§ Mr. Luce
[pursuant to his reply, 17 February 1986, c. 55]: This was my first visit, as Arts Minister, to Liverpool, and I was much impressed by the lively arts and cultural activities in and around the city. I announced the creation of the trustee body to be known as the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside which will own and maintain, through grant-in-aid from my Department, the bulk of the present museum and art gallery services of the Merseyside county council. This will include the exciting new maritime museum in the restored Albert dock.174W
I met representatives of Merseyside Arts, the Playhouse and Everyman theatres, and the Royal Liverpool philharmonic society, and discussed their funding problems after abolition of the metropolitan county. The Arts Council and the successor authorities are still negotiating about the contribution to be made by those authorities to their funding. The Philharmonic hall is also the subject of continuing discussion. The Arts Council will be continuing its funding of the Royal Liverpool philharmonic orchestra and hopes that, if the successor authorities play their part this will enable the funding of the hall itself to be maintained. I was also pleased to learn that Apollo Leisure Ltd. intended to take over the lease on the Empire theatre; the Arts Council will continue to fund the major touring companies which appear there.