The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Nicholas Ridley) : My announcement on 15 May that Imry Merchant Developers had agreed to delay work on the site of the Rose theatre for up to one month, gave a valuable breathing space. Imry recently announced a new design at an extra cost to them of £10 million.
English Heritage has advised me that the new design will, if it receives planning permission from the London borough of Southwark, both protect the remains and allow their proper evaluation and display. Scheduling is not necessary at this stage.
I have decided, after consideration, to accept that advice. I would reconsider my decision if that became necessary. I hope that all parties will now work together to make a success of a thoroughly sensible deal.
Mr. Soley : Does the Secretary of State recognise that there is an overwhelming demand in this country and overseas that the site should be scheduled? Virtually everyone wants that. The way in which we are treating our heritage is becoming a major item on overseas news broadcasts. The site fully qualifies for scheduling under the National Heritage Act 1983, as the Secretary of State is aware. English Heritage confirms that the site should be scheduled. Building an office block on top of the site is an act of vandalism and incredibly short-sighted, even from a commercial point of view. If the site was properly developed and enhanced it would bring in far more money as a tourist attraction than half a dozen office blocks on the land. Does not the Secretary of State also realise that if he persists in this course and if he does not change his mind, because of the National Heritage Act 1983 and other legislation, he is likely to face a challenge in the courts sooner or later?
Mr. Ridley : The hon. Gentleman clearly comes new to this subject. The demand, with which I have every sympathy, is that the site should be protected and conserved for future public inspection and remain for all time available for people to see. The demand is not for it to be scheduled. The hon. Gentleman is wrong to say that English Heritage has recommended scheduling. It has not done that. The criterion for scheduling is that I should feel that the site is threatened in some way. As a result of advice from English Heritage, I do not feel that. The scheme put forward by Imry Merchant is probably the best way of protecting and putting these very important remains on public display. Instead of always griping in the way that he does, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will pay tribute to the developers for their enormous contribution and co-operation.
Mr. Gerald Bowden (Dulwich) : May I say how pleased I am that my right hon. Friend has come forward with a scheme that is practical and that brings together the parties--the developers, the London borough of Southwark, English Heritage, the museum of London and those of us who wish the site to be made available and accessible and
Column 1124preserved for posterity. If there is any further delay, the site may deteriorate. What is there now may be lost to future generations.
I recognise that the proposed solution will not satisfy everybody. There are those who feel that this is holy ground and that nothing should overshadow it. However, those who appreciate the necessity of recognising that we are in the 20th century but who nevertheless wish to preserve these elements of the past feel that this solution, which Imry has further considered and to which it is making a contribution of some £10 million, is one that we should support.
Mr. Ridley : I agree with my hon. Friend that we should pay tribute to all concerned for the wonderful co-operation that they have shown in finding this solution. In the previous plan, 11 of the piles might have interfered with the foundations or other relics that were known to be there. The new design provides that the 11 piles will be moved to locations beyond the outer wall of the theatre. That shows remarkable co-operation. If this is holy ground--I would be too demure to express a view on such an important matter--holy ground needs to be protected. I believe that this is the best way to protect it. The wind, the rain, the frost and the sunlight will not do the ruins any good. They need to be protected.
Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey) : Does the Secretary of State recognise that I appreciate the efforts that he, his Under-Secretary of State and Imry have made so far? However, the proposal is still a completely hit and miss approach to archaeology and to the rescue of our national heritage. Does he not accept that the logical way forward is to complete the excavation of the site and then to decide what building can be built on, near or around it that will not do any damage?
English Heritage has already agreed that the present proposals--to excavate in the area of the piles--may do damage and has said that as and when anything is found there may well be a request to the developers to move their piles yet again. There could be a series of requests and a series of altered designs. There have already been three. Would it not be far better to say, "Let's get the design right but only after the archaeology has been completed."
The Secretary of State concedes that this is a monument of national importance. English Heritage has admitted that it is a schedulable monument. Is it not crazy for the Secretary of State to say, "I may schedule it later and thereby give it the protection of the criminal law"? At the moment he is relying on a deal with the developer--and it could be a new developer if Imry were to sell tomorrow--which has no statutory force. At the time that the site needs most protection, which is now, the Secretary of State says that he does not intend to use his legal powers to intervene.
