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Museums Sector

Volume 643: debated on Thursday 21 June 2018

Museums play an important role in our lives and in society. The Mendoza review of museums was published last November, and my Department is implementing its recommendations to improve support of the sector. The sector continues to be supported by more than £800 million of public funds.

Will the Minister do all he can to support my campaign to encourage national cultural institutions to engage with the Island, for education and regeneration purposes? Does he agree that the Island, with its unique relationship with the arts and sciences over the centuries, should be a perfect partner for many of those institutions?

I very much agree with my hon. Friend about the benefits of the Isle of Wight. I visited it last year, and Osborne House is just one of its many attractions. Arts Council England South West has identified the cultural development of the Isle of Wight as one of its key activities for 2018 to 2020, and we support that.

Happy midsummer’s day to you, Mr Speaker, and to everyone else.

It is wonderful that we have free museums, but is it not a fact that not enough kids from lower income families go to them? Is it not time we did something about that? The school holidays are nearly here, and most of the things that kids want to go to in London are very expensive.

Of course, it continues to be our policy that museums are free to enter. People of all backgrounds can and do visit them, and they are very busy during the holiday period. We always want to do more to increase access to museums, and that is a constant focus for me and my Department.

I was struck by the awful tragedy of the fire at the Glasgow School of Art, and my heart goes out to everyone affected. It is my intention to visit it as soon as that can be arranged, and we are in constant discussions on the subject of how and if we can help.

I declare an interest as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on industrial heritage. I thank the Minister for meeting me to discuss our recent report. Does he agree that our museums need to give greater attention to the Royal Ordnance munitions factories in world war two, where so many women, including my grandmother, worked and made such a contribution to the war effort?

I enjoyed my meeting with the hon. Gentleman. Yes, indeed: there is a great deal to be gained by visits to ordnance museums and many other areas where women played an integral and key part during both world wars, and before and since.

The Minister’s meeting with the hon. Gentleman must have been a culturally up-market affair indeed.

The Secretary of State will be aware, as will the Minister, of the tragic fire at the Glasgow School of Art and the Mackintosh Museum. We are extremely grateful for the comments that have been put on the record. Will the Secretary of State give his personal commitment to look at a fund for local traders and community members affected? Will he also join me in welcoming Glasgow’s bid to host the new Channel 4 headquarters and agree that the presence of Channel 4 in Glasgow, with its wealth of talent and creativity, would send a strong message that the channel is indeed for everyone in the UK?

The issue of where Channel 4 goes is of course a matter for it. Glasgow’s iconic landmark is well recognised. I know about Mackintosh’s work because there is a Mackintosh property in Northampton that is highly regarded. We will be looking at this. All options are open with regard to the hon. Lady’s point.

I call Andrew Rosindell. [Interruption.] Oh, what a shame—we were going to hear about more international sport being played in the UK. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is well, but I am afraid he is not here and we must move on.