HL Deb 30 June 1971 vol 321 cc316-7

2.33 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are prepared to help the National Youth Orchestra overcome the serious financial problem with which they are now faced.]


My Lords, grants to individual organisations in the arts are a matter for the Arts Council, who are well aware of the position of the National Youth Orchestra. I have myself enjoyed their concerts on several occasions.


My Lords, in thanking the Paymaster General for that reply, may I ask him whether he is aware that this is a very fine orchestra, and whether it is not possible for the Ministry of Education to give a little shove to the Arts Council towards saving and preserving such a fine orchestra?


My Lords, the grant is £20,000, which is rather more than half the last budget of the National Youth Orchestra, and I must leave it to the Arts Council to decide whether or not to increase any particular grant of this kind.


My Lords, is the noble Viscount the Paymaster General, whose work as Minister of Education I well remember with gratitude, aware that this is one of the great young orchestras of the world, and that a word from him might persuade the Arts Council to make a greater grant to a very great young orchestra?


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his intervention. I knew Dame Ruth King from the earliest times of this orchestra, and I agree with what the noble Lord says. Perhaps the words we have heard here this afternoon may reach Piccadilly.


My Lords, would not my noble friend agree that this orchestra is an extremely valuable source of future material for our main orchestras? And would he confirm that its annual expenditure is £35,000 and its income is £13,000, leaving a gap of £22,000, of which £20,000, as he says, is provided by the Arts Council? This year, the orchestra will be able, I understand, to make good from capital the extra £2,000; but can my noble friend say whether it would be possible for the Arts Council to give a little more to help them next year?


My Lords, my noble friend's arithmetic is quite right; the gap is £2,000. This is not really very considerable, and I feel that those who care for this orchestra might find ways and means of bridging what is really quite a small amount.


My Lords, is the noble Viscount aware that some of us regard with great approbation his firm resolve to leave the ultimate decisions in these matters to the Arts Council?