§ 6.56 p.m.
§ LORD MAELOR rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will, through the Welsh Office, financially assist the Llangollen International Festival in view of its importance to Wales and to the over 30 foreign nations who participate annually in this unique Festival. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am sure there is no need for me to explain to your Lordships what is meant by the Llangollen International Festival. Nor would it be possible for me to describe it; it baffles description; it can only be experienced. It has been acclaimed by the news media as a minor miracle. We often use the phrase "out of this world". Those who spend the week at this Festival just feel that they have been out of the world for that period.
§ My Lords, it behoves me to explain how it originated and how it has been sustained for the last 28 years. The idea was originally conceived towards the end of hostilities in 1945. Members of Allied Governments in this country, notably Free French and Norwegian, visiting the National Eisteddfod of Wales were quick to note the unique character of the occasion, particularly the friendly ease with which Welsh cultural and artistic expression and presentation were blended freely and warmly to the social inter-mingling of every class of person in attendance. It was this general social concern among many thousands of people for cultural, intellectual and even spiritual matters, which prompted one of the foreign visitors to remark that he saw great potential for future reconciliation and improved understanding among the nations if an effort was made to stage a similar event on an international basis.1980
§ Mr. Harold Tudor, who had been seconded from the Liverpool Daily Post to the British Council, took up the idea and consulted Mr. W. S. Gwyn-Williams of Llangollen as to its practicability. Mr. Gwyn-Williams, of National Eisteddfod fame, has acted as Music Director of the Llangollen International Festival from its inception. He was the one Welsh musician who had been privileged to adjudicate in choral competitions on the Continent, and was for many years treasurer of the International Folk Music Council, and he gave every encouragement to the idea.
§ These two gentlemen then sought a host town for such a festival and approached several local authorities in Wales. They failed to find any response. Not despairing, Mr. Gwyn-Williams thought of his own town of Llangollen. This small town is situated in the beautiful Dee Valley, and has a population of only 3,000 people. I want to stress the last point: the population is merely 3,000. To the great joy of these two gentlemen, this small community readily undertook the tremendous responsibility of organising the Festival. Had there been a Welsh Office at this time I am convinced that the Minister in charge would have taken the Festival under his wing, recognising that here was an event which was going to place Wales on the map and bring great praise and credit for the Principality. In no other way could Wales hope to be a shining light in the world.
§ However, it was started in the summer of 1946 by a local committee, and with the help of publicity abroad by the British Council, the first International Eisteddfod was held on the local recreation ground in June, 1947, two years after the cessation of hostilities in Europe. The event was staged in a marquee holding some 4,000 people. It attracted groups from 14 countries and, over a period of five days, 80,000 people attended. Exactly a decade later its popularity at home and abroad had so grown that the local committee took courage and purchased 26 acres of land for about £6,000. A special marquee 1981 was designed and constructed to accommodate up to 10,000 people, and some of the fields were modified as car parks. Permanent electrical supply was laid on, and a few hundred yards of metalled roadway were constructed, and rudimentary toilets were built, in an attempt to ease the burden of recurring annual expenses.
§ These remained the only permanent features until 1973, when a wooden pavilion was erected at a cost of some £12,000 to serve the long overdue reception of the travel-weary overseas competitors who now each year come from over 50 different countries, some of them travelling hundreds and even thousands of miles. This year we had a choir from Australia, for instance, and one from Singapore. All other constructions are of canvas, which are erected about two or three days before each festival and dismantled immediately afterwards, when the site reverts to its use as pastureland for sheep. One would have hoped that the passage of 28 years would have enabled the Committee to receive their hundreds of overseas guests with a little more decorum and dignity.
§ From its inception the Festival has grown from strength to strength in its popular appeal and in its encouragement of true authenticity in folksong and dance, and of the highest standards of choral singing. Growth has meant expansion, and expansion has meant increased cost, but the law of diminishing returns set in during the 1950s. The committee could hardly meet its liability and had to consider allowing the Festival to die out. Fortunately, my brother, Idwal Jones, who was then the M.P. for Wrexham, was successful in introducing a Private Member's Bill in the other place in 1967 empowering all local authorities in Wales to contribute towards the International Eisteddfod out of the rates. This became an Act of Parliament. I sponsored it here in this Chamber. In the meantime, the local authorities have acted generously and creditably. These contributions saved the Festival from possible extinction.
