HC Deb 11 November 1958 vol 595 cc181-2
30. Mr. Willey

asked the Chancellor of of the Exchequer what action he proposes to take in view of the recommendations of the Report of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art, 1957–58.

39. Mr. E. Fletcher

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has considered the recommendation contained in the Third Report of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art urging as a matter of the first importance a substantial increase in the grants-in-aid to our national museums; and whether he will take the necessary steps to give effect to this recommendation.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Derick Heathcoat Amory)

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Tyne-mouth (Dame Irene Ward) on 4th November.

Mr. Willey

In view of the fact that this Committee has been driven to make the same recommendations as it made twelve months ago, will the Chancellor do better than his predecessor and see that something is done which is satisfactory?

Mr. Amory

I always try to give satisfaction, but this Report was published only on 21st October. I am receiving a good deal of advice on the subject, both solicited and unsolicited, and I must have time to digest it.

Mr. Fletcher

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the present situation is very difficult, because there is a steady depletion in works of national heritage, and, as the Committee points out, if these museums had greater resources they would be able to negotiate earlier with owners without having to step in and buy after prices have become seriously inflated? Is not it in the interest of the national economy, as well as the preservation of our artistic treasures, that there should be a considerable increase in the grants in aid to our national museums?

Mr. Amory

I realise that there is a great deal of force in what the hon. Gentleman has said and I will take note of it.

Dame Irene Ward

As my right hon. Friend has said that he is seriously considering this matter, would I be right in assuming that we are likely to see the recommendations of the Committee put into operation?

Mr. Amory

I ask my hon. Friend not to make too many assumptions.