National Heritage Bill
As amended ( in the Standing Committee), considered.
New Clause 2
ACCEPTANCE OF OBJECTS IN CERTAIN BUILDINGS
'In paragraph 17 of Schedule 4 to the Finance Act 1975 in sub-paragraph (3) (Buildings in relation to which objects may be accepted) there shall be inserted after paragraph (d) the following "or
- (e) if the building is one approved for the time being for the purposes of this paragraph by the Ministers".'.—[Mr. Dalyell.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
With this new clause it will be convenient to take the following:
New clause 7— Significance of objects in their Settings.
New clause 8— Consultations on Acceptance and Disposal of Objects in certain circumstances.
New clause 10— Acceptance of significant objects in certain buildings.
Government amendment No. 50.
Amendment No. 33, in clause 12, page 7, line 37, at end insert—
'(bb) in sub-paragraph (4) (approval by Treasury of objects to be accepted) in paragraphs (a) and (c) after the words "artistic interest" in both places where they occur there shall be inserted the words "or is of significance in or to a setting with which it already has significant historical association;".'.
Objects can be accepted in lieu of tax under powers contained in two sub-paragraphs of paragraph 4 of Schedule 6 to the Finance Act 1975.Under sub-paragraph (4), objects have to be of pre-eminent quality, and it is under that power that objects are accepted and go to museums and galleries. Whilst there has been plenty of arguments as to whether an object would be a pre-eminent addition to this or that museum, we do at least have quite a lot of experience, and, given that Ministers will take the right advice, the pre-eminence test may be the right way of reaching a decision in the museum context. But the other sub-paragraph, sub-paragraph (3), provides a power to accept objects in relation to certain classes of buildings, and it may be more appropriate to use that than to deal with this matter under pre-eminence where the intention is that objects are retained "in situ on loan". The problem which must now be faced and solved—and how glad I am to see the Minister of State, Treasury among us—and to which reference in the Bill is highly desirable is the dispersal of contents from buildings that do not fall into any of the classes already set out in sub-paragraph (3)—substantially privately owned country houses. Here, if an owner wants to pay tax by way of the surrender of, say, a picture of great quality, he can do so if it passes the preeminence test with the result that the picture is whipped away to a museum, where doubtless its pre-eminent quality will be much appreciated. The trouble is that the setting from which the picture has been taken will be the poorer, and the picture may even diminish in interest from being removed from its historic setting. This is particularly so with furniture designed to fit into a scheme of decoration—and I referred on Second Reading to the Hopetoun case in the West Lothian constituency. Of course, the previous owner will derive great pleasure from the leaving in situ of objects after he has surrendered them in satisfaction of tax—who would not be glad to keep an old friend?—but, provided that there is reasonable public access and the property is advertised, and so on, that pleasure will be shared with many thousands of visitors. I think that all of us who served on the Standing Committee were agreed on the importance of that. There is another aspect of leaving in situ. We have to be careful not to pull all our great pictures, and so on, into our cities, particularly into our national museums in London and Edinburgh. To do so is not only to increase the magnetism of the cities for tourists—some think that there are too many tourists in London already perhaps—but is also to diminish the attractiveness of our country houses and, through them, the other parts of Britain generally. The aim here has to be to diversify tourism by leaving great works of art, and so on, in the areas of Britain where that is appropriate. Of course, leaving works of art in the areas outside London does not necessarily imply leaving them in country houses if they are to be surrendered in satisfaction of tax. There are local museums, and in many instances it will be appropriate to house such works of art in them. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon) stressed in Committee the importance of this in his own constituency. But, even so, it is now appreciated that country houses should be accepted almost as an extension of the local museum service. To come back to the amendments, the solution offered is to provide in subparagraph (3) a catch-all power under which Ministers can, when, say, a picture is offered in lieu of a tax debt, approve a specific building and so allow themselves to accept the picture with the intention of leaving it in situ. Naturally, and rightly, Ministers will not wish to use this new power except in circumstances where they want to see the picture, or whatever, kept in its setting or restored to it. In case the first new clause is thought to be too wide, a second version has been tabled with a proviso in it containing the appropriate reference to the significance of the object in or to the building with which it already has historical association. All this apart, it should be remembered that whatever is left in situ will be there on loan, so that it can be taken away if the situation changes. Of course, there will be security and indemnity questions to solve, but these are relatively minor problems compared with the central problem of the power to act, which is provided by the amendments. New clause 7 quite rightly recognises that the trustees should look most carefully at the status of objects in their settings before they assist intending purchasers with grants so that they are not removed to museums and so on when that would be the wrong solution. I support new clause 7. New clause 8 applies in the situation where Ministers are considering, first, acceptance and, second, disposal of objects accepted in satisfaction of tax, and it is right to stipulate that consultation should take place as early as is necessary: that is, the right to start negotiations. With the seal of unnecessary confidentiality thrown over negotiations at the acceptance stage, of which we heard in Committee, it will be difficult to see that the right thing is done. As regards Government amendment No. 50, the new Government amendment, I have already commented on its effect of bringing into consideration "leaving in situ" only at the disposal stage. I really feel that earlier consideration is most necessary and that this must be permitted, not only with experts but with the trustees of the fund, the Historic Buildings Council, the Historic Buildings Council for Scotland and other appropriate bodies, and possibly this is implied in new clause 8. I also refer to what is possibly a serious omission in Government amendment No. 50. There is no reference to objects being restored to the place with which they have significant association. Again, new clause 8 is the model and I ask Ministers to look at this and amend their own amendment. This issue of restoration is rather important and I hope that the Government will look at it in the later stages that remain to us. But I come back to consultation and confidentiality. There must be consultation at an early stage, or
or whatever will not be properly weighed. This is all the more important because the Government have not come up with their own version of new clause 10 or with an amendment on the lines of amendment No. 33, which I also support."significance in a historic setting"
It seems that the arguments deployed in Committee on the importance of the in situ provisions have been hand-somely recognised by the Government in amendment No. 50, which stands on the Order Paper in the name of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Although the amendment stands in my right hon. Friend's name, it is right and proper to pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro), who guided the Bill through Committee on behalf of the Government, listened carefully to our arguments and promised to return with answers on Report.It is important that objects which have a particular association with a special place, and which derive much of their interest and significance from that association, should have that factor taken into account when their final resting place is being determined. That is a factor that has been recognised by successive Governments. It was recognised by the previous Labour Government when they produced their WhitePaper in 1979. It has been recognised by the present Government. However, in Committee we did not feel that it was spelt out clearly enough. Our arguments have now been taken into account, and it will be incumbent upon the trustees to consider the historical associations of objects. We said in Committee that the issue of pre-eminence could be extremely misleading. That which is pre-eminent in a provincial country house is not necessarily pre-eminent in a great national institution. It is important that that should be recognised. It is important, too, that we should not always remove an object from its setting if it has been surrendered in lieu of tax. However, it is appropriate for certain objects of international importance to be placed in the National gallery or elsewhere. Those of us who take this line do not say that never at any time should anything go to a museum when surrendered in lieu. We argue that it is important to consider historical background and association. It seems that the Government are seeking to recognise that factor and to do what my hon. Friends and I are seeking to introduce in the new clauses that have been grouped with new clause 2. I rest content. I thank my right hon. Friend for his response.
I welcome Government amendments Nos. 50 and 33. I speak as an ex-secretary of the National Trust for Scotland. One of our fears was always that the most valuable and essential features of houses, gardens or other items offered to us would be removed from their natural position by, for example, a museum or sold by the owners. I welcome the provision contained in the new clause, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) in Committee. One of my reasons for welcoming the Bill is that I hope that it will allow houses and other places where various works of art have been built up together to be preserved as a whole.I consider that a good deal of nonsense is talked about our national heritage. It sometimes appears to consist of Italian pictures, French furniture and German porcelain. It seems to be valued exclusively on the ground of how much it will fetch on the wholly bogus international art market. I take the belated opportunity of congratulating the previous Labour Government on refusing to buy the whole of Mentmore, lock, stock and barrel. It was accumulated by an eminent Austrian. It came into our heritage, if it ever came into it at all, comparatively late. I am campaigning against stuffing cellars in galleries with pictures and other objects. It is becoming a matter of prestige for every body of trustees and every curator to spend as much money as possible, regardless of the number of objects that are already under their control and very often, to my mind, regardless of the beauty of the objects that they are accumulating. The test of those who talk a great deal about our national heritage is whether they are willing to return some Canalettos to Venice. They would be extremely pleasent to look at if they were there. We need not go so far as to return the Elgin Marbles. If we really care about our national heritage and the heritage of others, we should not be so selfish as to refuse to return certain items elsewhere. Valuable porcelain, pictures and furniture will not be destroyed if they are not placed in the cellars of galleries. They will not be torn up or burnt. There are a great many extremely pleasant houses, churches and other buildings of various types, as well as attractive parts of towns and a great deal of pleasant countryside, that will be destroyed if we do not do something. Even if they are not physically destroyed, they will be broken up in such a way that they will lose their beauty and significance. In the Government amendments there is much reference to "significant association". In my experience as an ex-secretary of the National Trust for Scotland, there are a great many houses that are beautiful but not significant. They have rooms that are extremely pleasant as rooms. Their carpets, hangings and decorations are really all of one piece. Will such houses come within the Government amendments? I cannot say that they are especially significant. They are simply beautiful. They are pleasant to look at. A great many people enjoy them. I recognise that they may not be of great historical importance, but I hope that they will come under the heading "significant". I understand that power will be given to keep in their place objects that fall within the terms of the new clause and amendments. There are other objects which occasionally come on to the market. They are bought by public authorities or they are offered to them. These objects are not necessarily associated with places, but with families. Can they be returned to suitable places? For example, there are many objects associated with Marlborough and Wellington. Although certain objects may never have been in houses occupied by the two dukes, will they be offered to the appropriate houses? Furthermore, there are personal possessions which, to my mind, would be best kept in houses associated with those concerned, even though they may have no direct association with those houses or places. There is a provision that Ministers must obtain expert advice. I am extremely chary of expert advice and anything to do with aesthetics. It seems that some experts value objects according to their significance, their date and the view of other experts rather than according to their beauty. For example, I do not know how many people went to look at Rennie Mackintosh's desk, which was exhibited in London not long ago. It was bought for £80,000. It is a significant object. I find it difficult to describe it as extremely beautiful. I have the highest admiration for those who bought it for the under-bidder, the Louvre, and I recognise the importance that it has in the history of furniture. However, one would need the advice of a few other than experts before laying out £80,000 on it. Experts have a strong resemblance to magpies. They adore accumulating stuff. I took part in debates in the House on the future of the Lane pictures. It became apparent that the curator of the Tate gallery was determined to keep them. To my mind there was no doubt but that the Lanes should go back to Dublin. The curator was determined to get his handson them even though he had plenty of French pictures. The wretched Shetlanders once let out of their hands the treasure that had been discovered on St. Ninian's Isle. Had it not been for the surprising honesty of the British museum, the Shetlanders would have found it sucked into the Edinburgh galleries before they could say "knife". However, it ended up in those hands, and many people regret that to this day. I hope that when the Government consult they will include in their consultations the local people. I hope, too, that they will take steps to ascertain how much pleasure certain houses are giving and how many people visit them.
Can these objects go out on loan? If so, does that open up the places in which they may ultimately be placed by the commissioners? For instance, would it be possible to lend these objects permanently to private houses which are open to the public? There are, perhaps, many objects of art which might be returned to some of the great houses in England which are not under public control. Does the Bill give power to lend those houses collections of works of art? Can such items be offered to churches? For instance, now and again it might be possible to reunite such things as screens in churches. Is that possible under the Bill, because the uniting of works of art that have been severed might greatly enhance the value and beauty of each object.
Can such objects be given to local trusts, as has already been mentioned? Is it possible for the Government to give any assistance in relation to insurance? What prohibits many local trusts from keeping valuable objects is the possible cost of insurance. Will the Government insist that objects of art loaned out are insured, and, if so, is it possible that the Government will assist with the payment for insurance?
With those questions and few remarks, I greatly welcome the clause and the Bill as a whole.
I am delighted that we have had a contribution from the Liberal Bench. The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) asked some interesting questions and I am sure that the Minister will answer them in due course.I felt that the right hon. Member was being a little provocative—perhaps that is his purpose in the debate this afternoon. Hadhe been party to the Committee proceedings, he would have known—I believe that all my colleagues will agree with me—that we were not concerned with Italian paintings, French furniture or German porcelain. We covered the whole range of the heritage and concentrated more on landscapes—the original concept of Hugh Dalton—historic houses in all parts of the United Kingdom and objects of historical significance to certain localities. The right hon. Gentleman should have read the Committee proceedings. Some of his questions might have been answered had he done so. He would have known that we were not specifically concerned with what we had managed to collect and collar from the four corners of the world.
The hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) is an extremely unprovocative man. Therefore anything that touches on controversy is no part of his nature. I am sure that he will accept that I am aware of that. I am aware of the Committee proceedings, and I took the opportunity to point out the excellence of the Committee. Of course, if the whole of the art world were loaned to geniuses such as the lion. Member and the other members of the Committee, none of us would have a moment's uneasiness. The trouble is that people outside the Committee do not always behave with the wisdom of the hon. Member.
I am happy to accept that. We Scots have a particularity in wanting to be specific and detailed and have precise answers to the questions that we raise. Therefore, I back the right hon. Gentleman very strongly on the matters that he raised and I hope that the Minister will answer him. I am delighted that he has joined us in the debate this afternoon.I had intended to make somewhat adverse comments on new clauses 2, 7 and 8, but I understand that those are likely to be withdrawn. I hope that they will be. We rehearsed the arguments in some detail in Committee, so I will not pursue them in the House this afternoon. I will merely point out that I think that by amendment No. 50 the Government have acted most handsomely and responsibly, by putting paid to the need to debate the new clauses. It has always seemed to me that the in situ question, about which so much interest in reaching a sensible solution has been expressed, should figure in some way in clause 9, which deals with the disposal of works of art in satisfaction of tax. The reason for referring to the in situ question explicitly in that clause is that the concept is a new one, in the sense that it has hitherto enjoyed no statutory status. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster fully acknowledged the desirability of dealing effectively with this important question, and he has achieved this in an exemplary way. I am happy to use the following words in reference to the right hon. Gentleman. The warmest congratulations are due to him for having come up with a form of words which takes proper account of the views of both sides of the House and which maintains a sensible balance between them. Only fanatical extremists would question the wisdom of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster's solution. Now that indemnities can be made available for loans of selective works of art back to their original locations, the in situ question seems well on the way to a practical solution. What has been achieved in this respect in the Bill will turn out—I have no doubt of this—to be of lasting benefit to the public. Having paid that encomium to the wisdom of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and his hon. Friend the Minister, I end by asking the right hon. Gentleman, by way of postscript, whether he can now give the House some indication of the sources of expert advice to which Ministers propose to turn in this connection.
I am glad that we are able to continue this debate in such a constructive way. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) for his kind words. I also welcome him to what so far has been an all-Scottish debate. My thanks are due also to the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) for his kind words about the amendment that we have tabled, which I hope meets many of the points that were raised by hon. Members.It is right—and this is the value of these clauses—that we should recognise the association of a picture, a piece of furniture or a great family heirloom with its own home, where it has been since it was painted, constructed or brought back to from some distant battlefield, and which is therefore the hallowed pride of a family who may have looked after it for generations. That is why, in Committee, we accepted that certain objects of great eminence should, if possible, be seen in the historic homes where they have remained for generations. I hope that this policy will be developed over the years once the Bill has become an Act. I welcome the comments of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). I know that for many years he has had a keen interest in the arts and the heritage. I am happy that he wished to join us in our debate today. However, he should look carefully at clause 16, which deals with indemnities, because this has changed dramatically since Second Reading. It is now possible for the type of object that we are discussing to be loaned for the purposes of exhibition where reasonable public access is available under indemnification proposals, which covers insurance. What we must look at carefully is the importance of the object to the exhibition, and security. In all probability we must rule out churches because of the great difficulties with security in churches which are open for worship throughout the day and in the evening.
Some cathedrals have treasuries and museums attached to them which are very secure. I have been asked whether they will be eligible, and I am sure that my hon. Friend will confirm that they will be.
