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Orders Of The Day

Volume 76: debated on Monday 1 April 1985

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National Heritage (Scotland) Bill

Lords Amendments considered.

Clause 2

The Board's General Functions

Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 2, line 9, after "to" insert "and interpreted for".

11.33 pm

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

With this it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 2, 3, 4, 9 and 10.

Amendment No. 1 is straightforward. It is intended to emphasise the importance of interpreting for the public the items in the museums' collections. That duty is already implicit in the Bill, but the amendment serves to add a degree of emphasis to what is now generally agreed to be a central part of the museums' role.

I come to amendments Nos. 2 and 3, with which go amendments Nos. 9 and 10. Hon. Members will recall that following our dicsussions in Committee we added "artistic" and "archaeological" matters to the lists in clause 2(1)(d) and paragraph 3 of schedule 1.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 9 provide for the addition of the word "architectural", and the word "historical" is added by amendments Nos. 3 and 10.

Amendment No. 4 adds a new subsection to clause 2 which requires the board, in promoting the public's awareness, appreciation and understanding of the matters specified in subsection (1)(d), to have due regard to the Scottish aspect of these matters.

In the light of the discussions that we had in this House, I hope to get the support of the Opposition in commending the amendments to the House.

I should like in particular to welcome Lords amendment No. 4. Recognising the hostility with which the Minister in Committee greeted my proposals to enhance the Scottish aspects of the administration of the museums, will the Minister say why the Government have now so changed their mind as to make special reference to the Scottish aspect? Was the amendment wished on them by the House of Lords? Why have they changed their attitude?

When will it be convenient to discuss the vexed question of the register of gardens?

I think that the answer to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) is that that discussion would be appropriate on Lords amendment No. 8 to which we shall be coming later.

May I say to the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) that the amendment, in contrast to the one that he tabled in Committee, is worded in such a way as to avoid the danger of encouraging a chauvinistic approach which might lead the new board, paradoxically, to neglect the international aspects of its work. That was the point, as he will recall, that the hon. Member for Linlithgow also put to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 2 to 4 agreed to.

New Clause

Museum Of Scotland

Lords amendment: No. 5, after clause 3, insert the following new clause—

".—(1) The Board may form a "Museum of Scotland" and may include in that museum any or all of the objects which

  • (a) are presently in the collections of the Royal Scottish Museum or the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland; or
  • (b) may become vested in the Board in the future.
  • (2) Subsection (1) above is without prejudice to the Board's power to form other museums, either as part of the Museum of Scotland or otherwise."

    I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

    The new clause provides that the board shall have the power to form a museum of Scotland which may include any or all of the current collections of the Royal Scottish museum and the national museum of Antiquities of Scotland, or any items which may become vested in the board in the future. The powers for the board of trustees to do so are already implicit in the Bill. Therefore, there is not any real need for the Bill to be amended to achieve that affect.

    However, there is no doubt that, ever since the Williams committee report, the idea of a museum of Scotland has attracted widespread interest and enthusiasm. The point about a specific reference to a museum of Scotland was raised during consideration of the Bill in this House, therefore we accept that it would be appropriate to include a suitable signpost in the Bill to reflect that amendment. I commend the Lords amendment to the House.

    I think that we would welcome this improvement to the Bill. I always remain curious as to how these things come about. I suspect that it has been through the effective efforts of Lord Ross of Marnock and the Earl of Perth in the House of Lords on the matter.

    Will the Minister say a little more than whether the amendment is a signpost? I feel that much will depend on the kind of advice that comes from the advisory committee under Lord Bute.

    The membership of the new board will be crucial to the way in which it interprets its task and the flexibility that it brings to the new scheme of affairs. Finally, I wonder whether the Minister agrees that the changes will bring the museum of Scotland concept more fully into line with the ambitions that the Williams committee had for that concept.

    I should like to know whether we are any nearer than we were in Committee to getting a cost estimate for the concept of a museum of Scotland. The more one hears about it, the more expensive it is likely to become. Bluntly, how in heaven's name can we realistically talk about a museum of Scotland when apparently there is not the money available to pay the teachers properly?

    I thank my hon. Friend the Minister and the Government for proposing to include the amendment in the Bill. Without it, it would be difficult for someone reading the Bill, who had not read the proceedings in the House and another place, to realise just where the museum of Scotland fitted in. It greatly helps the Bill to have that clear signpost, as my hon. Friend says.

    I am surprised by the Lords amendment, and particularly by the sudden decision, after we have been through all the proceedings on the Bill, to accept a major change in the likely structure of the museums in Scotland.

    The formation of a museum of Scotland did not appear in the original draft of the Bill. What we had was the establishment of the unified board of trustees. The Government were utterly unwilling to go further, although attempts were made to prod them into changing the Bill in many useful ways.

    What strikes me as strange is that, if there is to be a museum of Scotland, apparently it is to be established on the say-so of the board of trustees. There is no arrangement for a parliamentary order, yet there would be a major switch-over in the formation of the museum of Scotland from the individual museums that are now in existence. I do not think that the Minister can easily slide out of the change by giving the brief explanation that he did. He said that it was to be a signpost of things to come. What is the Government's thinking? When is the signpost to become a reality? How will the measure be enacted? Does the board of trustees have the power to carry through this major structural change, which might have an effect on the staff of the museums, without the consent of the House, another place or the Government? All the responsibility seems to be put into the hands of the board.

    As the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) asked, where is the finance to come from? Will the Government lighten our darkness? Is the situation this, that the House of Lords has foisted the change on the Government, who were unwilling to accept it? If they were willing to accept it, why did they not put it into the Bill when it was first framed and printed?

