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Museums And Galleries (Prohibition Of Admission Charges) Bill Hl

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 1 May 1986

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7.5 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—( Lord Jenkins of Putney.)

My Lords, before the Question is put, may I say that when this Bill was debated on Second Reading there were many pleas that we should allow it to go to Committee so that it could be carefully discussed in detail? When it first came to Committee, I ventured to protest that it came on very late at night and that that was unsuitable for a Bill whose provisions all of us who attended thought were important.

The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, accepted that point with his usual courtesy and put himself in the hands of the House. I have no doubt that he was correct in interpreting the feelings of the House; that as we were all there and as a Second Reading of a prior Bill had been withdrawn, we should go on with the Committee stage. As I have said, I believe that the noble Lord was right in saying that that was the feeling of the House.

Nevertheless, there was very soon an early Division in which there was no quorum in the Lobbies. As a result, the Committee stage was then adjourned. The Bill now comes before your Lordships with a great deal to discuss in the dinner interval only. I certainly do not oppose the Motion that your Lordships should now go into Committee on the Bill, but I say that it is a most inconvenient way of dealing with a matter of considerable importance. My view is that we cannot possibly finish the Committee stage this evening in the dinner hour. If the remaining Committee proceedings are either going to be in a dinner hour or very late at night—and some of us have to travel a considerable distance because we attach importance, like the noble Lord, to these matters—it is not treating the subject matter, to which we all attach great importance, with the seriousness that it deserves.

This Bill cannot possibly pass into law this Session. However, there is the duty on your Lordships' Chamber to see that it is put in proper order and not left indefinite and with questions outstanding. That means that there must be serious discussion in Committee. I venture to say only this to the noble Lord. If we cannot finish the Committee stage this evening perhaps he will be good enough, having made his point on Second Reading although in a very sparsely attended House, to call it a day and leave the Bill for the remainder of the Session and, with his usual enthusiasm, introduce it again next Session. It is really a most inconvenient course to have the Committee stage either very late at night, as it was on our previous Sitting, or in the dinner hour when there is a great deal of great importance to discuss.

My Lords, I hope that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, will allow us to make progress. A private Member, of course, as the noble and learned Lord knows, is in no position to select time. He has to take the time that is available to him. In all the circumstances I hope that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, will, as I think he has already indicated, allow us to go ahead in the hope that we make good progress in the time available to us.

My Lords, I think the protest of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, is well justified. It is an important Bill. It is a fact that, whoever is responsible, the Bill was pushed in at the end of the day when it was unreasonable to expect a reasonable House to deal with it. Now we have come to the Committee stage, having progressed through Second Reading, and we find that it is in the dinner hour when, of necessity, it is confined to a period of time when one cannot hope to do justice to the number of amendments on the Marshalled List.

While I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, that it is not for a private Member to arrange the allocation of time for these matters, perhaps he will forgive me if I say that private Members, in trying to work the parliamentary system as it is, have certain responsibilities. I have always argued that private Members' responsibility in this field is not to use the Private Member's Bill procedure for matters which are of full national consequence. The procedure carries responsibilities and powers that are not within the realm of private Members to adjust to their time.

The Private Member's Bill procedure is a valuable one but, in my judgment, it should be used on matters which do not involve the whole of what would be national policy on an issue but should be on matters of amending existing legislation or inviting legislation. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, in wanting to implement his very strong views on this important national matter, did wrong in not first of all convincing his own party which has the power to decide certain allocations of parliamentary time, that he had a good case so that this important issue could have been given, under the normal procedures, the time that it deserves. Therefore, I think that the protest by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, is well justified and I hope that a lesson will be learned both by Members on the Front Benches, who arrange the times, and by Back-Bench Members when they choose subjects on which to use the Private Member's Bill procedure.

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Jenkins is perfectly in order to bring a Bill on this subject at any time that he wants. The noble lord, although he may have been in order, was quite wrong in spirit and sentiment in what he said.

We have now spent a quarter of an hour talking about whether the Committee stage should go ahead. May I suggest that if any noble Lord wants to move that the Committee stage should not go ahead he does so now; otherwise we should get on and not spend any more time talking about it?

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly on Clause 2.

[The LORD STRABOLGI in the Chair.]

Clause 2 [ Prohibition of admission charges]:

In calling Amendment No. 1, I remind your Lordships that the debate upon it was adjourned at the previous Sitting pursuant to Standing Order 55. Unless, therefore, the noble Lord wishes to continue the debate, I shall now put the Question.

