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Arts Council

Volume 86: debated on Thursday 14 November 1985

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4.16 pm

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement.

I have decided to announce the Arts Council's grant-in-aid for 1986–87 now to meet the need for the earliest possible sign of provision for the arts after abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan county councils. Subject to parliamentary approval, the grant for the Arts Council next year will be £135·6 million. I understand that this will enable the Arts Council, in accordance with its normal practice, to enter into commitments worth nearly £137 million for the financial year. The grant of £135·6 million is a substantial increase above both the current year's—1985–86—grant of £105 million and the provisional planning figure of £122 million originally set for next year.

Last year, my predecessor announced £16 million in additional central funding for the performing arts, and £1 million for film, in the abolition areas. Since then, a strong case has been made for more funding. The Government have decided to respond. I am therefore raising the £16 million to £25 million for the Arts Council, and the £1 million to £1·3 million for the British Film Institute. With the £17 million already announced for museums, this brings the total of additional central funding for the arts in the abolition areas next year to over £43 million.

The remaining basic provision of £110·6 million for the Arts Council—a further increase on the originally planned £106 million for next year—is intended to meet other special needs which have been put to me by the Arts Council, especially to continue its strategy of regional arts development. It also includes £0·6 million of continued special support for the Scottish national companies, made necessary following changed responsibilities in local government in Scotland.

These additional sums are a demonstration of my determination to keep up the Government's support and, in particular, to give arts bodies in the GLC and metropolitan areas a good foundation on which to build. In that context, I invite the districts and boroughs in those areas to give early and constructive thought to the contribution they can make to this joint venture. They have an important role to play.

So have private companies. I hope that business sponsorship of the arts will continue to grow in the abolition areas as in the country as a whole. I shall be looking to see what further action I can take to encourage this through the business sponsorship incentive scheme next year.

Some uncertainty is inevitable at the beginning of a period of transition. For this reason, I propose to give maximum help to the Arts Council in the first year. As time goes on, local authorities which have been relieved of GLC and MCC precepts should be able to increase their share. The central Government's contribution of £25 million for the Arts Council will accordingly be tapered down. It will be about £21 million in 1987–88, and about £20 million in 1988–89.

All other grants within my arts programme will be announced in a more detailed statement in December. I have not yet taken decisions on the allocations for individual arts bodies, but in overall terms the amounts available will be broadly at the levels which were allowed for in the last public expenditure White Paper, and subsequently communicated for planning purposes to the bodies concerned.

Today's announcement will now enable the arts to plan ahead with confidence.

First, I take this opportunity to welcome the new Minister to the Dispatch Box for the first time. Secondly, I thank him for making a statement on arts funding, for the first time. Thirdly, I thank him for fulfilling a pledge, which may be unusual for the Conservative party, which he gave a month ago, when he said:

"I must make it absolutely clear that there is no prospect of my being able to fund the sort of growth which many in the arts are seeking."
Today's statement certainly fulfils that pledge. The figures show that we are facing, not an increase, but a massive shortfall in the total provision for the arts. The baseline figure of £105 million increases to £110·6 million. Therefore, basic arts funding has increased by £5 million, which is designed to meet the problems of regional arts developments. The bare inflationary increase has already reduced that figure by almost half, we are already facing a minus quantity.

That does not take into consideration the massive shortfall in arts funding following the abolition, out of political pique, of the Greater London council and the metropolitan county councils. The Minister seeks to cover that by the sum of £25 million, but that leaves a massive shortfall of £19 million to meet the needs of the arts occasioned by the aboliton of the GLC and the metropolitan county councils.

The Minister must inherit the pledges of his predecessors, because he is a member of the same Government. In a letter to me on 2 August, his predecessor said:
"I reject any insinuation that the Government will not stand by its assurances that the present level of public support for the arts will be maintained."
It is no longer an insinuation; it is a charge. Funding for the arts has decreased by the vast sum of £19 million to £20 million for the reason that I mentioned alone, and the minimum £5 million anti-inflation grant is already halved by the need of the Arts Council to finance its regional development.

