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"Stratford Mill" (Valuation)

Volume 115: debated on Friday 1 May 1987

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asked the Minister for the Arts what criteria were used in selecting the two sources of outside advice on the valuation proposed by the offerers of Constable's Stratford Mill in satisfaction of inheritance tax; what steps were taken to avoid a potential conflict of interest on the part of those sources of advice; what attempts were made to obtain a counter-check on their valuations; and if he will make a statement.

The Government are advised on valuations for works of art by their expert advisers in particular fields. The expert advisers, who are selected according to their professional expertise, act independently on behalf of the Government. In this case, in view of the importance of the painting, two separate valuations were obtained from advisers in the National gallery and the Tate gallery.

asked the Minister for the Arts what indications he received as to the precise time limit governing a decision on whether or not to accept Constable's Stratford Mill, in satisfaction of inheritance tax; what steps he took to check the necessity for such a time limit; and if he will make a statement.

It was important to reach a decision as quickly as possible in this offer of a painting of great quality.

asked the Minister for the Arts what discussions he had with the chairman of the Museums and Galleries Commission regarding the implications of the deadline for a decision on acceptance of Constable's Stratford Mill in' lieu of tax for the practicability and desirability of consulting the Commission as a whole; how many members of the Commission were actually consulted and by what criteria they were selected; and if he will make a statement.

I have discussed with the chairman of the Museums and Galleries Commission the arrangements for acceptances in cases where a short deadline for decision may be imposed, and I have asked him to consult the commissioners on how best to ensure that I receive good and speedy advice in such cases.