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Lord Higgins: My Lords, perhaps the noble Baroness will also accept that the present Government cannot totally avoid responsibility either!

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: On the contrary, my Lords. We took action as soon as the matter was brought to our attention. However, it has taken some

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time because we are dealing with sums of money that may well amount to many billions of pounds. As soon as we were made aware of the situation, we acted. None the less, the responsibility to act in the first place was clearly that of the government introducing the policy change. That is undeniable.

The noble Lord also asked where these stories in the press originated. I should like to assure the noble Lord that, to the best of my knowledge, none of them originated in the DSS; but, beyond that, I am simply not in a position to speculate. I can only speak for my department and say that none of these stories came from the DSS.

I turn now to the questions about paragraphs 32 and 41 of the ombudsman's report and about a global response. The noble Lord, Lord Higgins, suggested that the Government's response was not "global". I disagree with him; it seems to me that we are meeting what the ombudsman is calling for. I believe that he was thinking about an individual scheme. He was worried that each individual would have to take separate action, separately argue the case and then receive separately assessed compensation, according to the degree of separate financial loss that may be calculated. No. As opposed to that, we are producing an inherited rights scheme. If anyone can show that he was misled and suffered detriment as a consequence, he will have 100 per cent protected SERPS. That seems to me to be an understanding of what is meant by a "global response"; that is to say, one that is not individually tailored, if I may put it that way, to deal with questions about individual compensation and how much individual loss has been sustained. In that sense, I believe that we are meeting the ombudsman's requirements in paragraph 32--

Lord Higgins: My Lords, I apologise for interrupting the noble Baroness again, but this issue, together with the question of proof, is really the crux of the matter. As regards both paragraphs of the report, I find great difficulty in accepting the interpretation that the noble Baroness has put forward. However, as there is confusion, perhaps we could ask the ombudsman what he meant.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, the noble Lord is entitled to ask the ombudsman whatever he wishes. I do not know whether the noble Lord is saying that a "global response" would be a case of simply reversing the changes and that anything short of that is not global. We are saying that anyone who was misled and did not know about the changes and who therefore suffered detriment will have his rights protected. That seems to me to be "global", as opposed to being "individually tailored". But I do not think that we can go much beyond that point. That is certainly my understanding of the situation.

The noble Lord, Lord Higgins, asked whether the minimum cost of £2.5 billion referred to the two-and-half-year delay. The answer is yes. Both noble Lords pressed me further about the burden of proof issue. Perhaps I may refer to the very clear words of my right honourable friend in the other place. People will be

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required to give us information when they make a claim as to how they were misled. We will ask them questions about this when we process the claim. Where there is no documentary evidence, it will be for the department to challenge or disprove the claim. What will count as evidence in this case will be spelled out in the affirmative regulations that will be brought to the House in due course.

Finally, I believe both noble Lords asked what sort of legal action is potentially available to someone who is dissatisfied with his situation. Such a person would indeed have access to a legal remedy. He can appeal and take his case to the tribunals. I hope that I have answered the questions raised by both noble Lords.

Baroness Greengross: My Lords, I congratulate the Minister on recognising a very difficult situation which potentially affects millions of people who are very concerned about their spouses' future financial situation if they should die first. I am sorry that my noble friend Lord Rix could not be present this evening. He has undertaken a great deal of work and campaigned tirelessly on behalf of widows.

I have to declare a certain interest wearing my other hat of Age Concern, as we have also been campaigning for about 18 months. I am pleased that the Government are taking responsibility for what is a very difficult problem, a problem not of their making, in setting up this new sub-ministry to deal with pensions and pensions issues.

Deferring the whole issue for two-and-a-half years does give some breathing space, although for many people there will still be a period of great uncertainty and worries. The Government have, as I have acknowledged, a very difficult task. There are still worries about how the scheme will work in practice and whether all the individuals affected by this really dreadful situation will find that their spouses' financial position will be secure.

The Government have said that they will publicise the scheme and set up the very welcome helpline. However, experience does tell us that many people, particularly old people, do not like making claims, particularly in situations where they have to declare their personal financial situation and sustaining the onus of proof is therefore very difficult for many of them. The only way to overcome that problem would be to contact all SERPS contributors or pensioners or both.

Will the Minister give an assurance that people who did not specifically receive misleading information on an individual basis from the Benefits Agency but who assumed the situation had not changed or relied on the written leaflets which we know were incorrect will be in some way protected?

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I am very glad to see the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, in her place and delighted that she felt able to give such supportive remarks to our proposals. She and Age Concern, together with the noble Lord, Lord Rix--who has sent his apologies, as he would very much

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have wished to be here, as would many other noble Lords had they known earlier that this Statement would be made today--have been very important players in bringing this issue to the notice of this House, Parliament and Government. The noble Baroness can well take some pride in the role that she and her organisation have played in this matter.

