Jonathan Lord – 2023 Speech on Funding and Support for Classical Music

The speech made by Jonathan Lord, the Conservative MP for Woking, in the House of Commons on 29 March 2023.

I am grateful, Madam Deputy Speaker. I rise to say two things. First, the funding cuts and the change of direction, particularly for the English National Opera, really affect some of our constituents, including musicians and singers in my constituency. Out of a clear blue sky, an organisation that is not just nationally famous but world famous and that undertakes all the tours that could be reasonably expected on the budget that it has, as well as performing happily at its home in London where it has made its name, has been subject to an Arts Council change that chucks everything up in the air. That is not acceptable, and I am pleased that there will be a review.

Secondly, I congratulate both the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Bambos Charalambous) on securing the debate and my hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill) on his work and campaigning. My hon. Friend spoke eloquently about the ENO; I agree with what he said, with the key questions he posed to the Minister and with the remedies he set out. We are still looking for a reasonable and satisfactory outcome for this world-famous opera company, and we look to the Minister for answers to those questions.

We hope the Government will make the right recommendations and ultimately guide the House, but let us not take time over that. The problem is that now everything is up in the air and people are being made redundant. We need some certainty for the future, so let us have a review, but in the meantime let us ensure the support needed is there. I look to the Minister for replies that will help my constituents and, more importantly, help the opera-loving public and that wonderful opera company.