§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ The Lord Advocate (Mr. Norman Wylie)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
This is a small and essentially a one-Clause Bill. It has one paramount objective and one consequential provision. In the first place it seeks to give the necessary powers to the governing bodies of four institutions set out in subsection (1) so as to enable those governing bodies to make admission charges to those institutions. It is doubtful whether the governing bodies of those four out of the 16 institutions in all have the necessary power to do this, and accordingly these empowering conditions have been incorporated in the legislation. The other governing bodies do not require these special provisions.
Secondly, and this applies only to Scotland, there are provisions in subsections (2) and (3) to enable my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to vary or revoke provisions in certain trust deeds and other documents and in one case, an enactment, where those provisions are or may be inconsistent with the exercise of a power to make admission charges. These provisions are not necessary in England and Wales, because, should any such question arise, the necessary powers are to be found in the Charities Act, 1960.
It might be appropriate at this stage for me to explain the reason why the reference to one of those institutions, the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, which appears in subsections (1) and (2), is underlined and in square brackets. The explanation for this is that the reference to this institution was omitted on Third Reading in another place to avoid trespassing on the privileges of this House. This arises as a result of the provisions of Section 5 of the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland Act, 1954, which provides that any moneys received by the Board of Trustees of that Museum have, with certain exceptions, to be paid into the Exchequer. A situation could arise 1207 in which as a result of the exercise of the power conferred upon them if this Bill is enacted, the trustees would be bound by Statute to pay into the Exchequer the sums received by way of admission charges. This gives rise to a matter involving questions of privilege and for that reason it has been omitted from the consideration of their Lordships. It will be necessary to move a Ways and Means Resolution at the conclusion of the debate and in the event of the Bill being given a Second Reading there will be Government Amendments in Committee to incorporate these references to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland into the Bill.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrew, West)
I am interested in this explanation. Since the problem arises that the charges should go to the Exchequer whereas in the other case they would go to the institutions involved and, since the Government are dictating to the trustees that this money should be charged anyway, would it not have been much simpler and tidier if the Government had simply accepted responsibility for imposing charges and let all the money go to the Exchequer?
§ The Lord Advocate
That raises wider issues, and I hope I can deal with the general point when considering the provisions of the Bill. I am explaining that the National Museum of Antiquities is technically excluded from our deliberations. I intend to make reference to the provision for the National Museum because it would be unrealistic not to deal with it at this point.
I turn to the provisions of Clause 1 and the paramount provision of the legislation, set out in subsection (1). Technically this is simply an empowering provision and very narrow in its terms. It does not require the trustees to make charges and there is no schedule of charges in the legislation as might have been expected if a power had been imposed. It arises directly from the Government's decision as a matter of policy, taken in October, 1970, that part of the taxpayers' burden should be shed and those who benefit directly from these facilities should make a small contribution.
I want to support the Government's contention that there ought to be a 1208 charging provision because I know there are many in this House, including some of my hon. Friends, who feel strongly about this, notwithstanding the narrow terms of the subsection. I should like to treat the subsection on the basis that we are dealing here basically with a Government policy decision to impose charges.
§ Mr. Alan Williams (Swansea, West)
Before the Minister leaves that point, would he explain whether, in the event of a future decision to raise charges, there is anything in the Bill which would make it necessary to come to the House before doing so?
§ The Lord Advocate
There is nothing in this legislation which would prevent that, but I will state the Government's position as clearly and objectively as I can. In dealing with the broad question of Government policy which lies behind subsection (1), the Government's proposal has to be seen against a financial background as it affects national museums and galleries generally.
At the moment, the average cost per annum of receiving one visitor to any of these institutions is about £1. Together with capital expenditure the cost to the taxpayer at the moment is about £18 million per annum. The Government's proposal in essence is to enable the taxpayer to be relieved of that burden to the extent of £1 million, which should be contributed by the users. The charging scheme to which I will refer later is geared to achieve that objective.
Of course, the figure of £18 million is not constant. It is bound to increase as a result of the steady increase in running costs. These running costs are calculated as rising by about 7 per cent. per annum. It will therefore be apparent that the £1 million, which is what the Government are asking the users of those facilities to contribute, will be something short of the increase in running costs and expenditure in the current year.
Of course, it is not just a question of running costs. One has to consider the background of potential development about which the Government have already expressed views in the White Paper, Cmnd. 4676, published in May last year.
§ Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)
On a point of order. I am sorry to intervene in the Lord Advocate's speech, but 1209 before he deploys any more of his arguments, I and other hon. Members would be interested to learn why a Scottish Law Officer has to be put up to present a hybrid Bill, which is not restricted to Scotland. Is it not most unusual for a Scottish Law Officer to be asked to sponsor such a Bill? Does it mean that the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, who is the real author of the Bill, is running away from it because it is so sordid that he cannot face the music in the House? We are entitled to some explanation from a member of the Government.
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not a point of order. I frequently wish that I had the choice of Front Bench speakers, but I have not.
§ The Lord Advocate
I understand that, in a debate last week the view was expressed that no none knows who the Lord Advocate is. This is therefore a convenient opportunity to let hon. Members know.
I was about to deal with capital expenditure. Hon. Members will recollect that in the White Paper to which I referred, paragraph 5 said that the Government had already decided:… on a further substantial programme, which, including previously announced schemes, is expected to lead to expenditure over the next five years (excluding minor works and furniture) averaging £2 million a year. This represents an increase of the order of 50 per cent. on the programme as previously planned.In the programme which was involved in this commitment to carry out those schemes which had already been recommended by the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries but on which no decision had been taken to make a start, the scheme further included a major new project—the construction of a new National Portrait Gallery on land which has been vacant for many years to the north of Trafalgar Square. This scheme and the others listed in the White Paper will begin as soon as planning and design are completed.
The Government are saying that we are prepared to go ahead on a substantial scale with capital development, and that the quid pro quo which we are asking is a very modest one—£1 million of the annual cost to be raised from subscription by the users of these facilities.
§ Mr. Guy Barnett (Greenwich)
Would the Minister make it clear whether the £1 million is a gross or a net figure? If it is gross, would he please now deduct the estimated cost of collection?
§ The Lord Advocate
I am grateful to the hon. Member for raising that matter. It is a net figure. I will try to show later that the Government are satisfied that, on the basis of the charges scheme evolved, this should be possible.
Forward planning has been carried out by the Government much further ahead than was set out in the White Paper. Following consultationswithdifferent institutions, a review of needs into the 1980s has now been undertaken, and the Standing Commission has endorsed a programme which involves a number of completely new projects which in the Commission's view are necessary to enable the museums and galleries to meet the demands made upon them.
These schemes include further work on the British Museum where the Central Reading Room will become available for the purpose of the museum towards the end of the present decade, the conversion of the present Portrait Gallery as an extension of the National Gallery, a new west block for the Science Museum to enable it to meet modern requirements for the display of technological material, the start of a completely new part of the Tate Gallery on a site at present occupied by the Military Hospital, further reconstruction and extension at the Royal Scottish Museum and additional accommodation for the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art.
These schemes, together with those announced in the White Paper and necessary smaller schemes, represent a total requirement in the time scale to which I have referred of about £40 million. It is against needs on that scale that the charges scheme should be viewed.
No one suggests that the institution of charges will make any material inroad into the kind of running costs and capital commitments to which I have referred, but it is a question of policy, as to whether, when a section of the community is enjoying the advantage of facilities on that scale, it is reasonable or unreasonable to ask them to make a contribution, albeit a modest one, towards them.
1211 It is not new for museums and galleries to charge for admission. There was charging, on certain days at least, prior to the war.
§ The Lord Advocate
The 1939–45 one.
