disastrous effect on attendances. We have, in fact, increased our prices progressively over the years. They now stand at about twice what they did in 1946, and they will go up again this autumn.

But all our experience is that you cannot recover all increases in costs by putting up your seat prices. I am afraid our experience has also shown that you cannot avoid increases in costs. About three-quarters of all the outgoings at Covent Garden, and also at Sadler's Wells, are represented by direct wage and salary payments which are largely controlled by union agreements, and as wage rates go up elsewhere so the wages paid by Covent Garden must go up. The scope for higher productivity is distinctly limited; indeed, for performing artists to give their best they should really perform less and rehearse more. So one might say that our productivity, in one definition of the word, should go down. Therefore I do not think our costs can be expected to do anything but rise.

Apart from this particular consideration, there are other reasons why the costs of running Covent Garden should be allowed to rise, for at present there are a great many amenities which our theatre lacks. These are not only amenities for the public, but also for the artists. We are seriously short of rehearsal space near the theatre, we can store only a small part of the scenery on the premises—the bulk of it is at Maidstone—the dressing rooms are poor, the stage lacks depth and breadth, catering is difficult, and so on.

It so happens that an opportunity is going to present itself to put some of these matters right. The Covent Garden market will be moved away during the course of the next five or six years. Grandiose schemes are being put forward for the future development of the market area. I agree that there should be some sort of comprehensive plan for the area, but I beg that nothing should be done which in any way interferes with, or delays, the satisfaction of the needs of the Royal Opera House, which are urgent and pressing; for, if the opportunity is missed now, goodness knows when it will recur. It can recur only if we get a new opera house and I do not think that anybody wants us to have that—except possibly myself, and there I seem to be in a minority of one—because there is sentiment attached to the present opera house, the acoustics are very good, and, in any case, the Treasury are about to finance a new home for Sadler's Wells on the South Bank.

Therefore, I should like to ask the noble Earl who is going to reply to this debate, whether he will make a little more precise the undertaking which was given by the noble Earl, Lord Waldegrave, when your Lordships debated the Bill setting up the Covent Garden Market Authority three years ago. Lord Waldegrave then stated that when the market was replanned he hoped that the opera house would get the rehearsal rooms it so badly needed. At that time the likelihood was that the market would be redeveloped in its present area. Now, with its removal in prospect, I should like to be able to feel that the Government are still aware of our needs and agree that financial assistance should be forthcoming to enable these to be met, because it is no good their agreeing that the needs are urgent without giving some sort of an undertaking that money will be provided.

There is one other matter affecting Covent Garden to which I should like to refer. It affects, in fact, many of the institutions supported by the Arts Council. I refer to the question of policy with regard to the sending of British artistic attractions—a terrible phrase, that—overseas. Under existing arrangements the Arts Council is concerned only with presentations in this country. When it is a question of an overseas tour it is either undertaken as a straightforward commercial operation, which is only seldom possible, or else undertaken with the help of a grant or guarantee from the British Council. There is, in fact, a third method, but it practically never happens. One example is when our opera company went recently to Lisbon to give two performances of Benjamin Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream, and this was entirely financed by the Gulbenkian Foundation; but that was a very special occasion.

I have a high regard for the work of the British Council, and I think they have been very unfairly abused in their time, but I do not believe that their operations in the field of the Arts are adequate. They receive a very substantial sum from public funds, but it is nearly all devoted to education. I think the amount made available for sending artistic attractions abroad is pretty much a residual item. I believe that the British Council are largely guided by the recommendations of a document called the Drogheda Report. This is the Report of a Committee which was in fact presided over by my father, and I absolutely dissociate myself from it. I think it dealt very summarily with the Arts. All one can say is that it appeared ten years ago, and possibly to-day the Committee might report differently.

Certainly, the efforts made by all the leading companies in the world to send their best artistic attractions abroad have grown enormously, and I have no doubt that when, for instance, the Royal Ballet Company, or the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company, or one of our leading orchestras goes abroad, it does an immense amount of good for the prestige of this country, and it does it at relatively small cost. But we must send the best and we must send it in style. It is no good their arriving on a tourist plane in the middle of the night, and nobody in the country knowing they are there. When we spend hundreds of millions of pounds on weapons to defend ourselves, it seems to me that we are justified in also spending a few hundred thousand pounds in an effort to make people look a little more kindlily on us.

I believe that the total amount of money expended for this purpose is at present far too low. I think that in the year to March, 1963, the British Council spent about £107,000 under this heading, and travel and hotel accommodation for one orchestral tour could make a big dent in that sum. During the year to last March the sum they spent was a good deal higher, but this was due, I think, chiefly to Mr. Shakespeare. I believe that for the current year the figure will be in the region of £175,000.

I should like to suggest to Ministers that they lay down a target of, say, half a million pounds a year for spending under this heading, and that there should be some sort of joint Arts Council—British Council Committee, with Foreign Office and Commonwealth Relations Office representation thereon, possibly with an independent chairman: and that it should be the job of this committee to draw up a plan for the next two or three years and to keep it under regular review. This would really be an immense help to the various organisations concerned with overseas touring, and I am certain that an increase in the sum of money spent under this heading would be very well worth while. At present, the arrangements are haphazard, some countries being constantly visited and others hardly ever at all. I do urge that the Government should give greater thought to this question.

Finally, I should like to pay tribute to two outstanding figures in the world of the Arts, who have retired from the active scene during the past year. First of all, Sir William Emrys Williams, Secretary-General of the Arts Council from 1951 to 1963–a fine Lancastrian figure who, from very humble beginnings, has had a most distinguished career and who, although he has retired from his position with the Arts Council, is still, I am happy to say, extremely active and still has a great deal to contribute in the field which he has very much made his own. Secondly, Dame Ninette de Valois, the creator of the Royal Ballet, to whom people all over the world are heavily in debt. She is without question one of the great women of our generation. I am proud to have been associated with her at Covent Garden, and I am happy to know that she is going to go on devoting so much time to the teaching of pupils at the Royal Ballet School so that her ballet company can have its future assured.

5.22 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, should like to join in the congratulations expressed to my noble friend Lady Gaitskell for a moving, courageous and quite brilliant speech. I feel a little presumptuous in saying that, since we both "entered school" together, but I want sincerely to congratulate her upon the way she spoke. I would also thank the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, not only for putting down this Motion but also for widening it in such a way as to enable us to talk both about the Arts Council Report and about the Arts generally. In my remarks I propose to concentrate particularly on two aspects: the position of the theatre and the position of the novelist.

First as to the theatre, which has been variously described, and often described, as "the fabulous invalid". From time to time in the last 500 years there have been reports of its imminent death. In the last fifty years we were told successively that the silent cinema would kill it; that the radio would kill it; that the talking film would kill it; and, finally, that television would kill it. But still, with a tremendous and formidable tenacity, the theatre not only clings on but seems to be fighting back. The reports of its death have been premature; and, even if it is not restored to full health, it is certainly showing marked signs of recovery. That it is doing so is, I believe, due to two factors: first, the devoted and dedicated work of indi- viduals and groups who have rallied public opinion and public support, as we have seen in Chichester, Glasgow, Nottingham and so forth; and, secondly, the increased support received from the Government, through the Arts Council, and from civic authorities.

If we look at the Arts Council figures we can see how narrow, how desperate, is the margin of survival, and therefore how valid is this appeal for more money. Take Birmingham, where that wonderful theatre was started by the devoted work of Sir Barry Jackson, who spent both his life and his fortune creating a theatre for his own town. In the 1962–63 Report which is under consideration it is shown that the loss on the year was £20,000. The Arts Council grant and the civic grant came to £19,000 altogether, so they emerged in that year with a loss of £1,000, which, but for the grants, would have been a loss of £20,000. In Coventry, for the Belgrade Theatre the Arts Council grant was £14,000 and the civic grant was £6,750, a total of £20,750. The loss on the year was £22,200. So the net loss, again, was nearly £1,500. This is how narrow the margin is: this is the thread that is holding our theatres up.

I am associated with the Bromley Theatre. Up to the time of the heavy winter that we had last year, after seven years of patient effort we had built up reserves of about £3,000 in the bank. During that bad winter we lost not only that £3,000 but another £4,000. Seven years' work was wiped out by a few weeks of bad weather, and but for an immediate rescue operation from the Arts Council and some splendid help from the local authority we should have been right out of business. The theatre would have closed: there was no alternative.

The pattern outside London, and, to some extent, in London, too, is that the theatre which is run on commercial lines and run for a profit is dying. In its place, slowly—not quickly enough, but still coming—is a network of virile civic theatres with far higher artistic standards than existed formerly. I think the good is replacing the bad. We may have fewer theatres, but I think they are better. This is right and this is good, because we have now the recognition that the theatre is a service to the community. There is a school of thought represented by the Manchester councillor mentioned by my noble friend Baroness Gaitskell. I use the term "a school of thought" lightly. It insists that the theatre should still be judged on commercial terms, and says, "Those who want the theatre should pay for it. If a theatre cannot pay its way, it should close"—and these people have held up their hands in horror at the idea of subsidies. Really, I think it is time we gave this idea and this approach a pauper's funeral. It is a specious argument. We pay en bloc for education, swimming pools, art galleries, libraries and many other civic services, but we do not all use them. Nobody really objects. And if we recognise the theatre as a community service, then it should be paid for, partially at least, in the same way.

