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Departmental Budget

Volume 164: debated on Monday 18 December 1989

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83.

To ask the Minister for the Arts what is the increase in his Department's budget for the coming three years.

Between 1989–90 and 1992–93 my Department's budget will increase by 24 per cent.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that welcome reply. What is in his budget for an improved programme of building and maintenance for our national galleries and museums?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend because one of the most important parts of my recent decision to increase the three-year funding is to put added focus on improving the fabric of our national museums and galleries to ensure that they are in good shape during the 1990s. It is a campaign of unprecedented importance and I have earmarked £180 million over the next three years to that effect.

In this the 150th year of photography, do not the Government stand condemned for doing precious little about such a major and important historical event? Will the Minister ensure that some cash from that 24 per cent. rise in his budget goes into photography so that young photographers and galleries can do something for themselves, because the Government, typically, are doing nothing for them?

I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman's question. He knows that the science museum in Bradford has an extension housing the national museum of photography, film and television. It is a major centre of great importance to the whole of the country. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman should suggest that there is little support for photography. This evening I am going to the royal academy to view a major exhibition of photography. There is a great deal of support for photography throughout the country.