Hon. Members will be familiar with the widespread practice of charging admission to ancient monuments and National Trust properties, and I do not believe that anybody objects in principle to that. I understand from inquiries I have made that charges for admission to those sorts of properties vary between 5p and 20p. To give an example, the charge for admission to the Tower of London is now 10p and in 1968, after the rebuilding of the Jewel House between 1964 and 1967, the charge to the public of 1s. was doubled, so that at present there is an admission charge of 10p to the Tower and a further charge of 10p to the Jewel House.
§ The Lord Advocate
I am able to tell the hon. Gentleman what it costs to enter the historic apartments of Edinburgh Castle, but I am afraid I cannot off the cuff tell him what it costs to enter Burns's cottage, which I have not Visited. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."]
Notwithstanding the substantial increase in the charge for admission to the Jewel House—this answers those who say that, if we impose a charge, the extent to which these institutions will be patronised will decline—the number making use of the facilities offered there about doubled after the new charge was imposed.
§ Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)
Will my right hon. and learned Friend bear in mind that when the Labour Party were in power they doubled the admission charge to the historic apartments of Hampton Court, which I know well, from 2s. to 4s. or from 10p to 20p?
§ The Lord Advocate
There are many examples of such charges and it is simply a question of considering whether there is any difference in principle be- 1212 tween charging for admission to historic monuments of this kind and to national museums and art galleries.
I would have thought that at least the layman would have said that if successive Governments have deemed it advisable and necessary, as they have, to impose National Health Service charges, then equally there is nothing contrary to principle in imposing a modest charge on those who attend public galleries and museums.
I will adduce a few further arguments which seem to me all to have a degree of validity but which will vary in the force that one will attach to them. It is arguable that if the public are making a contribution and are paying for admission to institutions of this kind, they will tend to become more critical of the services they receive—[Interruption.]—I do not mean critical in the narrow sense—and that in the long-term this will be to the benefit of these institutions.
By putting a premium on the organised educational visit—a glance at the White Paper makes it clear that there are no charges for organised educational visits—the institutions will have a better chance of deploying their resources on the educational side, and it is hoped that the habit, which undoubtedly exists from place to place, of several parties of schoolchildren arriving unannounced will at the same time finally disappear.
§ Mr. Buchan
What on earth is wrong with a party of schoolchildren arriving unannounced? I agree that it would be better if prior warning were given, but is there anything wrong if it is not given?
§ The Lord Advocate
It is purely a matter of organising the use of existing facilities. I referred not to a party but to parties of children arriving unannounced. It is a question of relieving congestion and utilising the educational aspects and features of these facilities.
§ Mr. Alan Williams rose—
§ Mr. Alan Williams
As the Lord Advocate is obviously concerned about the gross inconvenience that has been caused by parties of schoolchildren arriving unannounced, may I ask him what evidence there is of the existence of this 1213 grievance? If he cannot reply immediately, will he publish the evidence?
§ The Lord Advocate
My information is that from time to time in various of these institutions problems are bound to arise, as one can imagine, when parties of schoolchildren arrive unannounced.
I am merely saying that by putting a premium on the organised school visit it will be possible in all cases, and not just in most cases, for those who are responsible for this aspect in these institutions to entertain parties of schoolchildren and use to the full the facilities that they are able to put at their disposal.
There are a host of arguments that one could use in support of the proposition that a small charge is advantageous. Those who are in the habit of visiting museums will appreciate that there are occasionally a very small number of persons who sometimes attend these institutions not with a view to appreciating the works of art that are on display but simply to create a disturbance. [Interruption.] This does happen and, although only a very small minority cause trouble, they can prejudice the enjoyment of the large percentage of people who visit these institutions to enjoy what is on display.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Torney
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman unaware of the tremendous disturbances that take place from time to time at football matches although considerable admission charges to soccer grounds are made? Is he seriously suggesting that the charges he is proposing will obviate disturbances at museums and art galleries? He is talking complete nonsense.
§ The Lord Advocate
Experience elsewhere has shown that even a modest charge discourages those who have no real interest in going, and in my submission the kind of charges we propose will certainly not act as a disincentive to anyone who has a genuine interest in attending one of these museums or art galleries.
1214 The provisions set out in the White Paper are essentially for a 10p charge for admission during 10 months of the year, with a 5p charge for children under 16. A season ticket costing £1 a year, or 50p for children, will admit the holder to all the institutions in Great Britain throughout the year.
There will be no charge for organised educational parties or for library readers, scholars and students on pre-arranged visits. Since the White Paper was published it has been arranged that there will be no charge for very young children and that the charge for pensioners will be at a flat rate of 5p throughout the whole period.
§ Mr. Patrick Cormack (Cannock)
I intervene at this stage because I shall be unable to stay for the whole debate because my presence is required upstairs to debate the subject of local Government. Will my right hon. and learned Friend give serious consideration to allowing all students and old-age pensioners in free?
§ The Lord Advocate
I am obliged to my hon. Friend for his intervention, because it raises the question whether further concessions ought to be made. The real problem is simply that if the £1 million target, which is a moderate one, is to be realised at the same time as keeping the charge down to 10p it is not possible, at least at present, to make any further concessions.
The question is asked, why have a charge at all? I appreciate that this proposal is not one on which one might reasonably expect unanimity of view in the House, and I do not expect it, but, starting with the policy, which in my submission is a reasonable one, that this modest charge should be imposed, due account has been taken of the needs of those most in need and most likely to benefit from the modification of the general scheme.
Scottish establishments are small by comparison with the major London establishments. After negotiations with the trustees, the proposal is that there should be a charge of 10p for admission to the Royal Scottish Museum and a 10p ticket will provide admission to all the establishments administered by the National Galleries of Scotland and by 1215 the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh. One ticket will cover all those places, with the exception of the Royal Scottish Museum for which a separate ticket is required.
May I conclude this part of the debate by referring to what my noble Friend the Paymaster-General said in another place during the debate on the Bill. One realises—one must—that one cannot be dogmatic about the effect of a new scheme. One cannot, with the best will in the world, calculate that revenue on a certain scale will be obtained as a result of the kind of charging scheme to which I have referred. But my noble Friend said that after the scheme had been in operation for three years the details of the scheme, and any question of further concessions, would certainly be reviewed, because we would by then have clear and more definite information about how the scheme was working out.
I should like to deal briefly with the other provisions of Clause 1(2) and (3), because there was a discussion on these provisions in another place and there has been correspondence about them in the Press. What they do, in a word, is to empower the Secretary of State for Scotland, by Statutory Instrument, and subject to negative Resolution, to vary or revoke the provisions of any trust deed, enactment or other instrument in so far as those provisions are, or may be, inconsistent with the making of admission charges.
There are three institutions involved here. First, the National Galleries of Scotland; second, the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland; and, third, the Royal Scottish Museum. Each of those institutions includes some collection, or part of a collection, in regard to which it could be maintained that the gift was given subject to the condition that it should be exhibited free.
There are two collections in the National Galleries which are affected. There is part of the collection known as the Torrie collection, which was originally bequeathed to Edinburgh University, and was transferred to the university by the trustees in 1836. At that time the university did not have the facilities to enable it to care for the collection as it would have wished, and in 1845 the collection 1216 was transferred to the forerunners of the National Galleries of Scotland. One condition was that the collection should be returned to the University, or elsewhere, as and when the Torrie trustees required, and there was a further condition that the collection should be exhibited free to the public.
Over the years, parts of that collection were returned to Edinburgh University, and in October, 1954, an agreement was reached whereby the university took back the collection of pictures, and so on, subject to an arrangement that it could lend to the National Galleries such parts of the collection as the trustees of the Galleries from time to time desired. The situation now is that of that collection, of which there were about 100 pieces, nine paintings and two bronzes are in the National Galleries of Scotland.
