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East Midlands

Volume 116: debated on Monday 11 May 1987

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20.

asked the Minister for the Arts what representations he has received about the level of financial support for the arts by local authorities in the east midlands.

I have no record of recent representations about the level of financial support for the arts by specific local authority areas. The level of support is, of course, within the responsibility of each local authority.

Will the Minister join me in recognising the efforts being made in Nottingham and in my constituency with a view to providing more cinema screens and to encourage Nottingham city council to go along with the appropriate scheme that is on offer? At the same time, will he encourage the British Film Institute, the county council and those authorities that have been involved, and will he provide some money to help them with this wonderful project?

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman recognises the way in which the arts are expanding in the east midlands. I welcome his support and encouragement. The Government have injected considerable extra resources into the east midlands regional arts association. Support has gone up by 146 per cent. in real terms since 1979. I hope that the hon. Gentleman recognises and acknowledges that and that he will encourage his own district authority, Ashficld, to give some money to the arts. It does not do that at present.

In the light of that reply, will my right hon. Friend assure the authorities in the east midlands that he utterly rejects the policy put forward by the Adam Smith Institute and reported in The Daily Telegraph today that public support of the arts should cease? Will he give the House an undertaking that he will continue the Government's supportive policy and that he will build upon it?

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for raising this matter. He served with great distinction as Minister for the Arts. I am glad to reaffirm that the Government believe that taxpayers' support for the arts has an important role to play alongside private sector support.

On this question of the arts and the east midlands, why is it that the Tory Government and other Governments before them never seem to recognise that pit brass bands are part of the culture of that area? Is he aware that they are spending considerable amounts of money on their instruments as a result of having to lead the marches against this Government's policies over the past 10 years? In the interests of fairness, it is high time that some money was given to them as well as to opera and all the rest.

I welcome the hon. Gentleman's new-found interest in the arts, and I acknowledge the important role that brass bands play, particularly in northern areas. I have heard a number of them myself.