The noble Baroness asked specifically about how we would ensure that those who were misled or who may have suffered detriment as a result will know about it. A helpline will open tomorrow and there will be advertising. One of the key areas that we will want to be discussing with the organisations, including Age Concern, is precisely how we reach all of those who may have been affected by the Government's proposals. We hope very much to draw on the expertise of the noble Baroness and her organisation in that very matter.

Lord Desai: My Lords, I too welcome the Statement. I welcome the setting up of a separate directorate and separate sub-department. Owing to the somewhat misleading stories in newspapers which have been mentioned already, will the Minister give an assurance that all the people affected by this absolutely awful scandal--the public pensions scandal to accompany the private pensions scandal in those years when the party opposite ruled the country--will be looked after and that there will not be any lingering doubt in our minds that people are paying for others' mistakes?

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, the change came into effect in 1986. At that point, for a year or so, correct information was circulated. In addition, some professional pension advisers knew of those changes--they had obviously followed the parliamentary proceedings and the like. We have every reason to think that they gave correct advice and the people reading those pamphlets would have had correct advice about the situation and were then in a position to make an informed choice as to what, if anything, they did about it. In my view, such people obviously have no entitlement to compensation because they are in exactly the same position as anybody else experiencing a change in the law and they have of course the full 14 years to change the circumstances.

What we are seeking to ensure is that anyone who was misled by the department and, as a result, suffered detriment should be fully and properly compensated for that failure by the department. On reflection, we thought that the best way of doing that was frankly to protect their rights to the 100 per cent SERPS as though that change had not been made. Had we gone down the other route, which was to reduce the deferral from 14 years, which we also considered, it would have been a lottery as to when someone died. We thought that this was therefore the fairer way in the circumstances, as it recognised the obligation of government to redress a wrong committed by government which was their failure to publicise the issue properly to those affected.

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The Arts

7.36 p.m.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall rose to call attention to the case for promoting access to, and education and training in, the arts; and to move for Papers.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I am delighted to be able to introduce this short debate on the subject of education and the arts. I do not think that however eloquently I or any of my colleagues address this House, it is likely to be as entertaining as the spontaneous theatre we had earlier, which has unfortunately delayed a little the start of this debate. I know that arts are a Cinderella topic in many situations, but I was not expecting that we would still be here to turn into pumpkins.

However, I shall not delay matters any further but say straightaway that I am very grateful to those Members of the House on all sides who have put their names forward to speak in this debate. I look forward very much to their contributions.

When I contemplated speaking for 15 minutes, it stretched in front of me as a yawning expanse of time that I was not sure I would be able to fill. Of course, I have discovered there are many, many things that I shall not be able to say in the time allotted to me and I apologise in advance to all those people who have asked me to mention various topics which I shall not be able to mention; I very much hope that they will be picked up by others in your Lordships' House as the evening goes on.

I have spoken before in this House on the contribution that participation in arts activities can make to the general education and development of young people. Today I should like to return to the subject but also to include the education of young artists themselves, the development of new audiences, in the broadest sense, for their work, and also the ways in which their skills can be used beyond the immediately obvious areas.

I must start by declaring several interests. I am the executive director of the National Theatre, I am a trustee of NESTA--the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts--which is of course chaired by my noble friend Lord Puttnam, who is to speak later in this debate. I also serve on, or have recently left, the boards of other arts organisations, including Sheffield Theatres, the Roundhouse Trust, the Young Vic and the English Stage Company. Finally, I have to confess to having two children in training to be performers--one actor and one singer. Conventional wisdom suggests that this is a testimony to my complete failure to make any useful impact on their choice of career but I hope that, by the end of this debate, we shall have revealed that such a gloomy view is no longer appropriate.

Education and training in the arts are contributing significantly to the health and wealth of our community, which is why we ought to ensure that they are adequately resourced and occupy a proper place in our thinking about the future.

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The arts are among a diminishing number of activities in which this country continues unarguably to excel. Our relatively small population consistently produces a disproportionate number of world class actors, writers, designers, musicians, dancers and visual artists together with directors and producers whose skills are universally admired. This is important for two main reasons; first, because the work these people create brings us credit. It is one of our great diplomatic assets. The Oscars will be announced in Hollywood in a couple of weeks' time. British artists will once again be in contention for many of the most prestigious awards. The Metropolitan Opera in New York has just presented "Tristan and Isolde" with a new leading couple hailed as the best for a generation. The "Isolde" was the English soprano Jane Eaglen, trained at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Three theatre productions which originated at the National Theatre, if I may be forgiven this slightly immodest example, will all open in the same week next month on Broadway.