    The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) is making rather too much of the amendment. The point of the amendment was put by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Henderson). The powers for the board of trustees to set up a museum of Scotland are already implicit in the Bill. However, there is a great deal of public interest in the concept, so it seems reasonable that we should accept the amendment that puts it into the Bill. I say to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) that the amendment gained general support in another place.

    I refer to the details about the museum of Scotland. As I said in Committee and on Report, we must await the report of the advisory committee and its recommendations. Of course, that applies to finance as much as to anything else. However, I hope that the House will recognise that we have increased the provision for the national museums for 1985–86 by some 12 per cent., both generally and in terms of purchase grants. That is a considerable sign of the priority that the Government give to the work of the national museums.

    Finance is not a detail. It is a legitimate question, is it not? There must be some notional price tag attached to the concept of a museum of Scotland. What is that price tag?

    11.45 pm

    We have no notional price tag. We have appointed an advisory board whose membership has been widely regarded as correct for the purpose. We must await its conclusions. I am happy to put on record once more that the Government will give priority to the needs of the national museums in the direction of funds from the capital programme over the coming years.

    The Minister's answer raises the question: priority over what? Will it be priority over teachers' salaries, or what?

    Question put and agreed to.

    Clause 16

    Further Provision As To Board Of National Galleries

    Lords amendment: No. 6, in page 17, line 25, leave out "and".

    I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

    With this it will be convenient to take Lords amendments Nos. 7, 12 and 13.

    The amendments add a requirement that in preparing reports for the Secretary of State on the exercise of their functions, the boards of the national galleries and museums should include information about the effect of admission charges made by the boards.

    The Bill already requires that in such reports the boards shall include a statement of the total amount received by way of admission charges and information in such detail as the board thinks fit about rates of, exemptions from and reductions in admission charges made by the boards. The amendments ensure that when the boards produce such figures a relevant commentary will appear.

    The amendments were tabled in another place by Lord Ross of Marnock and Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, so I hope that they will receive the assent of the Opposition.

    Of course we welcome the amendments. They show that a glimmer of sanity is creeping through the fairly thick cranium of the Conservative party. During the sittings in the House of Lords, Lord Ross of Marnock, Lord Carmichael and others had to teach the Conservatives some sense.

    The Lords, however, did not succeed in getting rid of the main problem — the general question of museum charges. The amendment was tabled in the Lords after a vain attempt there to make the Government drop the nonsense of museum charges. The amendment is a help in that we will now be given information about the effects of museum charges. There is some historical evidence about that. I have quoted it at some length in the House and in Committee, and the question was pursued further in another place.

    It would be useful if the Government could assure us that they do not intend to press the Scottish museum, or the various national museums and galleries in Scotland, to introduce charges. The Government should tell us that now. South of the border, there has been such pressure. The National Maritime museum has already introduced charges. That was the first break in the ranks, and Sir Roy Strong of the Victoria and Albert museum went to great lengths on television last week to explain why he had changed his views. He says that we are no longer living in a welfare-oriented society. We have shifted to a monetary society, and the directors of museums and galleries must follow suit. In other words, because of the pressure on resources, there is pressure on galleries and museums to introduce charges. Indeed, south of the border there has been a fairly direct instruction or suggestion that charges should be introduced.

    When Lord Gowrie opened a library in Ealing on 24 September, he positively encouraged the introduction of charges. He deplored the fact that he could not charge for the loan of books, because that would be illegal. He went on:
    "If a charge is made for peripheral services provided by a library, then the user will appreciate what he or she is getting, use will be restricted to those who really have an interest, rather than a whim, and extra resources are available for the service as a whole."
    First, he says that people will enjoy things better if they pay for them. As I am almost tired of pointing out, that through the ages is the philosophy of the harlot: if you pay for the service, you will enjoy it more. Then the noble Lord says that we should not allow people easy access to drop in merely on a whim. That might encourage the interest of some young people. Let them have an interest first; then make them pay to come in. Thirdly, he says that extra resources will be made available.

    As we have seen with the National Maritime museum, the feeling about the necessity to introduce charges was because resources were being cut.

    This debate is our last chance to get an answer from the Government. Do they intend to introduce charges in Scotland?

    I am encouraged by my reading of the debate in the other place. Lord Gowrie has at least one convert. The main protagonist for the introduction of charges was not a Conservative peer. It was Lord Taylor of Gryfe, speaking, I presume, for the Social Democratic party. I do not see any member of the SDP in the Chamber at the moment, but at least half of the alliance is represented, and perhaps the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) will say whether the Liberals endorse the views of Lord Taylor of Gryfe on behalf of the SDP. After all, the concept of the noble Lord is exactly the same as that of Lord Gowrie: if a charge is made, the user will appreciate what he or she is getting.

    Lord Taylor of Gryfe says that to have to pay to go into a gallery does not discourage him. He maintains that he enjoys it all the more and gets his money's worth. He was talking about seeing the Chagall and Renoir exhibitions. The noble Lord said—

    Order. The hon. Gentleman is not allowed to quote a Member of the other place. He must paraphase. He may quote directly only from a Minister.

    That is a great pity, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I accept your ruling at once. It is unfortunate, because the noble Lord's remarks are well worth quoting. He talked about seeing the Chagall exhibition at the Hayward gallery. In fact, that was the Renoir exhibition. The Chagall exhibition was at the Royal Academy. But so enthusiastic was he about paying to get in and so valuable was the experience of paying that he forgot in which institutions he saw the two exhibitions.

    We are entitled to ask whether the Liberal half of the alliance endorses the view of Lord Taylor of Gryfe.

    My hon. Friend will probably agree that, following the Liberal party conference in Scotland over the past weekend, the alliance is probably as split on this issue as it is on defence.