§ To-day in 1974 two factors in particular cause the committee considerable apprehension. These two factors are inflation and the reshaping of the local authorities in the Principality. The committee's concern is that the shrinking of the number 1982 of authorities will mean a corresponding diminution in the amount of grants received. We have gone down from 13 counties to five, and hundreds of district councils have been done away with in Wales. Profits are now out of the question; the committee can only hope to break even. This causes the committee members great worry when they make their preparations for the following Festival, and it could be averted provided a substantial grant could be made to enable the committee to attend to the physical side of the Eisteddfod. What a blessing it would be, for instance, if a large permanent platform, together with an orchestra pit, could be erected. There are several other such permanent needs which should not incur enormous costs to be covered by income.
§ In conclusion, I wish to emphasise the fact that all the work done by the members of the committee is on a purely voluntary basis. In the entire organisation only one person receives any remuneration, and she is the honorary secretary's clerk. She is the only person who receives any payment at all for all this mighty work that has been performed annually. What a tribute this is to the committee! Can such service be equalled by any other organisation known to your Lordships?
§ This year they had additional costs, and they were most unfortunate in what happened. A very severe storm broke over the Dee Valley and the entire marquee, covering 10,000 chairs, was brought down to the ground. This was the situation at six o'clock on the very eve of the Festival. In less than an hour scores of Llangollen schoolboys went under the low canvas to retrieve all the chairs and bring them to the open field, and the tent owners brought their sewing machines to sew the tattered canvas. The B.B.C. very kindly lent their searchlights, and throughout the night work went on laboriously to mend the damaged marquee and to have it re-erected. This work proceeded until late afternoon the following day, but by 7.30 that evening all was well and 10,000 people sat comfortably to enjoy a ballet concert. That gives you the spirit of these people behind the Festival. Over 20,000 attended the Festival each day. Ten thousand of them were perfectly content, as they are each year, simply to mix with foreigners on the grounds. They do 1983 not desire to go into the tent to hear anything, they are quite satisfied to pay their fees to go on the grounds to mix with these foreigners, and to see them performing folk dances in the open.
§ I regret that a political appointment this evening has compelled the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran, to be absent from the Chamber. Apparently he had looked forward to supporting my plea, and in a letter to me Lord Lloyd stales that the International Festival has provided a focal point for an inspiration to a modern Renaissance in the fields of music and art. He has asked me to state that he wholeheartedly supports my appeal. The Festival has been visited, and highly commended, by Royalty, by the present Prime Minister, and by the present Leader of the Opposition in the other place.
§ It is because of all this that I appeal hopefully to my right honourable friend the Minister for Welsh Affairs to do all he can in order to secure the continuation and development of this wonderful Festival. No one doubts his great zeal for Wales and the Welsh and his desire to uphold the good name of the Principality in all quarters. I earnestly beg of him to offer his assistance in any way he can. I am not connected personally with the local committee, but I am sure he or any of his subordinates would be heartily welcomed by the committee, if a visit to Llangollen could be arranged, to consult the committee as to its greatest needs and the manner in which it could be best assisted or, indeed, to reverse this order and for a delegation to come from Llangollen to London.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HANWORTH
My Lords, I wish to support the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, from these Benches. This is a quite exceptional Festival. Perhaps I should give a few more details about it. One of the outstanding aspects is that so much is done by the local people. People offer their services free as organisers, hosts, flower arrangers and guides for foreign groups. Anything like this that has achieved the fame it has deserves all the support we can give it.
The Festival has brought renown to Llangollen all over the world because it is one of the few places where competitions are judged by musicologists of 1984 international fame—Hungarian, Dutch, German, Swiss, English, Scottish, Welsh and Greek—who constitute the adjudicators for choir and solo singing, musical instruments, classical set pieces and folk tunes. The dance section comprises two adjudicators, one Belgian or German and one English, with prizes given to the most traditionally correct groups only. Stage arrangements are not given prizes because folk tradition is the standard of performance required.