I find it rather extraordinary that we still have people in this country who can take an attitude towards the theatre which puts it below the level of the public lavatory. "Subsidise the theatre?", they say, and throw their hands up in horror. The plain fact is, as the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, said, that the theatre has been subsidised for years, not merely by the Arts Council and the local authorities but by the people who work in it. It has been subsidised by low wages. The salaries paid to actors in most provincial theatres are a scandal. These people earn between £12 and £15 a week, which is below the national average. We pay them less than labourers. In fact, no self-respecting labourer would put in the hours of overtime that they do, or work in the conditions with which many of our actors are faced. They could earn more money breaking stones or digging holes in the road. That they do not is an indication of their devotion to their art and to their tenacity. They have no security, no pensions, and long periods of unemployment. And their conditions would be far worse if it were not for the work that Equity has put in on their behalf.

The Times this morning ran an editorial in which it spoke of the tendency for actors to come to London. There is no mystery about this. They do not come for the bright lights: it is because they like to eat. They come because they can get some decent fees from television and the films. I have nothing against that. I have nothing against television and the films getting some of the best actors; but the process has to be taken in proportion. In the long run, if all the best actors are driven out of the provincial theatres because the salaries are so bad and the conditions so poor, and move into television, films and the London theatres, we shall cut off the very basis of those London theatres and of films and television, because the provincial theatres are largely the nurseries from which all these theatres and subsidised arts draw their original talent.

It is not so long ago since actors were classified as rogues and vagabonds. Looking at their financial status to-day we might be pardoned for thinking that the situation has not changed all that much. So if we accept the idea that the theatre is a cultural amenity and a social service, we must first of all insist that our actors are paid on a decent level and are given decent conditions—and when I speak of "actors", I am using a general term for all who work in theatres. When we are talking about raising the standard of production in theatres, let us remember that an actor can act a good deal better on a full stomach, and when he is not worried about rent and his children's future. It is said that actors feed on applause. Let us remember that they cannot live on it.

What it boils down to, time and again, is the question of money. The noble Lord, Lord Auckland, said—and he tried to explain it to the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, when he was questioned—that the Arts would have to play second fiddle to more essential projects. What I object to is that at the moment we are not even playing second fiddle; we are not even getting to play the triangle: we are not getting on to the stage with the orchestra. In this respect neither the Government nor the majority of local authorities have any real cause for pride. Let us not be complacent about this matter. I have been studying the Institute of Municipal Entertainment Survey for 1961–62. As we all know, under the Local Government Act, 1948, local authorities have the right to make a charge on the rates for local entertainment. Out of 535 local authorities who replied to a questionnaire, only 62 throughout this country were doing anything direct about the theatre. I know that certain numbers give hidden subsidies, in lower rents and so forth; but, so far as an actual charge on the rates is concerned, only 62 did anything at all. In fact, 312 local authorities did not regard it as their responsibility to do anything about entertainment as a whole and filed a "nil" return. A further 149 did not even reply to the questionnaire. I admit that many of these places are quite small; but 21 of them are districts or towns with a population of over 20,000, who surely have a duty to provide cultural amenities and to assist cultural facilities in their locality.

London, as has been said, has a good record; yet we still have very important omissions. Take the Borough of Finchley, a wealthy borough of 69,000 population; or Surbiton, 62,000; Mitcham, 63,000; Southgate, 72,000. Not one penny for culture or entertainment was spent in those localities. They might argue that their citizens can draw on the Greater London facilities and on the London theatres. But so can their neighbours in Hampstead, which spent £4,300 in that particular year; or Lewisham, a much poorer borough, which spent £24,000. There is no excuse for these black spots. We have a borough like Marylebone, with a rateable value of nearly £7 million, which spent—and I shudder to mention it—just £50 in this particular year on entertainment and culture; while Stoke Newington, with a rateable value of only £700,000, spent nearly £14,000. Wealthy Westminster, with a rateable value of £22 million, on the edge of the West End area, "coughs up" the princely sum of £125; while Woolwich with a rateable value of under £3 million spent £15,000.

My Lords, this picture could be repeated throughout the country. Ancient and historic towns like Taunton, Newbury, Maidenhead, Durham, Altrincham, Aldershot, all with populations of over 20,000, did not spend a penny on these things. I believe that this is scandalous and that some greater impetus should come from the Government to encourage these authorities to play their full part. I am not suggesting that the people in these places are uncivilised barbarians, or even that they have bad local government; but I do suggest that they are neglecting an important and essential function of local government and that they should be criticised equally with the Manchester councillor who was mentioned in this debate. To that extent they are the black spots of the nation.

But on the national scale, what example do we set? The Arts Council was formed in 1945, taking over from the war-time C.E.M.A. The grant then was £235,000. Since then (and I am taking the figures in this particular Report under discussion) in eighteen years it has zoomed upwards with all the fantastic speed of a reluctant tortoise to a total of £2,200,000. We might say that the grant started with the impossible and it has ascended to the trivial. If you say it quickly it sounds quite a lot of money. But almost half of this —and this is not sufficiently realised—is earmarked for opera and ballet and goes straight to Covent Garden and Sadler's Wells. This is quite right—I agree with those noble Lords who said that Covent Garden and Sadler's Wells should get more; but it leaves precious little for the rest. The sum of £336,000 was spent on drama in 1962, and £560,000 is going to be spent in 1964. I welcome this improvement; but even this is spread unevenly, and there is some dissatisfaction among some theatres who feel that the more fashionable and larger theatres get an unfair proportion. Quite rightly, I believe, a large section goes to the National Theatre, the English Stage Company, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and so on. A total of nine theatres got almost two-thirds of the money available for the theatre in the year under discussion. The rest was shared out between about 35 theatres.

I agree that the Arts Council are doing miracles with limited means; they have become experts in doling out dribs and drabs. But all they can do in many cases is to give first aid—a lick of paint to prop up something that is in danger of complete collapse. We never give them sufficient resources to effect a cure. A small and inadequate grant is as uneconomic, in the long run, as it is dangerous. To give a particular example, I know a theatre which applied for a grant of between £8,000 and £10,000 to enable it to improve its standards by longer rehearsals. After lengthy discussion the Arts Council— and through no fault of its own, I believe—decided that all they could give was something between £2,000 and £3,000. The result is that a theatre, which after careful budgeting wants, say, £10,000, receives perhaps half, or less. It still tries to go ahead and improve its standards over a long period. But then bad weather, or an unlucky season, comes along and the theatre is more heavily in debt than before, and the experiment has failed. So these grants must be on an adequate basis.

Then take the question of theatre buildings. We know that many are old and antiquated, with back-stage conditions for the artists which would be condemned on sight by a factory inspector. Where the building is good it ought to be modernised, improved and made comfortable and attractive. Audiences will not sit in "flea pits" any longer. The Arts Council asked the Government for a specific sum of £150,000 a year, in addition to the grant, to be set aside as a special fund for the improvement of theatre buildings. The Treasury, so far as I know, have been "sitting on" this application since 1961. I should like to ask the noble Earl who is to reply what is happening about this proposal, and why it is not possible to give something urgent to improve conditions of these buildings.

My Lords, I conclude this particular section with a few practical proposals. I propose and support the idea that the Arts Council grant, outside what is given to Covent Garden and Sadler's Wells, should be doubled; that three-fifths of this extra grant should be earmarked for the theatre, and that there should be a supplementary grant this year to bring the total up to the figure needed; that a further £150,000 should be given for development and improvement of theatre buildings as a first-aid measure. I do not want to see all the assistance coming from the top; I believe that a great deal must be done from below. Therefore, I would suggest that above a certain level, the Arts Council grant should be on a pound for pound basis with the local authority.

In 1956 Sir William Emrys Williams, the then Secretary-General of the Arts Council, who has been mentioned in this debate—and I should like to add my support to what has been said about him—put forward the idea of the formation of civic arts centres throughout the country. They were to be voluntary bodies, backed by the local authorities and the Arts Council, who would work to secure a balanced and regular provision of the Arts in their areas. I should like to see that idea developed. So far it has only started in two areas in the North-East. I would suggest that the Arts Council should appoint a couple of field organisers whose task would be to stimulate interest in this idea and to get local conferences going, out of which centres could be developed. They could then retire and leave it to the local people. I would hope that many cities and boroughs could be encouraged, not only to develop theatres where they do not exist, but also to give far greater support to those that do exist now and are struggling to live on inadequate grants.

Finally, I would suggest some change in the structure and basis of the Arts Council itself. I am not necessarily in agreement with the idea that there should be a Ministry of Fine Arts or Ministry of Culture, but I believe that the Arts Council is in danger of getting a little too complacent and that it should be in a position where it can be kicked from time to time. I get the impression —I hope your Lordships will forgive me —that to some extent some of its officials live in a rarefied atmosphere, out of touch with the ordinary run of public opinion. I should like to see a basic core of elected people put on the Arts Council, representative of the various organisations prominent in the Arts, and a section of people appointed, as at present, from those with expert knowledge in various fields of the Arts, and also some who represent the great mass of the people including the people in the provinces—I mean industrialists and trade union leaders and so on, who may not have any precise knowledge of the Arts, but who have their ears to the ground of public opinion and whose common sense and knowledge of organisation would be valuable. These are practical proposals which I believe could be carried into effect and transform the situation of the Arts in this country in a period of five years.