It can be argued that the new arrangements superseded the restrictive conditions of the 1845 agreement, but the National Galleries' trustees have hitherto taken the view that the 1845 conditions are still binding. I understand that discussions are taking place between the university, the National Galleries and the Torrie trustees about this situation, and it may be that it will not be necessary for the Secretary of State to exercise the powers which will be conferred upon him under this legislation.
§ Mr. Buchan
According to my records, the agreement was made in November, 1844, but I take it that that is the same as the 1845 agreement to which the Lord Advocate referred. The Bill deals with the matter from the point of view of the trustees, but not from the point of view of the university. The Bill makes no provision for an alteration to the condition to which the university was a signatory at the time, about the items being shown free to the public.
§ The Lord Advocate
If the 1845 agreement is still binding, which I take leave to doubt, because I think it was superseded by the further agreement of 1954, then it is open to the Torrie trustees, the university and the National Galleries to enter into a further agreement. They are able to do that, and it may be that it will not be necessary for the Secretary of State to use these powers.
The National Galleries also contain, as I think the hon. Member for Renfrew, 1217 West (Mr. Buchan) knows, a Turner collection of water colours, by virtue of the Vaughan bequest of 1900. That bequest contained a specific provision that the drawings should be exhibited to the public free of charge at one time during the month of January. That was to avoid the danger of fading, as the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) knows. That provision would have to be varied before the right to make charges could be exercised.
§ Sir Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman was kind enough to impute to me esoteric knowledge which I know not of. The object was to ensure that the public saw these things without paying a fee. That was the whole point of the provision in the trust deed, was it not?
§ The Lord Advocate
The right hon. and learned Gentleman was nodding so definitely that I assumed he was with me on the point that I was making, that the restriction was to prevent the risk of fading. It is true that the benefactor wanted the public to see those pictures free, and that condition would have to be varied before the power to charge for admission could be exercised. That is the National Galleries' position.
As regards the National Museum of Antiquities, here again there are restrictive conditions, arising out of a Treasury minute of February, 1858. The original collection in the National Museum was that belonging to the Society of Antiquities of Scotland, and it was conveyed subject to a provision, on one view of which it should be exhibited free to the public. There is doubt about whether the minute is open to other interpretation, but again it would clearly be desirable to clarify that.
May I briefly deal with the history of the Royal Scottish Museum. There was an agreement, ratified by an Act of 1855, whereby the Town Council of Edinburgh, as patrons of the university, transferred a collection to the forerunner of the Royal Scottish Museum on condition that it should be displayed free to the public on certain days of the week. There is no problem about the capacity to make charges for entrance to the Royal Scottish Museum, 1218 because that is administered by the Secretary of State and there are no inhibitions on his powers, but it would run contrary to the restrictive provisions of the 1855 Act.
In conclusion, the problem, should it arise, in England and Wales is one which, I understand, is met by the provisions of the Charities Act, 1960, Section 18 of which confers on the Charity Commissioners a concurrent jurisdiction to the equitable jurisdiction of the High Court, and Section 2 of which confers upon the Minister, in this case my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science, similar powers. Likewise, under Section 19 of that Act the Commissioners and, for the reason I have given, the Minister, are empowered to alter provisions in enactments establishing or regulating a charity.
In Scotland we have no such statutory provisions; and, in any event, although the trustees could always apply to the equitable jurisdiction of the Court of Session, that would be both time-consuming and expensive and it would not resolve the situation. [Interruption.] The court is exercising an equitable jurisdiction here and it would be competent for the trustees to do this.
Incidentally, there is no prohibition against the trustees as there is in the Charities Act, because in England the Minister can prevent trustees from proceeding direct to the court, which may or may not be a good idea, but in any event that does not apply in Scotland. Therefore, although it would be possible for the trustees to apply to the court, it would be expensive, it would be time-consuming, and it would not meet the situation arising out of the 1855 enactment to which I have referred or, for that matter, from the Treasury Minute.
These two subsections seek to fill the gap which arises in this situation and they are precedented. Whatever view the House takes about the advisability or otherwise of making charges. I should like hon. Members to be clear that the provisions set out in the consequential provisions are properly precedented and are, indeed, perfectly proper. These two subsections empower the Secretary of State to vary either a private deed or an enactment—the enactment I have in mind is that to which I have referred—and it 1219 is provided that these powers can be exercised by Statutory Instruments subject to the negative procedures.
§ Mr. J. T. Price
The right hon. and learned Gentleman went to some trouble to spell out in detail what would happen to the bequest of J. W. H. Turner's water colours in one of the Scottish art galleries, but he made no reference to the much more important collection of Turner's major paintings which are now housed in the Tate Gallery in London and which are provided for by trust deeds and all kinds of financial apparatus behind the scenes. Any attempt to vary the provisions of these deeds by an Order in Council or a Statutory Instrument would frustrate the intentions of those who gave these very valuable works of art to the nation so that they could be enjoyed in perpetuity and be financed in perpetuity by their benefactors. Such action would defeat the purpose of the painter—Mr. Turner—and of those who passed the paintings over to the nation for ever.
§ The Lord Advocate
I have endeavoured to make it clear that in England and Wales the procedure would be governed by the provisions of the Charities Act, 1960. In Scotland we have to fill in provisions of this nature because we do not have the Charities Act. That is the reason for these two subsections.
§ Mr. Buchan rose—
§ The Lord Advocate
No, I will not give way again. I have given way a great deal.
These subsections are modelled on the provisions of the Education (Scotland) Acts. I want, finally, and in conclusion, to deal with those provisions briefly. Section 6 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1969, re-wrote Section 25 of the 1962 Act. I am trying to put this on the record in the hope that it will save some time in committee. Section 25, as amended, empowers the Secretary of State to modify the provisions of a trust deed or other instrument as may be necessary to obtain representation of a local authority on the governing body, as a condition of that governing body receiving payments under the Section. That is the effect of Section 25 of the 1962 Act, as amended, which gives the Secretary of State this 1220 power in those circumstances. The exercise of that power is simply by order and not by any parliamentary procedure. The Bill was initially modelled on that provision.
§ Mr. Buchan rose—
§ The Lord Advocate
No. Please let me finish this point and I will give way before I conclude.
As regards the modification of enactments, the Clause draws on the precedent set by Section 15 of the 1969 Act which re-wrote Section 81 of the 1962 Act. Section 81 provides that regulations made under that Section may vary or revoke the provisions of any enactment. One then goes to Section 144 of the 1962 Act to see how that is to be done. That provides that regulation-making powers shall be exercisable by statutory instrument and be subject to the negative resolution procedure.
As a result of a discussion in another place and of valid representations made there, we have incorporated the Statutory Instrument and negative resolution procedure, not only where we are amending or may have to amend an Act of Parliament—the 1855 Act to which I have referred—but we have also introduced that procedure for the general operation of this legislation where it applies to any private deed or trust. It is still subject to the negative resolution procedure and Parliament has this degree of control.
What I am anxious that the House should appreciate is that, whatever views hon. Members may hold about charging policy—this is a matter on which two views are tenable—the way in which that is implemented to meet the restrictive provisions in the deeds and statutory provisions to which I have referred is well precedented. It is perfectly in order and, indeed, it is a more apt way of dealing with the problem than by introducing judicial procedure. In one respect that judicial procedure is already available.
§ Mr. Buchan
I want to go back to a point raised previously. If the Lord Advocate had given way before, it would have been much more simple. On the question of the negative procedure, the difference between this case and the Education Acts is that those Acts dealt with the problems of trusts in relation to democratically elected bodies—that is, local 1221 authorities—whose rights were being interfered with under existing trusts. In that case the instrument in question is subject to the negative procedure in the House of Commons. In this case the Government will issue a diktat removing rights from existing trustees. The only safeguard they can be given is by means of the affirmative procedure.
