HC Deb 10 May 1962 vol 659 cc627-8
30. Mr. Fletcher

asked the Secretary to the Treasury if he will now make a statement regarding the proposal for an amalgamation of the London Museum with the Guildhall Museum.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Edward Boyle)

Yes, Sir. Her Majesty's Government have been in consultation with the Trustees of the London Museum, the Corporation of the City of London and the London County Council on this matter. I am glad to say that all parties have worked out together a scheme to amalgamate the London Museum and the Guildhall Museum and to house the combined Museum in a new building to be erected on a site in the City of London. They have now agreed in principle that the scheme should proceed on the basis that the capital and running costs would be borne jointly and in equal shares by the Exchequer, the City Corporation and the London County Council. A Bill to give effect to these proposals will be introduced in due course. I hope that the House will welcome this as an imaginative project which will bring into being for the first time a single museum covering the history and archaeology of the whole of London. I am circulating further details of the Government's proposals with the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Fletcher

Is the Financial Secretary aware that this very sensible decision will be greatly welcomed by all who take an interest in the matter? Can he say precisely where the new Museum will be located?

Sir E. Boyle

I am circulating further details in the OFFICIAL REPORT, which the hon. Gentleman will see. I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's remarks. I have no doubt that the proposals, which have been worked out over a long period of time, will be an extremely good bargain for the people of this country as a whole, and especially for the people of London.

Sir G. Nicholson

I should like to join my voice to those who welcome this proposal. Is my hon. Friend taking particular care to ensure that the site will be large enough, because the archaeological remains and objects of general interest coming from London are increasing at a great rate and it would be a thousand pities if in a few years or a few score years the site were found to be too small and the problem arose again?

Sir E. Boyle

I am quite satisfied that the plan, which has been worked out over a long period with all three bodies concerned, will take into account the need, on the one hand, for due economy of public expenditure and, on the other, the long-term future from the point of view of the people of London.

Mr. Paget

What will Kensington Palace now be used for?

Sir E. Boyle

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would table a Question to the Minister of Works about that, because it is he and not the Treasury who is directly responsible for Kensington Palace.

Following are the details: As far as can be seen at present building will begin in two or three years' time and the expenditure will fall over the years 1964–66. The Museum would be managed by a Governing Body consisting of nominees in equal numbers of the three contributing authorities. An Interim Board of Governors is being set up immediately to draw up plans for the combined Museum, and to advise the Government, the City Corporation and the London County Council on matters arising out of the proposed amalgamation. I am pleased to say that Lord Harcourt has accepted an invitation made on behalf of the three appointing authorities to become the first chairman of this body. The following are the members of the Interim Board of Governors for the proposed combined Museum:

Appointed by the Prime Minister

Appointed by the Corporation of the City of London

Appointed by the London County Council