I would turn for a few moments to another urgent problem of the Arts, already mentioned by my noble friend Lord Longford: the question of the author, particularly the novelist. I understand that the Arts Council has already made some change and it is possible that at long last the novelist will get some assistance. It is certainly time. If the position of the actor is one of drama of hope, the position of the novelist is one of Greek tragedy. It is simply not true that the novelist is different from other artists, that he can survive because he is slightly better off and does not need assistance. In a survey conducted for the Society of Authors by Mr. Richard Findlater, it was found that the vast majority of professional writers, not amateurs, earn from their writings less than the national average wage of about £15 a week. People could earn more money by breaking stones. And a large percentage of authors earn less than £5 a week. In fact, the bookseller who sells an author's book makes more out of it than the man who wrote it.

This situation has been camouflaged, because there are a tiny few who are successful and whose earnings and film sales are highly publicised. Below these peaks are hundreds of novelists and writers, who give pleasure to thousands and who are paid a pittance in return. The traditional picture of the author is one of a man starving in an attic. This is no longer true, especially since the introduction of the Rent Act, because the author cannot afford an attic and must starve elsewhere. The plain fact is that many authors have to do two jobs to earn their living and really cannot devote their time, as they should, to full-time writing. Yet, by a paradox, the reading public, through paperbacks and public libraries, is bigger than ever before and is growing. But the author gets little or no increased benefit from this expansion.

One of our great sources of pride in this country is that our lending libraries are free. The fact is that the libraries are not really free. They are subsidised out of the rates; but they are also substantially subsidised by the novelists and authors, because they do not get paid adequately for the use of their books in public libraries. In 1961 the public libraries issued about 500 million books to borrowers, all free, and between 60 and 70 per cent. of these were fiction. The novelist gets royalty on only one book bought by the library. This averages about 1s. 6d. But the author's book can be borrowed and read a hundred times and he gets only the one royalty.

Sir Alan Herbert calculated that two books of his were borrowed 3,600 times over twenty years and he got £3 from it, for the pleasure all those borrowers got from reading his books. Who can deny that he was subsidising that library and the pleasure of those readers? If we were to adopt Sir Alan Herbert's proposal about a public lending right, then he would have been paid a royalty on every borrowing.

It is a curious position that the dramatist gets something from each person who sees his plays and the musician collects, through the Performing Right Society, a royalty each time his music is played—but not the novelist. Sometimes, when I look at these figures, I think that the Government are determined to do everything possible to stamp out novelists, as if they were some unpleasant outbreak. Take, for example, their attitude towards the author's copyright. The only capital an author has is in the copyright of his books, but if he sells part of his capital, it is taxed as ordinary income by the State. Sir Compton Mackenzie sold the copyright of 21 of his books, part of a lifetime's labour, for £10,000. That was his capital, but it was not classed as a capital gain. He had to pay £6,000 of the £10,000 to the Inland Revenue in tax. I submit that that is a scandal. As Mr. Findlater points out, the author's publisher could sell his shop and count it as a capital gain, the author's agent could sell his business and count it as a capital gain, but when the man who keeps them both running by writing books sells his copyright he is taxed up to the hilt. He is even pursued beyond the grave. When an author dies, everything he writes is capitalised, the earnings assessed, and he is taxed on that for death duties.


My Lords, I think I am right in saying that "Mr. James Bond" successfully converted himself into a company and sold 49 or 51 per cent. of his capital value and did not have to pay tax.


My Lords, I think that my noble friend is right on that matter, although I doubt very much whether Mr. Ian Fleming got away with it without having to pay some kind of company or profits tax. All I can say is that all authors are not so worldly-wise as Mr. Ian Fleming in knowing all the ramifications of the book business. I think that it should be made much simpler for authors.

I should again like to suggest one or two practical steps. I think that we should have a definite amendment to the Arts Council Charter, so that novelists may be treated on the same basis as other artists. Some survey should be made, in association with the Society of Authors, to see what practical aid can be given. We should ask the Government whether they would not consider the question of a public lending right, and whether they would not appoint a committee to see whether this obvious injustice of the novelist's subsidising the libraries by a free lending right could not some-how be ended. If we only had a scheme in which the borrower paid a lump sum of 5s. a year, to be paid into a fund which would' be divided between the Arts Council and the novelists, or something like that, that would help.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? What he says is not limited to the novelist but applies to writers of all types.


I accept that. But what I say is that it particularly applies to novelists, so far as the public lending right is concerned. It does not apply to the same extent to dramatists. The general feeling on the matter, so far as authors are concerned with this, is that a small annual sum would be adequate; that it would not be an extremely heavy burden on the actual borrower, but would transform the situation.

I should also like to see the actual legislation altered in some way so that we do not have to go through this routine of forming companies in order to hold on to our copyright and our capital, but that it should be regarded quite naturally as our capital.

I think, too, that the same Committee which investigates this public lending right, if the Government agree to set up such a Committee, might also investigate the principle of the Phoenix Trust. This is a question which I raised earlier in your Lordships' House in the debate on leisure, on the question of authors' blacklegging on the living. The Phoenix Trust was organised some time ago, but it has never been particularly successful, because it was operated on a voluntary basis, with some publishers agreeing to pay into this fund a tiny royalty on the works of out-of-copyright books, the money to be used for the benefit of living authors. I suggest that we adopt the same principle that is already the law in France, where the copyright period is extended by fifteen or twenty years, and that the benefit of this extended copyright should be paid into some such trust as the Phoenix Trust for the benefit of living novelists.

Finally (this may seem a small thing, but I think it is vital, although I cannot go into it in detail now), I should like to see the Arts Council, if they are going to do something for the novelists, give support to some of the small literary magazines, many of which do valuable work but at present have to get by on a shoestring. I hope that the Government will give serious consideration to the proposals I have put forward. I believe that Art is not a luxury, but a necessity, and in the theatre and in the fields of the novel there are urgent problems which have to be faced and dealt with. The true artist, the true writer—and I am not speaking with false modesty when I say that I am not talking of writers like myself, who are first-rate second-rate writers, but of the real writer, whose products are likely to live in history and give more than passing entertainment—are the people who really need help through the measures I have indicated. I hope that the noble Earl will give consideration to them.

House adjourned during pleasure, and resumed by The Lord Chancellor.

5.53 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, cannot complain about the interest his Motion has excited, and excited for more than one reason, because it has given us all the great pleasure of hearing an outstanding maiden speech by the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell. I do not remember hearing a speech in your Lordships' House for quite a long time which impressed me so much.

I am not going to take up much of your Lordships' time. I am going to take the cue for what I have to say from the opening of this Report, mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, that the object of the Arts Council is to bring a knowledge and appreciation of the Arts to the masses of the people; and I shall confine my remarks to that theme in so far as it affects music. I believe that the demand for good music must be stimulated and encouraged, and I propose to make a few suggestions as to how this can be done.

I would offer congratulations to the Arts Council for the work they have done. I think they have done an outstanding work with the meagre resources which have been placed at their disposal. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, that in Covent Garden to-day we have an opera house outstanding in this world. I feel that both the administration and the artistic direction of the Covent Garden Opera are worthy of high commendation. But I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Drogheda, that the first job we have to do is to persuade the Government to get ahead with their Covent Garden Market scheme. As the noble Earl said, we should have adjacent to the opera house all the ancillary buildings—rehearsal rooms, and so on—which are so necessary.

The other suggestion I want to make is that we should have a second Covent Garden Opera Company which can tour the Provinces, because the resident company, when they tour, are confined to the largest. cities—Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and so on—as these are the only cities that have theatres to house them. What we want to-day is to spread the knowledge of first-class opera right through the Provinces.

The same applies to orchestral music. In London and the Provinces we have orchestras— the Halle, thé Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Birmingham and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras—which compare with any in the world. The noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, said that an inquiry was being held as to why the attendances in London for good orchestral music have fallen. I will tell him why. First of all, the prices are too high; and secondly, there is too much modern music in the programmes. I am not averse to modern music for those who like it. I do not like it, but I would not rule out modern music. However, you do not want it all pill and no sugar, and some of the programme arrangers seem to me to get a bee in their bonnets and concentrate on modern music. You cannot bring up an ignorant population on music of that kind. If you want to increase the appreciation of good music you must take into consideration the uneducated far more than you do. That is the reason.

The other thing I would say, while I am on the question of the London orchestras, is that it is always a puzzle to me why there are only two orchestras in London which give any decent conditions of employment to their players. A first-class orchestral musician is a high-class specialist, an artist, and there are only two orchestras in London, the B.B.C. and the Covent Garden Orchestra, where the players have any continuity of contract. With the others it is a case of "No play, no pay." If a horn blower has a split lip and has to have a fortnight's rest, he does not get any pay. If the violinist has a sore finger on his left hand and has to lay off for a week or two, he does not get any pay. Is that the way to encourage the really first-class musician to join a first-class orchestra? So when the Arts Council are carrying out their investigation into why the attendances at London orchestral concerts are falling off, and other matters that are germane to the promotion of good music in London, I hope they will take that point into consideration.

