HC Deb 22 July 1953 vol 518 cc515-6

10.2 p.m.

The Minister of Works (Sir David Eccles)

I beg to move, in page 3, line 8, at the end, to insert: (2) Where a grant under this section is made to the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty or the National Trust for Scotland for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, the grant may, if the Minister thinks fit, be made by way of endowment, subject to such provisions, by way of trust, contract or otherwise, as may appear to the Minister to be requisite for securing that, so long as it is reasonably practicable to give effect to the purposes of the endowment, the sum granted will be retained and invested by the Trust and used as a source of income for defraying the expenditure in respect of which the grant is made. This subsection is being put in to meet the wishes of the Committee that the Government should be given power to make a grant to either of the National Trusts in the form of an endowment We found that this was the most convenient place to insert this provision. It does not stretch the Financial Resolution, but may lay a charge upon the Treasury at some time. That is the reason for the re-committal. The Committee will see that the new subsection is provided so that if a house should be burned down or if the reasons for which the endowment is made cease to operate, it will then be possible to terminate the endowment.

Mr. Kenneth Robinson (St. Pancras North)

As the mover of the new Clause which was accepted in principle in the Standing Committee, and which gave rise to the Minister's Amendment, naturally I welcome the Amendment. The wording seems to achieve the object which we had in mind, and we are very glad to have the powers included in the Bill.

I cannot forbear to mention that when we were originally discussing this principle we we told that one of the insuperable objections to it was that there would be no Parliamentary control. In the Committee, the Minister said that he wanted to redraft the Clause in order to give adequate Parliamentary control over these endowments. He has succeeded in doing so, and I am very glad, but it seems that the original objection did not exactly stand up to close examination. However, we have the power in the Bill. We hope that, if not this Minister of Works, some future Minister of Works will see his way to implement this power. The National Trusts are very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.