Llangollen has made its name all over the world for its just standard of adjudication for folk dance and folk instruments competition, both of which give the Western districts of England and Wales groups of performers from many countries, whom people from those parts would not otherwise have an opportunity of seeing and hearing. People come regularly year after year to learn, teachers of music and dance or ethnography and those interested in costumes and customs from other parts of the world. On Wednesdays, the folk dance competition day, nearly a quarter of a million people come to watch and to listen to these groups. It is a centre for cultures of other lands where people of many nationalities can meet, exchange ideas and dances and learn to appreciate each other's countries and ideas, where they can make friends. Many exchanges are agreed or arranged at that time. Of all the things we sponsor and all the things that are really worth while I would have thought that this Festival was one of the outstanding examples.
§ 7.14 p.m.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, I apologise for not having put down my name. I was not sure when my noble friend would arrange this debate, but I am grateful to him for drawing the attention of the House to the Dee Valley and to the National Eisteddfod. The Dee Valley itself, with a population of only 3,000 people, has for some 28 years reverberated to the music, the song, the poetry and the joyous dancing of nations from nearly everywhere in the world. I hope that some attention will be paid to this small debate which we are having to-day, because I agree with the noble Viscount and the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, that this is one of the world's outstanding Festivals. It is on a par with the Edinburgh Festival and with the Hollywood 1985 Bowl. I have sat entranced in Hollywood listening to the music in the Hollywood Bowl. At Llangollen I should like to see something on the same scale as the Hollywood Bowl. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, who is also of Welsh origin, will join us in our plea that nothing in Hollywood—the noble Lord may have seen music festivals there at some time—is any better than the choral Olympic of the National Eisteddfod at Llangollen which distils some of the finest music, poetry and other culture.
When a quarter of a million people are drawn to it, we should take notice. I know that it is a difficult problem for the Government as such but this is where I should like to see the Arts Council come it. The Arts Council deals with this matter as with the Edinburgh Festival. I had a quiet chat with my noble friend on the Front Bench, who is a fellow Welshman, and he may correct me if I have misled the House by that statement. But I hope the Arts Council will pay attention to this. This place brings together men and women in search of that most elusive quality in this modern, brittle, and materialistic age, happiness and the joy of living. We are losing this joy of living. This very discussion we have had tonight about running local authorities by tuppenny-halfpenny lotteries is a measure of the descent of a great nation into the mire of despondency—but things like the Llangollen Festival are joyous. People from all over the world come away elated.
I have been at Embassies here where they have had the audacity to beat the Welsh at their own game of singing. I remember being in the Czech Embassy until four o'clock in the morning. The Russians had the cheek to sing as well. I have even heard an American choir doing quite as well. It does the Welsh good, because they do not get too pompous about their singing and music.
I can remember—I have been speaking only three minutes and if your Lordships can stand the strain for another couple of minutes I will then sit down—my dear old mother and a marvellous clock in West Wales, near Cardigan, and a county school with 29 kids in the top form, 20 of whom went to university. It was a country school where we had boots which were made to measure at five bob a time with soles an inch and a half 1986 thick because we kicked them out kicking the tins. We knew the woods, hills and the names of flowers. How children to-day live in these high-rise fiats God alone knows! We took some enjoyment in the real things of life. These are the things in which Britain can give a lead.
Looking at the arid materialistic side which brings money, if one is thinking in terms of tourism, I remember my mother used to keep Eisteddfod tickets by an old clock. Heaven alone knows how she told the time, because it was the only clock we had in the House, it was battered and stood above the old Welsh mantelpiece by the dresser. It was always turned upside down with two legs cocked in the air. Beside it stood a great dog. These dogs are worth quids these days. We paid about five bob for ours. There it was, with a great hole in its belly, into which she shoved tickets—not lottery tickets, but Eisteddfod tickets.
