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Natural History Museum

Volume 177: debated on Monday 23 July 1990

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98.

To ask the Minister for file Civil Service if he will make a statement on his meeting with the IPMS to discuss the future of personnel at the natural history museum.

I have recently received a request from the general secretary of the Institution of Professionals, Managers and Specialists for a meeting. I have indicated that I will be happy to meet Mr. Brett and his officials at an appropriate time.

Would an appropriate time be before 30 September? Will the right hon. Gentleman place in the Library his responses to the letters that he has had from the Smithsonian? What does the Minister think about the 950 letters that he has received from distinguished institutions around the world pleading the case of the natural history museum?

With regard to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I see no reason why the meeting should not be before 30 September. It should be possible to arrange something during September. Of course, I shall consider placing the exchange of letters in the Library as the hon. Gentleman suggested. I shall see what can be done. I remind the hon. Gentleman, as I have done before, that the natural history museum does an outstanding job and I stress that all collections at the museum continue to be accessible to the outside world. Researchers and staff will be available to give advice and if special research is necessary it is possible to make contractual arrangements for that with the museum.