The noble Lord, Lord Auckland, rather stressed the taking of good music into the Provinces. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, and other speakers, that when you come to the nub of this problem it is one of finance. You cannot get away from it. When orchestras, no better than our first-class orchestras in this country, in Berlin, Amsterdam, Vienna and Paris are subsidised to ten times the extent of one of ours—it is nothing for the Berlin Philharmonic to receive £250,000—how can our orchestras be expected to make concerts pay in the Provinces when they cannot make them pay in London? When I talk about the Provinces I am not talking about the centres of musical culture such as Manchester, Birmingham or Liverpool; I am talking about the second-grade towns. After all, there is a huge population in those towns to be catered for. You cannot say that you should spend money in subsidising orchestras that play only in those places, because I know that many of them play outside. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra extends its activities right down to the West Country.

When you take into consideration how you are to make a grant to an orchestra to cover any prospective loss in the Provinces. you must also take into consideration the theatre or the building in which they play. I have discussed this point with many theatrical people, who would be only too willing not to make any profit from an occasional visit by a first-class London orchestra. They told me that the only way they can—if I may use a colloquialism— "wash their faces" is by the receipts from the bar and from sales of ice cream, chocolates and programmes. That is not the way to carry first-class music into the Provinces. So it all comes down to money.

The noble Lord, Lord Willis, put out the idea, with which I agree, that the municipalities, the local authorities, in this country have not done nearly as much as they could. But, to be honest and to face the facts, little as they have done in the past, in the future they will do less. The reason is that one of the biggest problems local authorities have to-day is to placate the irate population in regard to the amount of rates they have to pay. If you talk in some of these cities and towns of imposing a 6d. rate to provide classical music, there would be a riot. The plight of the ratepayer even softened the heart of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who only lately said that something must be done about the rating problem throughout this country.

Two years ago all the valuations went up and the amount of rates in the pound went down. It is nearly back again, and the rating in some of these cities is causing the local authorities grave concern. I do not think that you can look to anybody except the central Government to provide for the cultivation of the Arts through the Arts Council. I do not think you can rely with any certainty on any substantial contribution from local authorities, except perhaps from the outstanding local authority, the London County Council, who I think have done a magnificent job and are continuing to do it.

But as the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, said, even in the home of musical culture in the North, not three or four weeks ago there was a movement to reduce the rate of grant to the Hallé Orchestra. That is a sign of the times. So I want to make the suggestion— and it is in line with the views of all other noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon —that the grant from the central Government must be increased. You cannot provide for the cultivation of the Arts without increasing the grant, and I would suggest that it should be increased by £1 million a year for the next three years, until it reaches a total of £6 million. I do not think you will achieve what I think is necessary under that amount.

I am not going to talk about novelists. I listened with great amusement to what the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and the noble Lord, Lord Willis, said about subsidising novelists. I think I should agree with them up to a point, so long as they exclude the people who write political reminiscences. I do not think those authors should be subsidised at all, particularly as that practice seems to be growing. After all there are plenty of lawyers about. Novelists do not want subsidising, and I am sure that any good lawyer will tell any author how he can get out of many of the troubles that Lord Willis had in mind, even if he cannot follow exactly Mr. Bond—whoever Mr. Bond is; I do not know.

That is the burden of what I wanted to say, and I hope that the Treasury will look at this matter very seriously. I do not want a Minister of the Arts, and I do not want the Arts Council to be altered. I think it does its job very well. I think the personnel have done their job well, and all they want now is far more encouragement and more money to carry on the good work they have done in the past.

6.9 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Auckland very much for having initiated this debate, which has brought many interesting facts to the surface. It has also had the wonderful effect of having broken the silence of the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, who I thought made a wonderful and moving maiden speech. I hope that silence will remain broken for a very long time. I must say, however, that I do not agree with my noble friend in the emphasis that he put on the importance of the Arts. To-day being what it is, I am tempted to wonder what would happen if it were known that the Derby were running at a loss. I think the Treasury would explode. Although it is true that this country could get along without the Derby, we want it; and it is even more true that we need music and the other Arts.

The noble Lord, Lord Auckland, also spoke of the importance of artistic education in State schools. It has been my experience that musical education in State schools, certainly in the primary grade, is a great deal better than in the private prep. school. I look back to the time when I was Director of Music at Epsom College, and each term had to look among the new boys who had arrived for possible members of the chapel choir. Almost invariably not one of them could read music and the great majority of them seemed never even to have heard of it; whereas the State primary schools, I think, do far better. So far as secondary schools are concerned, I would say that the level is pretty equal. There are some public schools which are outstanding in this respect, and there are also some outstanding grammar schools.

In the Report which we are considering mention is made of the suggestion that a Ministry of Arts should be created. The noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, said that she frowned upon that, and I should like to add my frown to it, too. I should like to say here and now that it is the last thing that any member of the artistic professions would want. Those who are artists, actors, architects and musicians do not want to be tied up to a Government policy. It might possibly mean that they would I earn a little more, but it would certainly mean a lessening of their artistic freedom, and that is the thing they treasure above all.

I want to deal chiefly with the section of the musical profession which raises the greatest financial problem, our orchestras. I have examined the situation with five of our major orchestras and I have no reason to think that the circumstances are any different for the others. The Report of the Arts Council seems a little complacent about this situation, but the hard fact is that all these orchestras—and they are, as others of your Lordships have said, among the finest in the world—are running at a very heavy loss. This is not altogether due to lack of public interest—though I shall have something to say about that later on—but is chiefly due to the very heavy expenses of production.

The Musicians' Union, for instance, have recently demanded increased fees for orchestral players, and I am not for a moment implying that this demand is not justifiable. Indeed I think it is, for the orchestral player's life is one of the hardest working of any. I think very few who are not in some way connected with the musical profession realise what a tremendous strain this life is. An orchestral player has very little time to himself. When he is not rehearsing, playing or travelling to his work he must give up a good deal of his time to practice in order to keep up the very high standards which his profession demands. There is also another element which no one who has not actually been a working musician can understand; that is, the emotional strain. Any player who is worth his salt will put his whole self into a performance in order to bring out the interpretation to the full, which takes far more out of one than the mere physical effort, though the physical effort is in itself great enough. So I am not questioning the decision of the Musicians' Union. After all, the cost of living has gone up, and there is hardly a profession whose salaries have not been raised. What I am questioning is the policy of the Arts Council is not having increased their grants to a point which would cover the orchestras' deficits. There are, of course, other heavy expenses involved in an orchestral concert, such as the hire of the hall, the soloists' fees, if there are any soloists, which are often very heavy, and performing rights fees have to be paid on the work of any composer who died less than fifty years before. There may also be transport costs. All these expenses have to be met from three main sources: the sale of tickets, the grants from the Arts Council, and, in some cases, grants from local authorities. What is the result? The London Symphony Orchestra — and I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Auckland that it is one of the finest in the world—ended the year 1961–62 with a deficit of over £1,775. This is the result of working 60 to 70 hours per week, including travelling time, whereas Continental orchestras very seldom work more than 25 hours. Their halls are, on the whole, well attended. Therefore, what is the answer? It can only be that the grants from the Arts Council are hopelessly inadequate.

Another well-known orchestra work on a system of guarantees for specific concerts or series of concerts, and not on the year's work as a whole. Each year, however, they have to face the loss of from £2,000 to £3,000, over and above these guarantees, which of course the box office returns cannot hope to meet. These two orchestras I have mentioned are both London orchestras, but the situation with the provincial ones seems to be very much the same. One of them ended the year 1961–62 with a deficit of £8,367. Another, the Hallé Orchestra, finished up the year 1962–63 with a deficit, apart from box office returns, of £6,000. The only way, as they have said, to make this good is by giving more concerts. Even though they give far more than the average number of concerts per season, they finish every year with a deficit. The only one of the orchestras to which I wrote that seemed fairly satisfied with what they got was the Liverpool Philharmonic, and that appears to be because they are blessed with an extraordinarily enlightened and generous local government who regard that orchestra as one of their chief responsibilities.

Let us turn to the Arts Council's picture of the scene. They quote the acti- vities and the number of concerts of several orchestras, including all of the five to whom I wrote, but not once do they give the slightest indication that financial difficulties are extremely great or that any orchestra is running at a loss. They describe their very active seasons in full as though they were due to support of the Council, an implication which is far removed from the truth. How can our orchestras feel that they are getting anything but very meagre support when they realise that a Continental orchestra will get a guarantee during the year, as the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, has said, about ten times what we get? We in this country get £30,000, or less. I will give your Lordships one or two examples of what the Continental orchestras get; Stockholm Philharmonic, £183,000; The Amsterdam Concertgebouw, £233,000; the Berlin Philharmonic, £503,000. Does not that make our figures look rather ludicrous?

The question was raised (I think by the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe), as to whether it is necessary to maintain all these full-scale orchestras. My answer is that the results prove that it is, because they do not play only in their own particular centre; they go into all parts of the country, and all over the world. And attendance at these concerts would not be so high if these orchestras were redundant. Even in these days of broadcasting and recorded music, the music-loving public still want to hear live performances, and until one has heard them one cannot tell how different they are.