7.15 p.m.

moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 11, at end insert ("without the approval of the Arts Council of Great Britain.").

The noble Lord said: We have already been reminded of what happened on the last occasion. There was not a quorum, so the amendment I had moved could not be accepted on a vote. Therefore, I shall now repeat my amendment, although I shall not necessarily repeat the whole of the argument.

Perhaps the noble Lord will give way. The point at which the proceedings came to an end was when all the debate had taken place and the Question had been put for a Division to take place. Surely, in view of what has now been said both by the noble Lord and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, it should now be for the noble Lord to have the Question put, as the Chairman suggested as one of the alternatives. We all have Hansard before us. The noble Lord put his case very strongly and eloquently when we last sat, and I think it would be taking up his own time and that of the Committee to repeat it.

I was in the process of saying that I did not intend to repeat my speech but since we had to adjourn on the previous Sitting because there was no one to hear my speech and, therefore, insufficient Members for it to become effective, it seems to me reasonable that now noble Lords are present who have the authority to do something about it they should know what the argument is all about. I intend to push my amendment again to a vote. It is as well that the people I suggest should join me in the Lobby should know what the argument is about.

The argument is clear. This Private Member's Bill removes from the trustees of museums and galleries (trustees who are eminent and illustrious from every point of view) the right given to them under an Act that was passed by both Houses of Parliament in 1972 to decide how they should obtain money to carry out their functions as trustees, in addition to the grants given by government. They have instituted schemes such as opening shops, and so on, and in some cases making a charge or asking for donations in order, as they see it, to carry out their functions as trustees most efficiently.

This Bill removes that power from them. It was a principle decided when we voted on Second Reading. That vote was marginal—indeed I believe 34 votes carried the day. It did not truly reflect on such an important matter what I consider to be the real view of this House. One had to accept the principle because the Second Reading received a majority and, under the procedures of the House, that principle had to be accepted as being the desire of the House.

However, in Committee it is the right and duty of Members who feel that that principle is a bad principle and ought not to be allowed to go through in its full form, to try, if they feel strongly about it, to amend it to a point where the objectionable removal of all the powers from all the trustees is replaced with something which does not remove those powers, which recognises the principle of the Second Reading vote but which retains some powers for the trustees to carry out their functions as we expected them to do when they were appointed as trustees.

On the basis that our Second Reading vote means that the trustees should not have complete power to charge or to ask for donations, my amendment proposes that where the trustees consider it right to charge in the interests of maintaining the museum at its proper level of excellence, as every other country does and as Apsley House and the Tower of London do one could give a whole list of places where it has been accepted that people who enjoy viewing and learning from treasures should pay—they should be able to charge only if the Arts Council does not disapprove of it. This really means an extra tier of decision before the general principle of making no charge is breached. So the amendment does not move away completely from the principle decided on Second Reading: it makes use of powers possessed by trustees—trustees whose standing is such that they should have that responsibility.

In the debate that took place prior to the Committee being adjourned my noble friend Lord Eccles, who, in 1972, introduced the Act under which the powers were given to the trustees, said that he did not like my amendment. I was arguing that the trustees could have powers to charge if the Arts Council agreed. My noble friend said:
"If, however, one compares the councillors of the Arts Council with the distinguished trustees of museums, it would clearly be ridiculous to give the Arts Council power to override the museum trustees".—[Official Report, 20/3/86; col. 1123.]
That is not what my amendment does. However as one or two people may have been influenced, as rightly they should, by the eminence of my noble friend Lord Eccles, I should add that the Arts Council is not being given the power to charge. The power to charge would still be left with the trustees. It would be a power that could not be implemented unless it had gone through the further sieve of the Arts Council saying that from an arts point of view it did not find the proposal objectionable. I feel that this is going some way along the lines of the Bill itself, while preserving the vital ingredient of allowing the trustees to carry out their function, which was the intention when they were appointed.

My noble friend on the Front Bench, speaking on behalf of the Government, did not altogether accept my arguments on the adjourned Committee stage. He said that,
"it does not fulfil the important point of principle that trustees should be free to exercise their judgment in the discharge of their responsibilities."—[Official Report 20/3/86; col. 1123.]
I agree with my noble friend. I would much prefer that the trustees, appointed for their quality, should have the power given to them under the 1972 Act to make the decision and to implement it without having to refer to anyone else. The principle that my noble friend wanted to preserve means that he would not take any account of the Bill we are now considering. I am saying that half a loaf is better than no bread. Rather than the trustees giving up the complete power under any circumstances to be able to do what they think right, I would settle for them having to satisfy themselves through having to obtain Arts Council agreement before the implementation could take place.