    Will the hon. Gentleman return his thoughts to Scotland and the possibility of the museum envisaged in the Bill? Does he accept that that there is considerable concern among his own Back-Bench colleagues about finance being made available? If charging were the system whereby additional finance was made available, that would be beneficial, the museum would be nearer to fruition, and everyone would gain. It would be better to have that gain than to adopt the dogmatic approach which seems unfortunately to be creeping into a debate which is supposedly about the heritage, not other spurious factors.

    On the last point, this is very much part and parcel of the argument. My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) has already asked what funds will be coming forward — not a small amount to be supplemented by charges but the amount necessary to fund and develop the museums.

    The third heresy propounded by Lord Gowrie was the statement that extra resources would be available because, if extra resources came forward from charges, Government funding would be cut. That is the whole purpose of the provision.

    We need an assurance today. We want a pledge from the Government that on no account will they encourage this false development, which is alien to our traditions, alien to the benefactions left to our museums and galleries and alien to the traditions of the philanthropists of the past who gave us so many of the objects to be seen there. An assurance to that effect from at least half of the alliance party would also help.

    I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for welcoming the amendment, as I believe he did. I know that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, would not wish me to indulge in a general debate on the subject of charges, but I have said on a number of occasions already that there is no question of the Government forcing trustees to introduce charges. The decision whether or not to charge for special exhibitions or otherwise will be entirely for the trustees.

    As my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Murphy) has said, the amendment will supply information which may stimulate more thoughtful discussion of this issue than is usually evident in some of the doctrinaire pronouncements of the Opposition.

    Question put and agreed to.

    Lords amendment No. 7 agreed to.

    New Clause

    Amendment Of Historic Buildings And Ancient Monuments Act 1953

    Lords amendment: No. 8, after clause 19, insert the following new clause—

    " .—(1) The Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 shall be amended as provided in this section.

    (2) In section 5 (acquisition by the Minister of historic buildings, their contents and adjoining land) after subsection (2) there shall he inserted the following subsection—

    "(2A) Subject as aforesaid, the Minister shall have power to acquire by agreement, whether by purchase, lease or otherwise, or to accept a gift of—

  • (a) any building situated in Scotland and which—
  • (i) is in an area designated as a conservation area under section 262 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972; and
  • (ii) appears to him to be of special historic or architectural interest;
  • (b) any land situated in Scotland and which comprises or is contiguous or adjacent to any building mentioned in paragraph (a) above;
  • (c) any garden or other land which is situated in Scotland and which appears to him to be of outstanding historic interest but which is not contiguous or adjacent to a building which appears to him to be of outstanding historic or architectural interest.".
  • (3) In section 6 (which provides for, amongst other things, grants to the National Trust for Scotland for acquisition of historic buildings)—

  • (a) in subsection (2), at the end there shall be added the words "or of any land or garden contiguous or adjacent thereto or such as is referred to in section 5(2A) of this Act."; and
  • (b) in subsection (4) (extent) for the words "or buildings" there shall be substituted the words "buildings, land or garden".
  • (4) In section 8 (power of Minister to accept endowments of historic buildings)—

  • (a) in subsection (1), for the words "the following provisions" there shall be substituted the words "subsections (2) to (7)"; and
  • (b) after subsection (1) there shall be inserted the following subsection—
  • "(1A) Where any instrument coming into operation after the commencement of this subsection contains a provision purporting to be a gift of property to the Minister upon trust to use the income thereof (either for a limited time or in perpetuity) for or towards the upkeep of a garden or other land acquired or accepted by him under section 5(2A)(c) of this Act or a garden or other land which he proposes so to acquire or accept or for or towards the upkeep of any such garden or other land together with other property situated in Scotland, he may accept the gift and, if he does so and the provision does not constitute a charitable trust, subsections (2) to (6) below shall have effect."; and
    (c) in subsection (4), after the word "building", where first and secondly occurring, there shall be inserted the words ", land or garden".

    I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

    I should inform the House that this amendment involves privilege. It will be convenient to take with it Lords amendment No. 15.

    Although there was no suggestion in our earlier consideration of the Bill that the existing powers in relation to historic buildings and land in Scotland be supplemented, I am aware of the expressions of interest in this in correspondence with Opposition Members in favour of parity with the powers available to the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England established under the National Heritage Act 1983.

    Although it is unlikely that the extended powers will be used in the foreseeable future, I am nevertheless disposed to accept that there would be virtue in bringing the powers available in Scotland more closely into line with those south of the border.

    Amendment No. 15 to the long title is necessary to bring the new clause within the scope of the Bill.

    I can see the point in extending the legislation in the way that the Minister has outlined, but I should have thought that if the Government were aiming for parity with the legislation in England they would have gone the whole way and agreed to a register of gardens in Scotland as I understand that that facility is available under the English legislation.

    I have discussed this, albeit briefly, with the director of the National Trust for Scotland and I had the impression that sympathetic assurances had been given to the trust. At a time when the Government have fallen foul of the teachers and the ratepayers, I should have thought that they would not have wished to fall out of step with the National Trust for Scotland as well. In the interests of protecting the heritage of our gardens, it would seem highly desirable for the Government to agree to a register. I know that several of my hon. Friends have more specific points to put on this matter, and I hope that the Minister will seriously address himself to it.

    On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sympathetic to the alteration of the long title, but I trust that the spelling will be improved from that which appears on the Amendment Paper which says "acient monuments" rather than "ancient monuments".

    12 midnight

    I declare an interest, if not a pecuniary one, in the National Trust for Scotland. For the life of me, I cannot see why my hon. Friend the Minister has not accepted the amendments to bring gardens into this clause, that were tabled in the other place. I welcome the fact that a Minister now has the power to acquire by agreement the Lease of, or to purchase, historic houses, and that includes the purchase, by agreement, of gardens. Subsequently, there is now the power of the National Trust for Scotland to acquire gardens.