We shall seek an early debate on the matter. I must ask the Minister not to attempt to do what his predecessor tried to do, and hoodwink the arts bodies into thinking that their funds are being restored. Many companies will die as a result of the amount announced today. We are already seeing the fruits of the Government's policy at Covent Garden. It is not only the national institutes that will be harmed, but the various community art groups, which have been playing a major role in developing our communities socially and culturally during the past three years. If the Government would pay more attention to that, instead of to the hard line advocated by the chairman of the Conservative party, we might prosper. I hope that the Minister will retract his statement and restore the massive shortfall that he has now broght about in arts funding.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his first remarks, but not so grateful for his second ones. When he used the term "massive shortfall" he was extremely misleading. Not only I, but my predecessor and others, have repeatedly made it clear that this is a joint venture. Both central Government and local authorities must play their part in financing the arts. We have made a positive gesture, which calls for a response from successor authorities to play their part. My predecessor gave a clear commitment to provide £34 million to cover any shortfall caused by abolition, and I have increased that to £43 million. We are entitled to say to the successor authorities that they are relieved of the rate precept, that they know what the real local needs in the arts are, and to ask them to play a small part in proportion to their total budget in helping to finance the arts through a joint partnership.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on having obtained substantially more for the Arts Council than some pessimists predicted, but may I ask him forcefully to remind the Treasury—the Minister of State is sitting next to him—that the Arts Council sum still amounts to only one part in one thousand of the national budget, and that more is needed, not only to enrich the lives of the people, but to generate tourism and jobs?

I know of my hon. Friend's deep concern for the arts and for his active interest in them. The amount of money that has gone to the Arts Council during the past six years has increased by 7 per cent. in real terms. That is an important recognition of its role, which is constructive. However, we must look to a variety of sectors for arts funding—not only to central Government, but to local authorities and the private sector.

I also congratulate the Minister on his new appointment, but am disappointed that more money is not on the table. Will he tell the House, first, how secure is the new money that he has found; secondly, what the financial implications are for the South Bank; and, thirdly, what the implications are for the "Glory of the Garden" and how he expects that policy to continue?

First, the money that I have announced is secure. Secondly, although it is for the Arts Council to determine how much it earmarks for the South Bank, I have every reason to believe, against the background of the announcement, that the South Bank has a good future. Thirdly, regarding the "Glory of the Garden", the regional development plans of the Arts Council, I said in my statement that we are making extra sums available to the Arts Council for that specific purpose, because it is important not to ignore the importance of the regions in their contributions to the arts.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on making a positive statement. I wish to follow up two of the questions of the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North East (Mr. Freud). Can my hon. Friend guarantee that his increased grant to the Arts Council is sufficient to carry both the capital and the current expenditure of about £8·5 million that is required to secure the future of the South Bank? By my hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Gentleman, is he suggesting that part of the grant will be earmarked to ensure that progress is made in pursuing the policy of the "Glory of the Garden", which most right hon. and hon. Members feel is essential if we are to broaden the popular base of public support for the arts?

I entirely agree with the views expressed by my hon. Friend on the "Glory of the Garden". It has an important role to play. The first evidence of the use of the money by the Arts Council is that much of it goes on matching grants. It therefore has a multiplier effect and makes a positive contribution. I have every confidence that the sums being made available to the Arts Council will enable it to ensure that what happens on the South Bank will be something of which we can be proud.

I welcome the statement. It is a welcome change from past practices. I hope that we shall have an early debate on the arts. Indeed, it would be a good subject for a televised debate.

The £25 million which the Minister has allocated to the arts, following the abolition of the GLC and metropolitan county councils, is insufficient, because the GLC alone spends more than £21 million on the arts. Clearly, that does not leave much for the rest of the country. It appears that the Arts Council will have to devote one third of the total amount to sustain activities on the South Bank, and it clearly cannot do that. Will the Minister think seriously about making additional funds available for the South Bank? If he does not, the open foyer policy at the Royal Festival Hall will undoubtedly have to end, and there will be dark nights in all the theatres and concert halls. Finally, will the Minister resist any moves by the Arts Council to make up the shortfall by selling land on the South Bank for offices and hotel development?

It is up to the Arts Council to decide how much it allocates to the South Bank, but I have every confidence in its future. The overall figure of £25 million is a positive contribution, and we are entitled to expect the successor authorities to play their part. The authorities are already relieved of the rate precept, and we are suggesting that only small sums of money relative to the total sum of money which they spend—£7 billion—be contributed to the arts.