§ The Lord Advocate
This is an analogous situation to the situation under the Education Acts. The Minister is being empowered by Parliament to vary provisions in trust deeds or, in one case, an enactment. The Minister exercises those powers by Statutory Instrument and the negative procedure applies; so there is parliamentary control just as there is under the Education Acts. This is what the situation demands.
It goes much further when one considers that this power is to be used, or may have to be used, in conection with private deeds. To introduce parliamentary procedure for the variation of a private deed was something which the Education Acts of 1962 and 1969 did not contemplate, because at that time it was considered perfectly satisfactory that as regards private deeds it could be done simply by Order without any parliamentary control. Having spoken at rather greater length than I had intended, I now commend the Bill to the House.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. G. R. Strauss (Vauxhall)
We on this side of the House were surprised to find the Bill being commended to the House not by the Secretary of State for Education and Science but by the Lord Advocate. I have no complaints about that. The Lord Advocate should be given a chance now and again to say something to the House, and we know that the Secretary of State has strong views on this matter which she has often expressed and, perhaps, did not want to express again.
I had the impression that the Lord Advocate had received strict instructions from the Department of Education to stick to the legal technicalities, which he did admirably in an agreeable speech. Neither I nor I believe the House on the Second Reading of this exceedingly important Bill are particularly interested in its legal technicalities and, knowing the ability of the Civil Service, the legal advice it receives is no doubt correct. 1222 That is not our quarrel; our quarrel is with the principle of the Bill.
The Lord Advocate was probably also given instructions to keep the temperature as low as possible in view of the passions that the Bill has aroused. He succeeded completely. It was surprising though, since, as he said, a number of his supporters disagreed with the principle embodied in the Bill, that his speech was so placid. It certainly was not a clarion call to rally his doubting supporters. Indeed, at one moment he appeared to be arguing on our side. He said that the museums and galleries cost the nation £18 million, a vast sum of money to which the public must make a contribution. What contribution will this be? It will be £1 million. The question immediately arises whether, in view of the important principles involved, the breaking of our tradition of free admission to museums and galleries, it is really worth while, for the sake of £1 million, to charge old-age pensioners and children when the result will be such a small contribution to the total expenditure of £18 million? The answer is obviously "No".
It is remarkable that, in view of the attitude of all those who are responsible and knowledgeable in this matter, the Government are still persisting in bringing forward this proposal. Debates in the other place have shown strong opposition to the imposition of charges. The trustees of all the galleries concerned have again expressed strongly their views against the imposition of charges, and those views should not be ignored. All the newspapers, in editorials and in articles by their art commentators have said how wrong and how damaging this proposal is to the relationship between the galleries and the public, particularly children. In Committee in the other place an important Amendment was almost carried against the Government, the Government being saved by only three votes. In spite of the obvious unpopularity of this Measure the Government still persist, although the more the Bill is discussed in public and in Parliament the more ludicrous and irrelevant it becomes.
There have been many demands for concessions, all of them refused. Hon. Members on the Government side in this House, many of whom are strongly opposed to the principle of the Bill, out 1223 of loyalty to the Government or because they have had a three-line Whip, will no doubt support the Government tonight and assuage their conscience by advocating individual concessions, knowing perfectly well that these will not be given.
§ Mr. Jeffrey Archer (Louth)
I have taken as great an interest as anyone in the Bill and I assure the right hon. Gentleman that my hon. Friends are not giving way on the imposition of a three-line Whip.
§ Mr. Strauss
I shall be interested to see what happens.
It has been argued by the Government and by the Lord Advocate that it is necessary to make charges for admission because of rising costs and because new buildings have to be erected. That argument applies equally to other public amenities and services such as parks, where costs are rising substantially, but no one has suggested charging an entrance fee to parks. The cost of maintaining public libraries must have increased enormously with the rise in the price of books. There could be an equally good case, perhaps a stronger one, for saying that the people who use the libraries should make a contribution to them to ease the burden on the ratepayers. That is a perfectly sound and logical argument but one which is wholly anti-social and intolerable to decent-minded, liberal people.
We have been told that the introduction of admission charges is not an innovation, and that it should be acceptable for two reasons. The first reason is that many of our galleries and museums have made charges in the past, so why should they not make them in the future? The answer is that those galleries and museums which have made charges in the past have made them only on one or two days a week for the purpose of keeping the public out to enable students to work without interference. This was highly successful and the public were kept out. The Government are not arguing today that charges are being introduced to keep out the public.
Secondly, we are told to look at what happens on the Continent, in civilised Europe, where admission charges are made. But all the countries do not all 1224 make charges. In West Germany 9 out of 18 big museums and galleries make charges and the rest do not. In Switzerland 17 out of 27 make charges. In Belgium all museums and galleries are free. In France a charge is imposed on most of them but, in celebration of the Picasso exhibition at the Louvre, not only will the Picasso exhibition be free to the public but the whole gallery will be free. The authorities realise that it is desirable, if they can afford it, that these museums and galleries should be free. In the United States of America many of the biggest museums are free, particularly the magnificent Metropolitan Museum in New York, where people are invited as they go out to make a contribution.
It is argued that visitors to the Tower of London and Hampton Court pay an admission charge and no objection is made. That is a plausable argument, which I accept, but there is this difference. These are places which have been made available to the public because people want to visit them for entertainment purposes and are willing to contribute to their upkeep. I do not think that visitors go to the Jewel House in the Tower to get artistic inspiration, but visitors and tourists enjoy going there and are happy to pay for it. But the present proposal is to put a tax on visitors to our national institutions where our great national treasures, sculptures, paintings and scientific exhibits have hitherto been on view free of charge. It is in these great national centres in London and elsewhere that a change is being brought about and visitors will have to pay an entrance tax to the Government. We think that is wrong, stupid and pointless.
This doctrine of imposing taxes or charges on people who want to enjoy our national cultural heritage is an entirely new Tory philosophy. It is the reverse of the attitude of the great Tories and Whigs of the 18th and 19th centuries. In those days it was considered patriotic to build museums and to give treasures to those museums so that the people should be able to enjoy them free of charge. The great boast of the "establishment" of the time, the leaders of society, the wealthy landowners and industrialists was that many of the great treasures which inspired and excited the mind were given to the public, to be free for all to see. This fine 1225 Tory tradition of past years is being destroyed.
Most of the buildings in London housing the great collections and their contents were given to the public. The British Museum, which was built in the 1750s, has always been free to the public. A high proportion of the contents of the British Museum was given to the public. Three-quarters of the contents of the National Gallery were gifts to the public by people who believed that they would be available for everyone to see. The Tate Gallery and 90 per cent. of its contents, including the Turner collection, were given to the public on the understanding that they should be available to be seen free by the public, and this understanding is expressed in a codicil to Turner's will.
§ Mr. Ernie Money (Ipswich)
The Turner collection has been mentioned twice this afternoon. That bequest has never been seen as a whole by the public. It has been displayed only in parts and this has meant that it has been a limited public bequest.
§ Mr. Strauss
I do not think that comment conflicts with the principle I am talking about. The intention was that the Turner pictures and 90 per cent. of the contents of the Tate Gallery should be seen free. That was the desire of the legatees. That this intention has not been fully realised is irrelevant to the argument today.
At no time in the last 200 years since 1750 has it ever been suggested that the public should be charged to see the contents of these great buildings. Even during periods of the greatest economic stress, after the Napoleonic Wars and after the First and Second World Wars, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer was scraping the barrel to raise every penny he could because of the dire economic straits of the country, it was never suggested that £1 million should be taken from the public for viewing the national treasures. But now, when we have no budgetary crisis in that sense, when, this Conservative Government, in order to reflate the economy, are reducing taxation by £1,400,000, and boasting of it, they choose this moment, in fulfilment of their new dogma, to initiate a charge to the public for viewing the treasures which they own.