I should like now to consider a slightly different aspect of the problem. In arranging its programme for a particular concert, or series of concerts, the orchestra must naturally be careful to make it attractive to as large a section of the public as possible. They must therefore take care not to include more than a very sparse scattering of works by unknown composers, such as were mentioned by my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth, or even the less frequently played works of familiar composers. The young English composer thus stands a very poor chance of getting performances of his work. I would pass on to your Lordships a suggestion which has been made by no less a person than Sir Arthur Bliss, the Master of the Queen's Musick. He says that if and when the grants are increased to a reasonable level they should be accompanied by some such words as these, "It is hoped that you will give as much room in your programmes as you feel possible to works of contemporary British composers". No compulsion—just a hope. The fact is that the public have at last learned to enjoy good music but, unfortunately, have not got beyond the point where they enjoy only what they already know. In other words, they have not yet learned to listen. Therefore, the orchestras, for purely financial reasons, cannot afford to include a great deal in their programmes that is not well known.

The noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, mentioned Sir Robert Mayer, whose name, of course, is known throughout the country. I think there is a great deal of truth in what he said recently about the importance of strengthening the relationship between the public and the orchestra. He feels the necessity for a mutual sense of belonging: the orchestra belongs to the public; the public belongs to the orchestra. How is one to create this sense? We all know the wonderful work that he has done in organising concerts for young children. But, as he says, the problem occurs when they leave school, when the vast majority forget all about music. He tells me that he is about to organise a movement, known as Youth and Music, which will cater particularly for those between 15 and 25. If such people can be kept in touch with music I believe that it will prove to be a lasting love throughout their lives. I was particularly glad that the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, mentioned opera, as Sir Robert Mayer feels it very important that they should be made opera-minded, as well as concert-minded; and here I entirely agree with him. Opera has not even yet achieved general popularity in the same way as concert music has. I feel that if these ideals can be achieved, a very real bond of union between the orchestra and the public will be formed. We should be proud of our orchestras; they are very fine ones.

Much attention is paid nowadays, as your Lordships know, to science, to the marvellous discoveries that it has made and the explorations which it is making; and a great deal of it is very wonderful and very awe-inspiring. But the wonders of it should not blind us to the fact that not everything that is necessary for the human make-up can be based on science. A knowledge and appreciation of beauty in some form or other, whether it is music, poetry, drama, art or literature, is essential if we are to remain cultured men and women. And who can give a scientific definition of beauty? Therefore, the organisations which produce this beauty must be given the financial support to enable them to give it to the public. I am not criticising the Arts Council, because it is quite obvious that they cannot give what they have not been given. The real fault, of course, lies with the Treasury: they should give the Arts Council far more. And I am quite aware, too, of the fact that we in Parliament have no power to dictate to the Arts Council what their grants shall be: the Council, of course, are purely autonomous. On the other hand, we can at least see that the Council are given sufficient money to fulfil properly their reason for existence. Your Lordships heard, I think from the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, the figure for the total expenditure on arts—all the arts, mind you, not just music—for the current year: £3,205,000. That is an absolutely ludicrous figure when you consider that it includes every form of art in this country.

I should like to say just a word or two about the status of our best orchestras. During the last ten years or thereabouts they have so improved that they can now be considered as on a par with the best of the Continental orchestras. They go abroad, even behind the Iron Curtain, and in return the orchestras of other nations visit us. My noble friend Lord Drogheda mentioned the fact that this is an excellent thing for keeping up our prestige abroad.

No doubt many of your Lordships will have heard of a recent visit by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Bach Choir to Italy, which is not a country that is renowned for receiving foreign musicians kindly. The Orchestra and Choir gave no fewer than four performances of Britten's War Requiem and had a wonderful reception. The recording which the Bach Choir and the London Symphony Orchestra made of that same work was apparently acclaimed in America as the best classical recording of the year. Here I must declare a small interest, since I was in the Bach Choir at that time. Making that recording was a fascinating experience. One of the four performances that they gave was in the distinguished surroundings of La Scala at Milan. But these things cost money, and if the situation does not change some of our finest orchestras may have to close down. That will mean the loss of this prestige, and it will also mean unemployment for fine orchestral players. That, I think, will be a national disgrace to us, and I hope and pray that the Government will see fit to take action, and to take it quickly.

I want now to say a word about choral music, since this has not been mentioned during this debate. We have a number of fine choirs. As I am no longer in it, I can mention the Bach Choir, which is really a fine choir. Though I think it has six professional tenors, it is, of course, amateur, and as such, of course, gets no grant at all. But, choral music being really the English tradition of music, it seems that it should receive a great deal more support from the Arts Council. Whether choral societies be amateur or professional, I feel that they should receive some support for their activities if their quality warrants it.

My Lords, I should like to conclude by saying a few words on a totally different subject. Recently I received a letter from the Assistant General Secretary of the British Actors' Equity Association, which is, to all intents and purposes, the trade union behind the stage. I will not quote his letter in full as it is a long one; I will quote just one or two sentences. He says: It has long been Equity's view that the Arts Council is insufficiently representative. Appointed people are really not answerable to anyone. Quite often, they are not in touch with the main body of opinion which can keep them apprised of developments. Incidentally, this suggestion was confirmed by the noble Lord, Lord Willis. The writer goes on: The situation is even worse in the field of ballet, for there is no ballet advisory group, and recommendations on the subject are made by the Music Panel, which is without informed ballet opinion. Then he goes on to show how one of our largest ballet companies, the Festival Ballet, is in a perilous position. He says: The Festival Ballet became a non-profit distributing company in September, 1962, and since that time the London County Council has supported them to the extent of something approaching £100,000. As a member of the London County Council, I know that the L.C.C. thinks it has had good value for money. At the same time, the Festival Ballet management also applied to the Arts Council for aid but they were turned down. Now, apparently, the L.C.C. have decided that they are no longer going on with that grant of £100,000, and so the Festival Ballet is forced, or is likely to be forced, into a merger with a much smaller company, the Ballet Rambert. It seems a great tragedy that any company with a reputation like the Festival Ballet Company should lose its individuality by a merger like this, and due only to the fact that it is not being supported financially either by the L.C.C. or by the Arts Council. I sincerely hope that the Arts Council will be allowed more to give to the artistic organisations of this country, and that we shall have some encouraging words from my noble friend Lord Dundee.

6.39 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to begin by thanking my noble friend Lord Auckland for initiating yet another debate on the Arts. I welcome this 18th Report of the Arts Council, with its record of a continuing achievement in all fields of the Arts. Particularly satisfactory, is the Treasury agreement to fix the Council's grant in advance for 1964–65 and 1965–66. This should materially assist the Council in planning ahead for new developments.

When your Lordships last debated the activities of the Arts Council, in March, 1963, there were several suggestions that too much of the Council's grant was spent in London and not enough in the Provinces. I have not heard that repeated to-day. It is certainly of the utmost importance that the Council's activities should be diffused throughout the country, and I believe that the record contained in Schedule 3 of the Annual Report, of grants and guarantees, which have been referred to by my noble friend Lord Cottesloe, for music, drama and art, made to orchestras, theatres and arts clubs all over England shows that the Arts Council is doing its best in this respect. But it is only to be expected that the Council grants tend to be distributed in areas where there has already developed an enthusiastic and spontaneous support of one or other of the Arts. A great deal is done for the encouragement of the Arts by local festival societies, and it is satisfactory to note that nearly £18,000 was spent in 1962–63 on no fewer than twelve Festivals of the Arts. I know that the Arts Council grants very often make all the difference to the financial stability of the Festival Societies and no doubt without them one or other might be unable to continue. As nearly every year I attend the Ludlow Festival which is near my home in the country, I am well aware of the tremendous interest which can be aroused locally by such festivals for good music, good theatre and the visual Arts.

I should like to say a word about the removal of the Arts Council's exhibitions from the Tate Gallery to the South Bank, which I understand is likely to take place in 1966 or 1967 when the Arts Council will lease from the London County Council a new gallery which is to be built in that area somewhere between the Festival Hall and Waterloo Bridge. This removal will release much needed space in the Tate Gallery which for a great part of the year is occupied by the temporary exhibitions of the Arts Council at the expense of the showing of the permanent Tate Gallery collection. In a sense, therefore, the move will be of advantage to the Tate Gallery.

However there is another side to the medal, which is no doubt appreciated by the Trustees. These exhibitions take to the Tate Gallery a very large public who would not otherwise go there and who in future will go to the South Bank instead, unless the facilities for car parking and restaurants on the South Bank arc as bad as has been suggested. Of course, we cannot know how magnetic the South Bank site will be. To give your Lordships some idea of the figures involved, I would quote the numbers who have attended some of these exhibitions in recent years: the Modigliani and Soutine Exhibition, 55,000; Kokoscka, 80,000; Toulouse-Lautrec, 120,000; Daumier, 34,000; Max Ernst, 27,000; Epstein, 33,000; Picasso, 464,000; Braque, 51,000; and, going back a little further, Treasures for Vienna, 277,000.

There can be no doubt that the Tate benefits from the vast influx of additional visitors provided by these exhibitions in that its own permanent collections become more widely known. To that extent the South Bank's gain will be a loss to the Tate Gallery. By the same principle the advantage of concentrating several national collections in one building or area has always been obvious, as the visitors to one collection tend to visit another in the same building or area which they would not do if the collections were widely dispersed. But, quite apart from the space taken up by the Arts Council's exhibitions, the Tate Gallery collections have out-paced the accommodation for them and new galleries are now an urgent priority. Fortunately, there is available on the Tate Gallery site a more than adequate space for a new building development that could include not only a museum of modern art, but also possibly a gallery where outside exhibitions could be held.

