LETTER : A Heritage Minister without culture is a ..

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From Sir Roy Shaw

Sir: The article "So what does Stephen Dorrell do?" (20 March) repeats familiar points but misses the main charge against the man. His argument that when he was "at Health it was not necessary to be a doctor" is true but irrelevant. What a minister did need at Health was a real concern for the nation's health; what he needs in his present job is a passionate concern for the health of the nation's arts. This he has failed to evince and it would not be proved by more regular use of the freebies he is offered.

When Mr Dorrell says that tourism is a large part of the answer to the question where are resources for the arts to come from, he curiously ignores the fact that it is the Government that is the main source. Worse still, he told an interviewer last November that "putting your own hand in your pocket and buying a theatre ticket is a better form of public support than state funding". Such a statement shows that he is quite unsuited to be the minister responsible for the level of government funding for the arts.

He should return to the back benches and spend more time flying his private aeroplane, which he apparently cares much more about than he does about the arts.

Yours faithfully,


London, N8

20 March

Sir Roy Shaw is a former Secretary General of the Arts Council.