I should not like to give any firm answer off the top of my head. Each treasury, as my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West calls them, will have to be looked at carefully. I should not like to give a firm assurance at present, but I shall write to my hon. Friend about it as soon as possible.I think that I owe a reply to the amendment of the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), but the important thing that I wish to do shortly is to speak to amendment No. 50 and move it at the appropriate moment. As the hon. Member for West Lothian knows, we had a long discussion about leaving in situ objects that had been accepted in lieu of tax. As I said in Committee, it is the Government's policy to encourage this. We have tabled an amendment specifically to deal with disposal under clause 9. It is unnecessary to amend clause 12 because, as I told the Committee, when the Bill becomes law paragraph 17 (4) of schedule 4 to the Finance Act 1975 already empowers the Treasury, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Secretary of State for the Environment to have regard to leaving objects in situ. We intend to discuss this fully with the expert advisers to ensure that there is no doubt about the nature of the test that we wish to see applied. I now turn to the new clause in the name of the hon. Member for West Lothian, who was constructive and helpful throughout our Committee proceedings. Our view is that it is unacceptable, because, in effect, it drops the pre-eminence test for certain objects. We accept that some objects can be regarded as pre-eminent only in a particular setting, but in that setting they are of pre-eminent quality. That is catered for in the Bill and in existing law. However, we do not think that it would be right to accept any object, because of its association with a particular building, ad hoc, case by case, at the discretion of Ministers, where the house itself was not offered in lieu of tax. That would devalue the currency of the quality test, which is something that we must bear in mind. It is difficult enough for the expert advisers to operate to a consistent standard, and to widen the scope of the test in those cases where the object would remain associated with a building which would remain in private hands seems both unworkable in practice and objectionable in principle. As I think hon. Members have generously accepted, Government amendment No. 50 covers the points that we discussed in Committee, and I hope that it will be accepted by the House. Although the Treasury has the formal responsibility for allocating objects accepted in lieu of tax, it has already de facto delegated this to the Ministers with departmental responsibility for the arts and the environment. In practice, what Ministers do is to consult the appropriate expert body—usually the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts or the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries. These bodies take into account a wide range of issues on conservation, security, public access, opportunity for study, appropriate context, and so on. Until quite recently the Treasury took the view that it was wrong in principle for someone who had offered property in lieu of tax to be allowed to retain the benefit of it in his own house, unless the house was also offered in lieu of tax. But this is no longer the situation, and there are several cases now under consideration where items accepted in lieu of tax may be left in situ in a privately owned building. Thus, there really is no need to amend the law to provide for this, and, in strictness, if we mentioned one factor which should be taken into account in deciding on the disposal of property we ought to mention them all. However, our debates have shown that the question of leaving items in situ is one to which hon. Members on both sides of the House give special importance, and in those circumstances we consider that it would be right to provide a provision requiring Ministers to consider the in situ point in appropriate cases. I believe that amendment No. 50, which I shall move when we come to clause 9, fulfils all hopes and aspirations of hon. Members who served on the Committee and, I hope, of hon. Members who are present today. If the hon. Member for West Lothian withdraws the new clause, I am sure that he will find that the issues that it raises are adequately covered in amendment No. 50.
:The Government have made a serious attempt to meet all the points that have been raised, and I thank the Minister for his reply. I have simply one request, which is that he should look carefully at what said about objects being restored to a certain place. If the Government think that my argument is fairly convincing—incidentally, I think it is—perhaps they will consider introducing a Lords amendment at the appropriate time. May we have the promise that such an amendment will be seriously considered?
I note the hon. Gentleman's point, and I shall look carefully at what he has said. If the object is of pre-eminent importance, or if it could be so in situ in the context of its old historical home, I should have thought that it would be possible for it to be loaned under indemnity from whichever museum or gallery in which it was residing, accepting, of course, that the historical house has some form of access for the general public. I shall look at what the hon. Gentleman has said and let him know whether there are further developments.
That is good enough, and on that basis I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion and clause, by leave withdrawn.
New Clause 3
EXEMPTION FROM STAMP DUTY ON FUND-FINANCED TRANSACTIONS
'(1) No stamp duty shall be payable on a conveyance or transfer of property made to the Trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund or on a conveyance or transfer to any body or institution where a grant or loan has been made to the body or instiution with respect to their acquisition of the property so conveyed or transferred.
(2) References in this section to conveyances or transfers include references to all occasions on which stamp duty would be chargeable but for the effects of this section.'.—[ Mr. Dalyell.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
r: With this we may take the following:
New clause 4— Exemption from capital transfer tax on gifts to the fund.
New clause 5— Exemption of tile Fund from all taxes and rates as a memorial.
New clause 9— Acceptance of property in satisfaction of income tax in certain circumstances.
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.Both an amendment and a double-banking new clause were put forward during Committee and debated, and the discussion can be found in columns 210 to 216 of the Committee proceedings. The wording was defective, but the Minister correctly understood one aim, which was to exempt the recipient of grants and loans from the stamp duty that would otherwise be chargeable on conveyances and transfers of real property made with the aid of grants or loans from the fund. The Minister made it clear in Committee that relief from stamp duty is a matter for Treasury Ministers. It was heartening to hear what he said, and perhaps one can directly adduce from what he said that exemption will be forthcoming in the next Finance Bill. I wonder whether I intercept a nod and a wink from the Minister of State, Treasury. The hon. and learned Gentleman remains very silent and perhaps does not want to confirm that. Ah, good, I notice that he has nodded. The Minister also referred to the position of the trustees themselves, which led to a discussion on their future status not as a charity but as a body receiving the same reliefs as a charity, which brings us back to one of our old topics. The debate brought to light the extraordinary situation that will prevail if the trustees make an acquisition of real property. On that, they will pay 1 percent. stamp duty, assuming that they are granted status akin to that of a charity. They will rapidly part with that property and the recipients will also pay stamp duty, because, as the Minister made clear, even those in receipt of gifts pay stamp duty. Therefore, stamp duty will be payable twice, and it may total at least 2 per cent., if not 3 per cent., depending on the status of the recipient body. The first purpose of tabling the new clauses is to draw attention to the fact that, in spite of giving the trustees some relief, and in spite of the relief that recipient bodies may already have, at least 2 per cent. stamp duty may be paid in circumstances in which the trustees themselves make an acquisition and transfer it to a recipient. The second purpose is to draw attention to the need to extend the exemption asked for to those transfers and other transactions that also pay stamp duty, such as leases. Here it seems that the words in clause 11 give exemption to all such transactions in respect of property accepted in lieu of tax. It is to be hoped that the exemption for the activities of trustees will extend just as widely, and I put that in question form. It is ridiculous to vote extra money to Ministers who must then pay it to the trustees—incidentally, going through the barrier of public expenditure in the process—merely to provide the trustees with cash to pay back the money in the form of stamp duty. Will Treasury Ministers please bear that in mind and come to the sensible conclusion that total exemption should be given to the trustees from paying stamp duty, whatever they may do about recipient bodies? With regard to recipient bodies, the Minister pointed to the anomaly that may be created when stamp duty exemption is given on purchases assisted by grants or loans from the fund, in contrast to the situation when gifts are made to the same recipient bodies from outside, with stamp duties paid thereon. The best way of dealing with that anomaly would be totally to exempt not only the same by private treaty—be it assisted from the fund or otherwise—but also gifts made to bodies that are listed in paragraph 12 of schedule 6 to the Finance Act 1975. Stamp duty may only be 2 per cent.—1 per cent. in relation to charities—but surely it is rather petty to charge it on gifts for national purposes and on purchases made by august bodies. In that context, it is appropriate to look at the position of the various bodies that are listed in that paragraph of schedule 6. The position is not quite clear, but it seems that only the National Trust, the National Trust of Scotland and, strangely, the Department of the Environ- ment, including transport, escape paying stamp duty at the present time—be it at 2 per cent. or 1per cent. if the body is a charity. Even so, the exclusion of the two national trusts is significant. It must point the way towards total exemption being given to the fund as a body of comparable standing, at the very least. At this stage I should like to say to the Minister of State what a pity it is that we have not yet debated the Goodman report on charities. There are basic issues that should be discussed which are outside the immediate context of the heritage. New clause 4 also stands in my name. The subject of exemption from capital transfer tax of gifts to the fund was raised several times, both on Second Reading and during the Committee stage. One aspect has not been debated and gives rise to the probing new clause—that is, the inclusion of the name of the fund in the paragraph 12 list in schedule 6 to the Finance Act 1975. It carries with it the right to make private treaty purchases involving the inducement to the vendor of the so-called "douceur". That right is essential for the proper functioning of the fund. Without it, it will have difficulty in making acquisitions and may well have to pay more than would otherwise be the case. Apart from that aspect, it has to be said that the fund is not large enough. Clearly, it needs more capital and income. All that can be done to encourage the making of gifts to the fund should be carried out. That point was emphasised particularly by George Russell, the lawyer to the National Trust of Scotland. Donors are only human. To give money in the knowledge that they or their executors will have to pay CTT and any capital gains tax arising from the disposal that is inherent in the gift would be most damaging. It is urgent to put the fund into the paragraph 12 list in schedule 6. No firm undertaking has yet been given that the fund will be put into the list in the next Finance Bill. However, I know better than to ask the Minister of State to give clear undertakings about the nature of the Finance Bill before the Budget. Nevertheless, he may be in an expansive mood and may tell us something about that. Now that Treasury Ministers are permitted to speak, it seems appropriate to call for a direct and firm undertaking, although I should understand if that undertaking were vague. New clause 5 is grouped with my new clauses. It has my entire support. As hon. Members may know, I put up the amendment in Committee which may have sparked off the new clause, at least in relation to the reference to the recognition of the establishment of the fund as a memorial fund. I am glad to see that the pitfall of reference to Britain, as was the case with my amendment at Committee stage, has been avoided by using the words "United Kingdom". I hope that that will satisfy my hon. Friends, not least my hon. Friend on the Front Bench from Dunbartonshire, Central (Mr. McCartney). Whatever their secret thoughts may have been, I hope that Treasury Ministers will take the sentiments in the new clause about the fullest possible tax exemption to heart. I hope that they will come up with the necessary clauses in the Finance Bill without fail. New clause 9 is also of considerable interest and should be another guiding light for Treasury Ministers. The restriction to CTT and coincident capital gains tax, and now interest thereon, plus estate duty, is rather too restrictive. Income tax on the winding up of an estate by executors is just as destructive as the other taxes that refer to heritage properties. It does not matter which tax causes dispersal; it is the dispersal itself that matters. Here, dispersal should be taken in the wider sense of export, which could well be triggered by opposed to that prevented by acceptance in satisfaction of income tax on winding up. This is all a bit of a mouthful. However, I know that the Minister of State is used to dealing with mouthfuls, not least from me. I am sure that he will reply in some detail.
As new clause 5 touches on some similar points and stands in my name and that of two of my hon. Friends, I feel bound to say something, although little. There is a great deal of substance in what the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) has said. There is no point in my repeating it. I believe that there is a case for consideration.I am delighted that my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State is taking part in the debate. We were all devastated when he was removed from the list of members of the Committee. A gloom fell over our deliberations on the first day following his absence, from which we never adequately recovered. Now he has a chance to tell us the exact position of the Government. I shall not delay him for a moment from doing so.
I should just like to put in a brief word. At this stage, in connection with new clause 9, is it not appropriate for the Minister or his colleague to comment on how the arguments would affect the taxation problems of the Seilern and Wernher collections? That is particularly so because these problems are now matters of considerable public knowledge.
:I rise to intervene with a certain diffidence. As my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) has pointed out, I did not take part in the debate in Committee.
We missed the hon. and learned Gentleman.
I am flattered. I took particular note of the kind remarks that were made. I cannot believe that my absence detracted from the quality of debate, judging from the Hansard report, which, of course, I read assiduously. I felt that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment—dare I say it in his presence—dealt with the points far more adequately than I could possibly have done. Anything that I can contribute on this occasion is only a gloss on the points that he made.
:Is that an invitation to send for the Under-Secretary during the Finance Bill when we have differences of opinion?
That is a matter of discretion for the hon. Gentleman. I notice that he said in one of his interventions that it was not his normal habit to send for Law Officers but that when he sent for them they came. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary is an honorary Law Officer henceforth on these matters. Perhaps that is not a status that he will accept with relish.I address myself to the central theme of the four new clauses—the tax status of the fund. Of course, it is the fund with which we are concerned rather than the trustees, because it is to be given corporate status. I shall give an undertaking to the House which I hope will allay many doubts and shorten the debate. It is our firm intention to introduce provisions in the next Finance Bill which will, for tax purposes, give the fund no less than the advantages of those who enjoy charitable status. I say advisedly that it will be no less than that status, because, in one aspect of my response to the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), it would be our intention to give them slightly more than that status. In other words, we believe, with him—indeed,it was the almost unanimous sentiment of the Committee—that it should be added to the list in paragraph 12 of schedule 6 to the Finance Act 1975 for the purposes of capital transfer tax. In other words, there will be total exemption for CTT purposes without limit. Of course, the House will appreciate that there are certain limits on normal disposals in favour of charities.
That is spendid news. I am sure that we are all delighted. However, will my hon. and learned Friend confirm that the Finance Act will make the provisions apply retrospectively—in other words, that they will apply from 1 April so long as the fund comes into being on that day?
I have addressed my mind to that point. I suspect that we are talking about a gap of only five or six days. I understand from my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment that the fund will come into operation on 1 April. Of course, the financial year starts on 6 April.
Things can happen.
Anything can happen. I shall certainly take the point away with me to consider, but it would not be right to enmesh myself in points of such detail now. I hope that the House will bear in mind that we are probably talking about a gap of five days.It would not be appropriate to give the fund or the trustees charitable status as such, because that would involve a web of other obligations outside the fiscal field. I resist the temptation to debate the merits or demerits of the Goodman report with the hon. Member for West Lothian. If I did so, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you would no doubt rule me out of order. I notice a frown clouding the normally cheerful visage of the hon. Member for West Lothian. We propose that for fiscal purposes the fund should have no less than the advantages enjoyed by those with charitable status. However, there is a range of other obligations and liabilities, and if it were to receive charitable status it would become subjected to the attentions and supervision of the Charity Commissioners. That was not a matter for debate in Committee. I do not think that it is a matter for debate in the House. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not look the gift horse that I have trotted into the Chamber—if I may describe it that way—in the mouth. I hope that he will realise, on reflection, that it is as good as it appeared to be a few minutes ago. New clause 3 deals with the fund and any bodies aided by the fund. I have certain reservations about such an extension. Many, but not all, of the bodies to which the fund might direct transfers are charities, as the hon. Gentleman pointed out. That would be widening unduly the ambit of the relief that I propose. There might be undesirable pressures on the trustees of the fund to make grants to various bodies to enable them to claim the exemption. I shall consider that, but I think that it would be tidier, cleaner and more appropriate if we concentrated on the fund itself. I take the point made by the hon. Member for West Lothian in regard to subsection (2) of new clause 3. I suspect, though, that there are certain obscurities. I am not certain whether it was drafted by his deft hand or by others. I understand that he wishes to cover leases, but I am not persuaded that leases will figure largely in the kind of transactions with which the fund is likely to be involved. Perhaps I am taking too narrow a view of the question and there might be situations where people wish to enter into such transactions and the fund may wish to grant long leases. That point can be considered when we draft the relief proposal in the next Finance Bill, but I suspect at the moment that new clause 3 is a little wide. I hope that I have dealt with new clause 4 to the satisfaction of the House. I hope that it is amply covered by the assurance I have given for CGT purposes. The fund would be in the same position as other bodies listed in paragraph 12 of schedule 6 to the Finance Act 1975. I turn now to new clause 5. Dare I say to my hon. Friends in whose name it stands that I feel that total exemption from all taxes is a little too wide? Curious situations could arise. Trustees may even be exempted from Customs duties. I cannot believe that that is in the mind of my hon. Friends. I hope that they will accept that the point will be adequately covered by the assurance that I have given.
My hon. and learned Friend will appreciate that this is a probing clause. We hoped to bring out precisely the points that he has made.
I thank my hon. Friend, and I shall not detain the House further on that point.I turn now to new clause 9, which stands in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Price). He is seeking—the point was also deployed by the hon. Member for West Lothian—to extend the acceptance of property in lieu of income tax. That is a substantial extension, and the clause is a little obscure. The acceptance of property in lieu of income tax is not simply limited to the income tax of the deceased, or even his estate. I am not certain why tax arising after death should be so exempt on the residue of the estate.
It should be so exempt. If it is not, in the case of the Simon collection some paintings may have to be sold to pay off outstanding tax debts and the collection will be thereby diminished.
:I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not think me ungracious if I say that it is a little inappropriate to debate the details of two particular cases. If he would like to write to me on that matter, I shall answer him in detail.
I am sorry to have to mention these particular cases, but they are of public knowledge. I am not raising matters improperly. The point is whether we should refer to specific cases.
My point is that it would be inappropriate for any hon. Member at this Dispatch Box to debate the facts of a particular case unless he is encouraged to do so by those directly affected. I am not privileged to have access to the files of any one taxpayer unless the taxpayer or his representative invites me to look at them. I take the hon. Gentleman's point; and, as I said, we shall certainly examine the general principle involved.
:Is there not a general point that it takes so long to settle estates? I am not accusing lawyers of having a Dickensian circumlocution on this matter. I know exactly what happens, and it is precisely for that reason that I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will give consideration to the length of time that it takes in practice, as opposed to in theory, to settle such matters.
:We are deeply conscious of that. The hon. Gentleman in one way and I in another way have certain connections with the law. We are as conscious as any hon. Member of the problem. There are cases where negotiations with the capital taxes office have played a part, but I do not think that general delays in matters should weigh with us too much when we are devising a system of relief from taxes in this particular area.
New clause 9 refers to
"income tax outstanding at or arising after death"
without any limitation. It could happen that if the residuary estate comprised a work of significant value, the income of the residuary estate, which had no relationship with the particular work of art, could be prayed in aid in relation to it. Many matters would need to be tied up. I do not think that any hon. Member is pressing the Government to accept new clause 9 in its present form, but we shall take on board the general point made. It is not comprised within the undertaking that I have given.
That is good enough for me.
It is not quite good enough for me. I am delighted that the hon. and learned Gentleman has given those undertakings, but he must examine the matter further. If he does not, there will be problems within a matter of months of the setting up of the fund.