1226 One asks in wonderment: why are the Government doing this? On any logical basis it appears to be absolute madness. I will suggest an answer to the House. Even the actions of a madman justify themselves to him and he considers they are reasonable. The reasons have been given by the Paymaster-General in the House of Lords. There are two, and he stated them frankly and boldly as he tends to do.
The first reason was given in a debate in another place at the end of 1970. The noble Lord then said that the first reason for imposing the charge was:… because it is central to the policy on which we fought and won the election.No doubt that came as a surprise even to listeners in the House of Lords. There was never anything said during the election about a Tory proposal for charging admission to museums and galleries, but that is what the noble Lord says is the first reason.The first reason then is political …I ask the House to notice that so that there can be no doubt that this is being done on political grounds rather than on practical or material grounds. These are the Paymaster-General's own words. He went on:… for too long the British economy has been sluggish. As individuals and in industry we have been unwilling or unable to do ourselves justice, accepting too many subsidies, too often relying on someone else to carry the burden."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 16th December, 1970; Vol. 313, c. 1391.]That is the main reason stated by Lord Eccles why the charges are being imposed. Then the noble Lord went on to state the second reason. Later he argued—did so on many occasions—that it would help him to raise money for the galleries and museums from the Treasury.
I can well imagine what happened. A few weeks or months after the election Ministers met to decide what they were to do and how to implement election promises. They no doubt met to decide what they were to put before Parliament and the country. It is very dangerous for Ministers to formulate concrete policies a few months after an election as they meet then in an atmosphere compounded of euphoria and ignorance. They grope about to see what best they can do and how they can do it. [Interruption.] This applies to all Governments. In this 1227 atmosphere I am sure all Ministers concerned were asked what contribution they could make. No doubt they went to the Secretary of State for Education and Science and she no doubt said that she was reluctant, as I am sure Ministers always are, to give up services, but she said "I will cut milk for the over-sevens." She may have suggested other things. It is rumoured that she suggested putting charges on libraries but I do not know whether that is the case. These proposals were asked for and advanced as a contribution to the carrying out of Conservative policy.
Then they went to the Minister of Arts and asked, "What about you?" I am sure that he said, as I do not believe he had basically changed his view on this matter, that he hated charges for people to go to museums and indeed he stated this shortly before the election. I am sure he was reluctant about this matter. Perhaps he had a conversation with the Chancellor of the Exchequer who said to him, "If you want some more money for the arts and for the museums and the galleries you will have to make your contribution—what is it? "Then he thought of a scheme, which has been on the Treasury shelves for years but which nobody has bothered to take out, and suggested making an entrance charge for the museums and galleries. Perhaps there was then a discussion about what the Chancellor of the Exchequer would contribute for new buildings. The Chancellor so far as one can tell came forward with a ridiculously small programme for new buildings and extended gallery accommodation.
If we study the future policy for museums and galleries we see that during the first five years £2 million a year is to be spent, a large part of which includes proposals which were already authorised. On top of that there is to be £11 million spread over the 1970's and there will be £4 million for the National Portrait Gallery. And so far as we know, that is all. When the Paymaster-General in face of this tiny increase was asked for his contribution there may have been an argument. But the Paymaster-General at the end said "Very well I shall impose these charges bringing in £1 million, although I am only to get this miserable amount of money in exchange."
1228 One of my complaints against the Paymaster-General is that having surrendered and having decided to sell his soul he sold it too cheaply. He might have obtained a good deal more money from the Treasury to cover the next few years. But he has done nothing of the sort.
§ Mr. Money
The right hon. Gentleman has quoted from the noble Lord, the Paymaster-General selectively. Would he bring his mind to bear on the passage set out in the House of Lords Official Report for 26th May, 1971, when the noble Lord dealt with this subject and said:I would put it in this way: first, that without charges there would be no capital programme of the size authorised for the national museums, and, secondly, if that example were not set by the programme for the national museums there would be little, if any, chance of getting anything going in the provinces."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 27th May, 1971; [Vol. 319, c. 1283.]
§ Mr. Strauss
I am coming to that point and I am grateful to the hon. Member for helping me. The Paymaster-General also argued that unless a contribution was made by his Department there will be insufficient money provided by the Chancellor of the Exchequer towards new buildings which were required. On one occasion he said at a press conference that this was a sprat to catch a mackerel. He said on several occasions that he must have more money for galleries and museums and that he would not get it unless he made the £1 million contribution.
We all agree that museums and galleries in the provinces require rebuilding, extension and modernisation, and that a tremendous amount needs to be done. But the argument advanced by the Paymaster-General is a curious one. He said that he had to impose this tax amounting to £1 million or he would not have got sufficient money from the Chancellor. This is an extraordinary constitutional argument, namely that he regards the Chancellor as an outside master or monster who has to be appeased and that unless he is appeased by a full £1 million the money would not be forthcoming to improve museums. I have never before heard such an argument put forward by a Minister who has had to cut his services. We have never heard it said "I am sorry to do 1229 this but I was forced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer". The Chancellor of the Exchequer is part of the Government and the responsibility of decision rests with the Government collectively.
Suppose the noble Lord had not raised this £1 million, is it seriously to be believed that the money would not have been made available? Does anybody believe that the country is so poor that it is cutting down so much on capital expenditure that the programme for building new galleries and museums would have to be axed? The opposite is the truth. The Government are pressing everybody to get ahead with capital expenditure because of the present economic situation. But, apart from that, it is obvious that the money required to renovate and to bring museums and galleries up to date would have been made available by any Government. The desire of the Labour Minister of Arts and a Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer to provide whatever money was necessary for the devolpment of the arts is acknowledged by all. There is no doubt that a similar response would have been made by them on this occasion. I am trying not to make this too political an argument but it was introduced by the Paymaster-General in an attempt to show by a selection of certain dates how much more the Conservatives love the arts than do the Labour Party.
I will give the House the essential figures. During the four years before the Labour Government came into office the amount granted to the Arts Council was on an average some £2 million. During the four years afterwards the average was £5 million, a two and a half fold increase. On top of all this they launched a great building programme for theatres and arts centres.
I was taken to task by the Under Secretary a little time ago because I said that this was a tax which was being imposed on museum and gallery visitors. The hon. Gentleman said that it was not a tax. Well, if this is not a tax, I do not know what is. It is an imposition on members of the public of a charge the proceeds of which go entirely to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is for the Government to decide how it is to be spent. It is a tax in every sense of the word. None of it will be allocated directly to the museums and galleries. But 1230 I would ask the Under-Secretary when he replies to the debate to justify this tax on wider considerations. A good tax costs very little to collect. What will happen here? We know from the figures given by the Secretary of State for Education and Science to my hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds), who much regrets that he is unable to be here today, what the costs of collection will be. The cost of collection in respect of the whole £1 million will be over 16 per cent. Is there any other tax which costs as much to collect, quite apart from the inconvenience and annoyance of collecting this tax at the barriers.
At the Wallace Collection some 33 per cent. of the money collected will go in costs. At the National Maritime Museum the figure is 32 per cent. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] These figures were given by the Government and I can give them to the hon. Member. They relate to the revenue expected to come from the gross amount to be collected and the balance that will go to the Treasury. At the National Maritime Museum they expect to collect £85,000 but the net amount which will go to the Treasury is £62,500. The balance represents the cost of collection. I should not be asked "Why?" as I think the answer is obvious. It is because of extra staff and all the rest of it. At the Wallace Collection the gross amount to be collected is £16,000 but the amount that will go to the Treasury is only £11,000. Therefore some 32 per cent. of the amount of collection will go in costs. Never was a tax collected on that wasteful and extravagant basis. It is to be condemned on that ground alone.
