HC Deb 24 November 1919 vol 121 cc1429-30
48. Sir W. DAVISON

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the fact that a large number of works of art by old masters have recently been leaving this country for America and elsewhere; and whether he will consider as to the advisability of imposing an increased Export Duty in such cases which would have the effect of discouraging sales of art treasures now in this country to foreigners, or, in the alternative, would provide a substantial addition to the revenue, part of which might be devoted to the purchase of works of art for the national collections?


There is at present no duty on the export of works of art from the United Kingdom, but there is much to besaid in favour of imposing such a duty, either on the export of all works of art (except those of living or lately deceased artists), or, perhaps, preferably, on those works of art only for which the benefit of Section 20 of the Finance Act, 1896, and 63 of the Finance Act, 1910, has been claimed, and of earmarking the proceeds of the duty to the purchase of other works for our national or public collections. If a proposal to this effect seemed likely to meet with general approval, and to pass as an uncontentious measure, I should be very glad to consider the suggestion.