Will my hon. Friend accept my thanks for making the statement today? Will he also accept that it does not go far enough? What he has provided are, at best, first-aid resources when we have a long-term problem. Will he reflect on what my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel) said about tourism? Millions of people come to this country every year, attracted not by the weather or our cuisine but by what we have to offer, and the arts are one of our greatest magnets. Will he also take down from the shelves the unanimous 1983 report of the Select Committee on Education, Science and the Arts, which is gathering dust? It contains recommendations which, if the Government implemented them, would solve almost all the problems of the arts.

On my hon. Friend's last point, I am studying the report carefully. I acknowledge the validity of his first point. The arts play a major role in attracting tourists. The major exhibition in Washington of British country house treasures is another example of the way in which we can attract more tourists to this country.

I am grateful for this early announcement, which will allow many organisations to plan ahead. Does the Minister accept that it will be difficult for some local authorities to earmark funds, bearing in mind the pressures to which they will be subjected? What discussions has he had with the authorities to ensure that those funds will be made available? Will he hold himself open for further financing if necessary?

I am grateful for what the right hon. Gentleman said. This statement will give all the arts bodies and successor authorities time to plan. I acknowledge that every week that goes by is important to them, and I hope that this statement will give them some basis upon which to plan. It is for the Arts Council to take the lead in deciding what the successor authorities can do. I shall play my part. Indeed, only this week I have been talking to successor authorities in the Newcastle area to see what they can do.

I add my congratulations to my hon. Friend on this early statement, which shows the Government's understanding of some of the budgeting difficulties of arts and heritage bodies. May I seek reassurance that sufficient moneys will be available for the Government's funding of the business sponsorship scheme, which has been so hugely successful, especially as the Government's contributions have been on a better ratio than hitherto?

Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that galleries and arts bodies will not lose grant because of the moneys that they manage to attract through their own efforts? How have discussions progressed with the Treasury and other Departments on the way in which tax incentives could be given, to the benefit of our heritage? We promised this at the last election and action should be taken before the next election.

On the last point, the Government have introduced several tax incentives designed to encourage greater contributions to the arts. I welcome my hon. Friend's remarks about the business sponsorship scheme. In its first year of operation, it raised an extra £4 million from business, and an injection of £1·5 million from the taxpayer. It has a good multiplier effect for the arts, and I have great confidence that the scheme will make a contribution in the abolition areas.

I acknowledge my hon. Friend's point that galleries and museums should be encouraged to raise extra revenue in addition to the basic funding that we will continue to give them. I shall do my best to ensure that everything is done to encourage, not to discourage, them.

Does the Minister agree that the sums that he has announced today fall far short of the Arts Council's estimates of the sums required to fulfil its responsibilities? The budget of £110 million is about £16 million short of the Arts Council's estimate. The metropolitan enhancement money, although welcome, is still about £10 million short of the Arts Council's estimate of what would be necessary to fill that gap.

The Arts Council has estimated that roughly £35 million is required in the abolition areas. The Government have provided £25 million, and it is not unreasonable to look to the successor authorities to make up the difference. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will help in that connection.

My hon. Friend has answered questions about the South Bank. May we now turn to the provinces? What will be the effect of his statement on the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester? Last year, the theatre drew £610,000 from the Arts Council and £548,000 from the Greater Manchester council. That £548,000 will no longer be available. Will the Arts Council allowance be topped up to that extent?

This sum applies to all abolition areas, and it will be for the Arts Council to determine how much of this extra money it will allocate to those areas, which includes Manchester. That is the best way to proceed. The Arts Council must determine how best to use this money, and the successor authorities must make their contributions.

I am sure that the new Minister has learnt that the arts are flourishing on Merseyside. Can he assure me that the arts in their various forms on Merseyside will be able to continue at their present level? In view of the point that he made about contributions from industry does he consider that the arts in Liverpool will develop further when industry there has been declining for the past six years? Can he assure me that the arts will be able to develop in the way that they wish?

I say to the hon. Gentleman that I have received a delegation from Merseyside, all of whose members were deeply concerned about the arts. I acknowledge the important contribution to the arts that is made by the galleries and theatres on Merseyside. It is my job to make known the total sum that I can make available to the Arts Council, and it is for the council to determine how much it can allocate to each area. However, I have every confidence that the successor authorities will provide adequate funding for the arts.