The arts also attract people to the UK both to enjoy the end product--two-thirds of visitors to London canvassed in 1997 by MORI cited the theatre as their main reason for coming--and, less visibly but very importantly, to take advantage of the training offered by our colleges and conservatoires. The excellence of our training institutions produces artists who are admired and envied everywhere for their innovation and for their ability to work flexibly and creatively within a framework of disciplined application.

There is another reason, perhaps not yet so well documented, but increasingly important, why we should take our artists seriously. Evidence is growing that skills developed through contact with the arts have value well beyond the arts themselves. This is most obvious in the education system, where demand for the services of arts organisations both to support curriculum-based teaching and to support general learning skills now exceeds supply. It is also apparent that business is looking increasingly towards the arts for management training programmes. The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Globe Theatre, among others, now run very successful programmes of this kind. Businesses are also looking for new skills in the young people they employ--skills in communication and presentation: in short, self confidence--which can be greatly enhanced through involvement in the arts.

Demand is also growing for arts practitioners to support the training of teachers. I note that there is a huge demand for the in-service training programmes which my organisation, the Royal National Theatre, provides. That demand cannot be met by the resources we have. Artists are also to be found in rehabilitation programmes in prisons and in the provision of care for the elderly. Only last week I heard an item on Radio 4 about a dance worker in an old people's home in Bristol. The relationship that had been forged between the artist and the people whom he was teaching to Tango was clearly delightful and very productive.

Why is there this demand? Perhaps it is becoming ever more apparent that people, young and old, grow through contact with the arts. They work better

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together, they enjoy their lives more, they are more productive. Whether this is in the school, the workplace or the prison, it is contributing to the "lifelong learning" project to which the Government are rightly committed. I refer your Lordships to a report which I have mentioned before in the House and which I imagine will be mentioned by other noble Lords today. I refer to the report of the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education entitled All Our Futures and published last year. There is a great deal of evidence in the report as to the beneficial effect that contact with the arts has on people in education.

Some of your Lordships may have read an article in the Guardian last weekend about Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House--those great bastions of exclusivity and privilege. Through their education departments, both companies have recently set up major projects in which they have matched the professional skills of their organisations with the enthusiasm and creativity of young people. The Glyndebourne production--a new opera written for a cast of teenagers by composer John Lunn with a libretto by Stephen Plaice--was presented at Glyndebourne a couple of weeks ago, to great acclaim, particularly for the young performers. "Separation: The Story of Bullman and the Moonsisters"--I did not see it; I wish I had--was the result of a six-month collaboration between the Royal Opera House and St Clement Danes primary school, and was shown in the new Linbury Studio at the Opera House last December. As the Guardian reported of this work:

    "Every element of the production, from performing and fundraising, to scenery building, was undertaken by the 101 children in the company. Professionals from the Opera House were on hand to help, but the children were encouraged to work as independently as possible. A walk around the school would have convinced anyone that they were taking the work seriously; the two 10-year-old press officers, Jesus and Ryan, were so professional it seemed they had been doing the job for years".

Glyndebourne's opera "Zoe" involved nearly 50 Brighton teenagers--a notoriously difficult age group to engage, as we all know--both from state schools within the east Brighton education action zone and from the private sector. Katie Tearle, Glyndebourne's admirable head of education, noted the range of benefits that projects such as "Zoe" can bring, saying:

    "People can get their hands dirty. They can join in the creative process, meet composers, experience the whole professional way in which Glyndebourne puts on an opera".

She went on to say:

    "These are all valuable educational experiences".

I should say at this point that a significant benefit of such experience is that it builds audiences for the future. If we do not pay attention to that aspect of arts education, then the theatres, concert halls, art galleries and opera houses in which we have recently invested so much will stand empty in the future. That would be very undesirable.

It does not require a huge leap of faith to believe that young people who have been asked to write music, to perform it, to build scenery or, most challengingly, to deal with the press, will find in those experiences confidence and pride that will influence their approach

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to other aspects of their fives. It is no surprise to learn that self esteem, communication skills, team building abilities--qualities for which, as I have already said, employers are increasingly looking in their staff--improve through this kind of experience. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that they do. There is also evidence that arts education has an impact on learning in general, improving concentration and application in all subjects. More study is needed in this area, and researchers at the University of Durham are currently working with the National Theatre on a three-year scientific study tracking students through years three, four and five to evaluate this impact. I am also indebted to my noble friend Lord Puttnam for drawing my attention to research from the University of York which shows that the 19 specialist arts colleges, 14 of which are in relatively disadvantaged inner city areas, have shown a 10 per cent improvement over the past three years in their GCSE A to C pass rates.