I sincerely hope that the Arts Council can be approached, and that they will consider that the draconic changes that are now being made in local government have altered completely in Wales the way in which money is donated to the National Eisteddfod. It speaks to all nations of the world through music, song and poetry, irrespective of colour, race or religion. The Welsh are one of the least racially prejudiced nations in the world. They swank a little about their rugby and singing, but they do not mean it in an evil way. They mean it in a joyous way. I hope that the Arts Council will look at this, and, with a little nudging from the Government, will see what it can do to get a permanent structure like the Hollywood Bowl in Llangollen itself. My Lords, I have almost kept my word. I have been just six minutes; that is, one minute above what I said I would be. I apologise to my noble friend on the Front Bench.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, I, too, apologise to your Lordships for speaking without having put my name down. I was not aware of exactly when the debate would be. I certainly support my noble friend Lord Maelor. Like both my noble friend Lord Maelor and my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek—I do not know about the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth—I was born in Wales. I was born at the wrong end of Wales so far 1987 as my noble friend Lord Davies is concerned, because he describes how he had to have an inch-and-a-half put on the bottom of his shoes in order that he could kick things about. I had a toecap put on mine for kicking things about.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
But, my Lords, it was not the sole that I used for kicking; for stamping yes, but not for kicking. In North Wales we are dealing with a part of the country which is very poor. Do not let us misunderstand this at all. The population is sparse. One has there a country with farms of 100 acres. My grandfather farmed, not at Llangollen but over at Rhewl, which is across the horizon from Llangollen towards the sea. There he farmed, and he had a very small farm of not more than a hundred acres. You do not make a lot of money out of farming 100 acres. The people there have done wonders in supporting this Eisteddfod. They have done marvellously. They have created something which is internationally known, as my noble friend Lord Maelor has rightly pointed out. People come from all over the world to it; and it has been built up by the local people.
Surely, my Lords, it is time we recognised that these people have done so much by themselves for their own community, and that by doing it for their own community they have done it for the whole of Wales and for the whole of Britain. Therefore, it is surely something which the Government could in one way or another, perhaps through the Arts Council, encourage, not by lavish support, but by the minimal support that is required in order to ensure that this great creation should go on and redound to the credit of the people there and of the country as a whole. I hope, my Lords, that the Government will view this favourably.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ LORD ARWYN
My Lords, I apologise for having arrived only just in time to take part in this debate, but unfortunately Wales is very poorly represented in your Lordships' House—in comparison with the Scots, shall I say. I think there are only about eight or nine of us who 1988 can speak the old language of the country, and in our case we have to do as much as we can, few as we are. It is very difficult for us to convey the spirit of this Festival. Those of us who have been brought up in Welsh villages know exactly what it means. There is nothing which binds a community together better than competition, and that is the note which I would strike to-night. I think that improved relations between one country and another are very much like the old conditions in the Welsh valleys when I was a boy. We used to fight each other, especially on the rugby fields, but when we came to festivals we all joined together—and that is something which can be promoted.
In the Festival each country is encouraged to display its own cultures. I do not know any other festival in existence which allows that. My Lords, I should like to say that this opportunity to promote better international relations cannot be lost. No Government can afford to ignore it. We are in a precarious state, as we all know, and if we lose this Festival for the lack of financial support it will be a crying shame. As to what has been done, we have achieved much, but the potential for the future is incalculable. We who know this spirit very well from our own experience can vouch for it. If any noble Lord has any doubt about it, I would suggest that next year we send a delegation to Llangollen, because its importance is such that it would merit a visit by a delegation from your Lordships' House.
§ 7.26 p.m.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, I must apologise, too, for butting in for a very short time, but the temptation to speak in a Welsh debate is irresistible. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, for having initiated this debate; we have not had one for some time. I am also flattered by the confidence that my noble friends have in me, as demonstrated by the fact that they have not turned up in their flocks to ensure that I say the right thing. I have one good friend behind me, but not many others have been here. All I can say is that we have a good many more representatives of the Conservative Party than of the Liberal Party, despite the interest that they are always taking in regional affairs.
1989 My Lords, I have to declare an interest: I have been a patron of the International Musical Festival at Llangollen for a great many years, and I am therefore fully in support of the remarks so eloquently made, if I may say so, by the noble Lord, Lord Maelor, in introducing this Question. I have the most tremendous admiration for the Festival and for the way it has developed, and for the fact that from such a very small beginning it is now host to over 50 countries which come every year to the Festival. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, feels equally deeply about this and has the greatest possible sympathy with the Question. What his answer will be I do not know, but I am sure he will be very sympathetic.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ LORD GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Maelor has rendered a truly important service in raising this matter. In his admirable speech he made clear a two-fold purpose: first, to place on the Record of Parliament an account of what a small town in a small country is doing to pro mote international culture and good relations; second, as I understood him, to elicit an endorsement by Her Majesty's Government of the objectives and activities of this unique Festival. May I say at once that my noble friend has fully succeeded in his purpose. The first Inter national Eisteddfod at Llangollen took place in 1947, in the aftermath of the greatest cataclysm that the world has ex perienced. It was indeed in reaction to the carnage of the Second World War that a number of villagers came together and conceived this magnificent idea of a com petitive festival which would transfer the instincts of competition and contention from the field of battle to the field of culture. The very first meeting of what we call our Eisteddfodau was a tremendous success. It attracted visitors and competitors from all over the world; and, as the noble Lord who is the senior vice- president of this Festival—I see his name in this beautifully produced—
§ LORD GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, the noble Lord is far too modest about his attainments. We prefer to think that he, in line with the services of his 1990 family to Wales, is not only alphabetically but meritoriously in the van of the promotion of Welsh culture.
