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Building Refurbishments

Volume 175: debated on Monday 2 July 1990

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To ask the Minister for the Arts what programme of refurbishment of buildings within the responsibility of the Office of Arts and Libraries has been established.

I am allocating £180 million over the next three years towards the building programmes of the national museums and galleries which I sponsor. The current year's allocation of £57 million represents a 75 per cent. real terms increase over 1979–80.

Will my right hon. Friend also confirm that the private sector has played a major role in refurbishing and repairing our museum buildings? Will he congratulate those responsible for the major refurbishment work on the facade of the Victoria and Albert museum which is turning out splendidly and rising phoenix-like from its scaffolding? Will he also—

I agree with my hon. Friend about the remarkable contribution of the private sector to the refurbishment of national galleries, including the V and A. By contrast, £5 million of extra private sector money has been made available for the British museum by the Japanese to help open the Japanese galleries. There are several other examples. Most notably, Lord Wolfson has joined the Government in a joint funding exercise to help with the improvement of the national galleries in our country.

While I am pleased with the reaction of so many of the people with responsibility for some of our public buildings and the arts aspects of them, does the Minister agree that we need long-term funding for many buildings which have fallen into disrepair? That funding is urgently required, not just for the next year or two, but for the next decade or two.

I take the right hon. Gentleman's point seriously. That is why I made a speech in York last September about longer-term funding for the fabric of our national institutions, particularly the national museums and galleries. It is for that reason that, with the co-operation of my colleagues in the Government, I decided to allocate £180 million for that purpose for the next three years. I have given an undertaking that it is the Government's task, job and duty to ensure that the fabric of those institutions in particular will be in good shape for the next decade.