I have made careful notes of the hon. Gentleman's points. In so far as it is proper for me to do so, I shall certainly look at the two cases mentioned. As I said, it may no the proper, unless I am invited to do so. I accept the general points made by the hon. Members for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) and for West Lothian, but, as I said, at this stage I am not in a position to give any undertaking. I shall bear in mind the dire warnings that have been conveyed. We are all aiming at the same objective, and we must decide how widely we could and would extend this form of relief.I hope, however, that the general undertaking that I have given will satisfy the House. I also hope, notwithstanding my absence from the debates in Committee, that hon. Members will accept my remarks in the spirit in which they are offered and not press the new clauses to a Division.
I do not wish to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I understand the powerful point about the web of obligations. I shall seek to withdraw the new clause in the knowledge that, doubtless, some of these issues will be discussed in the sweaty and sultry atmosphere of Committee Room 10 in late June or early July—that is, if my hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. Coleman) puts me on the Finance Bill Committee.I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.
PAYMENTS INTO THE FUND
I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 2, line 18 at end insert:
'(1A) The initial sum paid into the Fund in the financial year in which it is appointed that section 1(1) above shall come into force shall not be less than the value of the investments in and other assets of the National Land Fund on 1st April 1980 is predicted at the time when that sum is determined by the Ministers.'.
With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments:
No. 39, in clause 18, page 10, line 36, after 'modify', insert ' a)'.
No. 40, in page 10, line 38, at end insert:
(b) section 2(1A) above such that the day appointed by the order shall be substituted therein for 1st April 1980'.
The first amendment is the main one. The other two are consequential and simply allow for any difficulty that may arise if part I of the Bill is not brought into force on 1 April 1980.The first amendment requires that a sum equal to that in the National Land Fund is transferred to the new fund, not merely £12 million—plus, as envisaged by Ministers. That implies that Ministers will have to find the money for the financing of acceptances in lieu from a higher Vote, presumably at the cost of an additional £3 million. One purpose in tabling the amendment is to allow discussion of the expenses that will be incurred by the trustees in setting up shop—possibly purchasing accommodation, if not leasing it, unless Government property is to be made available, and buying furniture, equipment and so on, unless that also is to be loaned free of charge. Another purpose is to allow debate of the difficulties in which the trustees will find themselves over the purchase of investments that will not be earning interest but which will rather, at some time in the future, provide them with income in the form of dividends. If the trustees have to buy investments too close to the dividend date to obtain such income, they will have to pay the more for them. That will whittle away, a little at any rate, of their capital. All that is quite apart from consideration of whether the Government should make a more handsome gesture and pay the full sum in the Land Fund to the trustees without reducing it by £3 million to cover the cost of acceptances in lieu in the first year. It is not one of the major amendments but it would be generous if the Government could accept it.
I appreciate the objective of the amendment, which is to try to obtain a further £3½ million from the Government. I have one little point that might please the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell).Many people would be delighted if we could give the additional sum, but, regrettably, we cannot unless we renege on our commitment to continue the arrangement whereby executors can offer works of art in lieu. It would also have to be at the expense of other desirable, necessary and important expenditure programmes. That is financial reality, which perhaps in his commendable enthusiasm on behalf of the Heritage Fund trustees the hon. Gentleman overlooked. We said that an amount equivalent to the balance in the National Land Fund on 31 March 1980 will be provided for the trustees and acceptances in lieu in 1980–81. As the hon. Gentleman indicated, that is the £12 million in round figures to the trustees and £3½ million kept separate for in lieu. We made it clear from the outset that that available sum would have to cover both kinds of expenditure. We estimate that £15·5 million will be in the Land Fund at the end of this financial year, and that is why we have taken that figure for discussion throughout the Bill. If the balance is less than £15·5 million, we shall honour our commitment. If it is significantly more, our intention is to make the excess available to the trustees. If the market goes up, we are batting on a good wicket.
The trustees' share will be about £12 million, which is by no means a derisory sum. It will be supplemented by annual grants and the interest earned on the original sum will be available for the trustees.
It has been suggested that the initial cost of the fund will be disproportionately high in relation to the ongoing costs once it is firmly established and that the grant should be supplemented to take account of that and prevent too rapid depletion of the fund's resources. The cost of setting up the fund's administrative machinery will be met in the current year by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster's Department and the Department of the Environment.
In consultation with the chairman-designate of the trustees, when he is appointed, we shall acquire suitable office accommodation and equipment and take steps to engage the nucleus of the administrative staff, so that the fund can be launched as a going concern on 1 April. The costs involved, as I said, will be met from my right hon. Friend's Department and the Department of the Environment. The trustees will assume responsibility for the day-to-day running costs from 1 April, and they will be taking on an office that is in being.
Has it yet been decided where the trust will be housed?
No. We would want to involve the chairman-designate. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, with his involvement with the PSA and others, will have a number of suitable offices available in London, which is where I believe that we should all like the offices to be based.The hon. Gentleman indicated that he believed that it would be some time before substantial income results from investments, but that is not strictly so. It is possible to invest such a substantial sum so that it bears interest quickly. There will be income flowing into the fund in its early days. In practical terms, it will be some weeks or months before there is any major purchase or assistance. We know how long it takes to get lawyers and trustees of estates working quickly towards a conclusion, so there will be that initial period during which income can be earned. We have been as generous as we possibly can. If the Land Fund is above £15·5 million, that will be to the advantage of the trustees and in lieu.
I do not believe that the Committee understood why the Minister felt it necessary to differentiate in the grant between the first year and later years. I do not believe that it was ever explained. I accept the hon. Gentleman's arguments that there will be investment coming in and immediate decisions will not be taken for two or three months. However, if a crisis should arise in that first year, and the trustees have to eat into capital—which may well occur—will the Government consider putting forward an emergency grant in those unhappy circumstances?
:The greater the emergency, the longer it will take to resolve. A crisis such as Mentmore would not be resolved in a matter of weeks. It would take much longer. I do not make any commitment, but if a situation arose that would dramatically deplete the amount of money available to the Heritage Fund trustees, they should turn to the Government for advice. The sale of Mentmore would have removed half of the fund in one purchase. Now that hon. Members have taken a new look at the Heritage Fund, we shall not operate in that way. We are determined to do better than in the past.Mentmore and other large estates would have to be discussed with the Government. However, we must hope that such sales will be infrequent as they destroy the objectives of the Bill, namely, to keep country houses, estates and places of historical interest as they are. We do not wish them to be broken up and dispersed because of an unfortunate death or for financial reasons. If a crisis arose, the Government would stand by the Heritage Fund. How far the Government can go will be determined by economic circumstances. The hon. Member for West Lothian was right to raise that question and it has given me an opportunity to speak about the money available. It has also given me an opportunity to show that the Government are ready to take care of the expense of setting up the Heritage Fund Trust and its staff. If the National Land Fund is above £15·5 million on 1 April, any surplus will be to the benefit of the trustees. If the National Land Fund is not at that level, the Government will stand by their promise to ensure that that sum is available. We have played our part. I hope that with these assurances the hon. Gentleman will feel that he can withdraw his amendment.
In a previous incarnation, as a senior Opposition Whip, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you had to put up with me for many hours during the Scotland Bill. I often told my own Front Bench that they had no right to go ahead with the Royal high school until the Scotland Bill had been signed, sealed and delivered. In the event, they did not take that advice. That was to the disadvantage of the taxpayer. However, I shall not complain too much as a good building has been restored although its use has not yet been determined.I am the last out of 630 Members of Parliament to lecture a Government on the need to act quickly and to think about headquarters. I shall not complain that the Government are not forthcoming about where the headquarters of the trust will be. I merely ask that those headquarters are not put on the fifteenth floor of a modern office block. This is an opportunity to set an example. We should take part in a rescue operation and rescue a building of distinction. That building will probably have to be in London.
I merely wish to suggest the Royal high school in Edinburgh. However, I do not do so seriously.
:Perhaps we could shift the Royal high school stone by stone to within the proximity of London airport. Does the building have to be in central London, or is there an argument for putting it within reach of Gatwick or of Heathrow? As trustees will come from all over Britain, there are advantages in having a prestige building near to an airport rather than in the centre of the city. I understand that this will depend on the buildings that are available. I simply ask that that point should be considered. Perhaps some building could be saved that would make an appropriate headquarters for the trust.
I hope that all hon. Members will realise that the headquarters should be modest. There are a limited number of trustees and there will be—we hope—a small office staff. We therefore do not seek anything large or expensive. I suffer on the fifteenth floor of a modern tower block and I entirely sympathise with the hon. Gentleman. It would be an inappropriate place for the Heritage Fund trustees. I can think of some most attractive offices such as those which the Crown Estate Commissioners have in Carlton House Terrace, where trustees would feel at home. Their minds would be able to concentrate on their work in such appropriate surroundings.
:The National Portrait gallery is vacating Carlton House Terrace very shortly. Accommodation will be available that is highly attractive.
:We shall bear that in mind. However, during the Committee stage it was said that no one could find Carlton House Terrace and that that was why no one went there. Perhaps that is a different point. We hope that the trustees will be given surroundings appropriate to their work. However, those surroundings should be of modest proportions. We want to spend money not on offices but on our heritage.
I remind the Minister that there is a block of Government-owned property—owned, I think, by the Foreign Office—in the area adjacent to the Foreign Press Association. There are some beautiful rooms and houses that might be appropriate. With that thought, I happily beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
GRANTS AND LOANS FROM THE FUND
I beg to move amendment No. 2, in page 2, line 26, leave out 'or building' and insert', building or structure'.
With this we may also take the following amendments:
No. 4, in page 2, line 34, leave out 'land or object' and insert 'property'.
Government amendment No. 7.
No. 8, in page 2, line 37, leave out 'a building' and insert 'any property'.
No. 9, in page 2, line 42, leave out 'land or an object' and insert 'any property'.
Government amendment No. 10.
There was doubt among Committee members about the definition of "building" and whether it covered everything that we wished. The amendment changes "building" and inserts "building or structure". That may seem a humble amendment, but I hope that it will meet with the agreement of Committee members. Every point that was raised about the definition of "building" has now been adequately covered. Iron bridges were mentioned as examples of structures that might not have been covered by "building", although we thought that they would be.My hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Bulmer) raised several points relating to amendment No. 5. I shall deal with that later, although it concerns car parks and we had thought that car parks might have been excluded. Government amendments Nos. 2, 7 and 10 clarify that point.
I have tabled amendments Nos. 4, 8 and 9. I am glad that the Government have responded by tabling amendment No. 2. The Minister called it a humble amendment, but I am all in favour of humble amendments as long as they are effective. This amendment is effective. It clears up any doubts about structures on land. Although in Committee the Minister did not refer to land—including trees and growing things—I understand that the definition in the Interpretation Act goes that far. I have therefore withdrawn an amendment that was tabled last Thursday. I hope that that will satisfy the Council for the Preservation of Rural England as it has written to several hon. Members.Amendment No. 4 refers to clause 3(1)(d). I do not understand why there has to be a restriction on "land or object". Surely, anything that should be accepted by reason of its association with property—covered by paragraphs (a), (b) or (c)—should be eligible. Hence my amendment to substitute "property" and so avoid the exclusion of buildings and structures. Indeed, why should association be restricted to being with an eligible building, or even with
as it will be under Government amendment No. 7? This, as distinct from eligible property of any type, falls within subsection (1)(a) as my amendment No. 8 proposes. Certainly, land should be included here, and I am glad that the Government have included it."land or a building or structure"
My amendment No. 9 amends the phrase in brackets in clause 3(2). This is consequential on the first amendment. Clearly there has been some advance in the Government amendments, but none; the less I cannot quite see why these cannot be made a good deal simpler by referring to "property" in a wider sense. Do we need to inhibit the activities of the trustees with such narrow and possibly confusing definitions? Has the Minister grasped this point? Would he like me to repeat it?
My first amendment, No, 4, is to paragraph (d) in clause 3(1). It is not at all clear why there should be a restriction to "land or object" in the first line of the paragraph. Surely, anything that should be excepted by reason of its association with property covered by paragraph (a), (b) or (c) should be eligible. Hence my amendment to substitute "property" and so avoid the exclusion of buildings and structures. Indeed, why should association be restricted to being with an eligible building or even with
This will be the case under Government amendment No. 7. This is distinct from the eligible property of any kind that falls within paragraph (a), as my amendment No. 8 proposes. Perhaps the Minister would like some comment from his advisers. That is understandable."land or a building or structure?"
The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) has asked me some detailed questions which I may not be able to answer completely. As I said earlier, we tabled our amendments to cover the word "structure" after "land or building" because we felt that it made the context that much clearer. It clarified the position of monuments, piers and chimneys, and so on, which might have been doubtful had we stuck to the terminology of "building".On the meaning of the word "land", the definition that I gave the Committee was inclusive. It did not cover everything that the word denotes in law. The legal maxim is that whatever is attached to the land is land. All the King's College scholars who were on the Committee knew of "quid quid adherat soli solum est", whatever that stands for. Therefore, any trees, plants or any kind of object attached to the land are all covered by the term "land". There is no doubt that everything that we have wished to include in the Bill is now satis- factorily covered by the definition, particularly after the Government amendments are accepted.
I think that the Minister has met very well the arguments made in Committee about the need to add the word "structure". His explanations about the addition of the word "land" are perfectly acceptable. I am delighted that the Government have so wisely moved in the spirit of the Committee.
I thank the hon. Member. The hon. Member for West Lothian raised a point about the word "property". The feeling is that it would be more restrictive to have that word than the wording that is in the Bill. On reflection, and when he has also had expert advice, I think that he will feel that our wording is the better.I appreciate that I might not have given him a detailed answer on one particular point that he raised, but I shall do so as soon as possible. I hope that he will accept what I have said.
Am I to understand that the Government will bring forward an amendment in the House of Lords if their lawyers and advisers think that that is necessary? Am I right in thinking that, if this is at all necessary after legal advice has been sought, the Government will do something at the appropriate stage?
Yes, of course I shall give that assurance. If anything needs further explanation in the legal sense on the definition of "land", "structure" or "building", it will be done. It is the Government's wish that this legislation should become an Act of Parliament in the clearest possible terms. There is no point in approving a Bill that has a drafting flaw. I have no reason to think that it has, but I shall look at it carefully.
I should like to associate myself with the remarks of the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds). The Government have met the points made in Committee and the Government amendment goes all the way. I am glad that my hon. Friend has given an assurance to the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) that should there be any second thoughts about the clarity of this matter, the Bill will be amended in another place. Therefore, I welcome and endorse the Government amendments.
Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move amendment No. 5, in page 2, line 35, leave out from 'above' to 'by' in line 36 and insert
'the acquisition, maintenance or preservation of which is in their opinion desirable'.
:With this we may take amendment No. 6, in page 2, line 35, after 'opinion', insert 'should be acquired, or'.
:This is another clarification that was requested in Committee, particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Bulmer), who was worried about land that would or would not be included in the pre-eminent status, such as land for a car park, which would be extremely valuable if the property were open to the public. This amendment makes the position abundantly clear.
In the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Bulmer), who much regrets not being able to attend today, I should make it clear that he is very grateful to the Government.
My amendment No. 6 was brought forward in order to highlight the problem raised by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Bulmer). In Committee he posed the possibility that a piece of land just next door to outstanding land, but not itself outstanding, might be central to the enjoyment of the outstanding land and that its purchase should therefore be grant-aided.Alternatively, it might be that that land was needed for access, car parking facilities or other visitors' facilities, as was suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Hudson Davies). At present, clause 3(1)(d) stipulates that associated land must be
It is difficult to conceive of a patch of land which is to be covered up with tarmac and public lavatories as being worthy of acquisition, whereas obviously it should be acquired. The Minister was clearly interested in the debate in Committee which centred on the addition of the words "structure or other thing thereon" and he undertook to look at the problems raised. It is a pleasure to see that the Government have taken the point and brought forward amendment No. 5, which does the same job. Clearly, that amendment is acceptable, and in those circumstances I shall not seek to press my amendment."worthy of acquisition, maintenance or preservation by reason of its association with a building."
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 7 in page 2, line 37, leave out 'a building' and insert
'land or a building or structure'.
No. 10, in page 3, line 1, leave out 'building mentioned in that paragraph' and insert
'land, building or structure with which it is associated'.—[Mr. Monro.]
I beg to move amendment No. 11, in page 3, line 5, leave out from 'securing' to end of line 6 and insert:
We touched on this matter in Committee. We are all concerned with public access, and obviously, where public funds are involved, it is important that public benefit should accrue. At the same time, it is recognised that there are occasions when too much public access can destroy the very gem we are seeking to preserve. In Committee we referred particularly to nature reserves and the Government met us with an amendment of their own. One seeks to highlight the fact that reasonable public access need not always mean a great degree of public access. I am thinking in particular of the smaller country house. A vast number of visitors, lured there as bees to a honey-pot, can destroy the very thing which the fund would have preserved. This is in the nature of a probing amendment, and I should be grateful if my hon. Friend would give us his latest reflections. It is a matter that causes concern to many people in the National Trust and elsewhere.'improving, limiting or preventing public access to, or the public display of, the property for the public benefit such that reasonable public access is provided in the circumstances of the case'.
We have a double-barrelled problem here. There was some discussion in Committee of arguments put to us by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The society was naturally concerned about sanctuaries. It may well be that access to a sanctuary—or more than limited access—is highly undesirable.On the other hand, there is a problem with certain properties. Leeds Castle is an example. I understand that it is now given over to conferences following the gift of the widow of the last Conservative Member of Parliament for West Lothian, Lady Bailey, who has spent her life refurbishing Leeds Castle. Through the work of Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd, it has become a remarkable place. I had the good fortune to be shown over the castle by Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd and his colleagues. There are rooms there in which it would be highly undesirable to have more than a certain number of visitors per year. This amendment is relevant to such a building as Leeds Castle. Possibly it does not have general relevance, but it has a specialised relevance and I look forward to hearing the views of the Government.