But projects of the kind I have just described depend for their success upon there being professional artists willing and able to lead them. It is the expertise of these professionals that unlocks the creativity of the young people with whom they work. There are dozens of initiatives all over the UK similar to the Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne examples. I have mentioned some of them in your Lordships' House before. The artists who contribute to them are usually highly trained, highly skilled and very committed. They are also frequently overlooked and almost always underpaid. I would urge the Government to recognise the importance of professional artists in carrying forward some of their excellent thinking about lifelong learning and the importance of creativity in all aspects of our lives, and to look for ways of supporting them in developing their skills.

In this regard, I would respectfully draw the attention of my noble friend the Minister to an initiative currently underway in Holland called PodiumKunst Werk, which roughly translates as "Stage Art Employment". This independent foundation is working with the Dutch Public Employment Service to focus exclusively on the job market for the performing arts and adjoining fields in which performing artists are professionally engaged. It is the latter part of that mission which I believe we have not as yet adequately addressed in this country.

I spoke earlier about the interest business is now showing in techniques that can be learnt from the arts. The National Theatre's own programme, Theatreworks, is in regular demand from companies requiring arts-based training for a number of reasons, including the personal development of key individuals and, most frequently, the facilitation of change. Issues about the "culture" of organisations, about styles of leadership, and about adaptation to new markets, new technologies and new ways of dealing with customers, can often be addressed very successfully through training which draws on ways of working used every day in, for instance, the process of rehearsing a play. This may sound implausible, but several of our most influential management thinkers, such as Charles

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Handy and Benjamin Zander, now frequently look to the arts for models to exemplify the kind of practice that will be increasingly necessary in the fast-moving business world of the future where creativity is at a premium. In his book The Hungry Spirit Charles Handy says:

    "The circus is one example of what business can learn from other organizations who have long experience of harnessing individual talent to common purposes. Professionalism, Projects, Passion and Pride seem to be the hallmarks of the organizations of talent. The theatre is another example, one where individuals become team members for a production with a shared interest in its success ... Orchestras and jazz bands have also been cited as models for the new way of working".

Here again, the skills of the professional artist are much needed, and in growing demand.

As yet we do not know exactly how many people who originally trained as actors, musicians, painters or whatever, now use their expertise in other fields. However, we know that they are at work in schools, in the NHS, in prisons, in teacher training and in management training, and they are doing a great job--which we have not properly learned to value or even to recognise.

There is, regrettably, still a great tendency in this country to regard training for and education in the arts as at best of secondary importance and at worst frivolous and self-indulgent. We have only to listen to the kind of language routinely used to describe people who work in the arts--"luvvie", "arty-farty"--to see how easy it is to convey the message that nothing of "real" value can be derived from taking them seriously. Even I, who have led a blamelessly hardworking existence in the arts, have from time to time been aware of a mild, but palpable, hostility from some quarters to the way I earn my living. I think that it derives from the belief that my colleagues and I are in some way getting away with it--that we are being paid to have a good time while other people do the real work and bring home the bacon.

Of course, I do not imagine for a moment that anyone in your Lordships' House harbours such views, but I suspect that noble Lords know what I am talking about. The truth is that professional artists have contributed hugely to the wealth and reputation of this nation, as the achievements of my noble friend Lady Rendell--whom I am delighted to see in her place, and who is to speak later in this debate--and the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd-Webber--who is not present, I am sorry to note--among many others, amply demonstrate. Their example inspires other, perhaps less exalted, talent to express itself. That brings me to my final point.

I should not like it to be thought that my interest in promoting the cause of education and training in the arts is solely related to how much value they can add to other areas of our lives. Art, of course, has value in itself. To come back to where I began, this country produces some of the finest artists in the world. Apart from those I have already mentioned, I draw your Lordships' attention to the recent success of composers such as Thomas Ades and Mark Anthony Turnage, actors such as Judi Dench and Ralph Fiennes, singers such as Ian Bostridge and Amanda

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Roocroft, directors such as Sam Mendes and Deborah Warner, and many more who are currently at the top of their chosen professions.

These people have all benefited from the excellence of our education and training institutions and now they are the inspiration for a new generation. It is vital that we continue to invest in excellence of this kind. It represents the best in us. It also reminds us of the vast pool of talent which we have to draw upon, which we must not waste by failing adequately to support it. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister made this point in his Romanes lecture in Oxford at the end of last year when he said,

    "Too many young children lack the chance to learn a musical instrument, or to develop talent in other branches of the arts. Opportunities are too unevenly spread, particularly for those who have so few to start with".

Education and training in the arts is a good investment, not a luxury. I am sure that my noble friend the Minister will confirm the Government's commitment to this principle. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

7.53 p.m.

Lord Crathorne: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Hudnall, for giving us the opportunity to discuss the arts today. Her credentials for opening the debate are impeccable. She did not mention that she attended the University of York. I am pleased about that as I spend much time at present in York.