§ Mr. Strauss
"Wherever it comes from". That is a remarkable argument. I do not think that when the hon. Gentleman thinks about it seriously he will stand by it. I do not believe that there is any other tax where 16 per cent. goes in the cost of collection.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)
Some years ago I undertook 1231 a tour of certain museums in America where charges are made. I am certain that the cost of collection there is nothing like 16 per cent. I do not accept that estimate.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
It does not matter where they come from. For example, I am sure that if we asked the Washington Gallery about its costs of collection, we should find that they were nothing like 16 per cent.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am basing myself on figures given by the Government spokesmen. Those are the figures which I have quoted. I do not doubt that they are correct. It is common sense that it will cost a lot to collect the charges.
I will give another reason why this tax is as bad as any tax can be. There is an old and sound canon of taxation: that a good tax should bring in the maximum revenue with the minimum of antagonism. This tax will bring in the minimum of revenue with the maximum of antagonism. It can be soundly condemned on that ground alone.
I turn to exemptions. There has been strong agitation from everybody interested both in education and in the arts that children by themselves should be allowed free entrance to museums and galleries. The reasons are obvious. School parties are grand, but the sensitive, imaginative, determined child, likely to be the best citizen of the future, may want to go back by himself, or with a pal, to linger over the pictures, enjoy them, and get inspiration from them.
There are the family parties, too. It is extraordinary how many family parties constantly visit our great museums and galleries. Putting on a tax of even 5p is a discouragement to a family party, taking into account all its other expenses.
I feel strongly about this matter. I cannot understand how the Secretary of State for Education and Science, who is supposed to be interested in the cultural welfare of children and promote their aesthetic understanding, can accept that in future children should be charged admission, and that a barrier should be erected against their access to the great works of art.
1232 What is the answer? The Paymaster-General was pressed about this matter in the other place. The noble Lord was asked whether he could do something about it. I have also asked Questions in the House. What will it cost if all children are admitted free of charge? Will it wreck the scheme? The answer is that it will cost £150,000 a year. For the sake of extracting £150,000 a year from these eager children who want to see the pictures, the Government persist in imposing an admission tax on them. At a time when we are reducing taxation, when £1,400 million has already been remitted from the taxpayer, the Government insist on collecting this £150,000. It is a disgraceful story, and it is criminal that a Minister of Education should lend herself to support such a proposal. She might have suggested to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "Instead of relieving taxation by £1,400 million, relieve it by £1,399 million and leave the museums free for the public, including the children, to enjoy as they always have enjoyed them in the past."
There has been a great deal of controversy about the free day. All the museums on the Continent which make charges have a free day so that the people who cannot afford to pay, including children, can go and see the national and international treasures which are housed in them. We are not to have a free day. Culturally, we will become the most illiberal of all the nations, as our people who cannot afford to pay entrance charges will be debarred. I know that some galleries and museums say that it will be awkward if they have a free day and therefore they do not want it, whereas others would welcome it. The National Gallery and the Tate Gallery have written to the Paymaster-General begging to have a free day. I cannot see any reason, apart from red tape, for not saying that those galleries which want a free day may have one and those which do not need not. Nevertheless, the Government's decision is "No".
A further argument is that if we have one free day a week it is reckoned that the Government will lose £200,000 a year. It is an extraordinary situation. This £1 million which the Paymaster-General has promised to the Chancellor of the Exchequer appears to be sacred. Apparently it has to be £1 million. It 1233 cannot be cut by £150,000 to allow children in free and it cannot be cut by £200,000 to allow the public to go in free on a certain day of the week. All this goes to show what a fantastic position it is: £1 million against the total cost of £18 million for the galleries and museums in this country.
It may be too late to make this appeal. It is a fact that all concerned with the arts and education in this country—they are influential and belong to all parties—with practically no exception beg the Government to withdraw this charge before it is too late. That view was expressed in the Lords. If it is not expressed, it is at least felt by many hon. Members in the Commons.
I remind the House of the previous occasion on which such a proposition was put forward. It was in 1923 when we had a very stringent economic situation and money had to be gathered from anywhere and everywhere. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Baldwin, as he then was, put forward a proposal that there should be a charge for entrance to museums, or to some museums. Seeing the reaction from the people he respected—all the people in the education world, all the artists and all the museum people—when the Bill was in the House, he withdrew the Clause and gained considerable credit for doing so. I suggest that this Government should do the same, even at this late stage. I beg the Government to reconsider the matter. I am not interested in bringing credit to this Government, but I am interested in the credit of the country as a whole and its reputation abroad where it is considered as a land of culture.
One custom which has helped our reputation and sustained it over the years is our gracious and civilised tradition of having our great museums and galleries opened free to all people, rich and poor, natives and foreigners. The proposals in the Bill will destroy that fine tradition for nothing, for irrelevant reasons, and on no defensible ecenomic grounds. I hope, therefore, that the House will reject the Bill on the highest patriotic grounds.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Thompson (Croydon, South)
I preface my remarks, which will be quite short, by declaring an interest in this matter. For 20 years I have 1234 been a trustee of the British Museum and I am Chairman of a body called the British Museum Society, which might be thought to be a kind of supporters' club for the museum as a whole. Therefore, it must follow that I am deeply involved and interested in what we are discussing today. But none of that interest is of a pecuniary character. What I have to contribute to the debate is said for myself alone, in a purely personal sense as an individual. I speak for no one but myself. Obviously I am not here by favour of the trustees but by favour of the electors of South Croydon.
I echo what the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) said about how we all miss the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds). I do not imagine that the hon. Member for Smethwick and I agree on very many propositions, but he is always a spirited contributor to these debates. We all know his point of view. It is a pity that he cannot be present today to give us the benefit of his advice.
If I were asked as an ordinary member of the public whether I would prefer to get into a museum free or not, my answer would be, "Yes, if I could get in free I should very much prefer to do so". I would be in favour of other free things if they could be genuinely free. But the question is much more complicated than that. I suspect that what the argument is all about, when we strip it of its emotional overtones, is to what extent we ought to share the cost of some public services between the community at large, in taxation indiscriminately, and those of the public who make particular use of the service.
This is a very old argument and one which we are often having in the House. In our British way, we usually finish up with a compromise, which is neither all on taxation nor all at the time of use. We usually finish with a sort of hybrid deal. It may not be very tidy or very easily defensible but it is right, when we are talking of very large sums of money, to try to be fair to the general taxpayer, who must expect to carry, and does carry, most of the burden, and to say that those who particularly use the service or the facilities provided shall make an extra contribution to help pay for them.
I take a different view from that of the right hon. Member for Vauxhall. The 1235 introduction of a charge—although personally unwelcome to me, because I dislike paying for anything—enables us to show that we are being fair between one section of the community and another; for instance, between the arts and the social services.
§ Mr. Eric Deakins (Walthamstow, West)
On the basis of that analogy would the hon. Gentleman therefore support a measure to charge people for borrowing library books from a public library?
§ Sir R. Thompson
Not necessarily. If I may pursue my analogy, let us consider the National Health Service, for instance. When this was originally set up by the Labour Party, the bright hope and the expectation was that the whole thing could be free, as it were, at the point of use or sale. For reasons which it would be improper to go into now, certain things, such as spectacles, dentures, special appliances and, later, prescriptions, had to have charges attached to them. I know that many regret that, but in this field, too, we are obliged to accept them. But it is not always right to expect the whole of the public to bear all the cost of something which is of extra interest, entertainment and enlightenment to just a part of it.