I share the views of the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) and my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack). There is total unanimity on this point. As one who has also been to Leeds Castle and who appreciates the immense amount of work done by Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd and his colleagues, I believe it is right for us to say that it would be wrong for queues of people to trail through those magnificent but small rooms. Such numbers of visitors would damage the delightful atmosphere at Leeds Castle, and to an extent some of the fittings, furniture and draperies might also be destroyed by large numbers of visitors.We are lucky that Leeds Castle was provided for us by Lady Bailey and her trustees and that it is so admirably used for good causes. It is a part of our heritage which is highly commendable. There are circumstances where restriction of access is as important as the welcoming of visitors, but that restriction applies mainly to wildlife habitat rather than to historic buildings. I am keen on birds and wildlife and I know how important quietness is during the nesting season. It would be wrong for large numbers of visitors—albeit with the best of intentions—to walk through a bird sanctuary and do immense harm through ignorance. It is, therefore, right that the Bill should ensure that access must not be overdone.
I said in Committee that the Bill adequately covered the proposition that I now put forward. It gives the trustees, or whoever is in charge of property, total authority to exclude as well as to include. Naturally, inclusion will be more important to them. We must make certain that when substantial sums of Government money have been made available there will be a right for the public, within reason, to see the treasures and historic buildings that have been provided for under the provisions of the Bill.
There is nothing between us. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West tabled this probing amendment. It has given us a chance to ventilate this important issue, and I assure my hon. Friend that all is well as far as general and restrictive access is concerned under the provisions of the Bill.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend and I am pleased that he has made these points. The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) raised the question of Leeds Castle. The hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) and I have been exercised about Baddesley Clinton, which we hope will soon become part of our national heritage. It is another perfect example of a small property that would be destroyed if vast numbers of people went round it. My hon. Friend has made it plain that these points have been taken by the Government and we are very grateful to him.I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move amendment No. 12, in page 3, line 29, leave out from 'institution' to 'a' in line 31 and insert—
'one of the principal purposes of which is the preservation for the public benefit of'.
With this it may be convenient to take the following amendments:
Government amendment No. 46.
No. 14 in page 3, line 43, leave out 'and'.
No. 15, in page 4, line 7, at end insert—
'(f) any body or institution approved by the Ministers under this paragraph as an eligible recipient with respect to a specfic case'.
Government amendments Nos. 16 and 47.
No. 25, in clause 9, page 6, line 28, leave out section 3(7)( a)( b) or ( c)' and insert
'section 3(7)(a), (b), (c), or (f).
No. 26, in page 6, line 28, leave out '( a)'.
Government amendment No. 48.
No. 38, in clause 16, page 10, line 19, leave out from 'section' to first 'to' in line 21.
No. 41, in page 11, line 7, at end insert—
' "university" includes a university college and a college, school or ball of a university.'
Here we return to a point that was touched on a number of times in Committee. It concerns an
A number of us, including the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds), were concerned about the restrictive nature of that clause. I look forward with interest to what my hon. Friend will say about the Government amendments. I would like to add to the example that I gave the Committee when I referred to such places as the Royal hospital at Chelsea with its fine collection of guns, cathedral treasuries and museums. I received a letter from Miss Judith Scott, who for many years was the Secretary to the Council for the Care of Churches, which is now the Council for Places of Worship. I am concerned as a trustee of the Historic Churches Preservation Trust, as she is, that cathedral treasuries and museums should be included. One could not argue that cathedrals exist wholly or mainly to preserve a collection. Yet at a number of our great cathedrals—one thinks of Lincoln, York and Durham—wonderful treasuries have been created with the help of splendid gifts from the Goldsmiths' Company. In those cathedrals one can see collections of ecclesiastical plate, beautifully displayed and more than adequately protected, which has come from the whole diocese. The are often changing exhibitions. As a rule, parishes lend their chalices and patens and other pieces of plate for a period. It is very important, if the Bill is to be all embracing, that institutions such as the cathedral treasuries at Lincoln, York and Durham, or the musuems at York and Durham, should be able to benefit. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will be able to give a reassuring reply. If he has any doubt on this minor but important point, I hope that he will be able to promise that in another place the Government will think seriously about introducing an amendment so that institutions of this nature will be included. The example of Christ Church was mentioned in Committee, and we had an assurance that the Christ Church library and collection would be included. But one cannot separate a cathedral treasury, museum, or perhaps even library, in the way that separation has been carried out at Christ Church."institution which exists wholly or mainly for the purpose of preserving for the public benefit a collection of historic, artistic or scientific interest."
:I do not want to be dragged into irrelevancies, but I must express concern about the proposals of the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) on this point. If we include all that he wants, we should be in danger of creating a watering can effect while knowing that the sums available were finite. The expense that could be incurred at Lincoln alone—I have no recent knowledge of Durham—could be considerable. Some of us might argue that the major ecclesiastical work has to be financed elsewhere.
I think that the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) has misunderstood me. If I was not clear, I apologise. I merely say that there could be occasions when the sort of institution that I have described might wish to acquire a valuable piece of church plate, and that that institution might be the right place in which it should repose. During the period of the Commonwealth and since, there have been occasions when churches and cathedrals have lost their valuables. I am suggesting that only where there is a treasury should the opportunity arise to restore some piece of plate to it, that that would be a legitimate concern of the trustees and that it should be within their province so to do.
I gather from glancing at my hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. Coleman), who is the Whip, that he thinks that I may be embarking upon an esoteric argument and that that would not do the Bill any service.Amendment No. 14 is a paving amendment leading to the main amendment, amendment No. 15. Amendment No. 25 is consequential. By amendment No. 15 a new class of eligible recipients is inserted into the list of classes in clause 3(7). In Committee a similar amendment was tabled, but it was starred and not selected. Nevertheless, it was referred to in the debate on amendments to clause 9(2), though the Minister did not respond. Clause 9(2) contains a reference back to some of the paragraphs in clause 3(7) and, accordingly, the various institutions and bodies listed in clause 3(7)(a), (b) and (c) are identified as institutions and bodies which can receive property accepted in satisfaction of tax under such conditions as may be laid down under clause 9(2). So, if my main amendment is made—together with the consequential amendment—Ministers will be able to approve any body or institution they like not only as an eligible recipient in a specific case with respect to grant or loan from the trustees but as a recipient of property accepted in lieu of tax under the procedure in clause 9(2). The Minister said—col. 202 of the Committee report—that there could be circumstances where an individual specifically requested the property accepted in lieu of tax to be given to the National Art-Collections Fund, and he pointed out that such a situation could be coped with under the power to direct disposal in any manner as either of the Ministers may direct, under clause 9(1). But it is submitted that it would be better to be able to make such directions under clause9(2). Reverting to the situation of the trustees, there is no power equivalent to clause 9(1) to give grant or loan aid except to the bodies that fall within the classes set out in clause 3(7). Para- doxically, the trustees can give away property that they have acquired, with the approval of Ministers, to whoever they think appropriate. Here again, the National Art-Collections Fund might be involved. Who knows, it may have funds and wish to make a purchase by private treaty yet need to obtain a small grant or loan from the fund to complete the transaction, a grant which might be best made direct to ensure the application of conditions. There may be other bodies which should be approved as eligible recipients that do not fall into the classes already set out in clause 3(7). Mention was made of the Friends of the National Libraries. So it is submitted that there is a case for a catch-all paragraph in clause 3(7), in spite of the applications that such a clause might draw and the decisions, probably rejections, that might result. Here, flexibility should be the order of the day, and the Bill as it stands is a little inflexible. If no such catch-all paragraph is provided, time may have to be found for legislation in the future—and parliamentary time is always in short supply. As to the other amendments in the group, the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-West has a good point in amendment No. 12. In the debate in Committee, the words "wholly or mainly" gave rise to quite a lot of discussion—and I am sorry that the Government have not seen fit to table an amendment on the lines of amendment No. 12. I would accept amendments Nos. 16, 38 and 41. Amendment No. 16 makes good sense.
This is a large series of amendments which basically seek to widen the category of museums and other institutions that can be covered by the Bill. In replying to the debate, and particularly to the speech of the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), I have to say that I can go so far but no further, and that perhaps the catch-all amendment of which he speaks would broaden the provision rather too much. I welcome the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack), particularly in relation to cathedral treasures. I assure him that they are covered by clause 3(7)(a) as it stands. I am sure that that will be good news to him and to those whose case he has so eloquently advanced.There are six Government amendments in the selection which I shall move at the appropriate time. These are all designed to clarify the point that national university and local authority libraries are eligible for assistance through the fund. I can also give an assurance that I gave in Committee, namely, that record and archive offices are within the scope of subsection (7)(a).
:When the Minister speaks of archives, does that include local Conservative Party or Labour Party records, local mining institute records and other records as unimportant in passing as those?
This has been a congenial debate. There is an immense difference between Conservative Party records and those that we see in The Sunday Times from distinguished members of the Labour Party.
The hon. Gentleman must not be naughty. Those are not records but bits of chit-chat and gossip spread around to damage colleagues in the party. I am speaking of official records, responsibly kept by secretaries of local parties. The hon. Gentleman knows that.
The hon. Gentleman has discovered how dangerous it is to provoke me.
Does the Minister accept my assurance that we are not speaking of Mrs. Jenkins's dinner? We are speaking of items such as the Warnlockhead Lead Miners' Library, where the HBC gave a grant. It is a matter of some substance. It is highly desirable that such places should be preserved.
We must return to a level plane. I thank the hon. Gentleman for mentioning that distinguished library at Warnlockhead, which I know well and visit from time to time. The library is grateful for the support that it has received to continue its good work.We must keep in mind that we are speaking of matters that are pre-eminent. We are not speaking of records that are of little consequence, though it is often difficult to decide at an early stage whether such records will be valuable in 100 years. The work of the record and archives offices is within the scope of clause 3(7)(a).
I apologise for not being in the Chamber earlier. We are discussing valuable records. Will the Minister take the opportunity to reassure the historians concerned with the decision to move the valuable records in Chancery Lane to Kew that that will not now take place?
That is rather outside the terms of the Bill. It is a matter for internal decision by those involved with the transfer of treasures. I should need to have more knowledge of the subject before I could reply. I do not know which Department is involved or the ownership of the papers. I shall find out and write to the hon. Gentleman. I could not give him any indication from the Dispatch Box on a matter about which I have no knowledge.The hon. Member for West Lothian has tabled an important amendment, designed to add a residual catch-all category to the set of eligible recipients. It is an attractive amendment. It places considerable power in the hands of Ministers to rule that certain bodies and institutions which would not otherwise have been eligible shall be eligible. The cases which the hon. Gentleman has in mind are similar to those mentioned in Committee and are, inevitably, border-line cases. No doubt it will be administratively convenient to allow these to be covered by the trustees and for them to consider granting help. My objection is twofold. First, in principle it is wrong to provide specific powers in the Bill for the trustees to assist the categories in clause 3(7) and then to enable Ministers to drive a coach and horses through the subsection by empowering them to approve any other body or institution, subject to the limitations of subsection 3(a). It gives Ministers too much discretion. Secondly, it places Ministers in an awkward position. As I explained in Committee in relation to other amendments, it tends to water down subsection 1(a). Ministers, and the trustee, will be bombarded with applications that are non-starters. The trustees will have to consult Ministers on whether certain applicants could be considered under the residual category. It will broaden the clause too much, will leave too much discretion on the whim of Ministers, and will not make life easier for the trustees. I have given my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West an assurance on his original amendment. I listened to his remarks with interest. In principle, I should have been happy to accept the amendment, but we believe that it would restrict rather than broaden the relevant passage in the Bill. With those remarks, especially with the assurance that I have given on cathedral treasures, I hope that my hon. Friend will withdraw his amendment and let the Government amendment proceed.
:It is not often that we hear Ministers at the Dispatch Box saying that Ministers should not be allowed too much discretion. However, the Government are probably right. I am against ministerial discretion being used too widely. We are building up the decision-making process of the trustees. My instinct is to accept that in this instance the Government are probably right.
I have listened with great interest to my hon. Friend. I am grateful for his assurance about cathedral treasures. Up and down the country, archivists will be reassured by his reiteration that archives, such as the William Salt Library, will fall within the scope of the Bill. My hon. Friend has given a considered and reasonable reply, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments made: No. 46, in page 3, line 32, at end insert—
'(aa) any library which is maintained—
(i) wholly or mainly out of moneys provided by Parliament or out of moneys appropriated by Measure; or (ii) by a library authority;or the main function of which is to serve the needs of teaching and research at a university in the United Kingdom;'.
No. 16, in page 4, line 11, after '( b)', insert 'or ( c)'.
No. 47, in page 4, line 13, at end insert—
'(9) In subsection 7(aa)(ii) above "library authority" means a library authority within the meaning of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, a statutory library authority within the meaning of the Public Libraries (Scotland) Act 1955 or an Education and Library Board within the meaning of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1972.'.—[Mr. Monro.]
OTHER EXPENDITURE OUT OF THE FUND
I beg to move amendment No 17, in page 4, line 25, after 'section', insert—
'for more than six months'.
With this it will be convenient to take amendment No. 18, in clause 5, page 4, line 36, after 'gift', insert—
'for more than six months'.
Two amendments were tabled on these lines but were started and debated only on clause 5 stand part in Committee. Even that debate was brief. The main point of the amendments was not discussed, hence the re-tabling for debate on Report.The amendments affect acquisitions and the acceptance of gifts under clauses 4 and 5 respectively. As the Bill stands, the trustees may not make acquisitions or accept gifts, other than money, without ministerial approval. In contrast, they can make 100 per cent. grants without obtaining approval. Under the amendments the trustees would be able to make acquisitions and accept gifts as they may decide, provided, of course, that they disposed quickly of the property so acquired or received. All are agreed that only in exceptional circumstances, properly involving ministerial approval, should the trustees continue to hold such property for long periods. The main point at issue is whether trustees are to be given discretion to act. There is much to be said for not tying them to Ministers' coat tails, and giving them the power to acquire, which they would not abuse. I conceded on the previous amendment on the issue of ministerial discretion, and I believe that that strengthens my case on these amendments. The minor point is how long trustees should be allowed to hold property which they have acquired. Six months is stipulated in the amendments, but perhaps it should have been nine months or one year. Nine months would certainly seem to be a practical proposition. I do not pretend that I shall press the amendments to a Division, but I feel strongly about them.
The effect of amendment No. 17 would be to allow the trustees to acquire and hold property for up to six months without their having to seek the approval of Ministers. As I explained in Committee, the trustees are essentially a body which will help others to acquire property. It is not their primary purpose to acquire property in their own right, even for a short period, and it would be wrong for them to be given the power to acquire property just to buy and sell or otherwise dispose of within a short period without reference to Ministers. They are not dealers or handlers of bridging loans, and they are certainly not running estate agencies or picture galleries. I made clear on Second Reading and in Committee that the trustees should have in mind and agree where property or objects are going before becoming involved with a purchase or other forms of financial support.We believe that the power to hold property provided in clause 4 will be exercised sparingly, and it is important that Ministers keep complete control of it. It may be suggested that opportunities to purchase items arrive at short notice in the property market and the art world, but that does not justify the trustees acting in their own right in such cases. If they hear of such opportunities before other bodies, which is unlikely, they can still consult the appropriate categories of recipients of assistance to see whether they are interested in the items and need assistance. To all intents and purposes, amendment No. 18 is on the same point. We believe that we should not encourage the trustees to hold property without knowing where it is ultimately to reside or in whose responsibility it will be held. Trustees should not have the right to hold property without reference to Ministers. The hon. Member obviously feels strongly about this matter. So do I, and I ask him to withdraw his amendment.
I am not happy with that reply. May I ask the Minister some questions? He said that the trustees were not concerned with bridging loans. I understand that, but surely they have a warehouse function. The matters with which we are concerned often arise in crisis conditions. It is not a question of trustees dealing with bridging loans or the money markets.It was slightly unfair for the Minister to give the impression that by tabling the amendments I thought that we were dealing with a bunch of people who would speculate on the money markets. That is not the nature of the trustees.
The hon. Gentleman said that Ministers must have control. Surely we are concerned about day-to-day control. Does he mean that, in this respect, though not in many others, Ministers must have complete control?
The Minister also said that trustees were not justified in acting in their own right. Will he expand on that? I thought that the point was that we should trust the trustees to act in their own right in such matters. If I have got the wrong end of the stick, no doubt the Minister will tell me.
There is little between us on this matter, and perhaps less than the hon. Gentleman indicates. He underestimates the speed with which Governments can act when requested to do so in an emergency. If the trustees need urgent support, advice or decisions from either the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster or the Secretary of State for the Environment, I have not the slightest doubt that they will be able to get them rapidly.However, the basis of the amendments is to extend the period to six months. Despite the immense trust and responsibility that I know the trustees will have, we want to encourage them to pass on property at the speediest rate possible. We do not want them to hold property for a long period. That is not the purpose or the duty given to them in the Bill. The hon. Gentleman is asking for additional powers which the Government do not think are justified or necessary. I ask him to withdraw the amendment.