    However, why will my hon. Friend not include a register for gardens? After all, there is the power in the English Act, which is clear and there for everyone to see. I accept that my hon. Friend will come back and say—[Interruption.] If Labour Members would only keep quiet, other hon. Members might be able to hear what is going on. I know that my hon. Friend the Minister will say that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has the power to have a register of gardens provided, and the Scottish Development Department and the Countryside Commission for Scotland did a study of gardens in Scotland. However, we cannot prepare the way for the purchase of gardens without having a list to go to and some sort of priority for what gardens might be purchased if they were available.

    We must not forget that gardens are just as important to our heritage as houses and parks, and many of the finest houses that have come into the hands of the National Trust recently have significant and beautiful gardens with them. Therefore, it is important that we have a register of gardens. I would be satisfied with this clause only if my hon. Friend the Minister makes it clear that we shall have such a register, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will use his power to arrange a register of gardens to be put into effect as soon as possible.

    We are not asking for the earth. This list could be compiled relatively inexpensively, but we want one provided, and as soon as possible. I would be happier if I had such an assurance.

    I am honoured to be able to say that I agree with everything that the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) said. I have to say so, because I declare the same interest that he does—a non-pecuniary interest as a member of the council of the National Trust for Scotland.

    As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) says, in a week in which the Government have managed to outrage just about every section of Scottish opinion, including the football supporters, one would have thought that the last thing on earth that they would have wanted to do was to make some more enemies, especially as the National Trust for Scotland holds the tenancy for the Secretary of State's residency in Charlotte square. That might be one of the most popular evictions that could ever take place. In that exceptional circumstance, my right hon. and hon. Friends would not object to that eviction.

    However, a serious point is being made by the National Trust. It is asking for parity in line with legislation for England and Wales. It seems incomprehensible that the Government would stand out and attempt to say that powers that the Secretary of State for Scotland has are identical or even superior to those powers provided by the English legislation. The National Trust for Scotland disagrees vehemently with that, as do a large number of other people.

    I know the strictures of order in quoting from the other place and I shall paraphrase what Lord Taylor of Gryfe had to say on 26 February. He said that it would be logical to have a register of gardens in Scotland similar to that available in England. The Earl of Caithness spoke on behalf of the Government. Whether that was a one-off occasion or whether he has joined the long list of the aristocracy serving the Government I do not know, but he said that he agreed with the logic of Lord Taylor and went on to say that it was already open to the Secretary of State for Scotland to compile a register of historic gardens if he thought that it would be useful. He said that there was no need to seek the specific power which was in Lord Taylor's amendment. That was the assurance given to Lord Taylor and on that basis he withdrew his amendment.

    The National Trust for Scotland has now directly contradicted the assurance given by the Earl of Caithness by specifying that the legislation of 1953 and 1974 for Scotland says:
    "grants may be payable for the upkeep of gardens … of outstanding historic interest".
    But there is no explicit power to compile a register which would provide a basis for distinguishing between various sorts of important and historic gardens. There is a clear distinction between that and the power that is available within the English legislation for compiling such a useful register in such an important area of Scotland's tourist heritage. This is the opportunity for changing the legislation and bringing that about.

    The idea that research is a substitute is to mistake the purpose of the English legislation. There are many valuable gardens throughout Britain. In England they will be compiled and described and prioritised in a register of gardens. But there is no sign either that the powers are available or that the intention of the Secretary of State for Scotland is to compile a similar register, despite the fact, as the National Trust says, that Lord Young, whose meteoric rise to the Cabinet we all noted with interest, has been asked by the Prime Minister to specifically study the tourist industry and its ability to generate jobs, especially for young people. Scotland's gardens are a natural resource and yet the power that exists within the English legislation is being denied to Scotland.

    What is being asked for by the National Trust for Scotland, the matter having been considered by experts within it, it is a reasonable request which the Government could easily concede without contradicting any of the ideological hang-ups that they may have. The very fact that the hon. Member for Dumfries and I, and my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) can be as one on this matter is as good a sign as he will get of that. The National Trust believes that to be a reasonable request and I agree. The Minister should concede the case and try to buy back a fraction of the popularity that the Government have lost in the past few weeks.

    I welcome the new clause, but I was a little disturbed to hear my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary say that he did not envisage the Government using it in the foreseeable future.

    Had the Bill been in force a few months ago, it would have saved considerable problems over Towie Barclay castle in my constituency, because subsection (2A) of the new clause would have covered some adjoining land.

    I declare an interest as a subscribing member of the National Trust. It is well known to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary that the Trust had considerable problems in raising the cash to acquire Fyvie castle, which had some wonderful paintings and tapestries. Difficulties were posed by Sir Ian Forbes Leith, but eventually the money was raised. Subsection (3) of the new clause provides for grants to the National Trust for Scotland for the acquisition of historic buildings, and I hope that the Government will not decide that there is no need for the provision to be used in the foreseeable future.

    More castles in my constituency are liable to be offered to the National Trust and I hope that we shall be able to approach the Government if the trust requires funds to acquire historic buildings for the nation and thereby retain Scotland's historic heritage.

    What is puzzling is why there should be any resistance to the suggestion that a register of gardens should be compiled. What is behind the Government's reluctance? Will the Minister spell out the difficulties?

    Secondly, does the Minister agree with the National Trust for Scotland that gardens are more sensitive to neglect than buildings? If he does not agree, he should say so. If he does agree, surely we ought to have the register that is asked for.

    Thirdly, the 1983 English legislation was clear. What is the objection to our having parity with it?

    May I tell my hon. Friend the Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. McQuarrie) that the powers in the new clause are additional to the Secretary of State's existing powers in relation to buildings of outstanding historic or achitectural interest. I said that the Government had no specific plans to use the new powers, but clearly occasions might arise when it would be appropriate to use them.