I acknowledge most readily what was done by the noble Lady, Baroness Lee of Asheridge, when she was Minister for the Arts, and my noble Friend the Paymaster-General, previously and now, is showing that he has his back and his heart in this business. We can argue for ever and say that the sum that it is proposed to raise by means of this charge is piffling—I hope that I would never call £1 million piffling. We can say that the costs of raising it are very high, and so on. But the fact remains that even if it were a sort of necessary sop—if I interpret correctly what the right hon. Member for Vauxhall was saying—to the Chancellor, I still think that with the very fine package and the greatly expanded expenditure that we have on things which, as the right hon. Gentleman well knows, have been too much neglected for too long, if we had to have a charge to make that possible, that it is worth paying. I shall return to that matter shortly.
1236 Surely there is no new principle involved. I accept that many of the national collections which are our pride and glory were given to the nation by individuals in perpetuity and in the hope that they would always be freely available to those who wish to see them. But many of these things were not given with any endowment or means to ensure that for ever the right surroundings, sufficiently commodious and convenient buildings and so on, could be provided. Over the years we have come to realise that if we want to provide a worthy and adequate setting of which more and more people can take advantage in order to see these things, much larger sums of money have to be expended than we have been able to rely on up to the present.
If it had not been for this very recent and welcome injection of additional funds into the art world, many of the trustees would have been in very grave difficulties. In the British Museum two or three years ago, so desperate were we for resources that we were even considering approaching the public with an appeal to produce the funds which would bridge the gap between the minimum which we thought necessary and what the Government of the day were prepared to provide.
Seeing the matter a little from the inside, although I wish that we could have got by without the imposition of a charge, I feel that we have got a pretty decent package in our bargain, and it was absolutely essential that much more money should have been made available.
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
My hon. Friend has touched on the question of a shortage of money in the British Museum. I wonder whether it would help the House if he gave some idea of the size of shortage against the proposal about which we are now talking—that of raising money by public subscription to enter galleries of all sorts.
§ Sir R. Thompson
In those days we wanted to initiate a very large rebuilding programme. We have our present building. We had a survey carried out and it was obvious that we should have to spend £2 million or £3 million on infilling, providing additional accommodation and so on. We had no hope of getting this money. I am glad to say that it is now 1237 in the White Paper. That is the kind of thing I am talking about.
Before my hon. Friend intervened I was saying that it is not a new principle that the user should make a payment. Reference was made to our ancient monuments. It may be said that the Tower of London is not the same as the British Museum and that Hampton Court is not the same as the Tate Gallery, but for many visitors the difference is not all that great. For years we have cheerfully accepted that if we go to our ancient monuments we pay a modest fee. I have a little inside knowledge here, because in a previous incarnation I was Parliamentary Secretary to the old Ministry al Works when we initiated the season ticket, the "15-bob touch" that is such an enormous success. I do not see the difference between paying to see and enjoy that kind of thing and paying to see and enjoy our great art collections and places like the British Museum.
To take the matter a stage further, let us consider all the collections of the National Trust. We have to pay to see them all. They are immensely popular and attract a rising tide of people every year. I am not aware that those people feel that the charge is a terrible infliction, and that they should see these treasures free of charge.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman feels keenly and passionately about the matter. Although I care for these things also, my feelings do not run along the same lines as his. When I turn on my radio or television, I do not listen or view free of charge, I have paid a licence fee, and although I object to paying for a licence I accept that the money must be raised somehow, and I do not regard the fee as a tax on listening or viewing.
There are two major criticisms of the Bill, the simple purpose of which is to allow governing bodies and trustees to charge. The first is what might be called the "tax on education" point, and the second is the "not worth the administrative clutter and expense" point. The tax on education criticism, the restriction thought to be imposed particularly on children and young people visiting our collections, I reject absolutely. We are no longer in the 19th century. Universal compulsory education, the 1238 enormous expansion of higher education, the wide opportunities for adult education, and the whole world of educational opportunities provided by the B.B.C. and I.T.A., make nonsense of the suggestion that we are depriving anyone of educational facilities by saying, "You must pay 10p if you are an adult, and 5p if you a child not in a school party, if you visit one of the collections." That argument would have been true 50 years ago, but it has been overtaken by events.
§ Mr. Neville Sandelson (Hayes and Harlington)
Whatever other facilities may be available is not it a deprivation for the individual child?
§ Sir R. Thompson
I do not think it is. The great generality of children probably make their first visit as part of an organised party, as part of their educational facilities at school. Many more go in the holidays with their families. At a charge of 5p, I do not think it is a deprivation. The hon. Gentleman will be able to say that there is one case of deprivation here, one there, and so on, but we must view the question as a whole, and I do not believe that it is a real deprivation.
§ Mr. Jeffrey Archer
It is the philosophy of our party to believe in excellence, and we have often fought the Opposition on education over that belief. Perhaps we fight too much for excellence. I do not mind, and I hope my hon. Friend does not, how few children are involved. What matters is the child that wants to go back again and again and is deterred. If we believe that excellence is important, any form of deterrent is abominable to me, and should be to my party.
§ Sir R. Thompson
I would not quarrel with what my hon. Friend said as a statement of principle, or about the way in which we should all be striving to achieve excellence. But I must feel less passionate about it than he does, because I cannot think that we are really blighting anyone's educational outlook or attitudes by saying, "If you do not go with your parents or in an organised school party, and if you have not got 5p in your pocket, you will not get into that museum." That is pushing what is admittedly a very presentable argument a little too far.
1239 The trustees and governing bodies have not yet fully realised the immense revolution that has overtaken the museum—and gallery—visiting public. During the early part of the 20 years for which I have been a trustee, the British Museum was popularly regarded as a rather fuddy-duddy institution. It was not, but it was thought to be largely the preserve of academics, scholars, specialists and people like that. The people who went there tended to be specialists, and a large number of them were readers in the Reading Room. There was not much notion that it was a great popular institution which belonged to us all and from which we could all learn something.
All that has changed over 20 years, partially as a result of better education but very largely as a result of the educational activities of the B.B.C. and the I.T.A., which have opened so many people's eyes and minds to things they never knew existed. Partially, too, it is the result of better display within the museum and less of the appearance of a cataloge of objects. The objects are displayed more dramatically and are better lit.
An immense appetite has been engendered in the public, and every year we shall see attendances go up whether or not there is an admission charge. That has been the trend of all the statistics at the other institutions, such as the ancient monuments, where visitors already pay. It will continue in the museums whether or not a small charge is instituted.
§ Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)
Is not what the hon. Gentleman is saying the very reason why the museums and galleries should be free and open to all members of the public?
§ Sir R. Thompson
I do not agree. Over the years since the war, under successive Governments, the standard of living of the ordinary population has gone steadily up. To raise it is the right and proper object that all Governments are dedicated to trying to achieve. We must realise that it is being achieved, and that we are entitled to say that a more affluent society should expect to make its contribution to the things about which it feels strongly and enthuses.
1240 I said that there were two main criticisms, the brake on education and the administrative complication of collecting £1 million. Is it worth having all this fuss, public argument, a Bill in this House, turnstiles, and staffing and administrative problems for £1 million? I was very nearly persuaded by what the right hon. Member for Vauxhall said on this subject. I do not accept his figures for the high cost of collection. According to the right hon. Gentleman, the gross was £1,200,000-odd and the net which the Paymaster-General expected to collect was still £1 million. In arriving at those figures, the right hon. Gentleman has taken the first year, which involves all the special costs of equipment, which will not be renewed every year. However, the right hon. Gentleman has a point when he says that there must be easier ways of getting £1 million, and I think that that was the substantial part of his argument.