I think that there is a growing realisation among those interested that sooner or later some modification of the organisation of the Tate Gallery may be necessary. This is due to the increase in the collections, to the necessity for a building programme on the site and to the tempo of developments in contemporary painting and sculpture. Some believe that it might be an appropriate solution if the Tate Gallery were divided into a Museum of 20th century and 21st century Art, comprising both British and foreign modern and contemporary paintings and sculpture, and a British Collection up to, say, 1900. If such a scheme were adopted both the Museum of Modern Art and the British Collection would presumably need officials of no less a grade than Keeper to be in charge of them and to be personally responsible to the Trustees, and the Director would become a kind of administrative overlord comparable to the Director of the British Museum. Both collections would presumably remain on the Tate Gallery site. Such a solution would also satisfy those who feel that the traditional collection needs far more attention than it receives at present owing to the many gaps in the works of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries which are increasingly difficult to fill as old master pictures become scarcer and more expensive owing to American purchases in this field. That is all I want to say, except to associate myself entirely with all those noble Lords who do not want a Minister of the Fine Arts.



My Lords, this is the third in our present series of debates, which started with Automation, then Leisure, then, I believe the correct term is, focusing down to the Arts. We are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, for allowing us to talk on a rather narrower subject than those of the wider debates we had before—and even this debate has gone pretty wide. Indeed, I think the debate would rather suggest, judging by the very interesting but rather lengthy speeches, that art is long and life is short. Ars Longford, vita brevis.


My Lords, may I interrupt my noble friend to say that I was far shorter than most of the leading speakers?


At any rate, I think it has been an encouraging debate on the whole. We have looked at the good side and we have found it very good, though I think we can sum up the views expressed by saying that there is nothing like enough of the good. One speech, certainly, has stood out in this debate, and that was the quite outstanding speech of my noble friend Lady Gaitskell. It was quite obvious that the House, which was very ready to appreciate her speech, was in fact very gratified to find that its judgment was well based; because it was a quite outstanding, forthright maiden speech, making some straight hitting of a not too controversial kind—which was right—and there was a very broad and intelligent perspective at the end. The noble Baroness is going to have a real job if she is to achieve that standard all the time.

My Lords, I think that the Arts Council —and the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, can be gratified—has had a pretty easy run to-day. My noble friend Lord Willis and the noble Lord, Lord Somers, made certain suggestions about the membership of the Arts Council, and even if in theory there is not the justification for elected membership, it may well be that in purely human terms people will be more likely to feel content if there is some element of elected membership. There may be difficulty in this, but it is an idea that is at least worth looking at. I do not know whether the Arts Council is smug or out of touch—any Establishment body is always called smug and out of touch. But there is no doubt that it has succeeded quite strikingly in the purposes which were set for it—those of priming the pump and setting up standards—and we can look with pride and satisfaction at these results. I would suggest to the Government that when we are looking at the results, we are looking at them not to praise ourselves, but only to show what can be done with a comparatively small amount of money.

When one looks back to 1914, I think it is true to say that Beecham actually had to import an orchestra. But in certain respects to-day, if this country does not lead the world—and in some subjects I think that it does lead the world—it is, at any rate, right up in the front. Once we were despised artistically, but to-day British ballet is certainly the finest, apart possibly from that in Moscow. Although it may be suggested that we have always produced great actors, the fact remains that after 50 years the National Theatre is at last coming into being, and we have not one but two; and, indeed, duplicate National Theatre Companies. Of course, the noble Earl, Lord Drogheda, can himself share to a very strong degree in the satisfaction about the achievement of Covent Garden. Only a few days ago I was talking to a very intelligent and charming Frenchwoman, who was prepared to pay almost any price for the privilege of going to see Othello. Visits to Glyndebourne are, of course, almost a matter of cultural prestige to foreigners; but this applies not only to Glyndebourne, but also to Covent Garden, and this is a matter for very great pride.

None the less, having looked at this really splendid advance which has been produced with comparatively little money, we have the other side of the tale, which was so well illustrated in the speeches of my noble friend Lord Willis, the noble Lord, Lord Somers, and my noble friend Lady Gaitskell. Of course, we are doing nothing like as much from a State or community effort point of view to support the Arts, and it is in the housing of the Arts that we are in the weakest position. As regards the new Shakespeare Theatre being on the old Mercury site, I thought the Ballet Rambert was at one time on the Mercury site. Incidentally, apropos of one remark, I shall be rather sorry if the Ballet Rambert have the Festival Ballet —I will not say foisted on them; though I will not develop this point because I do not wish to become controversial in artistic terms. But I believe the new Theatre will have 600 seats and rather more than half of them will be at a reasonably low price of 10s. or less. This will immediately make it a great deal more profitable. Housing the Arts may be expensive, but it does make it possible, certainly in the theatre, for the cash customers to come in. It is in this field that the big effort must be made in the next few years. It is a fact that we need not four first-class concert halls, but forty. We cannot look with any satisfaction on the situation until there are enough; and, anyway, we are going to lose one of those four great concert halls for a year.

This is something in which there must be partnership between Government and local authority. Whether or not there is a direct grant, let us face the fact that quite a lot of money for this will not come from the Arts Council; it will come, as for certain other things, from a direct decision of the Government. If Manchester want to build a new opera house or theatre, or concert hall, or whatever it is, which they will certainly need, this will call for some fairly large direct Government expenditure. So I think there is no chance of any Government's being able to soldier along on the £3 million they give to the Arts Council; and in fact they have not done so. There have been important decisions in the past, and there have been important decisions by individual Chancellors of the Exchequer. I think we should pay tribute to some of those, particularly Hugh Dalton and Sir Stafford Cripps. Despite the pressure at that time, when they were having to cut other Departments, I remember going on a delegation to Sir Stafford Cripps to ask for more money for the Hallé Orchestra, and being told that he could not give it, if only for the reason that he had cut everything else except his contributions to the orchestras. My Lords, there have been these important decisions. Surprisingly, this matter depends on a degree of individual leadership in Government; and it is the fact that Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, who has frequently been criticised in this House, took some bold decisions in his time, particularly with regard to the National Theatre.

Having got on to the subject of orchestras, I should like to support very strongly what the noble Lord, Lord Somers, said. Recalling this occasion when I went on this delegation to Sir Stafford Cripps, it was simply in order to get enough money to allow the Hallé time for rehearsals; to allow a decent time for travelling; to provide an opportunity for them to do what Continental orchestras sometimes do—to produce a quartet or an octet; to allow time for training and helping the new generation, and, indeed, to operate under decent conditions without the degree of overwork and insecurity that so many orchestras have. We certainly cannot take pride, despite the great artistic advance in the standard of our orchestras, when in some respects conditions are so bad for them. This is a point which I think the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, stressed at some length. It has nothing to do with the policy of the Arts Council, but, as every noble Lord has made clear, is entirely to do with the amount of money that the Government or the community are prepared to put into it.

We have faced squarely to-day this very difficult, simple argument that is put forward: would you rather have a decent orchestra or better housing? But those of us who are concerned with these matters would argue that art, good music and orchestras are essential to human happiness. Indeed, I think we could argue that the money which is put into these things brings in a greater return for less expenditure than any single form of Government subvention. That is why it is so disastrous and awful that, at the moment, some of these local authorities—and my noble friends Lord Willis and Lady Gaitskell made this clear—are doing absolutely nothing about it. We cannot, of course, tell local authorities what to do: they are independent bodies. But it may be that we can shame them. It may be that "TW3" having gone for Stratford, and my noble friend Lord Willis and others having gone for Stratford, they will make some contribution to the most profitable enterprise in their community. It may be we should have a black-list which should be published.

I have also studied this interesting but rather indigestible (if I may say so) Institute of Municipal Entertainment's survey, and I think that, while we cannot expect the Arts Council publicly to berate local authorities, they should not refrain from publishing the gist of this sort of information, so that people may know. It may be that this will stir certain local authorities into activity. It is striking how a few individuals may be able to swing a local authority in the right direction. One noble Lord (I cannot remember whether it was the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, or another noble Lord) had hopes that at last the number of local councils who were in favour of a particular proposal was increasing each year, and that at last the balance would tip over; and any publicity which is given may help in this direction.

We know the figures given in the Report, of course. The expenditure (I think this was mentioned by one noble Lord) by local authorities out of the so-called 6d. rate provision comes to £7½ million, but after deduction of the income the actual expenditure is only £2½ million —that £7½ million is, I believe, the gross figure—and, of that, only about a quarter of a million pounds is spent on the Fine Arts. In fact, the 6d. rate, if it were used, would yield £52 million, which is vastly more than any of us is thinking is necessary now. Therefore, this is something which I would say seriously is coming out of this debate. I think there is a demand to the Government that steps should be taken, not by passing a law but by coercion, to stimulate local authorities. There is only one way, I think, in which this can be done, and that is by some degree of matching expenditure pound for pound; and this will be particularly so on the capital side in the provision of new buildings.