The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, criticised the merit of my argument. I had to remind him, and I remind your Lordships again now—it is the common sense of the argument—that I introduced to your Lordships' House the Theatre Trust Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, is vice-chairman of the Theatre Trust. The power of the Theatre Trust is that any planning authority has to have the agreement of the trust before planners can carry out what they think right in regard to altering the use of anything used as a theatre. That principle accords exactly with my amendment. One is leaving the powers with the trustees and making them go through another sieve to make sure that they are not doing anything outrageous and wrong. One is not quite achieving the principle that my noble friend wanted, but it is a step nearer to what we believe right. By voting for the amendment that I shall be submitting in a moment, I believe that we shall be nearer to what my noble friend wanted.

Before pursuing the matter, the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, should have asked himself why, on the last occasion, he failed to secure any support from his own Front Bench. He failed to secure the support of the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, who was the architect of theatre charging. If anyone is enthusiastic about theatre charging it is the noble Viscount. The reason is that the amendment is a nonsense. I hesitate to suggest to the noble Lord that it is deliberately a wrecking amendment: however, I have not heard anything in my whole parliamentary experience that sounded more like a wrecking amendment.

The noble Lord must be aware that the Arts Council has nothing to do with the matter. The noble Lord is trying to place upon the Arts Council a duty that the council would reject out of hand. The moneys that go to the museums affected by the Bill come direct from the Ministry. They pass nowhere near the Arts Council. To give the council a duty to intervene on a matter that is not within its purview is a function that it would reject out of hand.

Without further ado, I hope that noble Lords will recognise the amendment for what it is. Let us by all means have serious discussion upon the amendments which follow, but an amendment designed to destroy the Bill out of hand—a Bill that has already been given a Second Reading—is one that should not be allowed to waste your Lordships' time any longer.

I am not entirely in accord with the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins. This is a perfectly reasonable amendment. The Bill is formed on a hypothesis. The hypothesis is that the trustees are pusillanimous, weak-kneed, incompetent and mean spirited because they do not really have the public interest at heart. 'That is the hypothesis on which the Bill is founded. I concede that, from some people's point of view, it is a reasonable hypothesis. People are perfectly entitled to take that view of trustees of our museums and galleries.

I would, however, suggest that there is another hypothesis. That is the advent of a new government which immediately falls into financial difficulties; there is a run on the pound; there is high inflation; and immediately there are demands from the unions, understandably, whose members work in museums and galleries. All this will lead to a substantial diminution in real terms of the grant that the museums and galleries receive. This is an hypothesis. I do not believe that it is any less reasonable an hypothesis than the hypothesis on which the Bill is founded. If, however, this hypothesis is taken the amendment tries to say: "Look, the trustees will be placed in an impossible position. They have not got enough money, but they cannot go to the government for more. If the government give them more, it will be wiped out by increasing inflation". What are they going to do? They must be able to appeal to someone. I take it that the point of the amendment is that the Arts Council is the only body to which they could appeal. The Arts Council is skilled in these matters. It faces them every day in regard to its own clients. Therefore, to my mind this is a perfectly understandable amendment to put forward. If the noble Lord moves it, I shall vote for it.

I ought to make clear from the Government Front Bench that, with regret, I do not support my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls on this amendment. I find that characteristically he is being too reasonable on this occasion. I must confess to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, that on behalf of the Government I disagree fundamentally with this Bill. I therefore do not believe that there should be any seive or court of appeal of the kind which has just been suggested. I believe that the trustees, who are distinguished people, should be completely free to exercise their judgment in the discharge of their responsibilities. But I must confess that I do not believe this amendment is a waste of time. I do not believe that it is a wrecking amendment. Nonetheless it would not be fair to the Committee if I did not say that I cannot support my noble friend in the Division Lobby, for the reason I have given.

7.31 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 32; Not-Contents, 35.