    The National Trust warmly welcomes the emendment. The debate is about what is not in the amendment and not about what is in it. I reassure the House that if my right hon Friend the Secretary of State wished to establish a register of gardens in Scotland he could do so. A specific enabling provision is unnecessary.

    Opposition Members gave stated that the National Trust for Scotland places great emphasis in the desirability of using the Bill as a means of securing parity of treatment for Scotland. I appreciate their concern, but the National Heritage Act 1983 did not confer on the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England a specific power enabling it to compile a register.

    The new section 8(c) of the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953, which was created by schedule 4 to the 1983 Act, merely sets out certain procedural steps such as notification to owners, which would have to be taken if a register was set up. Nowhere does the 1983 Act take the specific power to set up a register which the National Trust for Scotland is seeking for north of the border.

    Is the Minister saying that Mr. Lester Borley is wrong in saying that we do not have parity with England, and that the position is the same in England and Scotland?

    Of course I have read the letter from the National Trust. I am trying to explain the technical differences between the positions north and south of the border. I have outlined the position in relation to the Act, but of course hon. Members are more concerned with substance than with technical points. I shall spell out the position in Scotland.

    Last year the Scottish Development Department and the Countryside Commission for Scotland jointly commissioned Land Use Consultants Limited to prepare an inventory of historic gardens and designed landscapes in Scotland. It is worth emphasising that an inventory involves much more detailed information than a register. A register simply consists of a desk study and a half-page narrative on each site. An inventory involves on-site visits, and detailed maps and photographs of the up-to-date position. That study will take two years to complete. It will involve detailed examination of about 250 of the most important gardens and designed landscapes in Scotland in terms of their extent, component features and condition.

    I believe that our decision to join the Countryside Commission for Scotland in commissioning the inventory is ample evidence of our concern for and interest in the subject of historic gardens. So we are taking a different approach from that of the new English commission. But I believe that this very detailed work will be widely welcomed. The inventory will meet the legitimate anxieties of the National Trust that we should all be more aware of this important part of our heritage.

    When we have completed the work — and the work on the inventory has been widely welcomed — we can look at the question of a register, with a half-page description of each site.

    How does the Minister answer the point that the inventory and the register are not mutually exclusive? We are told by the National Trust that the development of the register in England and Wales is leading to advice being given to the owners and managers of gardens that will protect them in the meantime. An inventory will be fine when it is eventually finished, but it does not have the added advantage of the register. We are told that a register will give guidance to all owners and authies in respect of gardens of special historic interest that need our concern for future protection. Surely that is the key difference between the interim stage of drawing up an inventory and the register.

    The information contained in a register is much less than that contained in an inventory. My point is that it is sensible to obtain up-to-date information, with maps, photographs and so on, together with information from on-site visits from the inventory before considering whether to add to that detailed information with a register. Inevitably, that would contain much less information.

    However meritorious the proposal is to have an inventory of gardens with photographs and so on, that would not be available to most people. Have the Government thought of having a summary made of the inventory — in the form of a register or otherwise — that might make such attractions more available to the general public, if not to those with a special interest in such matters?

    The hon. Gentleman makes a perfectly fair point. We have not taken final decisions on the form of publication of the inventory. The information that it contains will certainly be publicly available.

    My hon. Friend is splitting hairs in a monumental manner between the definition of an inventory and a register. Would it not be very much better if he said that the Countryside Commission and the Scottish Development Department are preparing a register of historic gardens for the Secretary of State? We would then all be happy.

    My hon. Friend has made a valuable suggestion. I have tried to explain the difference between the approach in England, which is to provide half-page narratives as a result of desk study, and the more detailed research for Scotland. I assure the House that in the light of the concern expressed by hon. Members I shall reconsider how best we can ensure that the information from the studies is made publicly available.

    Can the Minister give an undertaking that he will see the National Trust formally before coming to a decision?

    I am always available to see the National Trust if it wishes to raise matters that are appropriate for discussion at ministerial level.

    Question put and agreed to.—[Special Entry.]

    Lords amendments Nos. 9 and 10 agreed to.

    Schedule 1

    The Boards

    Lords amendment: No. 11, in page 22, line 35, at end insert—

    "() The Secretary of State shall include amongst the trustees at least one Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland."

    I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

    Hon. Members will recall that when the Bill was considered in the House I emphasised the importance that we attach to maintaining the links between the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland whose collections it founded and over which it presided for so many years. We made a number of changes put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Henderson) to take account of that concern.

    It was suggested at that time, and again on Report by the hon. Members for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) — with the sympathy of some of my hon. Friends — that the Bill should contain a more specific provision to clarify the relationship of the society with the new board of trustees. On reconsidering the point in the light of the representations, we came to the view that the historically unique nature of the society's involvement supported the need for some special arrangement.

    This amendment, therefore, has the effect of requiring that at least one of the trustees appointed by the Secretary of State shall always be a fellow of the society. The society has expressed itself satisfied with this arrangement and I hope that the House will support the amendment.

    I welcome the amendment, but the Minister should wriggle a little more because he pointedly refused the proposal when it was put forward on Report. I know that the hon. Member for Fife, North-East (Mr.

    Henderson) and other hon. Members made the point in Committee about recognising the long association of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. I am glad that the Minister has come round to accepting the points put to him. I should like to see him wriggle a wee bit more in his explanation of how he eventually acceded to our request.

    Question put and agreed to.

    Lords amendments Nos. 12 and 13 agreed to.

    Schedule 2

    Minor And Consequential Amendments

    Lords amendment: No. 14, in page 31, leave out lines 37 to 40 and insert—

    "The Capital Transfer Tax Act 1984 ( c. 51)

    4. In Schedule 3 (which relates to exempt transfers), for the words "The Royal Scottish Museum" there shall be substituted the words "The National Museums of Scotland.""