I am not sure that the Minister is right in saying that there is little between us on this issue. I think that there is something between us. I am not happy about what the Minister said about the trustees passing on property at "the speediest rate possible". When things are done at speed, they are not always done to the national advantage. The idea that trustees must be hustled and jostled into acting in that way is not wise. If a little more time is taken—and we know that time is often of the essence in these matters—it may be to the greater national advantage. I am not happy with the Minister's reply.
:The last thing that I want is for the hon. Gentleman to be unhappy, particularly since he has been of great assistance during the passage of the Bill. We indicated on Second Reading that before the trustees step in they will have gone to immense trouble to find a recipient or new owner for the property. That will be done long before they pass over the money from the fund.It is not so much that action will be taken in a hurry as that, when a decision is taken that property will be passed on to a gallery or the National Trust, we want speedy action then so that money is not lying in someone else's bank account when it could be earning interest or purchasing other properties. The spadework takes time. It will perhaps be done over months, but the actual ownership of the property by the trustees should be for the minimum time possible.
I do not think that it is a question of money lying in someone else's bank account. I am not sure that that would be my version of the situation. It is known that the Whips do not wish our proceedings to be too protracted. I do not wish to make a meal of the matter. I give notice, however, that I shall write to the Minister in the hope that there will be a Lords amendment and some reflection given to what is admittedly a complex issue. I shall not withdraw the amendment, but it will doubtless be negatived.
ANNUAL REPORTS AND ACCOUNTS
I beg to move amendment No. 19, in page 5, line 19, leave out from 'year' to end of line 21.
:With this, it will be convenient to take the following amendments:
No. 20, in page 5, line 27, leave out from 'direct;' to 'before' in line 29 and insert:
- '(c) to submit the statement for audit by auditors (qualified in accordance with Schedule 1A) appointed by the Ministers on such terms and conditions as they may determine; and
- (d) to send copies of the statement and of the auditors' report thereon to the Ministers.'.
No. 21, in line 32, leave out subsection (3) and insert:
'(3) The Ministers shall cause to be published the report made to them under subsection (1) above, the statement of account and the auditors' report and shall lay copies before Parliament.'.
No. 45—new schedule, 'Qualification of Auditors—
- the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales;
- the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland;
- the Association of Certified Accountants; and
- the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.
The purpose of these amendments is to allow private auditors and not the Comptroller and Auditor General to be appointed to the fund. Amendment No. 45 states that a person shall be qualified to audit the fund if he is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales or the similar bodies for Scotland and Ireland, a member of the Association of Certified Accountants or qualified as a member of a body of accountants established in this country and recognised by the Secretary of State for the purpose of auditing companies.I should declare an interest as a member of the English institution, but I have no personal desire to be appointed as auditor of the fund. The Government should look favourably on the appointment of a private firm rather than the Comptroller and Auditor General as their policy, in general, is to support private enterprise and to minimise the Civil Service. My amendment seeks to achieve that purpose. The Minister may say that a question of constitutional principle is involved and that the amendment cannot be supported for that reason. If that is the case, I hope that he will elaborate on what that constitutional principle is, so that hon. Members may hear, in detail, arguments to support the appointment of the Comptroller and Auditor General. The evidence suggests to me that there is no such principle. My research shows that all the nationalised industries are audited by private firms. Many of the largest local authorities are so audited. Eighty per cent. of water authorities are so audited. The British National Oil Corporation is audited by private auditors. The British Airports Authority is audited by private auditors. Quangos, large and small, are audited by private auditors. The Home Grown Cereal Authority, one of the smallest quangos, is audited by Thomson McLintock. The Housing Corporation, responsible for over £1,000 million—the figure could not be much bigger—is audited byDeloitte. The National Trust is audited by Price Waterhouse. The National Trust for Scotland is audited by Arthur Young McClelland Moores. The Crown Agents are now audited by Deloitte. You will remember, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that in that case it was necessary to pass a special Act in 1979 to remove the Comptroller and Auditor General. I shall not go into the sorry background. I am sure it is within your memory what happened. It is interesting to reflect that the Crown Agents have put the audit out to tender. That should appeal to a Government seeking to reduce public expenditure. Deloitte must have submitted the lowest tender because it was successful. There are good precedents for the appointment of an independent auditor. There are also precedents for changes being made while a Bill is before the House. The Dockwork Regulation Act 1976 was so changed. As a result, private auditors are now appointed to the National Dock Labour Board. More recently, the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act 1979 was changed. As a result, private auditors will be appointed for the Central Council and the four national boards.
I was unimpressed by the hon. Gentleman's mention of the Crown Agents' auditors. Would there be any financial saving to the fund itself if it went into the private sector as opposed to the appointment of Government auditors?
That cannot be quantified in advance. I have no reason to suppose that independent firms of the highest repute would charge more than the Comptroller and Auditor General. An additional avantage relates to the question of advice. I believe that one of the eminent private firms of auditors would be able to give better advice to the trustees.This leads me to the question of the independence of the trustees. In the Second Reading debate, a great deal was made of this point. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster told the House that the fund was to be vested in, and administered by, independent trustees. He went onto compare it with a number of other bodies such as the National Trust and the National Trust for Scotland, which have, as I mentioned, independent auditors. He made the point that the trustees should be generally independent and that they should take expert advice before reaching decisions and could seek that advice where they wished. I believe that this should also apply to the audit. It is laid down in the first schedule to the Bill that the trustees are not to be Crown servants and that the trust should be a charity. I would have thought that independent auditors were the more appropriate. I do not think that one can argue that, just because public money is involved, the Comptroller and Auditor General should be appointed as auditor. I believe that the examples I have quoted support that view.
I confess to feeling slightly uncomfortable in rising to support my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Trotter). Like my hon. Friend, I am a member of one of the bodies set out in his schedule. In my case, however, not only would not wish to be appointed. I am totally incompetent to occupy the post because it is so long since I did any work of that nature.It seems churlish, on a Bill of this importance, dealing with matters of national interest, to take issue on what, after all, is only a matter of administration. I console myself with the thought that, whereas other hon. Members have demonstrated that they are better fitted to comment on this general matter of national interest, I possess some special expertise in this sphere. I doubt whether the facilities available to the Comptroller and Auditor General remotely match those of any of the leading national firms of accountants. If the Comptroller and Auditor General had not been auditor of the Crown Agents and that task had been carried out by an independent accounting firm, the Exchequer would almost certainly not have suffered to the extent that it did. It would have been possible for a negligence action to be brought against the firm of auditors, who would be insured at Lloyd's. I therefore support my hon. Friend's amendment. I hope that the Minister will respond favourably. I should also like to comment on clause 7, which my hon. Friend seeks to amend. I wish to compare the degree of accountability that it contains with the degree of accountability required in the private sector. I refer specifically to public companies. Under clause 7, it is the duty of the trustees to prepare, in respect of each financial year, a statement of account in proper form and to send that statement to their auditors within eight months of the end of the year to which it relates. It speaks of a period before the end of November, referring to the accounting year ending on 31 March. Public companies that may be controlling assets worth many millions of pounds, and certainly dealing with a turnover in those figures, do not merely have to submit their accounts for audit within eight months. They have to lay them before their shareholders in audited form within six months. Otherwise, they do not comply with the listing requirements of the Stock Exchange. It seems to me strange that a fund of this nature should have a lower degree of accountability laid on it than is laid on public companies in the private sector. I apologise for the fact that I shall have to leave the Chamber shortly. I have to attend a meeting with some constituents who have worked for me for a long time. I know that I shall not agree with what they are asking me to do, and doubtless they are getting angrier and angrier. I support the amendments.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Trotter) for raising the matter dealt with in the amendments. I was very appreciative of the fact that representatives of the professional body to which he and my hon. Friend the Member for Dorking (Mr. Wickenden) belong came to see me in the House last night to put their case, which my hon. Friends have developed admirably today.I have some reservations about accepting the amendment. However much we hope that over time the fund will attract substantial private donations, the reality is that by far the greatest part of its income will be derived from public funds. The House will rightly have a keen interest in how the moneys are spent and accounted for, and it is entirely right and proper that the Comptroller and Auditor General should conduct the audit and report to the House. What I have said is in no way to belittle the accountancy bodies. I readily accept that their members could perfectly well perform the function. It is simply that where public money is involved and is paid out in advance of need the Comptroller and Auditor General is the appropriate person to turn to. I have been looking at similar situations. One that is close to my other (responsibilities is the position of the Sports Council, where the sum involved is almost identical, at £15½ million. That is audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General. There are exceptions to the general rule, but they normally involve trading bodies or bodies whose expenses are wholly or almost wholly administrative. The fund fits into neither of those categories. Secondly, it is likely that the Public Accounts Committee will wish at some stage to look beyond the auditors' report. It may wish to take evidence not only from the representatives of the fund but from the auditors. When the audit is performed by the Comptroller and Auditor General, that is straightforward. When it is performed by another person, it is far less so. The Comptroller and Auditor General may have to be asked to examine the books and submit his report. Therefore, use of the Comptroller and Auditor General as a matter of course facilitates the work of the House and its Committees. A further consideration is that of cost. I know that all hon. Members will examine this matter carefully. Outside auditors would naturally expect to be paid their scale fee, which would come out of money that would otherwise be available to the fund's trustees.
:Is it being suggested that the Comptroller and Auditor General has cheaper staff than professional firms? Could that perhaps be why the Crown Agents' audit was carried out in the way that it was?
:I should not like to say whether the staff were less expensive, but they would certainly be fully qualified.
:This may be a difficult question to answer off the cuff, but is there any way in which we can be given a rough idea of the extra cost of outside auditors? It could be very expensive.
I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the answer at once, but we have two distinguished accountants with us in the Chamber and a Treasury Minister. I could not even guess what the scale fee would be for the audit of the fund. Clearly, it would be a substantial sum, which would be paid for by the trustees and would, therefore, be money taken away from the fund.I accept that my hon. Friends have raised an important point, but I think that they will both agree that their col- leagues in the profession raised it at virtually the last moment. It is asking a great deal to expect a Government to come to a conclusion at such short notice. I ask my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth to seek to withdraw his amendment, but I shall look at the matter in greater detail, and if we think that it has substance we can deal with it in another place. I say that totally without commitment, because I have put forward a strong case for the Comptroller and Auditor General. What I am saying is that I am not shutting my mind to the matter.
It behoves the Minister to be tactful and polite to his hon. Friends, but I can afford to be less tactful and less polite. If the professional chartered accountants, who are supposed to be efficient folk, were going to raise this matter, they might have done it at the beginning, before we went all through the Committee stage, rather than spatchcocking it in at the last moment out of the blue, when we suddenly see an amendment on the Notice Paper. The hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Trotter), who takes an active part in other Committees and is a diligent hon. Member, will agree that it is a bit irritating for those of us on both sides of the House who have given a great deal of time to the Bill suddenly to find the amendment placed before us.I agree with the Government. Let us forget any irritation that we may feel with the chartered accountants. It is a legitimate amendment, and I do not make much of that point. What I make a good deal more of is the fundamental principle of responsibility to the Public Accounts Committee. As an alumnus of a previous PAC and one who worked on it for four years, I think it extremely desirable that the fund should be subject to the Comptroller and Auditor General and all the expertise at his command rather than have the matter cluttered up and complicated by outside auditors. I ask the House not to get me wrong. In many cases outside auditors have their uses and should be brought into the Government's affairs. All that I am saying is that I do not think that there is a wonderful case for so doing here.
The hon. Gentleman speaks of the considerable expertise of the Comptroller and Auditor General, but does he accept that the numbers of his qualified staff are limited to, at most, a few dozen, whereas the qualified staff of any one of the major five accounting firms in the country run into several thousand? Because of the width of their experience, the resources and advice available from those firms far outweigh anything that the Comptroller and Auditor General can possibly offer.
:I do not have the latest figures, but when I first became a member of the PAC and Sir Edmund Compton was the Comptroller and Auditor General, I spent two days with him learning precisely what the holder of his office did. At that time, if my memory serves me correctly, there was a staff of at least 600, many of whom had varying degrees of qualifications. It is a formidable instrument of Government—the most formidable instrument of its kind that a Government have in Britain. It is certainly the only thing that we have approaching an instrument of the thoroughness of the Senate committees in the United States.
I quite accept the tenor of the comments about the lateness of the amendment. It is a comment that I myself made to the institute. Apparently, a letter sent some weeks ago was not received, which is a pity.In view of the statement by my hon. Friend the Minister that he will consider the matter further, I shall seek to withdraw the amendment. I only hope that my hon. Friend is prepared to meet the institute for further discussion, similar to that which we held yesterday. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
DISPOSAL OF PROPERTY ACCEPTED BY COMMISSIONERS
Amendment made: No. 48, in page 6, line 28, after '( a)', insert '( aa).—[ Mr. Monro.]
I beg to move amendment No. 27, in page 6, line 29, after 'above', insert
'which is willing to accept it'.
With this we shall take Government amendment No. 29.
:This amendment meets an undertaking that I gave in Committee that we would look at the implications of the word "direct", which had alarmed the national museums and galleries. They were concerned that they might be obliged, under the Bill, to accept objects on conditions which they found repugnant. In particular, they feared that they might be required to retain nominal ownership of an object which was to be left in its historic setting, even though they were not satisfied with the security, conservation and public access.I gladly repeat the assurance I gave in Committee that Ministers would not contemplate forcing recipients to take in property against their will. It was suggested that Ministers could not bind the trustees of the fund, who might take over the responsibility for acceptance in lieu if an order were made under clause 14. The amendments we are now debating put the matter beyond doubt even in that eventuality, and amendment No. 29 really is consequential on amendment No. 27. I hope that this clarifies the assurance I gave in Committee and will be accepted by the House this evening.
It was made clear during the Committee debate on amendment No. 36, together with amendment No. 109 and other amendments, that there was much disquiet in the museum world over the thought that museums might be directed under clause 9 (2) to accept property accepted in lieu under conditions which they might find repugnant. The Minister gave a categorical assurance that this would not be the case.The same subject came up again later on in the debate on indemnities and the Minister responded by saying that the thought that any such directions should take place was repugnant, not only to hon. Members but to the heritage world beyond the confines of the museum lobby. It was in earnest of this and to probe the position that I tabled three amendments, which have not been selected and to which I do not intend to refer, knowing your hawk-like eye in these matters, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is a pleasure to see that the Govment have taken the point, and amendments Nos. 27 and 29 certainly leave no doubt as to the intention not to force museums and so on to accept property accepted in lieu against their will. I wonder why a similar amendment has not been made to clause 9 (1). Perhaps it is simply to ensure that the Commissioners of Inland Revenue have to accept Ministers' directions. I should like to ask why there has not been a similar amendment to clause 9 (1). The faithful PPS has left his post, but I see that the Government Whip is there in time of need, so I ask that question.
We again say "Thank you" to my hon. Friend. Many of us are very concerned about this. The hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) and I raised this issue over a long period, when the Bill was first mooted, because directors of our great national museums—indeed, of any museums—are rightly proud of their reputation, independence and integrity and they did not like to feel that they were being coerced or directed or that there was any chance of that. The point was well made in Committee and it has obviously been well taken. I for one am truly thankful.
These are attempts, it seems to me, to meet—and not altogether successfully—the strong objections which arose from the museums following their somewhat gratuitous insertion, represented by the reference back to clause 3(7) (a), into a subsection drafted for the environment bodies, represented by references back to clause 3(7) (b) and (c). But the phrase in this paragraph "on such conditions as he may direct" is really most inappropriate for and disliked by the museums. It need never have been brought into this if a separate subsection had been devoted to museums alone, as I suggested in my amendment No. 23—which, of course, I do not intend to discuss because it was not selected.I think that the point could have been met more simply had the Minister listened to us in Committee and, instead of bringing forward this new idea, had used the word "specify" instead of "direct". It seems to me that that would have met the matter more simply and would have been very much in the spirit of what the museums wanted to see.
I am glad that hon. Gentlemen accept that I have responded to the debate in Committee. We have attempted to do that throughout the Report stage.The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) asked me about clause 9(1). The point there—and I agree that it is not too clear—is that, unlike the position in (2) and (3), where there is an institutional body, there is no institutional body in clause 9(1) to which anything could be referred. But, again, while I cannot give any commitment, I will look at this carefully. I do not think there is a point here; I believe it is clear. We have dealt, through the amendment, with the main point on which the Committee wished to be assured about directions to museums andgalleries concerning objects they might not wish to receive or conditions they would not wish to accept. I believe that we have gone a very long way to meet the wishes of the Committee and I hope that the hon. Member for West Lothian is partly reassured, if not totally so. At least, we have gone as far as we possibly can to meet the Committee's views.
I would be totally assured if it were found necessary, after talking to the Government's advisers, to introduce a clearing-up Lords amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment made: No. 29, in page 6, line 34 after 'person', insert
'who is willing to accept it'.
No. 50, in page 7, line 2 at end insert—
'(5) In exercising their powers under this section in respect of an object or collection or group of objects having a significant association with a particular place, the Ministers shall consider whether it is appropriate for the object, collection or group to be, or continue to be, kept in that place, and for that purpose the Ministers shall obtain such expert advice as appears to them to be appropriate.'.—[Mr. Monro.]
TRANSFER OF MINISTERIAL FUNCTIONS
I beg to move amendment No. 34, in page 8, line 28 after 'Heritage', insert 'Memorial'.This is virtually a consequential amendment that should have been included at Committee stage.