I am sure that the noble Baroness will find support from among all the speakers taking part in the debate for the case for,

    "promoting access to, and education and training in, the arts".

The points I wish to make in this broadly based debate will be somewhat different from those of the noble Baroness.

This debate is really about broadening the appeal of the arts and encouraging more people to enjoy the wonderful pleasures available in museums, theatres, concert halls, sculpture parks and many other places besides. I suppose the only caveat is that that should not be achieved through any reduction in standards. The pursuit of excellence in all these areas must remain the aim. However, excellence is not always easy to define.

Yesterday the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, and I had the pleasure of being present at the launch of Sculpture 2000, the year of public sculpture. This is an English Heritage initiative at which the first ever guide to public sculpture was launched. It is a useful book prepared by the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association. It is all about creating greater awareness of public sculpture and where to find it. Antony Gormley spoke at the launch. He spoke particularly about his Angel of the North sculpture and made the point that when it was first produced it was vilified but has now become an accepted and enjoyed part of the landscape. He also said,

    "Art is not an amenity, but a necessity".

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That is a particularly nice phrase and one that all of us here today would, I think, agree with. However, some noble Lords may have seen in today's papers that people have different ideas about excellence. Antony Gormley's idea of excellent sculpture is somewhat different from that of the chairman of English Heritage. Therefore, defining excellence is difficult, but, as long as this leads to healthy debate, this is surely satisfactory.

The invitation to yesterday's Sculpture 2000 launch was issued, imaginatively, both in writing and in Braille, reminding one of how tactile sculpture can be and reminding one of the fact that people with disabilities of one kind or another greatly benefit from contact with sculpture and, indeed, all the other arts. It is nice that there have been substantial improvements in dealing with people with disabilities. Wheelchair access to buildings and museums is now much improved but by no means perfect. However, wheelchair access becomes difficult where grade I listed buildings are concerned. When I was chairman of the Georgian Group dealing with planning applications, we found that there was an extremely difficult and delicate balance to be struck between creating disabled access while maintaining the integrity of grade I listed buildings.

I wish to mention the government initiative of free entry to museums by 2001. That appears to be an excellent plan. However, I am somewhat confused about where we are with this. I hope that the Minister will mention that point when he replies to the debate. We shall soon be able to visit museums here and abroad on CD-ROMs. The technological advances in these areas are extraordinary, but there is no substitute for actually seeing the real objects. Last week the All-Party Parliamentary Arts and Heritage Group visited the Courtauld Gallery. The impact of seeing works of art which one knows so tremendously well from reproductions was quite overwhelming. We all felt that the virtual reality world will never match the real world.

However, the importance of IT is, of course, enormous. There are areas where more access should be available. I refer, in particular, to the computerised statutory list of grade I and grade II listed buildings. At the moment the only people who have access to this enormously helpful resource are English Heritage and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It really should be available to the National Amenity Societies, with which I have been involved, local planning authorities, academic institutions and, in my view, the general public. I hope that the Minister will comment on that point.

I wish to touch on the lottery. I was a trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund in its first year of operation. The results of the expenditure of lottery money are now visible all over the country. It has been of the most enormous benefit.

However, some recent developments are worrying. The addition of another good cause, the New Opportunities Fund, has watered down the amounts available for the arts and the other good causes. This

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new good cause covers health and education, areas that we would expect the Government to pay for. It is difficult not to conclude that the lottery is being raided by the Government.

I should like to end by mentioning an event that I am attending in Harrogate tomorrow evening which seems to cover all the points mentioned in the wording on the Order Paper for the debate. It is called JC 2000. It has enabled children to explore the meaning of the millennium--a fusion of religious education, dance, art, drama and music. More than half the primary and secondary schools in the country are participating, that is, about 5 million youngsters from 18,000 schools. Tomorrow's event is one of 12 around the country. The final event takes place in the Albert Hall later in the year.

Those children will become the audiences of, and the participators in, the arts in the future. That is a happy and comforting thought.

8 p.m.

Lord Freyberg: My Lords, I too should like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Hudnall, for giving us the opportunity to speak about promoting the arts this evening.

Recent visitor figures have confirmed that free admission to museums ensures an increase in visitors and hence encourages the greater access that the Government seek. However, there have been a number of obstacles to implementing free access to the national museums. I hope that the proposal I am about to make, which is the work of two respected bodies, will enable the Government to continue with, and reaffirm the principle of, free admission, and to overcome the difficulties thrown up in implementing it as a policy.

In October 1998, an extra £99 million was made available for museums and galleries over the next three years. Culture Secretary, Chris Smith, stated at the time:

    "this will enable the Trustees of the major national institutions to introduce free access for children from next year, for pensioners the following year, and for all in 2001".--[Official Report, Commons, 28/10/98; WA 197.]