DIVISION NO. 3

CONTENTS

Annan, L.Lane-Fox, B.
Beloff, L.Layton, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. [Teller.]Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.
Butterworth, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.Mersey, V.
Colville of Culross, V.Mottistone, L.
Colwyn, L.Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Cork and Orrery, E.Napier and Ettrick, L.
Dormer, L.Newall, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.Penrhyn, L.
Glanusk, L.Sandford, L.
Gridley, L.Strathclyde, L.
Halsbury, E.Swinfen, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. [Teller.]Teviot, L.
Henley, L.Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Hives, L.Vickers, B.

NOT-CONTENTS

Ardwick, L. [Teller.]Dean of Beswick, L.
Attlee, E.Denning, L.
Birk, B.Elwyn-Jones, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.Ennals, L.

Hampton, L.Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L.Rea, L.
Irving of Dartford, L.Rhodes, L.
Jeger, B.Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. [Teller.]Shackleton, L.
Kennet, L.Stewart of Fulham, L.
Kilmarnock, L.Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Kissin, L.Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Lockwood, B.Taylor of Mansfield, L.
McGregor of Durris, L.Tordoff, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.Underhill, L.
MacLeod of Fuinary, L.Wells-Pestell, L.
McNair, L.Ypres, E.
Phillips, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Page 1, line 12, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 2.

I should like to know whether Amendment No. 3 is being taken with this amendment. There seems to be a large overlap. Amendment No. 3, which stands in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, proposes, first, what Amendment No. 2 wants to do, and it then inserts something in its place.

I prefer my amendment to be taken separately. From reading the words of the amendment, I see the point which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, is making, but I believe that as regards this matter we ought to have a very clear message from the Committee. The clear message of my amendment is that subsection (2) should not be allowed to stand in the Bill. The argument is similar to that put forward as regards Amendment No. 1, except that I believe that if we let this subsection go through we shall be making this House look rather ridiculous in the light of the practical common sense of how any organisation must be run—and certainly organisations as important as the museums and galleries.

Under subsection (2), not only can they not make a charge—that was decided by a very narrow majority on the last vote, which we lost, and for the time being until Report stage we must live with it—but that subsection, which I want to erase, goes even further than that, because the trustees of the museums will not even be allowed to ask people to make a voluntary contribution. They will not even have the power to point out the importance of the museums and the galleries. They will not be given the power to point out how vital it is that they should have money in order to replenish their possessions. They will not have power to allow those people who derive enjoyment and benefit from museums and galleries and who leave them with a desire to want to maintain them, to make a contribution to ensure that they are maintained.

I believe that to appoint trustees of the eminence of the trustees who sit on the boards of these museums and galleries, and to say that they shall not be allowed the judgment to decide how they obtain their finances in terms of advertising the value of what they have on offer and encouraging people to make a voluntary contribution, is nonsense.

I am quite certain that the Bill will not be allowed to go through both Houses of Parliament. I am convinced that it will never become the law of the land. It is an exercise in the furtherance of the views of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins. I greatly respect his assiduity and tenacity as regards the views which he holds, with most of which I rarely find myself in agreement. However, to satisfy him by having his view placed upon the record, even for a short time, would result in your Lordships' Committee being made to look rather stupid. It would be rather stupid for the Committee to agree to this type of provision so that, even for a temporary period, it appeared to be the law of the land. The idea of not being able to allow these eminent trustees even to accept contributions is, as was said by the noble Lord on the Cross-Benches, almost an insulting attack upon the integrity of the people who do so.

The Victoria and Albert Museum already implements a request for people to make voluntary contributions when they go into that museum. The chairman of the Victoria and Albert Museum is the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who was the Leader of this House and whose eminence is such that he is expected to give guidance on matters which affect the world and the nations of the world. However, in the report issued only last week in defence of the Victoria and Albert Museum's achievements, he sets out that it has taken this action and the success which is flowing from it. For a Private Member's Bill to suggest that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and his fellow trustees shall not have the power to be able to do this is to my mind rather stupid if it receives full acquiescence by a vote of this House.

Therefore, it is with some confidence—whatever happened on the last amendment—that I now move my second amendment, which would remove subsection (2), which places this insulting embargo upon the trustees of our museums and galleries.

7.45 p.m.

Since this Bill has been introduced. the Museums Association, which I think all Members will agree is the representative body of museums, has carried out a survey of its membership. By an overwhelming majority it has decided to support the Bill. It decided to do so because it regards what is happening at, for example, the Victoria and Albert, as something which ought not to have happened there and certainly should not be allowed to happen anywhere else. That great institution is being brought into considerable disrepute by the nonsense which is taking place at the so-called voluntary turnstiles. Therefore, it is essential to the purpose of upholding what the Museums Association recognises as the reputation and standing of our national institutions that we get rid of this absurd nonsense which reflects no credit upon the Victoria and Albert.