    I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment. This is a technical amendment.

    Does this technical amendment imply that there was an error in the drafting of the Bill?

    No, Sir, and I will give the technical explanation for the amendment. It replaces the entry at present contained in schedule 2(4). It reflects the fact that the relevant provisions in the Finance Act 1975 were consolidated by the Capital Transfer Tax Act 1984, which came into operation on 1 January 1985. Hence the need for the amendment.

    Question put and agreed to.

    Lords amendment No. 15 agreed to.



    That Mr. Harry Cowans be discharged from the Liaison Committee and Mr. Gordon A. T. Bagier be added to the Committee.—[Mr. Durant.]

    Export Services

    Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.— [Mr. Durant.]

    12.26 am

    I do not think that anybody would put his hand on his heart and say that in 1979 our economy was in a financially sound position. We had inflation going through double figures and rising, a public sector borrowing requirement which was unacceptably high as a percentage of our gross national product, a record number of hours being lost through strikes, a luddite approach to new technology and increasing levels of imports. Indeed, our whole approach to work and produotivity earned us the reputation among our foreign competitors of having the British disease.

    Now, six years on, we have a sound economic base, and for that we must give full credit to the Government for creating an environment in which people are now accustomed to working for their living. Our inflation rate is well into single figures.

    However, we still have immense problems, the major one being unemployment. Whatever reasons may be advanced for our level of unemployment — the demographic profile, the reduction in demand for the products of the traditional industries, the advance of new technologies, and so on — the Government have a responsibility and duty to tackle that problem.

    The economic base on which we can now build is sound, unlike the base that existed in 1979. Among the choices that we now have to increase our economic activity, apart from doing nothing, are to put money into the infrastructure; to increase demand in Britain, with the risk, of course, of increasing imports; to bring about import substitution; or to encourage exports.

    I do not believe in doing nothing. The Lord helps those who help themselves, and I believe that the most effective steps that we could take to improve the nation's economic activity would be to help exports, which is the main topic of this debate. Such help would be appropriate because we are a trading nation.

    I refer in particular to support for our exporters, because the multiplying effect that could come from such assistance would be more effective in giving value for money by generating necessary economic activity in the United Kingdom. Any increased export help would produce some additionality — though I accept the difficulty in quantifying the value of that additionality—and would reduce the nation's social cost of unemployment.

    I should like to deal with the whole range of export supports, but in the time available I can make only a few broad points and then refer specifically to certain areas of the aid and trade provisions and the role of the British Overseas Trade Board.

    On the broad points, I should at the outset record the value of the strength of the interlocking operation that we have between the Foreign Office and the Department of Trade and Industry.

    British exporters have mentioned the improvements that have come about over the past five years, and Foreign Office figures show the response that has been generated. There were about 43,000 market inquiries in 1980, and in 1983 there were 64,000. Visitors to overseas posts amounted to 66,000 in 1979 and in 1983 they had risen to 77,000. There has been a switch of emphasis in the role of staff within our overseas missions with about 30 per cent. of the staff now being engaged on commercial work. Work in the commercial sector is now a part of standard Foreign Office training.

    The Foreign Office carries out an in-depth review every four years. It is a blockbuster review. The British Overseas Trade Board evaluates its resources every year. I ask my right hon. Friend to take steps to get the Foreign Office to carry out a mini commercial evaluation each year to reflect especially market changes. The changes that are taking place in countries around the Pacific basin are developing at an enormous rate. There is always the tendency to say, "We won't do anything until the review is agreed and out of the way." I think that we can respond slightly quicker than that.

    I should also like to see more activity and resources being put into the countries that can pay the bills. We should take a leaf out of our competitors' books. France and Germany, for example, are concentrating their overseas missions in the countries that are able to pay for the services that they receive.

    On the second point I would like to make, it is important that we get the best value out of our aid programme. That is the approach of every major contributor to overseas aid. I believe that British companies are concerned to know whether we are making the best use of the expenditure that is voted for the aid programme. Other major aid donors, such as France, Japan and Germany, give a far smaller proportion of their total aid programme to multilateral agencies. They prefer to keep the bulk available for their own Governments' use.

    Multilateral organisations play an invaluable role, but why should multilateral contributions represent a higher percentage of our total aid programme in terms of GDP than those of other countries? Moreover, the multilateral funded projects are let on an internationally competitive basis. The British companies that win would have won irrespective of the size of our contribution. We can probably all produce tables to prove that point.

    I also would like to ask why we give such a high proportion of our bilateral aid in the form of 100 per cent. grants. According to the 1983 aid commitment, France had more than $1 billion in the form of soft loans, Germany had about $900 million and Japan had $2·4 billion. The United Kingdom had only about $180 million in forms other than 100 per cent. grants. That means that other countries are prepared to offer lower subsidies in their aid. That in turn means that, for a given amount of subsidy, they can capture more business. I put it to my right hon. Friend that it might be more sensible to have more aid in the form of aid and trade provisions where a grant of about 20 to 30 per cent. is linked to export credit support and so generate perhaps four times the business that might come from 100 per cent. grants.

    I believe that, for the first time for many years, last year's budget was spent completely. I do not know whether that occurred because there was more flexibility in the sectors or in the time scales or because the projects and exports policy ratio was allowed to exceed the three times factor. Whatever it was, it is welcome.