Mr. Ridley : I am grateful to the tribute that the hon. Gentleman paid to the Under-Secretary of State who has, I believe, worked wonders in getting this deal through. The heat wave of the last month has created a risk of serious damage to the remains. It is now essential to provide protection for them. A membrane of Terram, followed by 40 cm of clean washed sand, is being placed on the remains for their best preservation. I do not believe that we should expose the remains to the risk of further damage from wind, weather and sunlight. That, therefore, is the correct
Column 1125procedure. If the hon. Gentleman would like to find the cost of deferring the building, I leave it to him individually to do so--
Mr. Ridley : I do not think that the people who own the site are willing to sell it, so the hon. Gentleman has to take both sides of the bargain into account. I do not believe that the monument is under threat, unless we fail to cover it up now. It is only if I believed that the monument was under threat that I should be justified in scheduling it. That is why I have left the position open. If it is under threat, I shall reconsider the position.
Mr. Michael Marshall (Arundel) : My right hon. Friend will be aware of my interest as a member of the Theatres Trust, which sought to exert a moderating influence in arguments that at one stage were getting a bit frenzied. I am most grateful for my right hon. Friend's remarks and for putting down a certain backstop. I acknowledge the points made by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), but a reasonable compromise has been reached. Does my right hon. Friend agree that if we are in future to encourage other developers to take a responsible attitude there should be some recognition of the developer's role and that we should be seen to suport the work of English Heritage in difficult circumstances?
Mr. Ridley : I am grateful to my hon. Friend's for his remarks. The one-month delay that I intervened to secure, at some cost to public funds, was necessary in the unique circumstances of this important case. I am extremely happy that the result is that English Heritage, the developers, the voluntary sector and others co-operated to produce the correct solution. I echo my hon. Friend's tribute to Imry, whose costs were not inconsiderable. The outcome is a strong endorsement of the system of voluntary preservation and action that the Department has developed to preserve such remains. The whole House ought to be pleased at today's result, which strikes the right balance between the need for development and the need for preservation.
Mr. Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent, Central) : I urge the Secretary of State to reconsider four points. First, English Heritage said that the site is of schedulable quality. Secondly, will he look again at his responsibilities under the 1983 Act? Contrary to the right hon. Gentleman's description of them in respect of vulnerability, that legislation defines three criteria and sub-criteria, and the Rose is generally considered to meet them all. Thirdly, archaeologists, the acting world and the public demand scheduling. The Secretary of State misrepresented that aspect. If he does not schedule the site, I suspect that an effort will be made to seek a judicial review or an appeal to judicial process. Fourthly, the right hon. Gentleman is
Column 1126correct to say that Terram and sand cover the site but I believe that Imry intends concreting on top of that sand, if it has not already done so. If the Secretary of State does not urgently reconsider his decision not to reschedule, he will preserve a 10-storey office block but he will not preserve the Rose.
Mr. Ridley : I am not arguing whether the site is of schedulable quality. The question is whether it is under threat. I am certain that I am correct in thinking that it is not. The hon. Gentleman said that he had four points to make but he only asked in four different ways whether I will reschedule. The hon. Gentleman drew attention to the fact that a skin of concrete is to be laid over the washed sand. that is being done on the recommendation of English Heritage to preserve the monument. The hon. Gentleman does not seem to want to preserve the monument. He takes his case much further than is justified.
Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South) : Is my right hon. Friend aware that those right hon. and hon. Members who know the people who run English Heritage have great confidence in their judgment, and believe that their advice to date was wise and balanced and that the solution in prospect is sensible? My right hon. Friend is wise to retain an open mind. I ask him to take a personal interest along with my hon. Friend the Under- Secretary of State for the Environment, who played an extremely constructive and helpful role during a rather difficult period. I ask him also to keep in touch with Southwark borough council. It is important that the remains are displayed in a proper and attractive manner and that the building erected over the site is worthy of its setting.