I congratuate my hon. Friend on taking the vast intellectual leap from being a Minister at the Foreign Office, like my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind), to being Minister for the Arts. I thank him for the extra £600,000 which the Scottish arts are to receive, but I remind him that that is the total budget of the Royal Exchange theate in Manchester. In Scotland we provide far better facilities, far better theatres, and better art galleries, without throwing money at them. Will my hon. Friend learn the lesson that is art created, not by money, but by our attitude towards it?

I am not sure how to read the first part of my hon. and learned Friend's question, and I shall not go any further on that. He asked about our attitude to the arts. I have no shadow of doubt that the arts go beyond day-to-day politics. They are a fundamental part of our way of life, heritage and culture. There are a variety of ways in which we can all contribute to the health and wealth of our arts. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland for contributing £600,000 to our budget for Scotland. That is simply to deal with one problem, the transfer of arts responsibilities from regional to second-tier authorities.

Leaving aside the special additional provision for the abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan authorities, is not the basic provision increase only £5 million—from £105 million to £110 million? That will be inadequate to meet all the demands on the Arts Council, which demands include regional development, as pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher).

I welcome the £600,000 for Scotland. Will the Minister confirm what his statement suggests, that this is earmarked for Scottish national companies? Will he take on board the fact that, in view of the demands on the Scottish Arts Council over the last few years, the previous special enhancement of £300,000 that went to Scottish Opera in 1984 has been largely dissipated by reductions in grants? This was due to the inadequacy of funding for the Scottish Arts Council. What guarantee is there that that will not happen again?

It is now a matter for the Arts Council in Scotland to determine how the money will be allocated. In the first part of his question, the hon. Gentleman asked about the extra non-abolition £5 million for the Arts Council. This is in line with, and possibly a little more than, the expected rate of inflation. It is a constructive contribution to solving some of the regional problems that the Arts Council wishes to deal with and gives the council an opportunity to cater for the "Glory of the Garden" strategy.

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the increase in funding for the Arts Council since this Government came to power will now be increased by some 7 per cent. in real terms? That is a matter for congratulation. Stimulation from business sponsorship has been enhanced by Government action, and that, too, is a matter for congratulation. It is a pity that Opposition Members do not recognise those facts.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. In the last six years we have more than doubled the amount of money available for the arts. In real terms the increase is over 7 per cent. The 7 per cent. is for the Arts Council, but it is over 7 per cent. in real terms for our total arts allocation. I have already mentioned business sponsorship, and this new scheme is making a positive contribution.

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his appointment, and even more so on the personal commitment to the arts in his statement. Is he aware of the serious concern in the regions? For example, is he aware that on 28 June this year his hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave) said that the West Yorkshire metropolitan county council revenue expenditure for the Yorkshire arts association for 1983–84 was £216,000? In fact, the amount given by the West Yorkshire metropolitan county council for that year exceeded £320,000. Opera North was given £200,000, and Leeds Playhouse received £60,000, and those amounts alone exceeded the amount announced by his hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West.

People in the regions are worried that the contribution will not be sufficient, even with the extra amount announced now by way of the local government contribution. Will the Minister stress to his right hon. Friend that when he makes his announcement later this year about the rate support grant there should be a special increased arts element in the rate support grant for 1986–87?

An excellent document was produced by the Yorkshire arts association, and I can give the hon. Gentleman a copy. The document lists 90 special events to which the Yorkshire arts association is committed and wants to carry out. Following the Minister's statement, I am afraid that unless the association gets some extra money in December, this booklet will have to go by the board. Will the Minister please press for extra money in the rate support grant?

I take on board the point made by the hon. Gentleman. He referred to the Yorkshire arts association. As well as the Arts Council, all the arts associations play a constructive role in the arts, and we are lucky to have them. The allocation of money is a matter for the Arts Council and successor authorities.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his statement that the Government's policy will be to retain the commitment to support the arts in constituencies such as mine in the west midlands which will be affected by the abolition of the metropolitan councils. The figure of £43 million will be appreciated by those in my constituency. Conservative Members have been pleading for a long time for a more positive response to private sponsorship of the arts. That is the way forward.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the points that he has made. I hope that all hon. Members will draw to the attention of businesses and arts bodies the benefits of the business sponsorship scheme, because it brings enormous benefits and has a multiplying effect. It is one of the ways in which we can contribute to the growth of the arts.