In December 1998, the DCMS set aside a £30 million reserve for the final year.

More recently, as the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, stated, a tone of caution has entered into what was once a clear-cut aim. In January of this year, Chris Smith stated:

    "Children have already gone free, pensioners will be going free from April and we will be able to extend that further in the next year".

Why then does he no longer talk about free admission for all?

There seem to be two reasons. First, there is a dispute over whether the £30 million is enough to offset the abolition of the national museums' admission charges; the second reason is the VAT problem. The latter has been exacerbated by the large number of lottery-funded major building projects. I shall explain.

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Under current legislation, a museum that charges admission is considered a business and can recover VAT on associated expenditure. Museums that do not charge are not considered businesses--with the exception of some activities, such as special exhibitions with entry fees--and therefore cannot claim back VAT on major building projects. The prospect of no longer being able to claim back VAT stops many charging museums from even considering dropping admission fees. Enormous amounts of time and energy have been expended on this problem which could otherwise have been spent on useful projects, from touring exhibitions to education programmes.

Such a situation is directly at odds with the Government's policy of achieving greater access to the national collections. It has been a major obstacle for charging and non-charging museums and galleries alike, which have been forced to grapple with torturous decisions as to whether to make themselves liable for greater costs for the sake of a firmly held principle.

This anomaly causes further uncertainties. First, museums with major capital projects, such as the Tate Gallery and the British Museum, will find it increasingly difficult to avoid introducing entry charges. Secondly, Customs and Excise has declared that it is unhappy with the present partial recovery regime, whereby museums and galleries offer some free admissions--for example, to children and pensioners--but otherwise charge. This means that the future of free entry even for children and pensioners is under threat.

When pressed to resolve the VAT question, the Government have always stated that European legislation on VAT taxation and harmonisation issues prevents them tackling the anomalies as they stand. None the less, there have been extensive discussions and various options have been considered.

In the past six months, on the recommendation of the DCMS, the National Art Collections Fund and the Charities Tax Reform Group have got together to look at ways of sorting out these problems. They have come up with what I consider a simple, ingenious and inexpensive solution. They propose adding an amendment to Section 33 of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 to include central government sponsored national museums and galleries.

Put at its most basic, Section 33 is designed to prevent government funds being used to pay tax. Among the list of bodies to which it applies are local authorities, the BBC and ITN News, which can all recover tax related to their non-business activities. National museums and galleries funded by central government qualify by the same rationale. The proposal was submitted to the DCMS in January of this year.

In addition, national museums are no longer autonomous in the way that they used to be. Tough funding agreements and exacting public accountability ensure that, like the BBC, they are in effect public service organisations.

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What is so neat about this solution is that it is definitive. Moreover, it will not require primary legislation as the Treasury has the power to add to the list of those eligible for the Act by order. Thus, at a blow, the conflict between the Government's taxation policy and their cultural policy would be eliminated.

Because the only money involved would be the cost to the Treasury of refunding VAT to the non-charging museums, this scheme would not be expensive. In the case of the National Gallery, the Tate Gallery, the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, the annual total would be approximately £3.1 million, based on current calculations. With most of the large lottery-funded projects near completion, now is the time to put this proposal in place.

Furthermore, the EC recently stated that Section 33 of UK VAT law does not conflict with the European common VAT system, and that, if it were applied to the national museums, it,

    "could be considered as a sort of subsidy granted to the bodies mentioned".

A challenge from Europe to a controlled amendment such as this is therefore not anticipated.

While I am aware that such a move could act as a precedent for other institutions, it would be possible to ring-fence the national museums as a special case. In other words, the arrangement is confinable and will not open doors to every charity. Local authority museums, in most cases, already reclaim VAT on capital expenses. Like the BBC or ITN, the national museums serve the whole nation; their collections are held on behalf of the public on a long-term basis; and their funding is tied to the delivery of public service objectives. The NACF paper clearly sets out the qualifying criteria. I hope that the Government will look favourably on this proposal.

8.7 p.m.

Lord Addington: My Lords, when the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Hudnall, introduced the debate so well, she said that she had been accused of being paid to have a good time and getting away with it. In Parliament, that is very unlikely. Politicians who accuse someone of being paid to have a good time and getting away with it will not only be skating on very thin ice but heading towards a big hole in the centre of the pond. I think that the noble Baroness is fairly safe here.

I was attracted to this debate by the original title on the minute which referred to the "performing" arts. In my naivety, I thought that the performing arts would be very similar to sport, which is my interest. I think that they are similar, but they are different in certain ways. The loads and stresses on the body are different. For instance, an athlete uses style and form to achieve distances and speed usually; a dancer controls power and speed to achieve art and form, which is a slight inversion of the two concepts. At least that is the way it appears to me.