I want to comment on this in order to raise the matter of a letter which I have received today from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and which I think is very important.First, however, since elsewhere throughout the Bill the fund is now referred to as the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the omission of "Memorial" in this line should be remedied. But this insertion, which is necessary for reasons of consistency, also serves to reinforce the view of many that it would be undesirable and improper for a body with memorial connotations to be involved in any way in the administration of acceptances in satisfaction of tax, with the potentialities for controversy which could so easily arise from that. This, however, is where the implementation of clause 14 would seem to lead us, constituting a further reason for the misgivings which are widely felt regarding its apparently arbitrary insertion in the Bill. It seems to me not to be sufficiently realised that the representatives of our public museums are most categorically opposed to the prospect, opened up by clause 14, of their having to deal with the trustees of the fund in substitution for the Ministers in matters relating to acceptances in lieu. It is, moreover, somewhat ironical that the policy of entrusting the administration of these matters to the Ministers, which is generally known to be the concept advocated by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster himself, has always received consistent and unwavering support from the museums.
In this context, I am delighted that to-day I have received a letter, sent out this day and written, I think, this day by the Minister, which I should like to read, because I think it puts on the record for the museums the important assurance which the right hon. Gentleman gives in that letter. I am sure that the Minister is aware that I have had this letter from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster today, in which he says:" I am, of course, aware of the strong feelings of the museums that acceptance in lieu should remain a ministerial responsibility. Equally, I know that others in the heritage world feel just as strongly that the responsibility should pass to the Trustees. The provisions inclause 14 in no way pre-empt any decision about the transfer of responsibility; they merely permit a change to be made without recourse to primary legislation though not, of course, without the approval of both Houses of Parliament.
Once the Bill is passed, the position will be that responsibility for acceptance in lieu rests with me and Michael Heseltine, which is the position preferred by the museums. I am sure you understand that I must take account of the views of others in the heritage world even though they are not my direct responsibility. I hope that you will agree that the statutory position after the Bill is enacted will be in line with the wishes of the museums.
I think that that is a most important statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy and I am glad that I received the letter in time—literally a few moments before I came into the Chamber. I am delighted to see that the right hon. Gentleman has come to join us now. That is a great pleasure for all of us. We have missed him this afternoon. But he has had a very good stand-in, may I tell him, so he will have to be on his best performance to keep up with him. I am delighted that I have had that letter from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I think that it puts at rest the worries of the museum world about the insertion of clause 14. I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman.I am fully aware of the importance that the museums attach to the acceptance of the in lieu provisions, and I give you my firm assurance that I will not put forward a draft order for parliamentary approval unless I have the willing consent of the museums."
:I am glad that the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) took the opportunity to read my right hon. Friend's letter, which puts in much more eloquent and clear terms what I was saying in Committee. I hope that all those who are concerned with our heritage are clear where we stand on clause 14. I hope that there is no concern about the way in which it will be implemented in future.
Amendment agreed to.
INDEMNITIES FOR OBJECTS ON LOAN
I beg to move amendment No. 35, in page 9, line 22, leave out from "(a)" to "in" in line 25 and insert:
"a museum, art gallery or other similar institution".
With this we may take Government amendments Nos. 36 and 49.
The purpose of the amendment is to provide clarification. During the last sitting in Committee, clause 16 was virtually rewritten. When that had taken place it seemed fairly complicated, and we have again redrafted the clause. We have made our intentions clear. I hope that the clause as it now stands will be more beneficial to those who are concerned with and involved in our heritage. They will read the Bill, and they will want it to be clear. They will want to be clear where the Government stand in terms of the institutions and bodies that are referred to in the clause. I hope that this is a step in the right direction.
:I promised my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr.Harrison) that I would convey to the Government the thanks of the Royal Air Force museum at Hendon for what they have done. The museum was mentioned in Committee, and my right hon. Friend is an active supporter of it. I convey thanks on behalf of the parliamentary RAF group.
:As the vice-chairman of the Royal Air Force group, I am glad that the hon. Gentleman made those comments. I was especially keen that the Royal Air Force museum at Hendon should be included. It is a splendid museum, and the more publicity that it can get, the better.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 36, in page 9, line 28, after 'maintained' insert—
'(1) wholly or mainly out of moneys provided by Parliament or out of moneys appropriated by Measure; or
No. 49, in page 9, line 30, leave out paragraphs ( c) and ( d) and insert—
'(c) any library falling within section 3(7)(aa) above;'.
No. 38, in page 10, line 19, leave out from 'section' to first 'to' in line 21.—[ Mr. Monro.]
SHORT TITLE, INTERPRETATION, REPEALS AND EXTENT
Amendment made: No. 41, in page 11, line 7, at end insert—
' "university" includes a university college and a college, school or hall of a university.'—[Mr. Monro.]
THE TRUSTEES OF THE NATIONAL HERITAGE MEMORIAL FUND
I beg to move amendment No. 42, in page 13, line 15, leave out emoluments and'.
With this we may take the following amendments:
No. 43, in page 13, line 17, at end insert—
'(3) Emoluments paid to the Chairman and to the other Trustees shall not be less than £5,000 and £1,000 per annum respectively'.
No. 44, in page 13, line 17, at end insert—
'(3) Emoluments for trustees shall be not less than £2,000 p.a. per trustee'.
The Government move the amendment because we feel that it involves an important issue of principle. That is why the matter was taken to a Division when it was pressed in Committee. We have done our best to accommodate ourselves to the wishes of hon. Members, but this issue involves potential public expenditure. We have considered the matter and we take the view that there should not be the possibility of payment being made to the trustees.No post of chairman or trustee of a national museum or art gallery receives remuneration. Nor do the members of the reviewing committee on the export of works of art or the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries receive remuneration. These are all positions that involve great sacrifice of time and leisure and require dedicated and continual work. I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the members of these and other bodies who work so selflessly for the safeguarding of our heritage. It is true that the chairman of the Historic Buildings Council, the chairman of the Ancient Monuments Board and the trustees of the British Library receive remuneration, but these are people who work closely with the Government in posts which have a strong Executive element. I was not a member of the Standing Committee, but I have followed closely the debates that took place in Committee. Comparisons were made with bodies such as the Horserace Betting Levy Board. The trustees of the proposed fund will have a different function and the analogy is unsound. The trustees will be acting much more in the capacity of providers of assistance to those who will be taking initiatives in seeking to acquire property of heritage quality.
:The right hon. Gentleman is right to say that an analogy was made with the chairman of Horserace Betting Levy Board. Of course, we cannot go into the financial circumstances of the chairman. It would be impertinent to do so. However, Sir Stanley Raymond could not have taken his post unless he had been paid. Are we saying that the chairman of the trustees, ipso facto, is to be a rich man of means of his own? If so, I do not think that that is satisfactory.
:I have been bombarded with suggestions for the post of chairman and with applications to be the chairman. They seem to cover all social classes and all income groups. There seems to be no practical issue at stake. It is partly a matter of supply and demand. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the supply is becoming embarrassing.
The supply may be embarrassing, but what happens if the best candidate out of such a rich supply is someone who cannot afford to take up the post because he has no private means? The right hon. Gentleman is implying that we shall not necessarily be able to choose the most suitable candidate because the means of the candidate will have to be taken into account.
The hon. Gentleman is assuming that it is to be a full-time job. I do not wish to enter into the details of the applicants and candidates. Some of them have private means. The vast majority are in employment of various sorts. The authority, the prestige and the status of the trustees will be diminished in the eyes of people in the arts, rather than enhanced, if they can receive remuneration. This point has been made to me quite independently by a number of people, and I have reached the same conclusion.Apart from that point of principle, there are two important practical considerations. The first I made in answer to the interjection by the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell). There is no shortage of able candidates volunteering to serve as trustees, and they come from a wide range of backgrounds.
I am sure that the hon. Member for West Lothian is genuinely concerned about this matter, but not only will it not be a full-time occupation—we would expect people to pursue their normal avocation—but we shall be able to give a loss of earnings allowance, which can be an allowance of considerable importance. But I do not believe that an honorarium—which in the nature of things would have to be a very modest one of up to about £1,000 a year—will make available a vast and otherwise untapped field of potential trustees.
Secondly, £15,000 for 10 trustees and a chairman—that would be the absolute minimum—would not be that small a bite out of this fund. It would not be right to pay trustees at the expense of the heritage. It would be unpopular and a considerable source of criticism. Therefore, I have to advise the House that it is the Government's considered view that if this amendment is not made and the words are allowed to stand—I hope that it will not be so—the Government will rely on the fact that the power not to pay the trustees is permissive. I must make that quite clear. That is the Government's position.
The Committee discussed whether the Government should have the power to pay trustees, even if they did not want to do so at present. But it is not good law to bestow on the Government a power that they do not intend to exercise, and it is slightly deceptive to accept a power which, in the opinion of the Government, should not be exercised. If this amendment is not made, it will be necessary to consider adding a provision adding the trustees to the House of Commons Disqualification Act, at least in so far as they receive emoluments; otherwise, we should restrict the field rather than extend it.
I sympathtise with the motives that lie behind the desire of those who want the amendment proposed in Committee to stand. But at a time when the Government are reviewing the whole of public expenditure and are dedicated to good national housekeeping and economies it would be singularly inappropriate, having made available a considerable sum of money for the fund, to set up what would inevitably be denounced as a new paid quango.
Those arguments outweigh the undoubted weight of the arguments which I know are supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) and Opposition Members. But we would prejudice the good reception and success of this venture by persisting with these proposals. I hope that the amendment will be acceptable to the House.
I appreciate the chivalrous gesture of the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds). It was an amendment headed by my name that was passed with support from both sides of the Committee.It gives me no pleasure to be in disagreement with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to whom I pay tribute for all that he has done to enable us to have the Bill. It is a small matter on which we are falling out. Before my right hon. Friend entered the Chamber, we all congratulated my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Munro) not only on being such a willing and helpful leader in Committee but on coming back on Report with a number of amendments that meet most of the points that we made. As I said, it gives my absolutely no pleasure to disagree with my right hon. Friend, but I do. After all, this is only an enabling measure. There is no need for the Government to implement it. Had my right hon. Friend come to the Dispatch Box and said "Yes, we accept this but we cannot see our way at the moment to paying trustees", I should have accepted that as a matter of judgment. The Committee accepted that by making the power enabling and not obliging the Government to pay. I must cross swords with my right hon. Friend on a number of matters. Many pieces of legislation are enabling and they are no less valuable because of that. There are a number of enabling measures dealing with preservation and the heritage. For instance, there are the powers that local councils have to make grants to historic buildings within their areas. They are not obliged to do so, but the power is there. It was on that sort of lines that we thought when we advanced this amendment. My right hon. Friend mentioned the chairman of the Historic Buildings Council, and I want to concentrate on that. All along—all hon. Members know that made this point clearly in Committee—I have not been concerned about payment to trustees as such, but many people involved with the heritage believe that in the initial years the chairmanship of this fund will be an onerous responsibility and amount to almost a full-time job. I raised that point for the first time on Second Reading. I had a great deal of support from all quarters of the heritage lobby—if I may call it that. Many of those who supported me were far from poverty-stricken, but they agreed that it was wrong to restrict appointments of this nature to the rich or the elderly. If the fund is to be properly managed and play the significant part which we all believe it will play, being chairman will he no sinecure. Indeed, the analogy of the chairman of the Historic Buildings Council is a good one. If it is right to pay the chairman of that council, surely it is right to have at least the opportunity to pay the chairman of the National Heritage Memorial trustees.
Of course it is.
This is a very modest proposal. My right hon. Friend has done much to meet us on other points, and I had hoped that he would concede this one. If he does not—I respect his opinion and I know that he will respect mine—I cannot do other than vote in the same way as I did in Committee. I shall seek to vote down the amendment because that is what I believe would be the wish of many who are interested in our heritage. I return to the point that I made earlier. We are seeking only to enable the Government to do this.I have one final point to make. This is a subject on which we have operated across party lines, to the benefit of everyone. I do not want anyone to be excluded as a potential candidate because of his or her lack of financial means. I want the field to be open.
That is right.
That is why I moved the amendment in the first place, and it was in that spirit that I referred to the matter during Second Reading. It is with those views still firmly in mind that I shall go into the Lobby tonight if I am obliged to do so.
First, I should like to pay tribute to the part that has been played by the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack). I shall certainly not make party capital out of this issue. On the other hand, it is necessary to refer to what has actually happened, because I believe that the Leader of the House let the cat out of the bag.The key word is "quangos". It is quite clear from what was said that the blessed Margaret in Downing Street—concerned with steel, employment legislation and heaven knows what else—has told the Leader of the House "With regard to this Heritage Bill, let there be no quangos whatever else you do." I always know when I have struck oil, because the Leader of the House gives a watery grin that we know so well. Likewise, a laugh from the Minister of State, Treasury reveals that one has told the truth. Let us start from the basis that this is a prime ministerial dictum, even though the right hon. Lady knows very little about the details of the issue, and I do not blame her for that. We should point out why the Prime Minister—for it is she who has done this thing—is wrong in this instance. First, she is wrong for the reasons advanced by the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-West. In the same breath, I should like to ask the Government how much time they think that the chairman of the trustees can devote to this task. The fact is that, if he or she is to be at all effective, the person will have to devote a lot of time, which excludes a large number of suitable candidates. Incidentally, I agree with the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South- West in that the main issue relates to the chairman and that the other trustees are a relatively lesser issue. Secondly, the Leader of the House said that trustees would be diminished in the eyes of the arts world if they were paid. Does he deny that that is what he said? No, he does not. Therefore, I reported accurately what he said. I should like to know what evidence there is for that statement. Who are all the people in thearts world who have said "Trustees must not be paid, otherwise they will be diminished in our eyes"? Frankly, I doubt whether there is any evidence for such a statement. As is known by every hon. Member who served on the Committee, some of us have had close relations with various people in the arts world, otherwise we would not have been able to make the contribution that we did. I have met no group or individual in the arts world who has said that the status of trustees would be diminished if they were given some remuneration. Therefore, what the Leader of the House said was a terminological inexactitude. I defy him to produce the evidence for the remark that he made. I wish that the hon. Members for Eastleigh (Mr. Price) and for Kidderminster (Mr. Bulmer),who both spoke so eloquently on this subject in Committee, were present. I can only suspect that they have been exiled to the Conservative equivalent of Siberia, but I am willing to be told that I am wrong.
Neither of my hon. Friends expected this matter to be debated. In fact, they are both paired. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept that explanation.
I am aghast at that, because I have known the hon. Member for Eastleigh for nearly 20 years and I would not say that he wasnaive. It really stretches the imagination to believe that he did not think that this matter would be voted on.
:I am sorry that my hon. Friend is not here to participate, but none of us knew about the Government amendment until yesterday. In fact, my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh is doing something extremely important.
The hon. Member for Eastleigh is an honourable man and it is not like him to shirk his responsibilities. I must say that he and I are united with regard to the Government amendment. Like him, I did not anticipate it because I thought that the Government would submit to the discussion that occurred in Committee.
That makes it even more shady.
As my hon. Friend has rightly said, that makes it a great deal worse. If the Government intended to do this, they might: at least have had the courtesy to warn their hon. Friends. I shall not lecture Front Bench spokesmen on courtesy, but they might have told the two hon. Members concerned about what they were up to.Thirdly, the Leader of the House told us that no such post receives remuneration, although he accepted that the chairmanship of the HBC did. The review body on the export of works of art is a very different institution. It is nothing like full-time. I happen to know something about this because I have recently asked the Attorney-General about it in another context. The review body is totally different—at least, I think that it is. The fact is that we spent a lot of time in Committee discussing the trustees, yet even now we are far from clear about what their job specification is. The Minister was honourably open in saying that that would evolve. However, the job of chairman is likely to be one approaching a full-time job. Fourthly, it is all very well to use the analogy of the review body on the export of works of art, but I and a number of other hon. Members represent new towns, and we all know that the chairmanship of a new town development corporationis a paid post. It does not behove the Leader of the House to make such an egregious speech without recognising that there are many other bodies of which the chairman is automatically paid a reasonable sum. If he were not paid such a sum, many candidates would be excluded. I did not care for the right hon. Gentleman's remark that it is not right to pay trustees at the expense of the heritage. Will his next argument be that it is not right for the chairman of a new town development corporation to be paid at the expense of the ratepayers, owner-occupiers and tenants of new town houses? If it is, it is trawling the bottom of the ocean. There was also the argument about posts with a strong executive element, which the Leader of the House believed should be treated somewhat differently. I may be wrong, but as I understand it there is a large executive element in relation to the trustees. Certainly, it appears from the literature on this subject that the trustees are to have a good deal of executive power—at least, in the mind of the Under-Secretary they are to have a good deal of executive power. We then told the Leader of the House "If you do this, you will then raise complications with regard to the House of Commons Disqualification Act." Does that mean that two or more of the trustees are to be Members of the House of Commons? I am not happy about that, and I pray in aid my distinguished ex-colleague, Mr. George Strauss, who for many years was a trustee of the British Museum. In no way do I want to quote him out of context, but he used to say that there were certain problems about Members of the House of Commons being trustees. In regard to this body, I would have thought that it was positively undesirable for Members of the House of Commons to be among the trustees. If there is an argument against, it would be germane and relevant if we were told. The question of inserting a power to pay the trustees was raised in Committee. It was not pressed to a Division, but at any rate the power is still in the Bill. Amendment No. 43 goes further and actually requires that the trustees are paid. A pay structure is suggested by the figures £5,000 and £1,000 per annum, thus reflecting the degree of responsibility and likely time involvement of the chairman and trustees respectively. There are strong feelings—they were expressed in Committee—that not only must there be a power to pay trustees—and the Bill has progressed that far already—but that the trustees should actually be paid. Without such a requirement, we may yet find Ministers jibbing at paying emoluments, thinking that they can still find people of adequate capacity to serve and not appointing those who should have the job, in order to save trifling sums of money, in the context of the fund, let alone of national expenditure. It is the best people that are needed here. Financial consideration must not enter into the matter. The trustees should be paid. That said, it should be emphasised that this debate, rather like the long debate on not reimbursing the commissioners of the Inland Revenue with real money but rather doing it painlessly with paper "units of account"—indeed, the whole question of payment for the trustees—is not an argument about heritage. It is about good management, sensible staffing and fair treatment. Let us be celar that there is no discord between us on heritage as such. It is an argument about the good management of a public body. While management and staffing are under discussion, what about the duties of the trustees? What progress have Ministers made on the delicate subject of the appointment of the chairman and other trustees? It gives me no pleasure to be cantankerous on the subject. Indeed, this is the first sign of cantankerous behaviour on the Bill—certainly from myself and those who have taken part in the debate. However, we feel strongly about the matter. We feel that it is an issue of principle and that the good management and success of the heritage trustees—heaven knows, we want them to succeed in their important task—are at stake. In that spirit, I beg the Leader of the House, with his power as a senior member of the Government, to say that he has changed his mind after all. There is nothing disgraceful about changing one's mind.