In his previous post the Minister must have understood very well the enormous advantage and prestige gained by British opera and theatre companies and orchestras travelling abroad. In view of the difficult position that the arts have been in for some years, I am certain that his statement will not help them. In the west midlands the arts are in great difficulty, and practically all over the country we have seen local theatres closing down. Those which are able to maintain themselves have had to reduce the size of their productions and the number of people they employ. Will the Minister give an undertaking that he will look at the matter again and make an additional statement in December and provide resources in the light of experience?

I have had a chance to talk to the chairman and director of the Midlands arts association. They expressed to me their views about the arts in their area. I have made quite clear what the Government can do on behalf of the taxpayers. I hope the hon. Lady will do everything that she can to persuade successor authorities to join this partnership.

Accepting that detailed distribution of funds is a matter for the Arts Council, will my hon. Friend invite the council to restore some of the grants that were withdrawn last year? I have in mind particularly the superb Churchill theatre in Bromley, which puts on excellent productions and which, despite having obtained increased local authority support and increased sponsorship, is finding it difficult to make good the shortfall.

I note what my hon. Friend has said, and I am sure that the chairman of the Arts Council will note it as well. I must stress again that I have allocated a sum to the Arts Council, and it is for the Arts Council to determine the allocation of that sum.

Can the Minister clarify a point about the £600,000 for Scotland, because there seems to be some confusion about what he said. Has that money been earmarked for support of the Scottish national institutions, or is it for the Arts Council in Scotland to determine how to dispose of it? Clearly, the transfer of responsibilities to the second tier of local authorities has made the support for community arts difficult.

On the broader question of taxation, the Minister's answer was far too complacent, bearing in mind the enormous additional burden which his Government imposed upon the arts by increases in value added tax. Will the Minister not set his face against more inducements to further contributions made to the arts, through further taxation reliefs?

If I may clarify that point about national institutions, it is true that the main purpose of this sum is that it should go to the national institutions in Scotland. I am sorry if the hon. Gentleman got the impression that I was complacent. I am not at all complacent. I want to do everything that I can to encourage the private individual as well as businesses to contribute to the arts. The Government's tax changes have made a contribution. We must do all that we can to encourage contributions to the arts.

I think that my hon. Friend knows of my interest in live theatre. May I put in a word for the live artist? Will my hon. Friend consider private sponsorship of the arts? It is one thing for a great industry, business or commercial organisation to show its patronage of the arts by staging an art exhibition for an artist or artists, or by backing an orchestra, opera or ballet, but what we really want is for the private sponsor or patron of the arts to buy works of art. A successful business can afford to do so. Will my hon. Friend encourage private sponsors to think like that? The attitude of businesses is important also.

I know of my hon. Friend's interest in the theatre and live arts. About 10 days ago I opened a seminar which was designed specifically to encourage businesses to take a direct interest in the arts by purchasing paintings and making other contributions.

Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that, despite the increased allocations announced this afternoon, many non-metropolitan districts are afraid, because of the abolition of the GLC and the metropolitan counties and pressure on the Arts Council, that their projects will not receive the support that is justified? Will it be possible for projects such as the Burnley Mechanics theatre, which will open next year at a capital cost of more than £2 million, to receive support? Will the hon. Gentleman have a word with the Secretary of State for the Environment to ensure that councils which are completing such projects will not be subject to penalty? Burnley knows that it will incur a 3p rate, and because of changes in GREA and RSG it is likely to be heavily penalised.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is equally anxious that the successor authorities should play their part. I note the hon. Gentleman's point. I think that my statement should provide a firm foundation upon which successor authorities can plan. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will play his part in persuading them to do so.

I thank my hon. Friend for his statement and, more especially, for securing an increase. It was thought that there would be a decrease in the funds available, but this increase will be widely welcomed. Will the increase in the Arts Council budget for 1985–86 be an increase in real terms? Will my hon. Friend ensure that sufficient funds are available to give the widest possible publicity to the business sponsorship scheme? To encourage people to purchase works of art, will my hon. Friend set an example in his Department and hang works of art by living artists on the walls of his offices?