    Any comment on aid and trade inevitably draws with it the Byatt report, which is concerned with the Government having to pay benefit now and collect later. The report raises doubts about whether benefits will outweigh costs and about the value of additionality. Although the Byatt report is correct in asking questions about whether value for money is obtained, it tends to gloss over the fact that Britain is a trading nation. We obtain 33 per cent. of our GNP from exports and we do not live in a vacuum. We have to compete and sell in international markets if we are to survive. I am worried about the fact that previous areas of traditional excellence are under threat. Sectors in the electro-technical industry provide a typical example. In 1966 they had a positive trade balance in their favour of 37·8 per cent.; in 1983, that trade balance had dropped to 10·4 per cent. We cannot afford to lose such a percentage of the market share implicit in those figures.

    I hope that the different rate of subsidy through "consensus" is closer to market rates today and will give better value for money. I believe that that has happened since the Byatt report appeared. Nevertheless, I should repeat what was said in the report on 15 March 1984 by the Comptroller and Auditor General about the Export Credits Guarantee Department. The report stated:
    "The National Economic Development Office seriously questioned many of the key assumptions underlying the Byatt study findings."
    We would do well to continue to question those assumptions, because, whatever else we do, we are tied to the international market scene. The cost of staying in and matching our competitors' support — unfair as it might be sometimes — will be considerably less than opting out and trying to get back into those markets later. I hope that active investigation will take place into the value of increasing the aid and trade provision.

    I should like to refer to the proposed changes to the British Overseas Trade Board's funding of overseas trade fairs and its effect on small and medium-sized companies. I mention that point because of my long-standing interest in small businesses and the fact that I am a vice-chairman of the Small Business Bureau and have been actively involved with small business ever since I became a Member of Parliament. Using the BOTB's definition of a small company as one that employs 200 or fewer employees, in 1983, 7,348 companies participated in overseas fairs. More than 5,000 of them were small businesses.

    Working on the maxim that if one does not show one does not sell, I am worried that if we allow our support to the overseas trade fairs to erode the smaller companies will lose out. The larger companies have resources and can afford to go to the fairs; the small companies cannot. I appreciate the fact that more emphasis is to be given to putting the newcomers, rather than the regulars, on to the overseas trade fair scene. I suggest that that should be a separate argument and not one to reduce support for the regular companies which participate in overseas trade fairs. I am concerned about the proposal to reduce the travel rebate, giving it only to first-timers. It takes a considerable time to become established in overseas markets. It is not achieved by calling at the door for the first time. I understand that in one industry sector which normally takes part in six fairs a year, one fair has been lost and another is under threat. I hope that my right hon. Friend will consider that.

    I started the Adjournment debate by mentioning improvements in support given to exporters over the past five years. I hope that my comments and requests for further support will be regarded as constructive, and not as criticism. I trust that they will be examined for their viability in boosting United Kingdom exporters and employment.

    12.40 am

    I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Page) for raising this important topic. I congratulate him on putting his finger on so many important points of great interest to British business and exporters.

    My hon. Friend's interest in small firms is well known. I hope to show him that what we are doing will help small firms and that we are interested in trying to enable small firms to export profitably. I agreed with a great deal of what my hon. Friend said about the importance of a sound economic base, the great improvements that have taken place over the past few years and the importance of trying to help exporters at present.

    I am grateful for my hon. Friend's well-deserved tribute to the work of the commercial staff of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and I shall ensure that his remarks are drawn to the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary. I strongly agree with them.

    I hope that I shall be able to deal with most of the points that my hon. Friend mentioned. The activities of ECGD, the aid programme, a wide range of visits overseas by Ministers and our trade policy work, aimed at keeping an open trading system, all help our export trade effort, as are the export promotion services under the guidance of the business men on the British Overseas Trade Board. The aim is to help smaller and medium-sized companies with the regulatory, technical and commercial difficulties of getting into new markets. We work with firms to grasp opportunities and enter markets that can and do pay for the goods that they receive. When the firms are established their sales should pay for the full costs. There is help for big firms as well, in particular in countries where relations with the Government are crucial, and we try to help with securing major project business. My hon. Friend referred to the aid and trade provision, and I shall return to that subject later.

    I agreed with what my hon. Friend said about how we must ensure that we make the best use of the money and manpower paid for by the taxpayer in achieving our objectives.

    We must obtain good value for money from the BOTB's budget. Next year that will be a net cash amount of £27·7 million. Those services are focused on newcomers to markets and smaller firms. From the surveys and questionnaires that have been sent out, it is clear that the export services are helping small firms. Up to three quarters of the users have fewer than 200 employees, and the measures designed to concentrate the help more clearly on newcomers to markets will help concentrate efforts on small firms even more. A number of things have happened in recent years which have helped in that—for example, the lower limits on the terms of the market entry guarantee scheme to help small firms, and the provision of £100 worth of free advice to small firms on the technical requirements of overseas markets. I could give other examples if time permitted.

    My right hon. Friend determines the overall budget for all those activities as part of the normal public expenditure process, and he has to take into account the overall priorities within his Department. Everybody could do with a bit more, not least the BOTB, but a bit more for everybody is not consistent with the proper control of public expenditure.

    The detailed allocation of resources is under the guidance of the BOTB. It issued a consultation paper, and there were a great many replies which in general supported the emphasis on newcomers and smaller firms. The board has been very sympathetic to those points. It has modified its original proposals for providing travel grants for missions and those manning stands at overseas trade fairs to spread them over a long period and to give the opportunity for some more experienced exporters to take part, as was suggested in so many of the comments that have been received.

    We are also trying very hard to find new firms with the capability to export and which can be helped. The regional offices were set a target last year of making 4,000 new contacts on the export side; in fact, they came up with 6,000. My hon. Friend may have seen the advertisements for the £150 introductory offer for firms which have not used BOTB services before. That alone brought in 500 new firms in the last few months of 1984. We did an analysis of a sample of those new customers in one of the regional offices, and it showed a high proportion of small firms, 98 per cent. with fewer than 200 employees, 89 per cent. with fewer than 50, and two-thirds with 10 or fewer employees. So it is very much targeted to helping small firms.

