HC Deb 29 November 1955 vol 546 cc2115-6
42. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider making grants to the national collection and museums on a quinquennial basis in future, such grants to be administered by a committee appointed by him on the lines of the University Grants Committee.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The analogy with the universities is not close, and I am doubtful whether this suggestion would be practicable, even if it were acceptable to the national institutions as a whole.

Mr. Robinson

Is not the Chancellor aware of the widespread dissatisfaction with the present method and level of grants to these institutions, and does not he think that some suggestion like this might restore to the trustees of these institutions some responsibility for purchases and avert their having to go cap in hand to the Treasury every time they want to make an important purchase?

Mr. Butler

This was not the view of the National Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries which, in its Fourth Report, in 1954, thought that this sort of idea would not appeal to the institutions concerned. I am certainly ready to consider any reasonable suggestion to help these institutions, but I do not think that it would help them if we adopted this proposition.

Mr. J. T. Price

Is not it the case that in all these transactions where objects of art are concerned, the knowledge of art dealers that large trust funds are available at any given time tends to increase the price of the pictures and other objects which are sold?

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