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Volume 14: debated on Monday 30 November 1981

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A great deal of progress has been made, particularly through the work of the Crafts Council, which in January will open a new exhibition gallery and information centre in London.

I am grateful for that information, which I welcome. As our craftsmen enjoy a high reputation, abroad as well as at home, does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the best ways in which the Government can help to increase the number of craftsmen and encourage more people to take up crafts is to provide assistance with outlets where they can sell their work? Does he not consider that this is an important factor where the Government could provide help?

Yes. It is extremely important. I agree that there is an immense spin-off for British industry from the high standard of work of British craftsmen. This can have a great effect on the products of British industry. It is important that there should be more outlets where craftsmen can sell their works. The new gallery in the West End of London is a tremendously important site and will have a considerable effect. I shall want to watch the situation closely.

I recognise that one of the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors made an enormous advance in support of crafts. Will he continue that excellent support by providing help where craft centres, in the present economic climate, are in some danger of collapse? In view of the enormous public response to native craftsmanship over the last few years, will he look upon this as a particular problem that requires more financial assistance from the Government?

The hon. Gentleman raises a number of points. It is important to keep up support for the Crafts Council. I shall do my best to see that that happens. However, some of the points that the hon. Gentleman makes are more the responsibility of my right hon. Friends. I shall look at what he says and see what can be done.