As we have heard, over 50 countries very soon began to send delegations, competitors and visitors to this little town, this cultural Oberammergau. It is very difficult to compare this with any other event, conceived as it was by villagers, and sustained by them, both in practice and in the devotion that they showed. I have just been looking at the list of choirs and their countries of origin in the last choral Olympics which this tiny town organised. They came from the United States of America—of course they sent more than one choir, as one would expect—from Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Singapore, Hungary; and indeed it was the Hungarian choir which ran away with the prize for singing, of all things, the Welsh national anthem. This was much to our delight because, as on the rugby field, so in the Eisteddfodic field, nothing delights us more than to see somebody doing it even better than we can.
Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Bulgaria, Italy, Finland, Yugoslavia, Canada, all were there; and of course Wales and England. Fifty countries came together to enjoy themselves in healthy competition in music, song, folk dancing and drama. The motto of this unique festival indicates its distinctive characteristics. I shall give it officially in the Welsh language and shall hasten to render it in English afterwards. It is, Byd Gwyn Fydd Byd a gano—"Blessed is the world that sings". My countrymen have always had an implacable belief that one could solve almost every problem by breaking into song, and Giraldus Cambrensis remarked on this almost a thousand years ago and wrote some very good Latin about it.
My Lords, as we have heard, the aim of the Festival is, "To promote international peace and good will through the medium of the fine arts and particularly the arts of music. "Your Lordships may suppose that these terms of reference imply an objective which is altogether over-ambitious, but this little town in the Dee Valley every year accommodates about 10,000 guests, including, as I have said, thousands from all over the world, and it prides itself on giving free hospitality to overseas visitors during their stay in its houses.
1991 The unique quality of this festival, as my noble friends Lord Hanworth and Lord Wynne-Jones emphasised, is that it is a local affair. It belongs to the people of Llangollen and it is an astonishingly successful venture in the furtherance of amity between people of different nations. Of course, it is competitive, and mostly competitive in the arts of music, but it does not restrict itself to vocal music; it ventures into instrumental music and each year it has grown and now it also includes folk music and dancing, children's and youth choirs and adult vocal solo competitions and, I am very glad to say in the presence of my noble friend Lord Feather, brass band music. I am equally a devotee—nothing delights me more than a good brass band from the Valleys or indeed from some other country.
Additionally, of course, many international artistes and orchestras attend to perform at the evening concerts. In short, as we look at the programme of the Eisteddfodd and see how it is organised what we see is a demonstration of the success of amateur enterprise and voluntary work harnessed to the highest ideals and standards. It is in essence a locally inspired Festival depending for its flavour on the good will and improvisation of the local people. It has a Welsh home, but its doors and windows are wide open to the world. It is this sense of combining national pride and consciousness with a much greater, wider sense of obligation in the international sense that commands the respect and affection of people for the International Eisteddfodd of Llangollen. There is nothing myopic, parochial, narrow about this: it welcomes everybody and it does so in its own accents.
Naturally, its problems have grown with success. There is no dispute about the need for more permanent buildings and their cost. It certainly needs permanent buildings because the weather in Wales can sometimes be rather rough. In recent years, there have been annual deficits and this is beginning to worry the committee. Inevitably, costs have been rising, particularly in connection with overseas visitors. I understand that in 1973 the proper entertainment and reception of our overseas friends accounted for 35 per cent. of the total income and this 1992 cannot and must not be avoided because the presence of overseas competitors and the local hospitality given to them is the very essence of the Festival. That is what it is about and, if it spends so much of its income on welcoming people from all over the world upon its premises, it is discharging its proper function. But it is expensive.
