§ 8. Mr. Ridley
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many oil paintings belonging to galleries and museums for which he is responsible are not exhibited.
§ Mr. Brooke
Out of a total of 12,680 oil paintings, 8,529 are not on permanent public exhibition in the galleries or museums which own them. The great majority of these are readily accessible to students and other interested members of the public. Most of the rest are on loan to other public collections.
§ Mr. Ridley
Does not my right hon. Friend agree that this is rather a wastage of the national artistic heritage? Will he consider whether the museums and galleries under his control have power to sell works of art which are not exhibited and will he consider setting up a scheme whereby such works of art could be loaned out to responsible authorities and individuals on a hire basis so that all may enjoy works of art in the possession of the State?
§ Mr. Brooke
There are widespread arrangements for lending. There are many pictures available for lending which other exhibitions have not borrowed. The question of selling pictures from the national collections raises difficult issues. One might sell a picture now because it was out of fashion and be cursed for it fifty years later.