HC Deb 18 February 1982 vol 18 cc217-8W
Miss Fookes

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement regarding the finances of the Zoological Society of London.

Mr. Heseltine

The Zoological Society of London has indicated to the Government that it is in financial difficulties, and has sought assistance.

The Government have considered this request sympathetically, having in mind that the zoo has an international reputation, that it is a major London amenity and also an important tourist attraction. The Government, after a close scrutiny of the society's financial situation, have therefore agreed to make a grant to the society of an amount sufficient to keep it in funds, having regard to available bank overdraft facilities, for a short period, during which a study will be conducted with the utmost urgency into whether the society can be made self-supporting in the longer term. The possibility of any further Government involvement at the end of the period will be for consideration in the light of the findings of the study and of the prospects of the society becoming self-supporting. The form of the study, to be jointly sponsored and financed by the Government and the society, is under urgent consideration, and I shall make a further announcement shortly.

The grant is not expected to exceed £1 million and can be met from savings in the Department's existing provision. Pending parliamentary approval of a Supplementary Estimate for this, an advance will be made from the Contingencies Fund, since funds are required immediately.