As I thought of the similarities--physical fitness is of course one--I found myself coming across other misconceptions about the idea of physical education

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being concerned only with sport. I once upbraided one of the noble Baronesses opposite for referring to "non-competitive sport"--and here I am on her patch. The idea is that sport has to be competitive, while dance is a form of physical education and is not competitive; there are activities that give rise to forms of expression excluding the element of competition. It is thus a different world. However, what does strike me as a similarity is that both activities require proper coaching--training is a more appropriate term. That should be done with consideration and should be regulated and backed up by services outside the immediate environment.

As I attempted to research this field, I discovered that most dance training, particularly in participation, is done through private or at least paid-for support. As I spoke to other people, I discovered the many different types of dance. The only other field where I discovered as many activities and accredited bodies was the martial arts sector. All those involved have qualifications, but it is very difficult to follow them up and find out what is going on.

Also, the idea that training needs to be updated surprised many of those to whom I spoke. If you come from the sports world, the idea of updating your training is almost part and parcel of being competent at your job. When talking about paid instruction, it is something that we should be looking to encourage. But that is a matter for the various sections of the internal world of dance to examine.

There is also confusion in regard to qualifications. That means that many people may not have the right type of qualification for safety's sake. As many of those people are involved in small businesses, it will be incredibly difficult to implement any change in this area. As was pointed out to me, word of mouth often guarantees that those who are competent stay. When they push someone forward for higher levels of tuition or higher levels of competitive dancing where awards are given out, usually the good instructors will be those who are part of an organisation. They will thus be recognised and it will be realised what is going on. Thus, there will be some control on them--but not always. It struck me that less competent people would possibly be driven out. But if people are driven out who do not know what they are doing, there is a possibility that people could be damaged; for example, by the inappropriate use of certain dance or warm-up techniques. A twisted knee is a twisted knee. Whether it happens from twizzling on a dance floor or from falling over on a sports pitch, it still hurts.

Therefore, I suggest that the Government should think about ensuring that all local authorities that hire out rooms at least try to make sure that the people and so on to whom they hire them have some form of accreditation. That is probably a good way forward. There is a high drop-out rate among people involved in various forms of physical activity and sport. The rate is particularly high among teenage girls and returning women. On the other hand, dance apparently has a shortage of men. I have a friend who took up Scottish country dancing because he realised that there were very few men involved in it--a message that could

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possibly be used in a recruitment drive! If the Government could do that, they would be helping themselves.

Perhaps I may take this opportunity to pursue a developing hobby-horse of mine; namely, the idea that there should be better basic training in sports medicine or supporting medicine from the local doctor and making sure that physiotherapists are better identified than is presently the case. The term is commonly used to describe anyone who wants to call himself or herself a physiotherapist or a sports therapist--there are those who are dance therapists but describe themselves as both dance and sports therapists. I refer to people who are not properly trained, who have not taken the recognised examination at degree level and then received practical training afterwards. I realise that this is not the Minister's responsibility; however, perhaps he will carry the message to those in charge that tighter regulation of such people and increased medical training would be a good idea to encourage people to get the benefit out of dance and dance-related forms of activity. If they can do it safely and know that if something goes wrong they can be treated and return to it, they will remain involved. Those who take up dancing eventually receive some injuries. It is a sad fact that merely by walking you will eventually stub your toe or twist an ankle. Therefore, I hope that the approach I have suggested can be taken forward.

In conclusion, when it comes to the arts, the more I have researched, the more I have realised that I must tread very carefully before volunteering to speak just outside my field again.

8.14 p.m.

Lord Colwyn: My Lords, it is a great pleasure for me to follow the noble Lord, Lord Addington. As a fellow member of the House of Lords Rugby Team, I am very impressed with his knowledge of dance. I am sorry that we shall not hear from the noble Lords, Lord Puttnam and Lord Jenkins of Putney, but I suppose that for a debate that was due to begin at 5.30, we are running slightly late.

It was just under two years ago that the noble Lord, Lord Tope, introduced a similar debate. In her reply, the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, stressed the importance that the Government place on access to and education in the arts and pledged support for students. She repeated the Labour Party manifesto commitment to,

    "review the scale and quality of all courses which serve our cultural industries and to identify ways in which existing budgets can be spent more effectively to achieve higher quality, better targeted training".

In his preface to the Labour Party's Strategy for a Cultural Policy, the Prime Minister said,

    "the arts and cultural industries help define who we are as a nation. They enrich our quality of life and create a thriving society. They have enormous economic benefits and bring enjoyment to millions and for far too long arts and culture have stood outside the mainstream, their potential unrecognised in Government. It has to change and under Labour it will".

