HL Deb 27 January 1982 vol 426 cc950-1

2.44 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

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 have any estimates of the total amount of business support for the arts in 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1982.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, the Government do not maintain estimates of their own but believe that those compiled by the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts to be reliable. Their figures are: 1975–76, £½ million; 1977–78, £3 million; 1980–81, £6 million; and the Association's estimate for 1982–83, £7 million. In addition, many other companies donate considerable sums to the arts through a variety of means, but unfortunately no figures are available.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Earl for that reply, and I am glad to see that the relatively small amount which business contributes to the arts in this country is gradually increasing. May I ask the Government also to encourage local authority support for the arts in every way they can? In particular, will they consider offering to match local authority subsidy by an equal grant from Government funds?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his encouragement and will indeed take his view on broad.

Lord Ferrier

My Lords, do the figures which the Minister gave include Scotland?

The Earl of Avon

Yes, my Lords, they are for the whole of the United Kingdom.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

My Lords, while the subsidised arts are entitled to some sort of special consideration such as the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, suggested, may I ask my noble friend also to remember that the private sector, the privately-owned theatres, have grave problems today and that some examination of the VAT level would be very helpful in keeping alive an important part of this country's industry?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I am sure my noble friend is aware that the Government take particular pride in the amount of money they are giving to the arts, and will continue to do so.

Lord Strabolgi

My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that the BBC is still somewhat reluctant to give credit in cases of arts sponsorship, and would he not agree that that is not always encouraging to obtaining further business support for the arts? Could something be done in this field?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, what the noble Lord suggests is novel, but I shall certainly look into it.

The Earl of Gosford

My Lords, is the Minister able to say what proportion of the figures he gave went to visual artists?

The Earl of Avon

No, my Lords, we have no break-down of that sort of denomination.