Mr. Ridley : There is no way that I could avoid taking a personal interest--not only because I want to do so but there is intense public and parliamentary interest. I took a considerable amount of interest in events as they unfolded. I believe that the Government's action in this matter has resulted in an extremely satisfactory position. I am not saying that that will always be the case, but so far the result is extremely good.
I certainly agree that Southwark borough council has an extremely important role to play as it will be necessary to accommodate the new solution with planning consent--I must not prejudice whether that would be right or wrong --and there are various other ways in which Southwark can play a major part in contributing to the success of this operation. I am optimistic that it will work out.
Several Hon. Members rose --
Mr. Speaker : Order. I remind the House that it will be possible to raise this matter in the debate which we are about to have on the arts. Some hon. Members now rising have already expressed their interest.
Monday-- 19 June----Opposition Day (13th Allotted Day). Until about seven o'clock there will be a debate entitled "Investment in Transport", afterwards there will be a debate entitled "Civil Liberties and a Bill of Rights". Both debates will arise on motions in the name of the Social and Liberal Democrats.
Remaining stages of the Pesticides (Fees and Enforcement) Bill. Tuesday-- 20 June----Remaining stages of the Self-Governing Schools etc. (Scotland) Bill.
Motion relating to the statement of changes in immigration rules (HC 388).
Wednesday-- 21 June----Opposition Day (14th Allotted Day, 1st half), until seven o'clock there will be a debate on an Opposition motion entitled "Food Safety, Research and the Nation's Health". Third Reading of the Local Government and Housing Bill. Ways and Means resolutions relating to the Finance Bill. Motions relating to Scottish social security and community charges regulations. Details will be given in the Official Report . Thursday-- 22 June----Until seven o'clock motion on the Northern Ireland Act 1974 (Interim Period Extension) Order.
Afterwards motion on the appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order.
Friday-- 23 June----Private Members' motions.
Monday-- 26 June----Opposition Day (15th Allotted Day). There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject for debate to be announced.
[Debate on Wednesday 21 June
Housing Benefit (Community Charge Rebates) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1989 (S.I., 1989, No. 361)
Community Charges (Information concerning Social Security) (Scotland) Regulations 1989 (S.I., 1989, No. 476)
Community Charges (Deductions from Income Support), (Scotland) Regulations 1989 (S.I., 1989, No. 507).]
Mr. Dobson : I thank the Leader of the House for his statement. Does he accept that it is intolerable that the new immigration regulations should be debated next Tuesday when they were made available in the House only yesterday? That has caused especial difficulty because of the European elections, and many hon. Members who are closely interested in the subject will not have an opportunity to study the new arrangements that are proposed before next Tuesday, the day of the debate. Will he consider postponing the debate to enable hon. Members on all sides of the House to study the detailed regulations and the Home Secretary's related announcements about DNA testing, and find an opportunity to debate them the following week?
Column 1128In view of fresh evidence today from the Policy Review Institute that the YTS is failing young people, will the Government provide time for an early debate on their policy for training our young people, so that some improvements can be made before 1992 and our young people do not fall even further behind the training offered by our European competitors?
Returning to two old themes, it is now 15 months since the Government received the Griffiths report on care in the community. When are we likely to hear their response, and when shall we have the oportunity to debate that very important matter? On the other matter, which I have been raising for a long time, what progress or otherwise have the Government made towards establishing a scheme to substitute student loans for student grants? That has been promised for a long time and the Secretary of State for Education and Science does not seem to be making very much progress, even with the Tory bankers with whom he is discussing the matter.
Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) asked me four questions about the business for next week. First, he complained about the time and the date that I have allocated for the debate on immigration issues. I agree that it is not the most convenient time in view of other matters, but it enables us to raise the subject. I believe that the time provided is adequate. In view of the hon. Gentleman's request, I shall see whether the matter can be pursued through the usual channels. The Government fully recognise the importance of training and we are spending £3 billion on training provision now, as opposed to the £500 million spent in 1979. These matters were relevant to a Bill we were discussing a short time ago. I cannot promise a debate in the near future but I am sure that it is a subject to which we shall return when an opportunity presents itself.