I rise to my feet in support of a good argument, but I look around to find that there are fewer than 20 hon. Members in the Chamber. The argument has been well rehearsed in Committee, but I believe that a new element in the debate has been introduced by the Government's new amendment.I should like to quote from the remarks of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He said that no similar appointees receive remuneration. That is a rotten argument. The fact that something has happened of which we disapprove is no reason why it should go on happening. He also said that the authority status and prestige of those who are not paid will be enhanced. On that point I argue most of all with the right hon. Gentleman. I have obtained from the Library a volume which I would not recommend to anybody for light reading. It is called "A Directory of Paid Public Appointments made by Ministers, 1978."If we are to take the words of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster seriously, it would seem that all the persons in that volume have diminished authority, status and prestige by virtue of the fact that they are paid. Not even the Minister would agree that that is fair comment. The Minister said that it would be wrong to compare the Gaming Board with the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Of course, he is right. It is always wrong to compare anyone with anything. However, it is fair to look at the sort of quangos or paid public appointments that are made by Ministers working inunison one with another, in order to see in how many of those the members are paid. In the British Film Fund there are two paid members. The British Library Fund has eight paid members. There are paid members in the British Tourist Authority and the British Waterways Board. The Countryside Commission does not have paid members, but it has a paid deputy-chairman and a paid vice-chairman. Of course, all the bodies have well-or reasonably well-paid chairmen. I come to the Cumbernauld development corporation. I am going through the list in alphabetical order and the House will be relieved to hear that I stop at the letter 'g'. There are 12 paid members on the Development Board for Rural Wales. There are paid members on the English Tourist Board and the Forestry Commission. Indeed, the Forestry Commission is a body that is not a million miles removed from the Heritage Fund. The part-time chairman and the five part-time members are paid four-figure sums. I end on the Gaming Board of Great Britain—I will not go on. It seems to me that the Government are wrong to adduce the argument that to be paid diminishes the standing of the people. The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) has proved that it is wrong to say that the arts world deplores or feels worried about payment and any connection with it.
Does the hon Gentleman agree that senior Cabinet Ministers who make statements about the alleged opinions of other people—be they in the art world or any other world—should be able to produce the evidence for those statements? Frankly, some of us do not believe that those statements were ever made.
Yes; it would be hard not to agree with that sort of statement.I shall be brief because I see the Whips racing around the Chamber trying to persuade hon. Members to end the debate. [Interruption.] Well, I saw them a moment ago. I should like to raise one further point. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said that it would not look right in the economic climate that we are currently enjoying—or perhaps failing to enjoy on this side of the House—to set up a new quango with new paid appointments. I remind the Chancellor and the Minister of State of their own self-financing policies. By paying a modest but realistic sum both to the trustees and to the chairman, there is every chance of achieving the self-financing upon which the Government are so keen. I believe that the right people will be able to get the right items for the National Heritage Fund at the right price. I believe that to be the policy of the Government, and I totally agree with that policy. If you call my amendment, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall press it. However, I shall certainly vote against the Government if they persist in not accepting the opinion of the majority of the Committee and, I believe, the majority in the country.
What seems like a long time ago now, I gave way with a chivalrous gesture to the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack). He should have known me better. It was not a chivalrous gesture but a calculated kindness. I wanted him to go on record as opposing his right hon. Friend's intention of downing the will of the Committee. I am sorry if hon. Members are upsetting the Whips by delaying the House on this matter.
I shall continue at some length. It is an important matter, and we should get it on record that there is general disagreement within the Chamber—certainly there was in Committee—with the Government's intention not to listen to the opinions of the Committee. There are enough hon. Members present in the Chamber to express the will of those on the Committee and those who are concerned about these matters. Nevertheless, we shall see how many hon. Members the right hon. Gentleman manages to muster from the musty corners of the House when it comes to the vote.
If no emoluments are available either to the chairman or to the trustees, there is a danger that there will be the usual establishment assortment on the board of trustees. I am not making a generalised attack—it is a risk that I often run, and I sometimes succumb to it—on the boards and trustees who run aspects of our heritage. Most of them do a very good job. However, it is well known that there are a large number of people on those boards whose names simply decorate them. They do not take an active part in the proceedings of the trust. They are there because they are well-to-do, they have the time, and their titles look good on the headings of the notepaper. That is the danger that the right hon. Gentleman runs if he insists on downing the will of the Committee.
I can only quote at the right hon. Gentleman—I regret that the hon. Gentleman is not here to speak for himself—the words of the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Price), his colleague, who said in Committee:
"It is essential, if we are to make a success of this, that the base be as broad as possible."
He was talking about the trustees. He continued:
"We do not want the heritage to be thought to be a matter for a limited number of people. It is everybody's heritage. That cannot be put too strongly."
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is not present tonight. That morning in Committee was most impressive. It was not just we terrible Socialists who said that people should be paid for their public duties. Conservative Members who are not normally thought of as being on the Left wing of the party were most reactionary. They supported our arguments. It is unacceptable to hon. Members who served on that Committee and discussed the matter at great length that our will should be disregarded.
It is important to remember that for the chairman, and probably the trustees—the chairman may have so much to deal with that he delegates some matters to the trustees—this will be a more or less full-time job. We are living in a period of economic stress. We shall find increasingly in the next few years that people are forced to sell properties, objects d'art and paintings, and that more and more such works of art will appear on the market, works of art which we want to keep in Britain as part of our national heritage. There will be a flood of problems to consider.
Again I quote from the Committee proceedings, because the right hon. Gentleman was not present. I said that
"in the economic circumstances of our time, there is likely to be an increasing number of cases in which properties, land and objects will come up for consideration…It is more than likely that this will be a time-consuming job. There will be crisis after crisis. The job will not be a sinecure. It will need a great deal of time and frequent meetings."—[Official Report, Standing Committee F, 22 January 1980; c. 270–75.]
If the Government expect the board of trustees to do the job properly—it will be a full-time job—they must reconsider the sort of people whom they will appoint. It will be very disturbing if suitable candidates for the board of trustees—I hope that we shall all play a part in putting up names—are prevented from taking on a job of this nature simply because they cannot afford to do so. That argument cannot be repeated enough to get it into the right hon. Gentleman's noddle that we must have a suitable selection of representative people on the board of trustees, not the decorative establishment figures that I am beginning to think the right hon. Gentleman may have in mind.
It would be interesting to know who the Minister has in mind. I wish we knew, particularly about the chairman. Some hon. Members made representations earlier about the unacceptability of one or two names that were running around in his head. We hope that he has excised them for good.
Well, if they are in that sort of spirit, perhaps it is better to exorcise rather than excise them. I cannot judge the right hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends better than he can.The members of the Committee considered the matter at great length, and in their wisdom they defeated the Government. It was a very happy occasion. The Government should have the grace to accept that decision. I urge all hon. Members to have the guts, when the matter comes to a Division, to move into the Opposition Lobby and defeat the Government on this important aspect.
It is sad that the Leader of the House has introduced a discordant note at this late stage, having kept at a happy distance from the working of the Committee. He has struck across the strong feeling of the Committee on the matter of payment of the trustees. He said that this involves an important question of principle. For him, the principle was a possibility of public expenditure. That in itself is an important question of principle. He is afraid of the implications and potential of public expenditure, but he is more than happy to accept potential public service and for that service to be unpaid.It has already been argued that it is inadequate to list the museums and galleries and to say that no payment should be taken by their trustees and to pretend that that is the ideal system. I think it is sad that many trustees are not paid, and that is such a valuable use of precedent in this connection. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that the analogies which were drawn in Committee were to bodies with a strong executive element. We have heard the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) review various bodies which, although they do ber for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) review payment. I speak from experience. I was the chairman of the Wales Tourist Board. A good deal of the work involved was non-executive. It involved exercising discretion over grants and loans, precisely an aspect of the activity which the trustees would exercise in this connection. Board members and the chairman received a modest payment, and it is proper that in this case the trustees should receive payment. The Leader of the House referred to the fact that there would be provision for allowances as compensation for loss of earnings. That is not a good way of showing recognition for services. The compensation received within any group of people will be different, according to the different earnings capacity of their earning commitment. It is improper that their role as trustees should be reflected in that way. It was argued that there was no shorttage of candidates. That is no justification. Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that if there were a shortage of candidates he would be prepared to buy them? I do not see that the availability of candidates is relevant to the argument of principle whether payment should be made for the job. The right hon. Gentleman came to the conclusion that it would be wrong to bestow a power, as appears in the clause as amended in Committee, which the Government do not intend to exercise. Surely that is done frequently. That might happen under clause 14 of the Bill. Do not the provisions of that clause bestow a power—transferring some functions—which the Government do not propose to exercise, or is the right hon. Gentleman telling us that on the basis of that argument he does not approve of exercising bestowing powers? Is he telling us, in a devious way, that he intends to implement clause 14? If he is not saying that, I do not see the force of his argument. The Government, in their economic and taxation policy, have constantly used the argument of a causal link between effort and reward. The effort should be to reward, and reward should breed effort. We are talking of a group of trustees whom we expect to show effort and dedication. Why does the principle, so widely deployed by the Government, of properly recognising effort not apply here? It is a disappointing amendment. I implore the Chancellor at this late stage to review the position and take cognisance of the fact that the Committee looked carefully into the question and was strongly of the view that there should be a measure of payment to the trustees. I ask him to withdraw his amendment.
:I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) on his—
Decision to vote against the Government.
No. I am not a Whip or a slave-driver. My hon. Friend must make up his own mind. When I was interrupted, I was about to congratulate my hon. Friend on his moderate approach to the problem and the persuasive way in which he put his argument.The hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Hudson Davies) was less than just to me in his reflections on my appearance to move the amendment. I did so because I realised that the amendment would be unpopular with some hon. Members. I therefore thought it right that I should come to move it myself. That was my motivation. Otherwise, I could have hovered without until Third Reading. I must make it clear that this is a Government decision made right at the beginning. The new element is not the amendment. The new element of payment came in in Committee. That was when it was first proposed. It was never envisaged by the Government when the Bill was brought before the House that these trustees would be paid. The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) alleges that he always knows what is the truth when he finds me smiling. I say to him, attach no importance to my smiles. It is simply that I find it easier to smile than to scowl. It has no particular significance, except that I am today my normal cheerful self, in spite of my regret that we are having some controversy at this late stage. The hon. Member for West Lothian said that it was "all the fault of the blessed Margaret in No. 10". I assure him, first, that the title is wrong. On the day that she entered No. 10, she rose from "blessed" to "saint". The Prime Minister, of course, has overall responsibility, but the amendment is not being moved at her particular instigation. It is in accord with the general policy of the Government with regard to the Bill. In spite of the impressive list of the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud), which I believe that we have reduced, it is also true that it would be inappropriate to be adding to that list unnecessarily at a time when we are trying to reduce it. The hon. Member for West Lothian asked me for evidence about the reaction in the arts world. I can only say that there is evidence. No doubt people have reacted in different ways, but the view has been represented to me that it would be a bad thing and prejudice the standing of the trustees, not personally but as trustees, and that is what I am concerned with. I stress that it is intended that if there is any loss of earnings there should be provision made for that to be made up.
I do not wish to be offensive, but will the right hon. Gentleman name one important segment of the arts world that has put that point of view? The evidence that most of us have is absolutely to the contrary. People in the arts world think that it is extremely important as a matter of principle that trustees should be paid. The image too often associated with the very well-heeled is not desirable for our heritage, which belongs to everyone.Where has all the evidence come from? I am not asking for a whole list of names, only one or two.
:Journalists do not reveal their sources, and it would be quite improper for me to reveal confidential expressions of opinion passed to me as Minister. Of course, the hon. Gentleman's experience is different from mine. If he can find any opinion that is shared universally throughout the arts world, I should be grateful to be made aware of it. It is a world in which there is a wide variety of individuals and, therefore, a wide variety of opinions.
One final point—and it is my final point.
On two occasions, in October and December, the National Trust in Scotland convened widespread conferences, casting the net over all the heritage bodies in Scotland. On a number of issues there were differences of opinion, but it is my recollection that on this issue every one of the bodies centred on Edinburgh, which is a microcosm of Britain, agreed that it was important, as a matter of principle, that there should be payment for the chairman and the other trustees. Opinion was not necessarily unanimous on other topics, but it was unanimous on this point.
I accept the hon. Gentleman's evidence. I can only tell him that that is not the unanimous view of the arts world.A thought came into my mind when I was listening to the interesting contribution of the hon. Member for Isle of Ely. I believe that it is important to preserve the voluntary principle as far as possible. It is an important part of our national life. One sees it operating in all sorts of spheres, and particularly where spiritual values are involved—in nursing, medicine, religion and the arts. There is some value in preserving it where we can.
Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that the voluntary principle could be preserved if people were able to give the money back? We are simply arguing for a facility for these people to be paid in order not to exclude anyone from consideration as a trustee.
That is an interesting suggestion. However, it would cause more complications than it would solve. The hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) was concerned that we might have too many members from the Establishment. Establishment is not a state of income but a state of mind.
It is frequently a state of income.
:No, it is a state of mind. The hon. Gentleman is an Establishment figure. I think that he would agree with that. He is an Establishment figure on two grounds—vast income from the acting profession and—
He looks like a member of the Establishment to me.
Unfortunately, the right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong about my income from my old profession. I devote far too much time to the House rather than to my old profession. That may be regretted by some of my colleagues, and the right hon. Gentleman must not damage me in public by asserting that I am an Establishment figure. If that has happened to me after 13 years in the House, perhaps I should give up.
Rather than face that horrific possibility, I withdraw all imputations that the hon. Member is a member of the Establishment. As I look at him, I do have doubts. Never mind. I accept the hon. Gentleman's assurance.I am not a member of the Establishment on either ground. I am a free spirit and I range as far as the Chief Whip allows me. [Interruption.] I am very glad to see my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary here. He is, after
Division No. 149]
|Adley, Robert||Grist, Ian||Nelson, Anthony|
|Alexander, Richard||Grylls, Michael||Neubert, Michael|
|Ancram, Michael||Gummer, John Selwyn||Newton, Tony|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Hamilton, Hon Archie (Eps'm&Ew'll)||Onslow, Cranley|
|Atkins, Robert (Preston North)||Hannam, John||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Haselhurst, Alan||Page, Rt Hon Sir R. Graham|
|Best, Keith||Hawksley, Warren||Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire)|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Heddle, John||Parris, Matthew|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Henderson, Barry||Patten, Christopher (Bath)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Hicks, Robert||Pollock, Alexander|
|Bowden, Andrew||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham)||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Holland, Philip (Carlton)||Raison, Timothy|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Hooson, Tom||Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)|
|Bright, Graham||Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Renton, Tim|
|Brinton, Tim||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Hurd, Hon Douglas||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe)||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, John||Knox, David||Rossi, Hugh|
|Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick||Lang, Ian||Rost, Peter|
|Burden, F. A.||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Cadbury, Jocelyn||Latham, Michael||St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon Norman|
|Carlisle, John (Luton West)||Lawrence, Ivan||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Le Merchant, Spencer||Shepherd, Richard(Aldridge-Br'hills)|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon Mark (Runcorn)||Lennox-Soyd, Hon Mark||Sims, Roger|
|Chalker, Mrs. Lynda||Lester, Jim (Beston)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Chapman, Sydney||Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo)||Speed, Keith|
|Churchill, W. S.||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Speller, Tony|
|Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth. Sutton)||Loveridge, John||Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire)|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Luce, Richard||Sproat, Iain|
|Cockeram, Eric||Lyell, Nicholas||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Colvin, Michael||Macfarlane, Neil||Stanley, John|
|Cope, John||MacKay, John (Argyll)||Stevens, Martin|
|Cranborne, Viscount||McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)||Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire)|
|Critchley, Julian||McQuarrie, Albert||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Crouch, David||Madel, David||Tebbit, Norman|
|Dean, Paul (North Somerset)||Major, John||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Marland, Paul||Thompson, Donald|
|Dover, Denshore||Marten, Neil (Banbury)||Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)|
|Dykes, Hugh||Mather, Carol||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Eggar, Timothy||Mawby, Ray||Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexleyheath)|
|Eyre, Reginald||Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Waddington, David|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Fairgrieve, Russell||Mellor, David||Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek|
|Faith, Mrs Sheila||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch)||Waller, Gary|
|Fenner, Mrs Peggy||Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Ward, John|
|Fisher, Sir Nigel||Mills, Peter (West Devon)||Watson, John|
|Fletcher. Alexander (Edinburgh N)||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Wells, Bowen (Hert'rd & Stev'nage)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Moate, Roger||Wheeler, John|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Molyneaux, James||Wickenden, Keith|
|Fry, Peter||Monro, Hector||Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes)||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester)||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Gorst, John||Murphy, Christopher|
|Gow, Ian||Myles, David||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Gower, Sir Raymond||Neale, Gerrard||Lord James Douglas-Hamilton and|
|Greenway, Harry||Needham, Richard||Mr. John MacGregor.|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)|
all, the Patronage Secretary—another of his titles—and is a well-known patron of the arts. That is an unsolicited tribute.
