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Reviewing Committee On The Export Of Works Of Art

Volume 975: debated on Monday 3 December 1979

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asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when next he expects to meet the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art.

I have no plans to meet the reviewing committee in the near future.

Why did the Minister and the committee allow a millionaire chancer like Axel Springer to bend the rules by exporting a valuable work of art under the pretext of gifting it to a British museum on condition that he be allowed to borrow it back for the remainder of his life? Is it not absolutely irresponsible to deprive the British public of that valuable work when enough money was raised by public subscription to keep it in the country and there is no guarantee that it will ever be returned?

I believe that the position is the opposite of that outlined by the hon. Gentleman. The purpose of export control regulations is to ensure that, in the long run, the work of art concerned remains permanently in this country. Contrary to the hon. Gentleman's impression, the arrangement has secured that after a period of years the work will return to this country. It will be obtained for nothing and enrich our art collection in the future.