Having looked at the black side, I should say that, of course, there are certain local authorities which have come along very well, some of them very recently. Bristol is a very striking example, with the Bristol Old Vic and the Little Theatre, and the linking with Bristol University and the drama school there. It is interesting to see that the tide, which in the Provinces appeared to be going the wrong way, is at last turning, and that a number of local theatres (and my noble friend Lord Willis gave examples: places like Salisbury and Colchester) are beginning, admittedly with difficulty, to make some real progress. Here again we find this patchy support from local authorities; and the one thing which bedevils the whole of this field, and which was again so evident from the speeches of certain of my noble friends and of the noble Lord, Lord Somers, and others, is the complete insecurity of the whole business. It is a good thing, as we learn from that interesting and light-hearted introduction to the Arts Council Report, that they have got on to a three-year basis. It is an improvement, even if it has removed certain speculative excitement. One would like to see them actually get on to a quinquennial basis; and clearly, of course, they will need further money.

I do not want to detain the House long at this time, because it is getting late, but I would press very hard that the Government should consider the necessity of stimulation; and in our type of society, and in a democracy, we have to use incentives. Every speaker has attacked the idea of a Ministry of Fine Arts. Indeed, I think we might stop attacking it now, because I do not believe that anybody is ever going seriously to suggest it. I think it is something which we have now satisfactorily disposed of here, and which I think is satisfactorily disposed of everywhere. Indeed, I know of no responsible political body which would advocate it. It is interesting to look at the views of the political Parties, admittedly at a rather primitive stage, to see what they would like to do.

The Conservative Party Arts and Amenities Group advocate the Ministry of Works—and, although this may in the first instance sound a little odd, there are considerable grounds for it, particularly in relation to housing the Arts. The Labour Party view, also at a rather tentative stage, is that in either case the Arts Council should remain the sort of independent body that it is to-day, but that, instead of the Treasury being their master, so to speak, or their paymaster, some independent Minister without Portfolio of high Cabinet rank, equivalent to the role which the Lord President played in relation to science, should be their friend, their sponsor and their voice in Government. But, here again, it is important to have someone who is sympathetic, who understands and is prepared to take this seriously in the order of priorities.

My Lords, we ought not, of course, to forget the other forms of patronage; and there has been some brief talk about this today. It is satisfactory that the Church is in some degree remembering its traditional rôle. We must remember that the Church, certainly in the Middle Ages, was the great patron of the Arts; and when one goes to Coventry Cathedral —not everyone may agree—one sees that there, at least, they were discharging that rôle. Then there has recently been some talk of industry. I should be very interested to see what, if anything—and I hope it will be something—comes out of the plans by the Institute of Directors; and, of course, they have got the very man to put it across.

My Lords, industry can do more, and, although I am not trying (and I really do want to make this clear) to sell the views of my own firm—and I am now speaking of the John Lewis Partnership —I should like to mention that it is perfectly possible for a firm to recognise that what is good for the public must be good for their own people. For this reason, because we do not spend money on advertising—and I am not saying whether this is good or bad—it is very simple for us to spend money on taking orchestras to towns and other places where we have our branches. If we want to add to the appeal of the orchestra, we take someone like Tereso Breganza, as we did in the case of a very remarkable concert in the Sheldonian. It is possible—and my noble friend Lady Gaitskell referred to the Piper window that she saw—for industry to recognise their obligation, and to recognise that to do so is in their own interests because it is in the interests of their workers or their shareholders as citizens of the country.

I hope the Arts Council will devote a little more effort to bringing pressure on industry —again of a gentle kind, and perhaps through more publicity—to point out what industry can do in this field. One has only to look at how Glyndebourne was saved to realise the important part that industry may have to play when the Government fail to step in. The principle is always to give a little bit better than has been asked for. This is the principle the B.B.C. has applied all through the years, and that is why standards have been raised.

There are many subjects I should have liked to deal with. It is fortunate in a debate of this kind that we have so many noble Lords directly concerned in this field, either as patrons or as organisers in a public capacity, or, indeed, as artists themselves. I know that certain noble Lords wanted to take part in the debate. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Wilmot of Selmeston, has not been able to do so, but he has, very properly, just flown to Athens, and he asked me to make his apologies. I think it is true that at no time in our history— and one noble Lord spoke about the 18th century in regard, I think, to painting —has this country played such a part in the Arts as it is playing to-day. This, again, is the result of a comparatively small sum of money. According to one estimate I have heard, we are spending a sum which runs into more than £100 million in teaching appreciation of me Arts, against the total education Bill. If this is so, and if there is this potential demand which appears to be growing, then fulfilment must be found for it.

At the moment the Government spend in all about £13 million on the Ants. This includes sums spent on historical buildings, ancient monuments and so on. Other noble Lords mentioned the figure we spend on science and development; and, as is usual, at some point somebody mentioned the egg subsidy of £35 million. These figures are not comparable and we accept that; nevertheless, I would say that we have had such a good return already, so much more is to be done, and there was so much eloquence in the speeches of noble Lords to-day that I hope the Government will increase the amount spent on the Arts or at least start looking at a larger sum, not merely for the coming year but for the following years, in order to meet these demands, and will bear in mind when doing so that it must be linked with local consent and local activities.

I have seen something of the difficulties of local festivals, the Battle Festival, and others. All of them go to the Arts Council for help and come away disgruntled and hostile, not because of the fault of the Arts Council but because the money is not there. So much initiative and keenness is shown that it should be possible to work not only with the local authorities but with dedicated volunteers throughout communities, so that this money, if available, will bring a very powerful return in happiness.

7.15 p.m.


My Lords, I am most sincerely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for his speech, which interested me very much indeed and I am sure it interested all your Lordships greatly. I am also grateful for the noble Lord's brevity and for the classical quotation with which he justified it. It reminded me of the famous tombstone, in Cornwall, I think, which bears that quotation. It is on the grave of a young artist, and the 18th century punning inscription reads: Here lie the remains of Jonathan Long-bottom, artist, who departed this life at the early age of 22 years. Ars longa vita brevis" I had expected this debate to be of an unusually high order.


My Lords, do you think that if there were some rule against obscenity in your Lordships' House the noble Earl would be ruled out of order for that last remark?


My Lords, I thought the noble Earl took an unusually long time to perform the mental translation; but his speech, if I may say so, was of an equally high and interesting kind, and he evidently has very rapid means of acquiring information because it was very early in the afternoon when he began his speech by telling us he had always been a believer in Santa Claus. We all know that the noble Earl is a man who usually acts on his beliefs, and I congratulate him on having done so on this occasion, even though the probability of his belief being true was only 15-8. When the noble Earl went on to deliver his moving speech about giving the generosity worthy of Santa Claus to deserving but impecunious writers I could not help wondering whether he had also had an even more profitable belief in Dilettante, which I see got a place at 100-1. I can promise the noble Earl that I will certainly submit his arguments, so far as it is constitutionally possible for me to do so, to all the authorities who might be concerned with them.

May I also offer the congratulations of the House to the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell on her remarkably good maiden speech. On all sides of the House we were, and are, delighted to welcome the noble Lady here. I was at school with Hugh Gaitskell more than forty years ago, but I did not know him then nearly so well as I came to know him the year before last— less than a year before the end of his life—when we went together for a week to Bermuda for an Anglo-Parliamentary Union meeting. It was a most interesting week, but we did not spend all the time on business. We spent a good deal of time bathing, and Hugh Gaitskell was kind enough not only to lend me his snorkel, which I had never used before, but also to teach me how to swim in such a position as to enjoy the spectacle of submarine life. I admired the wonderful clarity and charm with which the noble Lady delivered her speech and I am sure that we all hope to hear her again.

I think everything the noble Lady said was true. I think she got all her facts right, and I agree with all of it. She frowned (or added her frown) on the idea of a Ministry of Culture, and, curiously enough, these sentiments were expressed this afternoon by almost every one of your Lordships who spoke—even the noble Lord, Lord Willis, who wanted a little more effective Parliamentary control, said he was against having a Minister of Fine Arts. And, of course, I am against it, too. It is very convenient for the Government not to have it because it means that although people may criticise what is being done, they cannot blame the Government, for the Government are not responsible. The noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, was very eloquent about how it would utterly ruin the art of this country if we allowed Government interference. The noble Lord, Lord Amulree, said it would destroy everything that was best in art. I agree with that, although I could not help feeling that if some European stranger had been listening to our debate he could not have helped noticing that the countries whose example some noble Lords held up to us, as spending £39 million against our £13½ million, and £4 million on opera alone, had Ministries of Fine Arts or of Culture.

The reason for their development is an historical and rather interesting one. The foundation of the great opera houses and the system of subsidising art in Europe was started by the autocratic rulers of Germany, Austria, Italy and France in the 18th century. On the whole they were people of good artistic taste. They imposed the taxes they wanted and devoted a large proportion of their revenue to the Arts. When they came to be overthrown a hundred or two hundred years later by democratic regimes, the people were so accustomed to Ministries of Fine Arts and to public financing and control of art, opera and the theatre that they went on with the same system under their democratic Governments.

In this country it was different. Parliament would not vote a penny to the Arts. But in the 18th and the 19th centuries a large number of very rich private individuals gave large sums of money for that purpose. Your Lordships may remember that in the debate in 1958 to which my noble friend Lord Drogheda referred we were discussing the report of the Arts Council which was entitled A New Pattern of Patronage, which pointed out that even up to 1938 private munificence came first in the support of the Arts, but that in 1958 it was at the bottom, less than the contribution by Government and industry and all other sources of support. It went on to say that it was a good thing that support of the Arts should not be given all by one institution like the State and that there should be a great deal of variety.

