HL Deb 16 February 1977 vol 379 cc1539-40

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 propose to make any response to the current appeal for St. John's, Smith Square.

The MINISTER of STATE, DEPARTMENT of EDUCATION and SCIENCE (Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge)

My Lords, the Arts Council of Great Britain administers a Housing the Arts Fund designed to help projects of this kind but its resources are limited and have recently been curtailed. The Council is considering an application from St. John's but cannot yet say whether it will be able to help.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that Answer, as far as it goes. But would the noble Lord not agree that in times like these it is important for public money to be used in support of the arts for those causes where a little money will go a long way? I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he could cite one instance from London where a gallery, museum, theatre or concert hall—any example—where more has been done by way of private subscription than in the case of St. John's, and where more would be achieved by the expenditure of a small amount?—in this case something in the order of £60,000.


My Lords, I do not think I will go into the competition of quoting alternatives. I accept absolutely that the contribution made by St. John's to the London musical world has been considerable and, if I may, I should like to remind noble Lords that every Monday there is an absolutely first-class concert there which noble Lords could do worse than go to if they are so keen to help St. John's.

We have had to curtail capital expenditure in order to maintain current expenditure, and I think that has been the right decision. I cannot make any promises about what may be expected from the Arts Council, which has a very tight capital budget; but I absolutely agree with the noble Lord that St. John's has made a major contribution, and continues to do so. It would be tragic if, for one reason or another, it failed to become entirely capital effective.


My Lords, I am sure that St. John's will be grateful for that "commercial", and I am grateful to the noble Lord for that acknowledgement of the role of St. John's in the cultural life of the capital city. I am sure that St. John's will look forward to his good offices in dealing with this appeal when the matter is next before the Arts Council.

Back to