    My hon. Friend rightly mentioned the importance of the aid and trade provision, which is a key element frequently in securing projects for British companies in developing countries. I note his views about the balance between the bilateral and the multilateral aid programme. That again is a matter primarily for my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development, but I note my hon. Friend's view. Since its introduction in 1977, ATP support of about £350 million has secured 95 projects with a United Kingdom content of £1,500 million — a dam in Malaysia, an undersea cable in Indonesia, a coal mine in Egypt, a power station in India, the upgrading of an airport in Sri Lanka. They are some examples of orders won for British companies. When we win orders such as those, frequently only 20 per cent. of the value stays with the major contractor. About two thirds of the value might go to a wide range of smaller firms scattered round the country.

    The £1,500 million of orders that I have mentioned will have led to many thousands of man years of work for a wide range of British companies. They will lead also to follow-on business in a variety of ways, either through repeat projects in the same developing countries or because of the shop window effect leading to similar projects in other countries.

    If one wins a project, and a firm secures or maintains a presence in a developing country, that firm will be far better placed to win a range of future projects. Those benefits are, in the jargon, additional. Without ATP, the projects would have gone to other aid offers, typically from the French or Japanese, but indeed almost from any developed country, such is the growing intensity of international competition.

    ATP was introduced to match the practices of others, and more and more countries have introduced similar measures. There is growing concern internationally about the potential trade distortions which arise from the increasing use of those measures, and it is certainly not in Britain's interests for trade to be determined by the amount of public finance countries are willing to provide for capital projects in developing countries. Within the OECD my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and I are pressing, with strong American support, for steps to control and reduce such distortions. But while those distortions exist my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and I are not prepared to disarm unilaterally to the disadvantage of British companies. I welcome my hon. Friend's robust support in this matter, which heartens us in our task. I note his views on the Byatt report and I echo what he says about the effects of the consensus and better value for money as time goes on. I note his references to the NEDO report.

    It is, or course, crucial that ATP should be operated as effectively as possible. It is particularly necessary to cut down bureaucracy, because inevitably a number of Departments are involved. We have taken some important steps towards streamlining those procedures. New delegated authorities to ODA mean less frequent consultations with the Treasury, although the Treasury has an important role in this matter. It is certainly my aim that no British company should lose a project because Whitehall has been dragging its feet. My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the importance of ATP, and I shall ensure that his points are carefully studied.

    Let me put in perspective what my hon. Friend has been saying. He said that we are a trading country. Last year we saw some significant achievements by British firms in exporting. The volume of our exports in 1984 went up by approximately 7½ per cent., and that is not — I repeat, not — mainly oil. Leaving out erratic items, our manufacturing exports, for example, increased by 10 per cent. over the previous year. That healthy upward trend is continuing with the trade figures for February that came out last week. Leaving out the erratic items, the past three months compared with the same three months a year ago showed that our exports of manufactured goods are up 12 per cent. That is much higher than the volume increase in similar terms for imports, which was about half that figure. That is a highly important factor in the overall growth of output in this country. My hon. Friend is right about that. Today we saw further evidence that that momentum is continuing from the Confederation of British Industry survey, which stated that the balance of firms reporting that export orders were above normal was the highest since 1977.

    Those figures are very good. However, one does not want only figures. Perhaps one wants to look at the actual cases occasionally. For example, when I look at some of the 250 applications for the Export Award for Smaller Businesses, I find them extraordinary in what they manage to achieve and the way that they are scattered all round the country. For example, a company making split key rings with 19 employees has doubled its exports for the past two years. A firm of 10 employees making church furnishings raised its exports from £5,000 in 1983 to nearly £500,000 in 1984. I could go on giving other examples.

    The common theme is a strong spirit of enterprise, the will to get on and overcome the difficulties and a great deal of professionalism in running companies and getting into exports. Such small companies have problems in finding the right markets, investigating them and then getting a foothold in them. That is where the export services can and, I believe, do help. A small amount invested in helping those firms brings a flow of extra exports over the years. That is good both for the firms and for the United Kingdom. It helps firms spread the risk between different markets and exposes them to new ideas in product development and marketing from the international competition, which in turn helps to improve performance at home. Also, those exports bring new demand into the country, and that means more jobs for the firms themselves and the towns and villages where they are based.

    My hon. Friend has done the House a service tonight in allowing me to outline to the House our priorities in this area and our commitment to export promotion. Of course, no programme can be exempt from rigorous public expenditure scrutiny and restraint, but I believe that the measures that the Government are taking will be effective in producing more exports and more jobs, particularly for smaller firms.

    My hon. Friend raised several detailed points about the BOTB's proposals, which it announced this afternoon, for the detailed allocation of its budget. I shall make sure that the board carefully considers what my hon. Friend has said.

    One of the reasons why there is a lower budget share for fairs, which particularly concerned my hon. Friend, is that the income from the charges for that service has been increased, particularly from those firms that have been going regularly for some time and are established in the market. There will be some cutback in the number of events supported in the next two years, but I hope that the higher percentage discount for first-timers in particular will make better use of resources and be helpful to small firms trying to break into a market for the first time. It is for the BOTB and the business men who run it to make proposals for the detailed allocation of money. That is a sensible way of running a programme that is designed primarily to be of use to British business.

    Our export services do a good job. The figures for 1985 are encouraging. My hon. Friend raised several extremely valuable points, including the one about the Foreign and Commonwealth Office review. We are in constant touch with the Foreign Office on staffing. We make changes in between its four-year reviews — for example, we recently strengthened the New York office.

    I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this important debate, which will be of considerable use to us.

    Question put and agreed to.

    Adjourned accordingly at five minutes to One o'clock.