As there is such universal agreement about this matter, the only comment I would make is that it is difficult for Parliamentary criticism to have teeth put into it. I hope that everybody concerned listens to the criticisms which are expressed both here and in another place about the Arts, and acts on them in accordance with their merits. But if the Government were responsible, Parliamentary criticism could be enforced by either a Vote of Censure or by a reduction of the Vote to the Ministry of Fine Arts. In that case the Government might have to resign, but, as things are now, if Parliament decided on a reduction of the grant in the Civil Estimates for the Arts Council, I do not know quite what would happen. If the Arts Council resigned I doubt whether we could find another Council to put in its place, whereas I am sure that if the Government were to resign many noble Lords would think, or profess to think, that nothing would be easier than to find a substitute.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord?


I am not going to say very much more.


Then perhaps it is just as well for me to intervene. It would be difficult to criticise the Government for the errors of the Arts Council, but many of us have the view that the Government can be criticised for the size of the grant to the Arts Council. Would the noble Earl acquit the Government of responsibility for that?


My Lords, I was perfectly certain that the ingenuity of the noble Earl would enable him to find justification for criticism of the Government, however great the difficulty might be of doing it. As the noble Baroness said, we have a rather shamefaced and inhibited attitude towards the Arts and we are spending much less than would he ideal. There has been so much general acquiescence on these matters in the debate that I am not going to spend any time in arguing about them. All that I want to do is to give a very sketchy, or at least brief, précis of the progress which has been made since the last Government report on Government and the Arts in Britain. There is another one coming out soon, but this one was published six years ago.

The National Theatre Company has been created and is playing to full houses at the Old Vic. An architect has been appointed to prepare designs and estimates for a new building on the South Bank. There has been increased level of support from the Arts Council to the repertory theatres in the Provinces and in Scotland. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Auckland for his sympathetic references to Scotland, where they have suffered two cruel misfortunes in the last eighteen months, by the burning down of the St. Andrew's Hall in Glasgow and the new repertory theatre in Dundee, which after long and difficult effort we had at last managed to get and which I hope will be repaired. Scotland has now a Gallery of Modern Art, and plans have been worked out and will be put into effect to give the people of London a new museum of London, amalgamating the present one and the Guildhall collections.

As the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, said, in the last six years our total expenditure more than doubled, from about £6½ million to £13½ million. He compared it with our expenditure on science of £700 million, but of course that is not quite a fair comparison, because the expenditure on science includes everything that is spent by all people of every kind, whereas this £13 million is only part of what is spent by the Government alone. As he also said, the grant to the Arts Council is now fixed for a period of three years at a time, giving an annual increase of approximately 10 per cent., so as to allow for reasonable expansion in the Council's activities together with any increase in cost. Provision without Covent Garden is about £2,100,000 and for Covent Garden another £1,055,000 for this year. The Exchequer is giving substantial assistance towards the heavy capital expenditure which had to be undertaken in connection with essential work and rewiring of the house and stage of the opera and the reconstruction of the amphitheatre and gallery. Some people will think the amount we are spending is very large, and other people will think it is pitifully small. It is all a matter of how one looks at it.

My noble friend Lord Drogheda, for whose speech I was grateful, asked me if I could improve on the statement which had been made some time ago by my noble friend Lord Waldegrave about Covent Garden Market authority. As I did not hear my noble friend's statement and cannot remember it, I do not know whether or not my statement will be an improvement on it, but at least I think it means something. It will be for the Market authority and for the Greater London Council as planning authority to decide what should be done with such part of the present Covent Garden Market area as can be made available for other purposes. The Government have already expressed sympathy with the desire of the Royal Opera House to acquire extra space for rehearsals in the neighbourhood. That must not be taken as implying any commitment as regards financing of such an arrangement, but of course we would take all these matters into account in fixing the triennial grants.

Not only the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, but many other noble Lords have spoken about the contribution of local authorities. I think that it is fair to say that, with the exception of the London County Council, who have done very well, the majority have not done so well as they might. About two-thirds of the Arts Council triennial grant is spent outside London.

Under Section 132 of the 1948 Act local authorities in England and Wales are empowered to spend up to the equivalent of a 6d. rate—in Scotland, I think, it is a little less, but not much less—on the provision of entertainment. The Institute of Municipal Entertainment recently published the result of a survey which they carried out into the use made of this section in the year 1961–62. They sent a questionnaire to 996 authorities, of whom 149 did not make any reply and 235 submitted nil returns. The remaining 535 were responsible between them for a net expenditure of £2½ million, representing on average a fraction of just a 1d. rate; and, of course, this would be less on the new valuation. This includes expenditure on sport and other forms of entertainment, which really could not, under the widest definition, be classed as artistic or cultural.

Clearly there is room for much more activity and initiative by local authorities, and it is not reasonable to expect the Arts Council to make all the running. I am always glad to hear criticisms of the Government for not spending more, although it is often made by the same people who condemn them for spending too much when the Budget comes round. But I think that by exercising a small part of the discretion which Parliament has given them, local authorities could give far more to the Arts. And this would be of more value than an increase in the Arts Council grant in many ways, because the qualitative benefit of such local development would be greater, as deliberate local support is worth more than Whitehall patronage. But there are some promising developments. There is the North Eastern Association for the Arts, which was set up two or three years ago. That Association has an active programme for raising funds and sponsoring major artistic projects. The Arts Council gives a grant to the Association and has considerably increased the level of its support in the current year. I think this money is very well spent.

We are all grateful to my noble friend Lord Auckland for raising this subject. He asked me a number of questions, to many of which I will do my best to reply separately. One point that he and others of your Lordships raised is the question of consultation between the Arts Council and the British Council. The Arts Council is not responsible for what is done abroad. Their grant is strictly limited to the cultivation and promotion of the Arts at home. But their advice is most valuable, and I am sure there would he no objection to trying to see if vie could get more regular and frequent consultation between the Arts Council and other bodies like the British Council, who arrange for British artists to go abroad.

I had the great privilege of being at the British Week in Dusseldorf and Duisburg last week and I saw one of the finest performances of the Royal Ballet which I have ever seen. It really was magnificent, and I can tell your Lordships that it went down very well with the Germans. I inquired who was financing it. It was neither the Arts Council nor the British Council, but the Board of Trade. This was a trade week, and they had given some of the finance for this purpose. I should like to add that nearly as much was being contributed by the German local authorities in Dusseldorf and Duisburg, both to the Royal Ballet and to the orchestral performances and the art exhibitions which were shown there.

I am also glad to hear what my noble friend Lord Auckland said about children. He emphasised, I think rightly, the greater interest that is being taken among schoolchildren and the youth of the country in art. He mentioned Tchaikovsky's music and the Royal Albert Hall; he mentioned what was happening in the Provinces; he mentioned the promenade concerts, and also the Festival Hall where there have been, I think, twelve series of concerts in the last ten years, six every year, and every one has been attended by about 2,000 schoolchildren. My noble friend was right, I think, in saying that their interest and enjoyment was as great as that of many grown-up people, and it showed that it was not at all typical of British youth to go around misbehaving themselves at Margate and other places.

He asked what was being done about art in the State schools. There is now special accommodation for the study and performance of the Arts. That is a feature of all new schools built since the war. Facilities are provided for music, drama, painting and pottery-making under the instruction of specialist teachers, and more attention is being paid to music. Sound-proofed rooms are now being provided in State schools for orchestral practice, as well as cubicles for solo instrumentalists. Some remarkable results have been achieved by school orchestras and choirs. There are also more outings to museums and art galleries, and concerts are also arranged both inside and outside the curriculum. Especially popular have been the concerts arranged for schools on Saturday mornings and afternoons at the Royal Festival Hall. It would be impossible to disentangle the expense of these things from the whole of our expenditure on education, and it would not be particularly interesting. But there is no doubt that a great deal more is being given to that, than to the Arts Council, and I am sure your Lordships will agree that it is equally well spent.


My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down, may I draw his attention to the question I raised about novelists and the public library lending right, and ask him whether he will give consideration to the suggestion referred to which has great support in the Society of Authors and among authors generally?


I certainly will, and I will write to the noble Lord on the point.

7.37 p.m.


My Lords, despite a very important event two miles from my home in Surrey, we have had a very full attendance here to-day and a stimulating debate. I should like to say again how grateful I am to all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate. Anybody who criticises this House for being complacent will surely have been confounded to-day by the standard of the debate. I should like to pay my own tribute to the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell. I paid a tribute early on, before I heard her speech, and having heard it, may I say that it was a speech of which Parliament as a whole can be proud. It is the first occasion on which I have had the privilege of extending congratulations to a maiden speaker, and if I may say so there are few people to whom I would rather have had the opportunity of so doing. The noble Baroness spoke sincerely and powerfully, and the House is certainly the better for her inclusion in it.

All noble Lords have contributed valuable material to the debate, and I should like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, for his full and courteous reply. I think the point about local government help for the Arts has been strongly made, and I certainly hope that local authorities will read very carefully what has been said. In thanking again all who have taken part, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.