HC Deb 16 July 1963 vol 681 cc320-1
20. Mr. A. Royle

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what arrangements exist for the purchase of suitable antique furnishings and works of art for British embassies; and what funds are available for this purpose.

Mr. Rippon

When antique furniture is thought appropriate in an embassy, suitable pieces are purchased on the advice of qualified members of my staff from the funds provided by Parliament. Pictures are purchased on the recommendation of an advisory committee of experts set up in 1957, and in 1963–64,£6,000 is provided for this purpose.

Mr. Royle

Does my right hon. Friend arrange that people from his Department go regularly to the London sale-rooms in order to purchase suitable pieces of furniture, which can often be bought very inexpensively, for British embassies overseas?

Mr. Rippon

Yes; they cast their net very wide. If he wishes, I will give my hon. Friend some examples of excellent purchases made recently.

Dr. Alan Glyn

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is an important matter since our embassies are a great advertisement for this country? Will he make every effort to spend as much as he can?

Mr. Rippon

I concur.

Mr. Marsh

Will the Minister bear in mind that one of the worries of many hon. Members is the antique appearance of a large part of the Government's Administration already?

Mr. Rippon

I cannot bear in mind all the hon. Gentleman's worries, but I shall try to think of some of them.