I gravely doubt whether the noble Lord, Lord Carrington—who, if my memory serves me correctly, is no longer chairman of the Victoria and Albert—would approve of this. I think that this nonsense was introduced by the present chairman, who I believe to be a Mr. Conrad.

Only last week we had the report from the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, chairman of the Victoria and Albert trustees. The noble Lord was answering the museum's critics. Of course he is chairman. I should like to know the name of the body which the noble Lord says held this vote. Is it the one standing outside the Victoria and Albert with placards, trying to prevent the trustees doing what they think is right?

I am open to correction. I may be mistaken, but we shall have to find out tomorrow. It may be that the report from which the noble Lord is reading refers to last year's business rather than to what has taken place recently, but we shall see. I am not absolutely certain that I am right, but I believe it to be the case.

The essential point is that museum people throughout the country are in favour of the Bill. Why are they in favour of it?—because in principle our great national institutions have always been open without charge to our people. What we are seeking to assert here are Victorian values. We are ensuring that there shall not be substituted an access charge, which I believe would be better than the nonsense which is being carried out at the Victoria and Albert. What is happening is that you go in, you are told how much you ought to pay and you are made to feel very mean and nasty if you do not pay it.

I am not against donations. I had planned to make this point as regards my amendment, but perhaps I should make it here and now. I am not against donations. Indeed, in a modest way I participate in them myself. However, I am against the erection of a notional charge before you can get into the museum—a statement in the museum, with donation boxes; a statement before you leave the museum saying that if you have enjoyed what you have seen, there is an opportunity to make a contribution. All this would be reasonable, but to erect a barrier—in effect a barrier against entry—would keep away precisely those people we have always said must be given free access to these museums. For that reason, I hope the Committee will agree not to accept the proposed amendment.

I abstained on the last Division, but I have no hesitation in supporting this amendment. On Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, described what was going on at the Victoria and Albert Museum as "squalid blackmail". Then your Lordships heard the experience of my noble friend Lord Perth, and the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, gave testimony to the same effect. There was obviously nothing going on there, so far as they experienced, which in any way justified the language of the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, or indeed what the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, has said today about the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The noble Lord said that museum people through-out the country were opposed to this because the tradition has been for free entry. That may be true of the main London museums and galleries, but it is certainly not true throughout the country. For example, in the North of England we have a counterpart of the Wallace Collection at the Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle, which has a fine mixed collection of pictures and decorative art mirroring that of the Wallace Collection and in some respects exceeding it. It charges for admission. All except two of the museums and galleries in York charge for admission, and one of the exceptions makes a charge for car parking, which is difficult to find in York.

As for invitations to make a voluntary contribution, so far as my experience goes we have had that as long as I can remember. I cannot remember a time when that large coffer (filled with notes and coins) was not just at the entrance of the Tate Gallery to solicit contributions. It seems to me absurd to say that suddenly one must attach a notice to it. Similarly when the Tate Gallery was seeking to buy the Rodin carving of The Kiss voluntary contributions were solicited. That was immediately adjacent to the entry and exit, which of course are the same.

In my submission to the Committee it is intolerable to tell experienced trustees, appointed because of their knowledge and standing, that they shall place this or that placard next to any collecting box; that they must not have turnstiles, for example, to monitor entry so that they know how many people are coming to the museum; and if they have turnstiles they must not solicit contributions there. It is an intolerable insult to such people as we expect to be trustees and governors of museums and galleries. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, will press this to a Division, and I shall support him if he does.

May I add one word before we divide on this? I am in favour of this amendment, but for a slightly different reason from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon. This provision has a nonsensical quality about it. You are not allowed to make any voluntary contributions on entry. Again the amendment that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, intends to move says:

"In this section the making of a charge for admission".
What about exit? Why should you not make a charge on exit? Indeed if this became law that would be the natural thing for trustees who were in distress to do. It is already done.

It is when the public are going out that they are asked for contributions by notices, by boxes and by other receptacles which solicit gifts from the public. But it would be perfectly possible and legal, if this Bill became law, to do precisely what the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, does not want done on entry, on exit. I therefore think that this provision has a real defect in drafting and in law.