I am sorry that I have not been able to accede to the wishes of those who are here. If I could, I would. The balance of the argument—it is not a clear-cut issue—is against them. I admit the perfect right of any hon. Member to divide the House, but I hope that we can avoid that. If not, we must vote according to our conscientious convictions.
Question put, That the amendment be made:—
The House divided: Ayes 165, Noes 134.
|Abse, Leo||Foulkes, George||Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Adams, Allen||Freud, Clement||Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw)|
|Alton, David||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Ashton, Joe||George, Bruce||Palmer, Arthur|
|Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham)||Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Parker, John|
|Beith, A. J.||Golding, John||Parry, Robert|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Gourlay, Harry||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Graham, Ted||Penhaligon, David|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Prescott, John|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Race, Reg|
|Brown, Ronald W. (Hackney S)||Haynes, Frank||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North)|
|Buchan, Norman||Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire)||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Campbell, Ian||Home Robertson, John||Rowlands, Ted|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Homewood, William||Sandelson, Neville|
|Canavan, Dennis||Hooley, Frank||Sheerman, Barry|
|Carmichael, Neil||Howells, Geraint||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Cartwright, John||Huckfield, Les||Silverman, Julius|
|Clark, Dr David (South Shields)||Hudson Davies, Gwilym Ednyfed||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Coleman, Donald||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Conlan, Bernard||Jones, Rt Hon Alec(Rhondda)||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Cormack, Patrick||Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Stewart, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles)|
|Cryer, Bob||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Stott, Roger|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Kilfedder, James A.||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Dalyell, Tam||Kinnock, Neil||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton West)|
|Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford)||Lambie, David||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Leadbitter, Ted||Thomas, Dr Roger (Carmarthen)|
|Dempsey, James||Leighton, Ronald||Tinn, James|
|Dixon, Donald||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Walker, Rt Hon Harold (Doncaster)|
|Dormand, Jack||Litherland, Robert||Weetch, Ken|
|Douglas, Dick||Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Welsh, Michael|
|Dunnett, Jack||Lyons, Edward (Bradford West)||White, Frank R. (Bury & Radcliffe)|
|Eadle, Alex||McCartney, Hugh||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Eastham, Ken||McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Whitlock, William|
|Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)||McKay, Allan (Penistone)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire)||Marks, Kenneth||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East)|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Marshall, David (Gl'sgow, Shettles'n)||Winnick, David|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Marshall, Dr Edmund Goole)||Woodall, Alec|
|Ewing, Harry||Marshall, Jim (Leicester South)||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Faulds, Andrew||Martin, Michael (Gl'gow, Springb'rn)||Wright, Sheila|
|Field, Frank||Mason, Rt Hon Roy||Young, David (Bolton East)|
|Fitch, Alan||Maxton, John|
|Flannery, Martin||Maynard, Miss Joan||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Ford, Ben||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Foster, Derek||Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)||Mr. George Morton.|
Question accordingly agreed to.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.I am delighted that we have come to the Third Reading of the Bill with only the most minor disagreements. My first task must be to pay a heartfelt tribute to my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for the Environment for his devotion, enthusiasm, ability and dedication to the Bill. I have, of course, been in the closest touch with him during the Committee stage proceedings. However, I do not want to give the impression that his was not a fully independent and creative role. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for the progress made in Committee and the good spirits that prevailed. I also thank the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) for all the
effort he has put into the Bill. I thank him particularly for being here today. I know that he is here at great personal inconvenience, as he cancelled an important late-night engagement in Paris. We all appreciate the sacrifice that he has made.
It would be a tragedy if heritage matters became an issue of party political dispute. In the nature of things there must at some time, I imagine, be a change of Government. This Government cannot be in power all the time, though they are doing very well at the moment and it looks as though we will be here until the end of the century.
I will settle for the present century at this moment.It would be disastrous for the heritage if there were not the widest possible measure of bipartisanship, and I am extremely grateful to the hon. Member for Warley, East for having made such a notable contribution in this sphere. It is rare for an individual to make a great difference. His accession to the position of spokesman for the Opposition has made a major difference to our arts policy, and I pay tribute to him, as I pay tribute to the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) for his contribution to the debate. I also thank my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) for his continuing contribution to the arts in the House and outside it which is followed by all those interested in the heritage. After the detailed consideration the Bill has received in Committee and on Report, I think it would be useful to stand back for a few minutes and set the proposal that it contains in the context of our other policies for the heritage and the arts. The Bill sets up a new fund to be run by independent trustees providing assistance to bodies and institutions that wish to acquire, preserve or maintain outstanding land, buildings and objects of national heritage quality. I have given no sustained consideration to who should be appointed, save in the most general terms, because it would be quite wrong, until I was assured of the approval of the Bill by Parliament, to begin that consideration. When, as I hope, the Bill receives its Third Reading, I shall devote my mind to this matter in conjunction with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. I can make a few general remarks about the sort of people we shall be looking for. We do not want crabbed specialists. We do not want astronomers who have never seen the stars. We do not want bankers who have never seen the world save by looking out of a bank window. We want people of wide experience and cultural perceptiveness and an interest in the whole question of the heritage and the arts. We want people who will be able to assess and take expert advice but who are not necessarily experts.
The right hon. Gentleman said he would consult the Secretary of State for the Environment. Will he also confer with the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales?
Yes, when that is appropriate. I am very glad to have them added to the rota.Second, the Bill transfers ministerial responsibility for acceptance of property in lieu of capital transfer tax from the Treasury to the Secretary of State for the Environment and myself in my capacity as Minister for the arts. I do not think that any one alteration in policy has done more than that to ensure this measure a favourable reception in the arts world. There was widespread dismay at the prospect of the in-lieu proceedings being abandoned. They have been and will be preserved in principle for the foreseeable future. How the actual administration will be carried out will be a matter for review after experience, however. The Bill now contains a major new concession, introduced at Committee stage with my full approval and support, to provide the means for a very wide-ranging scheme under which the Government can undertake to indemnify lenders of works of art and similar objects when they are loaned for display to other persons, bodies or institutions.
I am grateful for that expression of support. I have received expressions of appreciation from a number of people outside the House.The steps which have been taken in the Bill should be seen in the context of what we are already doing. We already provide the maintenance costs, the capital costs and the purchase grants for the national museums and galleries, and special funds to aid the purchasers in the local museums and galleries. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment provides similar support for a number of historic buildings and ancient monuments, and he, of course, is advised by the historic buildings councils. I am advised by the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries. I thank the commission and Sir Arthur Drew for all the help that they have given in the course of the Bill. I especially thank Mr. Michael Levey, the director of the National Gallery, who has taken such a constructive and informed interest in the Bill and in all matters concerning the visual arts. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have similar responsibilities for the arts and the environmental heritage. As has been pointed out by the hon. Member for West Lothian they will be advising and taking decisions where appropriate. In addition, we control the export of works of art on the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art. The committee has an extremely difficult task which it does extremely well and conscientiously. It is a tribute to it that no one has even questioned the bona fides of its decisions, however much he may have disagreed with the decision reached. Professor White is doing a wonderful job in that respect. In round terms, as a proportion of my arts budget, which also covers the Arts Council, the British Library and a number of other bodies concerned with the living arts, expenditure on heritage is over £40 million out of a £140 million budget. Next year, with the addition of the National Heritage Fund and the provision for acceptance in lieu, the proportion will be significantly higher. That is a firm demonstration of our commitment to the national heritage and is all the more notable when one considers the steps that we are having to take, unfortunately, to retrench public expenditure generally. I know that the Expenditure Committee report, from which the idea of the new fund sprang, recommended that we should add to its endowment the £50 million that it said was taken away in 1957, but it sensibly said:
I should be delighted to comply with that recommendation. I am sure that the House will recognise that it is simply not practicable at the present time. I regard it as a major achievement—and I have been supported in this view by the heritage movement—that we have ensured that the total sum standing to the credit of the National Land Fund at the end of this financial year will be handed over to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and myself, so that we can provide an immediate and reasonable endowment for the new fund and continue the acceptance in lieu system. I have referred to the heritage movement. It has played a full role in the preparation and the success of the Bill. It has been constructive and helpful from the time when it gave its detailed evidence to the Expenditure Committee until now, and it has collaborated fully with the Government, the Opposition and hon. Members on the Back Benches in ensuring that we have an accurate and comprehensible statute which reflects the wishes of those concerned. The Bill has made swift progress and will need to maintain this to reach the statute book in time for the fund to be set up at the start of the next financial year. I am most anxious to meet that deadline. I have nothing but praise for the manner in which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment handled the debates in Committee. He and the many others who have contributed to the original text and the amendments deserve our congratulations on a great achievement for the national heritage. Mr. Hugh Leggatt, a great supporter of the arts, said that the Bill constituted the brightest day for the arts and the heritage for more than 30 years. I wish to thank all those who have contributed."as the public expenditure situation permits".
This is a happy occasion. We see now the realisation—or near realisation, or imminent realisation—of a much-hoped-for development. Out of Hugh Dalton's original concept of stretches of lovely land being preserved, unspoiled, as a memorial to the war dead of the last great war, there developed the extension of concern to historic houses and, eventually, to paintings and objets ďart.Sadly, the National Land Fund, the original vehicle, was not properly utilised because of Treasury machinations and, let us be honest, by parliamentary parsimony when funds were diverted, quite improperly, to the Treasury for purposes other than those for which the fund had been established. Mentmore was a national scandal which had the fortunate result of rousing such fury and concern that the whole subject became a matter of public interest and subsequently a matter of examination by Arthur Jones's Sub-Committee of the Expenditure Committee. The excellent report that came out of that led to the White Paper of February 1979, produced—and it is advisable that we should remember this—by Lord Donaldson and Lady Birk and strongly backed by the then Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). I recount the history yet again just to put the record straight and so that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster should not get all the kudos. The right hon. Gentleman is a great collector of paraphernalia of all sorts, but he is not averse to picking up whatever kudos lies around.
Nor is the hon. Gentleman.
I am not quite such a collector of either kudos or bits and pieces as is the right hon. Gentleman. Incidentally, I have another Gladstone bust for him if he can afford it.
How about a Queen Victoria bust?
This is becoming most improper. Queen Victoria's bust is not a matter which should be discussed on the Third Reading of the National Heritage Bill, even though it may lie in the right hon. Gentleman's collection.Let us be fair to the right hon. Gentleman. He deserves some of the kudos. He was generous to me—rightly so—and I must be generous to him. He has played an admirable role in seeing that matters were got right in Committee and in the final form of the Bill. We should put on record that he was the final contributor, with his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, who did so excellently in Committee. However, it is only fair to add that the right hon. Gentleman took the advice that I gave on Second Reading when I instructed him to apply a touch of his delicate toe to a number of bureaucratic bottoms in Whitehall. The result has been a much improved Bill in which the right hon. Gentleman has handsomely met the main requirements of the heritage and museum worlds. All along, the right hon. Gentleman has supported the in-lieu provisions, which were regrettably left out of the February White Paper. The right hon. Gentleman and I were at one on that. He has met the in situ suggestions for which the museum world has wished for years and, more admirably—and this is where the toe penetrated the posterior—he has insisted on introducing the indemnity arrangements for which the museum world had also argued for years. The right hon. Gentleman deserves a good deal of credit, and I should like to put on record again the contribution of the Under-Secretary in Committee. He dealt courteously, good-humouredly and efficiently with a fairly ugly crew.
Speak for yourself.
Of course, I include myself but do not exclude the hon. Member.Where the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has not been so good is in failing to resist the Treasury's baleful influence. I had wanted to speak at length on that matter, but I have rehearesd the arguments a number of times in Committee and on Second Reading, and I understand that there are problems about completing the business of the House satisfactorily tonight, so I shall drop, perhaps ill-advisedly, the animadversions on the Treasury. However, I should like to raise one or two other matters on which the Minister might like to comment. There is common agreement that, in the nature of things, no accurate advance estimates can be made of the sums required to record in the books acceptances in lieu, since too many unpredictable factors are inevitably involved. In view of that, will the right hon. Gentleman take this opportunity to confirm to the House that if the estimates are insufficient in any one year the moneys will not be made up by raiding the annual grant of income to the National Heritage Memorial Fund? That matter was touched on earlier, but I should like confirmation when the right hon. Gentleman replies to the debate. Conversely, will the right hon. Gentleman also confirm that any excess of the estimate over the sums made available in respect of in lieu acceptances will be passed to the Fund as an addition to its income? I have another important query. Now that acceptances in lieu are being placed on a new footing in the Bill, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us precisely how he plans to obtain expert advice on the pre-eminence or otherwise of works of art offered in satisfaction of tax? He will be aware that the old system was not working satisfactorily and that the Select Committee came up with a constructive suggestion for reform. If he has completed consideration of this point, which he informed me was in progress some time ago, will he take this opportunity to impart his conclusions to the House? It is important that the House should know. This is a most welcome piece of legislation which meets the concern of all the parties to the heritage. It was a pleasure to serve on the Committee with such amenable colleagues. I believe that we have ensured the better conservation of all aspects of our heritage, which now plays such an important part in our economic life and in the cultural lives not only of natives of Britain but of the many tourists who flock in to look at our heritage in all its aspects. I believe that Hugh Dalton's dream has been more than fulfilled. For once the House can be proud of its work and sure of the value of its legislative decision in these matters.
It is a great pleasure to join hands across the Chamber and welcome this significant piece of legislation. I add my congratulations to those that have been given to my right hon. Friend for his drive in carrying major responsibility for this Bill. I congratulate also my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro), to whom tributes have already been paid, for a magnificent job in Committee. Without his calm, patient understanding, I do not think that the Bill would be quite the measure that we now have. He considered most carefully a number of important points. He obviously had lengthy discussions with my right hon. Friend, as a result of which improvements ensued.This is only the beginning of the road in many ways. Although for many of us it is a day of celebration, we would be deluding ourselves if we thought that all the problems of the heritage will pass into oblivion when the Bill reaches the statute book. I said on Second Reading that this is only one strand of a comprehensive heritage policy. Without long-awaited tax concessions and reforms in the Budget and other proposals to which we all look forward, there will be a flood of heritage objects on to the market with which the fund will be unable to cope. It can be effective only as a safety net. It will survive as a safety net only if it is not tested too often. I hope that all hon. Members realise that this is just one victory and that our heritage has not been rescued from all the dangers that threaten it merely by the passage of the Bill, welcome as it is. The Bill is, however, a significant milestone. It is the most important piece of heritage legislation since the war. For that, my right hon. Friend, my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries and my hon. and learned—and benevolent—Friend the Minister of State, Treasury, who played a part this afternoon, have our grateful thanks. I sincerely hope that their Lordships' House will consider that we have examined the Bill fairly thoroughly and will give it a quick and speedy passage so that it receives the Royal Assent in good time for the trustees to be appointed and the Bill to come into effect on 1 April.
The Leader of the House paid tribute, properly, to the heritage movement. Having occupied many column inches of the Committee proceedings in the Official Report and having had my say today, I should like simply to say "Thank you" to the many heritage bodies in Scotland that were brought together on the initiative of the National Trust for Scotland and have done a great deal of constructive work on the Bill. They may be a model of how to influence events, particularly as they had the maximum co-operation from the Civil Service. But the heritage bodies helped themselves greatly by letting civil servants and Ministers know exactly what was in their minds at an early stage. The civil servants were extremely co-operative, constructive and helpful.
I have been remiss. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would agree that it would be a great shame if the Bill were passed without the name of Mr. Jeremy Benson being recorded.
It is always invidious to pick out names. We have had a great deal of help from all sorts of heritage bodies. I shall not speak of a heritage lobby, because there has been no trace of self-interest on their part. Naturally, one is alert for that.I say "Thank you" to the bodies concerned, because unless we have available to us the kind of briefings that they provided I am not sure that on such a complex matter the House can be effective.
With permission, I should like to reply briefly to three points.First, the fund will receive a grant in aid that cannot be raided to provide more for acceptance in lieu. Secondly, the sources of expert advice for the pre-eminence test that the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds) raised are under consideration. My officials are discussing the matter with our present expert advisers and the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries and the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. Any excess on the acceptance in lieu provision in any year can be transferred to the National Heritage Memorial Fund trustees. I was extremely glad that the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell)paid tribute to the civil servants. We take the help, advice and work of the civil servants for granted, so much so that normally they receive no tributes, although from time to time they receive censure. I should like to put my experience on record. I do not think that on this Bill and other matters I could have received more devoted, intelligent and constructive service than I have had from the Civil Service.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.