Propping Up the Albert Hall
Some months ago it was confirmed that the Albert Hall was in dire need of repair. Since then the Council of the Royal Albert Hall Corporation has been seeking the means with which to do the work. It has finally hit upon the device—obvious enough in a Welfare State —of a Government loan. Such resort to the public funds may still have the power to shock those taxpayers who, while recognising that the Albert Hall is a national monument, remember that it is also a commercial undertaking which ought to pay its way. But in fact the Albert Hall authorities still are doing their level best to keep the institution going in the spirit of Victorian enterprise by which it was set up. They expect to be able to ptovide out of revenue £5,000 a year for current repairs and up to £9,800 a year for deferred repairs. The £353,000 for which they have asked the Government would itself be cleared off over a period of forty years by raising the annual contributions of the seat-holders from £3 to £10 a year. What is more those same seat-holders, who at present are only required to forgo their rights on 10 special occasions in the year, are now being asked to make their seats available for letting much more frequently. Under the quaint regulations which govern the conduct of the Hall these changes will require an Act of Parliament, and the Council was authorised on Monday to go ahead and try to get it. In the circumstances the least the Government can do is to provide both the loan and the Act. The Albert Hall really is a national institution, even if, for musical performances, its place is likely to be taken by what one of the members called "this rubbishy affair across the river."