My Lords, the sources of finance available to the Festival are various: there are donations listed in the brochure from individuals, industrial organisations, and a few years ago the Lord Mayor of Cardiff launched a very useful special appeal to assist the Festival. Then there are the local authorities: in 1967, the Eisteddfod Act was passed specifically to enable local authorities in all parts of Wales to make supporting contributions. The Act was piloted through the other place by my noble friend's brother, Mr. Idwal Jones, who was then Member for Wrexham and a scholar and Parliamentarian of distinction. In your Lordships' House, you were fortunate to have the leadership of my noble friend. Since the Act was passed, it has proved a financial blessing to this institution. Contributions are being made from that source and it is worth emphasising to our local authorities that they might perhaps, as my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek has suggested, look again and reinforce their existing generosity.
A further important financial source is the Arts Council. It is worth recording the fact that in 1964 the Welsh Arts Council made a grant for the first time of £500 to the Festival. But since that time the grant has steadily increased and in 1974, 10 years later, it stood at the figure of £8,250.
We all accept that the Council of the International Eisteddfod would wish to see a much greater increase. We have to remember, however, a main factor of policy. The funds of the Arts Council are available to be devoted to the improvement of professional standards. This is an international Festival which, by definition and by choice, is a voluntary and amateur one to a very large extent. Nevertheless, I echo what my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek and others have said, that both the local authorities and the Arts Council could look again at the extent and frequency of their contributions. My noble friend Lord Maelor did 1993 not ask that a Government Department should make a direct financial grant. That is not the way we manage these things in this country, and there is a very fine fundamental principle underlying this fact.
We do not wish in this country to tie cultural and artistic ventures directly to Government finance and possibly to Government control. What we do is to make finance available through an autonomous body like the Arts Council, which is entirely free to make its dispositions as it sees best, and is generally accountable only to the Government of the day so that the freedom of cultural choice and effort is maintained. It is to statutory but independent bodies of that sort that institutions of this kind must continue to look for financial assistance. Equally, under the Act of 1967, they can look, as I have said, to the local authorities to continue and perhaps to increase their own donations. More than one of my noble friends have emphasised that they hope that this will be done; that constantly the possibility of increasing donations from these approved sources may be acted upon.
My concluding remarks to my noble friend and to those who have taken part in this extremely useful, very worth while debate are these. While the Welsh Office and my right honourable and learned friend the Secretary of State for Wales cannot under the system of this Government extend direct financial aid to an institution of this kind, for the reasons I have given, nevertheless he asks me to say that his excellent officials will always be ready to advise the committee to the best of their ability on various aspects of the Festival's splendid work. We have seen how officials of the Welsh Office have very effectively advised local organisations as to the best way to go about development, and I am quite sure that if the Council of the Eisteddfod wish to have the kind of meeting which my noble friend suggested, those officials, with the warm approval of my right honourable and learned friend, will accede with alacrity to any such suggestion.
In the meantime, I hope that this debate, and in particular my noble friend's speech and the remarkable support which he has received in this debate 1994 from all parts of the House, will have the widest publicity and appeal, and that individuals, organisations, local authorities, and bodies like the Arts Council will all see whether they can increase their already substantial donations to this unique and indeed essential Festival. It is one of the major contributions of Wales to better understanding among peoples. We have a long tradition not only of maintaining our national personality, but of contributing to international amity. If you go no further back than the late Lord Davies of Llandinam, Henry Richard, and a number of outstanding Welsh statesmen who, in the international field have contributed to creating better international understanding, the Eisteddfod in Llangollen is devoted to those objectives, and is deserving of the utmost support not only in Wales but even further abroad.
My Lords, before my noble friend concludes, can he say whether it is possible that the Department of Education and Science, to which he has not specifically made reference, might find that it could regard the International Festival at Llangollen as one to which some contribution could be made?
§ LORD GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, the settled practice and policy of successive Governments has been, as I have tried to explain, to make available to an autonomous expert body, such as the Arts Council, a fairly substantial amount of money which it in turn disposes of to the best possible cultural and artistic advantage. It is not the practice and policy of a Government Department directly to engage in making available grants-in-aid of this sort. Nevertheless there are, I imagine, ways in which the Department of Education and Science, like the Welsh Office, could, by advice as to future planning and development, assist the council of this Eisteddfod. The position in regard to grants is as I have put it. The position in regard to the very useful expert advice applies, I am sure, both to the Department of Education and to the Welsh Office.
§ House adjourned at eleven minutes before eight o'clock.