I should like to support this amendment, partly for the reasons mentioned by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. It is not unusual to see notices in the press of a masterpiece in danger of being sold abroad because we cannot raise the funds to buy it and keep it in this country. Anyone visiting a gallery would be precluded, under the Bill as now drafted, from helping by making a donation as they go in. If a major donor, who happens to be a busy man, arrives at the gallery and says "I have only 10 minutes, what do you want?", this would stop the director, as he takes him into the gallery, from saying, "I want some money from you". That would be an illegal act, as I read this Bill. Therefore, it is essential that this amendment be agreed to.

The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, in reply to my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls, said that there was a large body of support for the Bill. But as my noble friend Lord Swinfen has clearly shown, there are other views about this. I was glad that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, made the point—which as, I understand it, is absolutely right—that subsection (2) would force museum trustees to abandon their existing arrangements for charging for entry at outstations.

My advice is that some of the arrangements to which the noble and learned Lord drew attention have been operating successfully for more than 30 years. The noble Lord shakes his head, but I harbour the belief that the noble Lord is not right. If the noble Lord cares to do his homework he will find that there are long-standing arrangements in the outstations which the parent bodies have believed to have been right for many years.

I can tell the noble Lord that when I was Minister for the Arts those arrangements continued during a period in which no charges were made at the central bodies. The reason for my shaking my head was not to deny that it occurred but to deny that it would be improper even if the Bill were in existence.

Perhaps the noble Lord can draw attention to the part of the Bill which would continue to make that proper.

As the Bill stands it would prevent outstations from charging. When we debated the Second Reading of the Bill the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, said that there were ways in which the museums could replace the money which his Bill, if it became law, would deny to them. Indeed he went further and said that we should no doubt be able to discuss the ways in which other moneys could be raised in Committee. I have been waiting to hear suggestions from the noble Lord as to how those other moneys could be raised, and I think that those suggestions could come on this amendment.

8 p.m.

I have been waiting to hear the noble Lord say that the Government will recover a little generosity. It is time that we heard something about that, is it not?

May I remind the noble Lord that the money which has come from the Government to the Arts Council has gone up in real terms very considerably over recent years?

Nonetheless, I am talking here about the Arts Council. Let us hear from the noble Lord where the alternative money, which will be denied by this Bill, will come from if all the museums, including the outstations, are refused the right to be allowed to charge. The noble Lord invited us to discuss this matter in Committee. Now is the moment for the noble Lord to put forward his suggestions.

I wonder whether I can get a word in here? I was hoping to speak before the Minister, but he jumped up. First, I listened carefully to what my noble friend Lord Jenkins said. It was quite clear that he himself has moved some distance now from what was in the Bill. He said that he was agreeable to having voluntary contributions and perhaps having notices put up saying:

"If you have enjoyed your visit to this museum any contribution you would like to make would be welcome"—
or words to that effect. Therefore what we are discussing—I do not think he will disagree with me about this because we have discussed it—and what he is prepared to have are the voluntary contributions, which is the case in many museums all over the world where they do not make a charge.

When charges were imposed on museums in 1972 or 1973, when the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, was Minister for the Arts, there was no question then, so far as I remember, of getting agreement from the trustees of all the museums. It was a Government Act. The Government made a decision that there would be charges. Now it is the other way round, we hear protests that there should be complete freedom given to the trustees. What my noble friend is doing in this Bill is taking a line which fits a particular practice and philosophy and which he and a great many other people believe. But this does not do away with giving donations or contributions.

The Minister asked: "How, if you do not do this, are you going to finance it?" Up till now the experience of the Victoria and Albert Museum has not been so happy. The numbers going to the museum have dropped. The museum itself has altered its approach. I noticed the approach at the beginning when there was this pressure about which there have been many protests. This has now been dropped and although the turnstiles and people are still there to my knowledge there is no effort any more to try to persuade people to pay to go to the museum. One of the reasons why so many people are against charges is that one of the great traditions of the museums is that one can drop in for half an hour.

No, the noble Lord has had plenty of time. I shall not sit down now. One can drop in for half an hour; but many people will think twice about paying £2 for a short visit. This would be contrary to all the educational and other functions of the museums.

Will the noble Baroness give way? I cannot follow the argument that she is making. I think she said that she was entirely agreeable to a request for voluntary donations being made when the public leave the building. Would it be legal if this Bill is passed to say: "We ask you, if you have enjoyed your visit, to make a contribution of £2"?

