19. Mrs. White
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his attention has been drawn to the proposal that grants to 587 assist the arts should be made on a basis comparable with those to universities; and if he will make a statement on the policy of Her Majesty's Government in this regard.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. J. E. S. Simon)
I have seen a proposal that grants to national museums and galleries should be on a quinquennial basis, but there are difficulties about this proposal and I am not sure that the bodies concerned would wish to see it accepted.
Can the hon. and learned Gentleman tell the House on what he bases that Answer and what consultations, if any, have been held since the Romanes lecture of Lord Bridges who has had great experience in the Treasury and as trustee of various institutions? Has the matter not been reconsidered since we had his powerful advocacy for the proposed change?
§ Mr. Simon
The sort of difficulties I had in mind were that the bulk of the grant is for the purpose of Civil Service salaries and Ministry of Works services. The galleries and museums are largely Government Departments, and there are various constitutional difficulties about putting grants to Government Departments on a quinquennial basis. There have not been discussions about that since the Romanes lecture, but, of course, I am willing to hear what any of the museums and galleries wish to represent.
Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman would agree that Lord Bridges, through his former position as head of the Treasury, must have been very fully aware of any difficulties that there might be, yet he gave very firm support to this proposal.