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Volume 175: debated on Monday 2 July 1990

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To ask the Minister for the Arts whether he will make a statement on the public display of paintings.

I have been much impressed by the recent expansion of the range of paintings on display in London, including the new Courtauld Institute galleries and the generous loan of the Berggruen collection to the national gallery. There are, of course, many other developments outside London.

My right hon. Friend's answer reveals that the position not just in London but in the provinces is very good. Will he redouble his efforts to ensure by the use of loan paintings and the reserve collection that people who do not live in London can see the excellent pictures available in the metropolis?

My hon. Friend is, of course, right. A special exhibition and travelling unit advises on such matters at the Museum and Galleries Commission. There are now more loans available throughout the country and more objets d'art are outside the cellars and on display, but there is still a long way to go. As for London, I noted the other day that the chairman of the national gallery, Lord Rothschild, said that he believed that London is now the paintings capital of the world. In view of the remarkable developments of the last few years, I am sure that he is right.

May I draw the attention of the Minister and of the Opposition spokesman, my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher), to the resumption of the exhibition of paintings and art by Members of both Houses? The exhibition opens officially tomorrow morning, but the works are already displayed in all their glory. There are some fine exhibits on show and admission is free. After a two-year gap, there are some splendid contributions this year. Modesty prevents my saying any more.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for drawing to the attention of the House and the outside world once again the hidden talents available in the Chamber.