But it is not my Bill; it is my noble friend's Bill. I should not be in favour of putting a sum to it. Some people may give £5. Some foreigners may be used to charges in their museums and they may give more. I should leave the amount to the individuals. Where a request for a specific sum is made it could be hard on a family with four, six or eight people in the family. I should leave it like that or have other things which would attract people, like throwing coins in a fountain, making it an attractive proposition to contribute to the museum. This does not mean that this is different from the charges. From what my noble friend has said already I think he would be prepared to amend the Bill himself or accept a reasonable amendment, but not on the lines of some of the amendments that have been put down.

Before the noble Baroness sits down, I should like to know where I stand. She used the word "we" on so many occasions in defending the Bill. Is it a Private Member's Bill or is it an official Opposition Bill? The noble Baroness is the spokesman for these matters. She is speaking from the Dispatch Box and from the Front Bench. Is it a Private Member's Bill sponsored by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, or are we dealing with the official Opposition who believe that the trustees should not have these powers, who believe that the commitment should be made by the Chancellor to cover all of the expenses that might occur? I think we ought to know where we are, particularly since the noble Baroness has already indicated a point which I do not think is fair, when she said that what had happened at the Victoria and Albert Museum had already shown that it was losing out. The report from the trustees issued only last week said:

"We are on target to achieve the £500,000 from donations we set for the first year, of which the voluntary contribution was part of our scheme".
Whose Bill is it? Is it the official Opposition's Bill? Does she stand by what she said against what the trustees themselves have reported? If she cannot, then I do not think the impression ought to be left on the Committee which she has left.

It is a Private Member's Bill. The party policy is against charges, but not against voluntary donations. I do not agree with some parts of my noble friend's Bill and he knows that as well as I do. Nevertheless, the question of contributions and donations is something which I certainly support and from what he has himself said this evening in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, he also supports in certain circumstances. But it is a Private Member's Bill.

If, as the noble Baroness said, this is a Private Member's Bill and it is her party's policy to agree to voluntary donations, will she be going into the lobby in favour of the amendment?

I did not say it was the party's policy to agree or disagree. So far as I know that has not been worked out in detail yet. My own view is, and I stand by my view, to go along with the donations. But that is not what the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, was trying to do when he moved the amendment. He goes further than that. As I understand it, he still wants the trustees to be able to decide whether they should make charges or not. This was what the noble Lord, Lord Annan, said and they seem to be in agreement about that. I am not in agreement with this and that is why I pointed out that when the Government levied charges on museums the bodies of trustees were not all consulted. It was a national option and the Government decided that in future there should be museum charges.

If I misunderstood the noble Baroness, I apologise. I thought she said it was her party's policy not to be against voluntary donations. This amendment deals solely with voluntary donations.

No, I am sorry, what I said was that I am in favour of voluntary donations. I did not discuss anybody else.

I think that the noble Baroness will find in Hansard that she mentioned the party, too. But this has nothing to do with admission charges. We have decided that. This has to do with voluntary donations. I move the deletion of this subsection so that the trustees can use their experience and knowledge to decide what to do in this regard.

8.10 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 47; Not-Contents, 22.

DIVISION NO. 4

CONTENTS

Annan, L.Hooper, B.
Attlee, E.Lane-Fox, B.
Auckland, L.Layton, L.
Beloff, L.Long, V.
Belstead, L.Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.
Brentford, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L. [Teller]Mersey, V.
Mottistone, L.
Butterworth, L.Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Caithness, E.Rhodes, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Colville of Culross, V.Sandford, L.
Cork and Orrery, E.Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Croft, L.Skelmersdale, L.
Davidson, V.Strathclyde, L.
De La Warr, E.Swinfen, L.
Denning, L.Swinton, E.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.Teviot, L.
Glanusk, L.Thurlow, L.
Gridley, L.Trumpington, B.
Halsbury, E.Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. [Teller.]Vickers, B.
Henley, L.Young, B.
Hives, L.

NOT-CONTENTS

Ardwick, L. [Teller.]MacLeod of Fuinary, L.
Birk, B.Phillips, B.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Dean of Beswick, L.Shackleton, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L.Stewart of Fulham, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L.Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Irving of Dartford, L.Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Jeger, B.Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. [Teller.]Underhill, L.
Lockwood, B.Wells-Pestell, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.Ypres, E.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

8.18 p.m.

It seems that we have exceeded our time and therefore I think it best that without further ado I should move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.