I am not sorry that the hon. Gentleman asked about the Griffiths report because the subjects he mentions are up to him. However, he has raised the subject several times before and I can assure him that we attach great importance to the Griffiths report and the Wagner report. Work is ongoing on our proposals, which we shall bring forward in the near future. Given the complexities of the matter, we must give full consideration to the subject so that we reach the right answers. I am sure that the time for a debate will be when we have announced our proposals.
On top-up loans for students, as I said last week, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science hopes to be able to report his conclusions on the administration of the scheme quite soon now. The right time for a debate will be after that.
Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North) : As someone who for a great length of time has been concerned that measures should be introduced to cope with dog nuisance, may I say how delighted I am that the Government have given a commitment to introduce legislation. Can my right hon. Friend say when that legislation will be introduced? For example, will it be introduced in the other place during progress on the Local Government and Housing Bill? If so, will it also cover the new system for introducing byelaws swiftly and effectively.
Column 1129Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. I cannot give him any further information now, but I shall bear in mind the points he makes.
Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland) : It is known that the Secretary of State for the Environment is considering the issue of strategic planning guidance for London and that an announcement is expected before the summer recess. Undoubtedly, the debate on transport on Monday will provide an opportunity to raise some of the issues about traffic congestion in the capital city. Will the Leader of the House acknowledge the genuine concern of hon. Members who represent seats throughout the country, not just in London, about the strategic planning of our capital city? The need for integrated planning is important and it will be an opportunity for a debate before the Secretary of State makes the announcement.
Mr. Wakeham : I recognise that these matters raise important considerations and that some of my hon. Friends have been asking me to find time for a debate. I have promised that I will consider the matter but, at this stage in the parliamentary year, I cannot promise absolutely that there will be time for a debate.
Mr. Nicholas Baker (Dorset, North) : Will my right hon. Friend accept thanks for what he has just said about future development plans, which I understand was included in his previous answer? Will he tell us when he will find time to discuss the Green Papers on the future of the legal profession?
Mr. Wakeham : I have been asked before about providing time for a debate on those matters. We had a short debate rather late at night on the Lord Chancellor's salary order during which the subject was raised. I wish I could find time for further discussion but I have a feeling that we shall return to it before too long.
Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South) : Is the Leader of the House aware that on Tuesday and Wednesday week the Prime Minister and, no doubt others, will be going to the European Council Heads of Government meeting? Has he not received a letter from me in my capacity as Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee recommending a debate prior to that meeting? Is he not aware that the Treasury and Civil Service Committee has heard evidence from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Governor of the Bank of England and will be issuing a report early next week? Surely a debate on this matter should come within the terms of the resolution of 30 October 1980. The fact that the Leader of the House has not announced a debate next week shows that the Government are not contemplating one. Will he reconsider the timetable and urgently schedule a debate of these important matters for next week, before the Prime Minister goes to Madrid?
Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman takes a deep interest in these matters and is extremely knowledgeable. I will always reconsider any matter that he raises at Business Question Time. However, as he said, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has recently given evidence to the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee and I regret that as things stand now, I am unable to find time for a debate before the Madrid summit.
Column 1130arrange for a statement on the Rose theatre as soon as there is any change, next week if necessary? Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the beautiful story by Oscar Wilde called "The Nightingale and the Rose" in which a nightingale thought it right to bleed its breast into the thorn of a rose which was fading, in order to save it. The rose bloomed beautifully but at dawn the nightingale fell dead. No one wishes to see anyone fall dead in this episode, but to save the Rose is worth a sacrifice.
Mr. Wakeham : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was neither wilting nor likely to fall dead. He gave a good account of the Government's position on the matter. The best plan would be to have today's debate on the arts and heritage and to watch the developments, but I shall certainly bear in mind what my hon. Friend has suggested.
Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) : When will the Government find time to debate the British coal mining industry? Is the Leader of the House aware that yesterday the Department of Energy announced another 15,000 job losses in that industry this year and that that is on top of the loss of some 140,000 jobs in the industry in the past four and a half years? When the industry has improved productivity by 75 per cent. in the past three years it deserves more protection from the Government than it is getting.
Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey and Waterside) : My right hon. Friend will recall that on Tuesday Parliament was lobbied by more than 100 workers in the electricity industry, representing the staff of Marchwood engineering laboratories in my constituency which undertakes work for the Central Electricity Generating Board. I have been struck by the response from parliamentary colleagues who support the workers' case, represented on the Order Paper by early-day motion 983 :
[That, recognising that 80 per cent. of the electricity research work carried out by Marchwood Engineering Laboratories relates to nuclear power generation, this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to allocate Marchwood Engineering Laboratories to the National Power Co., rather than, as proposed by the Central Electricity Generating Board, to Power Gen ; but as a preferred alternative suggests that the principal Central Electricity Generating Board research facilities including Berkeley, Leatherhead and Marchwood should be combined to form an electricity research and development company which would bid for Rand D contracts from the power generating companies once the electricity industry was privatised.]
That calls upon Her Majesty's Government to reconsider their decision to allocate Marchwood engineering laboratories to Power Gen while 80 per cent. of its research and development work is nuclear-related. There has been a more sensible suggestion that the research and development capability of the CEGB should be incorporated into a single independent company to contract research and development work to the industry once privatised and that proposal is now gaining support. I am sorry to bounce this on my right hon. Friend, but will he consult my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for
Column 1131Energy, who is at present considering the position, and suggest to him that the House should have an opportunity to debate that matter before he reaches a conclusion?
Mr. Wakeham : I have already consulted my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy, as I do on every early-day motion on the Order Paper as a matter of routine every week so that I come prepared. My right hon. Friend has received detailed representations on the matter from my hon. Friend and from representatives of the Marchwood employees. He is considering the matter most carefully and hopes to give a decision on the allocation of Marchwood shortly.
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West) : Will the Leader of the House please arrange an early debate on advertising standards? We have just been talking about the Rose theatre, but has the right hon. Gentleman seen the advertisements--I have photographs of them--in various streets in London put out by Flowers brewery which say :
"Not all flowers are pansies".
Is he aware that everyone knows that the slang word pansy refers to gay men and that that advertisement is causing a great deal of offence? I have received a number of complaints from my constituents. Those advertisements appear to have gone up in what one can only describe as the hard-drinking macho areas of London, where they are clearly calculated to try to stimulate homophobic attitudes among people. If the Leader of the House is not prepared to have a debate on that, will he make representations to his Cabinet colleague who is responsible for the Advertising Standards Authority to have those offensive advertisements taken down forthwith?
Mr. Wakeham : I do not know whether that is necessarily an appropriate matter for me to deal with in business questions. Whether the hon. Gentleman will be able to make the speech that he might want to make in the debate next Wednesday will depend, to an extent, on you, Mr. Speaker, and on his ingenuity, but it is just possible.
egard to advertising standards and the drinks industry, I have talks with advertisers from time to time in my capacity as chairman of the Government committee on alcohol misuse. I find their representatives helpful and constructive in their approach to high and proper standards in advertising. I shall certainly see whether iis appropriate to discuss with them the matter raised by the hon. Gentleman. Mr. Jonathan Aitken (Thanet, South) : May I complain to my right hon. Friend about his apparent policy of allowing late debates or, even worse, no debates on EC issues of great importance? Is he aware that the absence of a debate before the Madrid summit is regretted in all parts of the House? Is he also aware that to tackle as important an EC directive as the one on broadcasting, as we did this week at 2 o'clock in the morning, is a matter of regret not just to individual members, but is now, apparently, the subject of an official rebuke from the Select Committee on European Legislation? Since that directive has now to come back to the House as a result of a decision in Europe, will he please guarantee that we shall consider it at an appropriate hour?
Mr. Wakeham : I have an enormous amount of sympathy with my hon. Friend and I entirely agree that our arrangements for dealing with the scrutiny of European matters is not satisfactory. I have done my best to try to encourage further consideration as to how we might improve such scrutiny. I have given evidence to the Procedure Committee and I am glad that it is considering this matter. I have had meetings with the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee and I hope to have another meeting with him fairly soon. I have had discussions with right hon. and hon. Members from all sides of the House on how best we can deal with what is clearly a problem. If my hon. Friend would like to come to talk to me about how he thinks we could improve matters I should be delighted to see him.
Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South) : I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important national matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,
"the agenda of the Heads of Government meeting, European Council, in Madrid on 27 and 28 June next".
You will have heard the exchanges, Mr. Speaker, immediately preceding this application and the courtesy of the Leader of the House who said that he is attempting to improve debates on matters of scrutiny. On this occasion, however, I am afraid that he has not provided the opportunity for such a debate.
The matter is specific in so far as some important items on the agenda are concerned, particularly the report of the Delors committee, commissioned at the last Heads of Government meeting, on full economic and monetary union within the European Community. I need not emphasise the importance and significance of that report and its recommendations for the future of the nation and its potential consequences for virtually all our future economic, political and social life.
Two Select Committees of this House will have reports available early next week and the Governor of the Bank of England and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have given evidence to the Select Committee on the Treasury and Civil Service. The Select Committee on European Legislation has reported that the Delors report should be debated within the terms of the resolution of the House on 30 October 1980, which appears to have been discounted or overlooked in the statement that we have just heard from the Lord President in reply to my question.
If the House is to have any influence on those of Her Majesty's Ministers who will be attending this important meeting, where decisions of principle could be taken, it is essential that the matter be debated in time--I refer to the Standing Orders. I submit, therefore, that bearing in mind the ancient privileges of this House, particularly those concerning consultation prior to decisions, and prior to legislation, you, Mr. Speaker, as the protector of the rights and liberties of the House and thus of all the subjects, should place the application before the House.
Mr. Speaker : The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,
"the forthcoming meeting of the Heads of Government in the European Council in Madrid on 27 and 28 June next."
I have listened with great care to what the hon. Gentleman has said about his matter. As he knows, my sole duty in considering an application under Standing Order No. 20 is to decide whether it should be given priority over the business set down for today--
I regret that the matter that the hon. Gentleman has raised does not meet the requirements of the Standing Order and I cannot therefore submit his application to the House, but I hope that he will find other methods of raising it.
Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.-- [Mr. Dorrell.]
The Minister for the Arts (Mr. Richard Luce) : I welcome the opportunity to open this debate on the arts and heritage. I intend to concentrate on the broad themes of the Government's arts policy. My hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley) will answer the debate and dwell in more detail on the heritage. This House has debated the arts every year since I became Minister for the Arts in 1985. This is the third year running that we have debated the subject in Government time.
There are many heartening signs that an increasing number of people are concerned about issues that will affect the quality of life, not only of themselves but their children and grandchildren. The public interest is becoming all-embracing. The natural desire for a pollution-free environment is matched by a growing interest in our architecture--and in the importance of attractive surroundings. There is an increasing ability to turn away from the mundane aspects of daily life to enjoy a range of recreation. The arts fit within this pattern. The criteria are quite clear : that more people want to enjoy leisure and to educate themselves through museums, galleries, theatres, concerts, opera and jazz or by trying out their own creative talents, through crafts, photography or painting. For deep down we know, as Dostoevsky echoed,
"Man does not live by bread alone".
We need something deeper to turn to.
As we witness the last lashings of the tail of the dying crocodile of Communism in so many parts of the world, the challenge to genuine democracies lies in demonstrating that we offer real political and economic freedom and the best means of improving our quality of life.
We cannot achieve this unless the culture of wealth creation is deeply embedded in our life. This has become the case under this Government. The search for a higher standard of wealth must be tireless, but now is the time to focus our attention upon how to make the best use of this new climate for the quality of our lives. As we look forward to the turn of the century, we must open up even further the opportunity for individuals to extend their horizons and to enrich their daily lives. We have every reason to be proud of our artistic achievements in this country.
It is an important Government job to create the climate whereby we can achieve the highest standards of excellence and creativity. We want to ensure that all those who wish to do so have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of this or to participate and use their own talents. We best achieve this in a democratic society where the freedom of artistic expression is a central principle. We will best inspire genius and talent by the greatest possible delegation of decision-making from the centre, by encouraging art in our schools and by encouraging financial support from a variety of sources. The most potent challenge that we face today is the need to ensure that the best our our arts is accessible to all those who have the potential to enjoy it. That is a central part of my strategy and I shall now take a few moments to describe how I am attempting to achieve it.