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Arts Policy

Volume 986: debated on Thursday 19 June 1980

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asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he will make a statement on the results of that section of his Department which deals with the arts, after 13 months of the present Government, in achieving the policy programme which he set it on assuming office.

When I took office I set up an Office of Arts and Libraries as an independent, though very small, Government Department with a total headquarters staff of fewer than 40 people. This staff has helped me not only to carry out the day to day administrative tasks which come within my responsibilities for the arts; it has also done the administrative work needed for the following :

National Heritage

  • 1. The National Heritage Act 1980, which received Royal Assent on 31 March 1980.
  • 2. The national heritage memorial fund, which was set up under part I of the Act and has begun its work.
  • 3. The transfer of ministerial responsibility for the acceptance of property in lieu of tax from the Treasury to the Secretary of State for the Environment and myself, under part II of the Act.
  • 4. Revision of the procedure for handling offers of property, and of the criteria for acceptances of pre-eminent objects.
  • 5. The provision by the Government under part III of the Act of wider indemnities on a statutory basis for loans of works of art.
  • Public Lending Right

  • 6. Commencement of the PLR Act 1979 which was brought into force by a statutory instrument on 22 February 1980.
  • 7. Issue of a consultative document on PLR in December 1979.
  • 8. Drafting of a detailed scheme under the Act in the light of comments received on the consultative document, with a view to its being laid before Parliament at the beginning of the next Session.
  • 9. Reduction by half of the estimate of administrative costs of the scheme.
  • Business Sponsorship of the Arts

  • 10. Provision of £25,000 to the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts to help it increase its activities.
  • 11. Appointment of a committee to advise me on a Government campaign to encourage business sponsorship of the arts.
  • 12. Preparation of a programme of research, conferences and other events to support such a campaign.
  • 13. Discussions between my Office, Inland Revenue and the Treasury leading to the introduction of tax concessions for charities in the 1980 Budget.
  • Royal Opera House

  • 14. Honouring the previous Government's commitments to contribute £1 million to the appeal fund and to acquire the freehold of the existing building for the Royal Opera House Company.
  • 15. The announcement on 4 June of a further Government contribution of £1 million to the development appeal fund.
  • Public Expenditure

  • 16. Securing that the level of central Government support for the arts has been broadly maintained and that the impact of public expenditure constraint on the arts has been kept to a minimum.
  • Quangos

  • 17. Acceptance of future responsibility for the Standing Commission on museums and galleries and for three advisory bodies formerly reporting to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. Decisions to abolish the Advisory Committee on Sculpture in Royal Parks, after arranging for its work to be taken over by existing bodies, and to retain the Advisory Committee on the Purchase of Works of Art for Government buildings and, after consultation with Mr. Speaker, the Advisory Committee on Works of Art in the House of Commons.
  • Government Art Collection

  • 18. Acceptance of responsibility for the Government art collection and absorption of its staff into the Office of Arts and Libraries. Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art
  • 19. Introduction of improved procedures for the handling of cases and the submission of advice from the committee.
  • 20. A request to the committee to study possible improvements in the export licence procedure for temporary exports of works of art.
  • 21. Approval of a recommendation from the reviewing committee for an extension of the export control relating to British historical portraits.
  • Theatres Trust

  • 22. Provision of £15,000 to enable the trust to continue in operation as a body to be consulted under planning regulations before there can be any change in use of a theatre building.
  • Museums

  • 23. Improvement of the grant to the area museum councils so as to permit a measure of redistribution without prejudice to existing activities.
  • 24. Action following the Clore foundation's generous proposal to provide for the building of a new Turner gallery at the Tate.
  • 25. Approval for the replacement of the South Kensington national museums' district heating system.
  • 26. Preparations for the adaptation to museum storage use of the former National Savings Bank building in Blythe Road, and for the commencement of other museum extension and improvement schemes in the near future.
  • 27. Continuation of the building projects for the national museums which were put in hand by the previous Government.
  • 28. Authorisation of a major reorganisation of the Egyptian sculpture gallery at the British museum, financed with help from private sources.
  • Libraries

  • 29. Intensive and detailed consideration of national policy towards the future development of the library service.
  • 30. Review of the proposals for a major new building for the British Library.
  • I am certain that the creation of an independent Office of Arts and Libraries was a necessary and useful reform and that progress in the arts during the past year is evidence of its success.