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As I said then, it has changed--but not in the way that was expected. The Secretary of State for Education announced that arts and music would no longer have a place in the primary school curriculum and that there should be more time for numeracy and literacy. I reminded your Lordships of the importance of the fourth R--namely, rhythm--which has been highlighted in research by several countries, showing that young people who are taught music in schools have increased memory and reasoning capacity, improvements in participatory and time management skills and eloquence.

Rhythm leads me to jazz. I must declare an interest as co-chairman of the Parliamentary Jazz Group and as an average performer on the trumpet. In November 1996, the Arts Council published its jazz policy, recognising the importance of this art form and its inadequate profile in the UK. It said:

    "In the last 30 years, many British Jazz musicians have established themselves as original voices within the global evolution of jazz. Their work is well documented and the stature of their achievements acknowledged by their colleagues and audiences abroad. However, there has been insufficient opportunity in this country for this important contribution to world music to be fully recognised by audiences and for the work to be adequately profiled in Britain".

Jazz is a major contributor to the arts throughout the world. All other art forms have been historically patronised. It is right that that should happen--but jazz deserves to be and must also be included. Very few major cities in this country do not have an active jazz scene--it would be even greater if the Government could proceed with changes to the regulations affecting public entertainment licences. The Parliamentary Jazz Group has been lobbying successive Arts Ministers to do away with the two-in-a-bar rule for many years. In the debate on jazz on 15th February in another place, the Secretary of State said that he was,

    "actively reviewing the constraints that the licensing system places on musical performance in such venues, and I hope that in due course we shall be able to introduce deregulatory measures to assist the broad picture".--[Official Report, Commons, l5/2/00; col. 190WH.]

Perhaps it is a little early to ask for a progress report, but I hope that the Minister will remind his right honourable friend of the importance of this change and at the same time consider the venues that are licensed and pay heavily for that licence.

The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh--whom I thank for this opportunity to discuss jazz--will be surprised, I expect, to hear that jazz and opera audiences are very similar. About 3 million people attend jazz concerts and four or five times that number admit to an interest in jazz.

Jazz Services, an organisation funded by the Arts Council, was formed to promote the growth and development of jazz. It has advocated increased public support for jazz in the UK, and in February 1996 made representations to the then National Heritage Committee, which stated:

    "We do not believe that the different level of overheads in the performance of jazz and opera explains the massive discrepancy between the subsidy per member of the audience in the two forms of music".

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The Arts Council should look again at the funding of live jazz played by British musicians, in particular the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. This great band, which trains and encourages young people to perform jazz, has recently lost its sponsorship funding and been offered an additional £500 by the Arts Council. In the debate in the other place on 15th February the Secretary of State announced a further 24.4 per cent increase in funding in 2001-02. That will bring its funding up to £25,500, which is still derisory for an organisation that at any one time has about 200 young musicians. The principal, Bill Ashton, who has produced many world-class musicians, and Paul Eshelby, who is responsible for NYJO2, which takes on and trains school age musicians and acts as a feeder for the main orchestra, should be congratulated on being able to manage on such a low budget. I am aware that they need about £100,000 to carry out their responsibilities as they would wish.

It is not a valid argument to say that opera and classical music have proportionally much higher costs. But, sadly, this funding is in line with the reality of the situation. In 1999-2000 the Arts Council subsidised each opera seat by £12.75, each classical concert seat by £2.26 and each jazz seat--wait for it--by 25p. Since 1997 opera funding has increased by 52p per head and jazz funding has fallen by 4p.

In February of this year Arts Council News reported that the Welsh National Opera was to receive stabilisation funding and grants in excess of £4.5 million in 2001 and an extra £200,000 in 2002. This is extraordinary when taken with the grant by the Arts Council of Wales of over £2.5 million in 1997-98. As it appears that the Arts Council of England is keeping the Welsh National Opera afloat, perhaps the Minister is able to say whether he expects any funding for the Welsh Jazz Society from the same source.

In conclusion, I refer to the National Touring Programme which uses lottery funds to support the distribution of work across a broad range and scale of arts disciplines to audiences in England. The Arts Council has made an initial commitment to the programme for two years which encourages dynamic relationships between artists and producers, venues and promoters and audiences. It encourages new networks and the commissioning of new works and explores new ways to present work from a diversity of sources and cultural backgrounds. The National Touring Programme is for awards over £5,000. Effectively, this rules out much of the touring activity that the old scheme used to support, as many smaller bands would not while touring reach the £5,000 target. It seems incongruous that a big influx of funding means that the least well off artists are cut off from a vital source of funds. I hope that the Arts Council will have another look at this.

Two years ago the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, chided me for not playing my trumpet during the debate. I had made plans for a performance in case I did not survive the electoral process. It would have entailed leaving the Chamber with an appropriate jazz classic by way of protest. But I am still

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here. It would perhaps be unfair to Black Rod to force him to decide what to do if I produced my trumpet this evening.

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