I am doing just that. I have my own scheme to publicise the works of living artists. The increased allocation to the Arts Council on the non-abolition side is £5 million, which is slightly more than the expected inflation rate, and is therefore a marginal increase in real terms. Of course, that does not allow for the abolition figures which I have just announced.

Can the Minister tell me and all the people in the Greater Manchester area why we, in what he rather patronisingly describes as the regions, should believe that the Arts Council, with its record of moving resources, mainly to the advantage of the southeast, will do anything of value for Greater Manchester following abolition? If there is a threat to the Royal Exchange theatre, the Hallé orchestra, the Contact theatre or the Whitworth gallery in Manchester—all of which now receive support from the Greater Manchester council—will the hon. Gentleman take action to ensure that those institutions and organisations continue to exist and to offer the same quality services as they now provide?

The Arts Council, under the chairmanship of Sir William Rees-Mogg, does an excellent job. Now that the council knows the total sum of money available, it will carefully judge how to allocate funds to the GLC and the metropolitan areas. This allocation is up to the Arts Council, as I frequently say. I want to give some encouragement to the Arts Council's so-called policy of regional development. This good policy is the right policy. That is why I announced other increases as well.

My hon. Friend's statement will be welcomed by many, not least by the regional arts councils, which will soon be able to prepare next year's budgets. The statement nails the lie perpetrated by the metropolitan district councils that abolition would lead to reduced expenditure on the arts. Will my hon. Friend emphasise that local district councils, especially the metropolitan district councils, must not see the Arts Council as a means of opting out of their individual responsibilities? Will he remind the House that, in 1974, with the inception of the metropolitan counties, many metropolitan district councils opted out of support for the arts?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for stressing that point. This occasion provides a good basis for all the successor authorities to play a positive part. This week, when I went to Newcastle, I was encouraged by the desire of the five successor authorities to play a part. I hope that today's announcement will encourage them. I hope also that hon. Members will do whatever they can to encourage local authorities.

It illbehoves a Gainsborough Member to refuse support for the arts, and I do not. However, my hon. Friend will recall that when he was producing his masterpieces, there was no state subsidy for the arts. Will my hon. Friend take this opportunity to stress that it must remain the Government's policy, despite his generosity with taxpayers' money, to pare Government subsidies for the arts as business sponsorship increases? Is he instituting studies in his Department to emulate the tax advantages in the United States, where art flourishes in the glorious garden of business, not state subsidy?

I stress that the Government's task, as we said in our 1983 manifesto, is to maintain our support for the arts on behalf of the taxpayer. When it comes to real growth in the arts sector, I think that we are entitled to look to the private sector to play an increasing role. This means not just business sponsorship, although that is important, but a paying public, through tax incentive schemes and private patronage. There are a variety of ways in which the private sector can encourage growth in the arts.

Does this not all boil down to the simple proposition that there has been a marginal increase in real terms on the base figures, and a major and massive cut in the replacement figures?

The hon. Gentleman says so much about his support for the "Glory of the Garden". Is not even that minor increase in real terms lost as soon as we recognise that the "Glory of the Garden" must be paid for from central sources and that the recommendations in the Priestley report, which referred to £4·1 million, must also come out of that 5 per cent? Therefore, this minor real increase is, in fact, another major decrease.

How will the local authorities—the hon. Gentleman wants them to replace the decreased amounts—cope? He has forecast a continuous tapering down of support to these bodies. They are being cut and capped. Now the hon. Gentleman is promising a tapering down of support for them. Was not the White Paper forecast for 1986–87 correct in saying that there would be a 15 per cent. reduction in local authority funding of the arts? Will the hon. Gentleman try to square these most peculiar elliptical circles?

I suspect that I shall never satisfy the hon. Gentleman, whatever I say. I take that almost for granted. The hon. Gentleman used the term "cut". That is astonishing. The Government are giving an extra £43 million, which includes support for the arts, films, museums and galleries. It is a question not of a cut but of a partnership between central Government and local authorities. I look to the hon. Gentleman to play his part in encouraging local authorities to share in contributing to the arts.