I come back to what I said before. Although the right hon. Gentleman made a good deal of fun of the Paymaster-General by saying that he had to plead with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to get the rest of his budget, no one will know better than you, Mr. Speaker, thinking back to your old Treasury days, if it is not improper to refer to them, that the Treasury is a very hard taskmaster. Sometimes it is necessary for Ministers to trim a bit to get what they want. That is one of the practicalities of life. When I look at the size of the package that we have for our museums and galleries, I can well believe that the Paymaster-General was under heavy pressure to make some kind of contribution in another way.
§ Mr. Buchan
The hon. Gentleman has not recognised the singularity or the enormity of this proposal. Normally when a Minister trims, it is because there is a cut in the budget. In this case, apparently it is proposed that there shall be an increase in the budget if the Minister makes a political gesture of which he disapproves.
§ Sir R. Thompson
I take that point. I do not profess to know the precise mechanics of this. But in return for a charge which I do not regard as outrageous, we have the assurance of much better continuing support for our 1241 museums and galleries. This is a substantial prize. I should have preferred the prize without having to make any contribution on the side or however else it may be described. But at the end of the day we have the prize, and I believe that it is worth having and hanging on to. I believe, too, that the estimate of the yield, because of my belief that attendances will go up dramatically, has not been over-optimistic. On the contrary, I believe that it is an underestimate. Be that as it may, although I should prefer to see this additional provision for our museums and galleries made without the breaking of our old traditions, on balance the package that we have justifies the way that we have gone about collecting it, and I intend to support the Bill.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Maurice Edelman (Coventry, North)
I think that it was obvious to the House that the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Sir R. Thompson) had neither his heart nor his convictions in the case that he presented. I could not help feeling that, as a trustee of the British Museum and as one who has responsibility to the nation for a national heritage, by his somewhat sophisticated argument he sought merely to rationalise the vote that he will cast tonight.
As the Lord Advocate said, we are dealing with a small Bill. But it is also a sinister Bill. It is sinister because it is a hangover from the champagne days of Tory victory. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite set in train policies of laissez faire which already have brought so much damage to the nation in other directions and which are now designed to injure the growing numbers in our community who are interested in the great national heritage represented by our museums and galleries.
There is one point about which I agree with the hon. Member for Croydon, South. It is that there is a great and an increasing demand for access to these cultural institutions which, in the past, perhaps during his tenure as a trustee, have been neglected. There was a time when museums were grey and empty places which were sometimes used as a shelter for lovers and by people who wanted to get out of the cold. Our 1242 museums and galleries were not integrated into the life of the community. Now, thanks to television, thanks to the pages and the glossy supplements of our weekend newspapers and their presentations of what exists in museums and galleries, a far wider cross-section of the public has become involved.
These are not simply students, although the number of students concerned with art has expanded greatly. I do not like the distinction between students who have some academic affiliation and ordinary men and women interested in culture, who are fundamentally as much students as anyone who is attached to some formal academic institution. They are the people who are becoming interested in art, and they are the people who will be required to pay the tax on knowledge which is represented by the Bill.
I am not surprised that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was put up to speak first. His speech, amiable though it was, was concerned simply with the mechanics of the Bill. It was concerned with the way in which, by various devious, statutory means, the intention of those who left this legacy to the nation is to be falsified and frustrated. People made bequests to the nation in the hope that, after their deaths, some of the benevolence that they felt in life could survive. They wanted people to have free access to the works of art that they entrusted to the nation and that the nation in turn entrusted to the formal trustees of the museums. They wanted the nation, all sorts of people, to have the opportunity of seeing, admiring and enjoying these works of art. This Government intend to frustrate that wish. They have set up these elaborate legal and statutory arrangements to do so.
I cannot help feeling that it is shameful. It is a part, I hope the last part, of the trilogy of the Three M's—milk, meals, and now museums—which characterises this Government. I hope that this is the last volume in their sorry tale of meanness which will certainly last for a generation if it is now to be told in full.
The Welfare State introduced by the Labour Government in 1945 brought an area of benevolence and well being to the country so that diseases like rickets 1243 disappeared. It was a man-made intervention which resulted in a new generation growing up taller and healthier than ever before. Now the Government are introducing this barrier when there is an expanding interest in culture.
This Measure will place a barrier between the ordinary man and woman wanting to visit galleries and museums. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Croydon, South who suggested that somehow in an affluent society the payment of 10p will not be a barrier. He seems to have forgotten—perhaps his mind has made a rapid transition from the moment after the election to the present day—that another magic million has been created by the Government, the million unemployed.
It is extraordinary how the Government have this mystique of the million. There is the mystique of the million unemployed, or the million for the Civil List and now the £1 million which is to be saved for the taxpaper by imposing-this tax on art. What is the situation in the country? There are two Englands. My hon. and right hon. Friends are absolutely right when they talk about the divisive policies of the Government. Never has a divisive policy been more effectively illustrated than by this charge.
What of the wealthy person interested in pictures? He has the opportunity of buying them, surrounding himself with an environment of pictures. He can go to museums and pay 10p., he can go to Sothebys or Christies and watch the bidding. He will be admitted by the commissionaire, because no doubt he will be suitably dressed and regarded as a potential bidder. In short, he can enjoy all the amenities in London and the provinces and pursue his hobby of acquiring or at least enjoying pictures. If he wishes he can travel abroad and see some of the greatest treasures bequeathed by history to mankind. He can go to Rome, Florence, Amsterdam or Paris and enjoy the opportunities open to him.
What about the ordinary person, whose interest in the arts is excited perhaps by the excellent lectures of Lord Clarke in the "Civilisation" series on television or by Mr. John Berger? He has to ask himself what he and his family can do. He may decided to go to the museum and to pay the 10p. fee for himself and the 5p. 1244 for his children. If he likes it, and the whole object of encouraging people to take an interest in art is to stimulate them to derive further pleasure from it, he will find that he has the onerous duty of buying, if he can afford it, a season ticket or deciding to go a few times. It is then that the division becomes real.
However relatively affluent our society may have become generally, there are many, perhaps the great majority, for whom the idea of paying to go to a museum or gallery is the lowest item in their family budget. I do not say that there is anything about art which makes people feel better; many ghastly crimes were committed in Nazi Germany to the accompaniment of Mozart and Beethoven. However, the quality of art, if it is not to make people better, is to make them feel better and in doing so that is surely adding something worth while to the quality of life. During the election the Prime Minister laid great stress on the promise that the Tory Party would improve the quality of life. One of the Government's first actions was to commit an assault on those very values of life which constitute its quality.
By seeking to deprive so many people in society of the opportunity of access to galleries and museums they are injuring the quality of life to a degree which even much montrosities as the current wave of pornography cannot do. It is often said that if we look abroad we see that payment is made at galleries there. My right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) mentioned some exceptions but let us accept the fact that generally speaking galleries abroad do require payment and, nevertheless, such galleries and museums are fairly full. Who goes to galleries abroad?
Let my hon. and right hon. Friends cast their minds back to the last time they visited a continental museum where they had to pay for entry. They will recall that those there were predominantly those of the middle-class upper bourgeoisie for whom a visit to a gallery is part of a way of life and not always a good way of life. I would not attribute any motive other than the best to anyone going to a gallery, but it may be a social motive. Those who pay to go to the galleries are people for whom the galleries are a kind of social embellishment. I hope that in Great Britain, far from adding to the burden of those who wish to go to the galleries, we 1245 will provide this opportunity of free access.
One of the things most admired by foreigners about this country is that people are allowed to walk on the grass in public parks. On the continent it is rarely permissible to do so. It is an element in the liberties of our country so much admired by visitors. Equally, our right of access to public museums and galleries is a part of those liberties.
My right hon. Friend was right when he said that one of the shameful aspects of the Bill is that we will have deformed a national tradition and institution which in the past gained the admiration of foreigners and will have adopted the same sort of standards which, for various reasons, are prevalent abroad.
I turn to the question of the free day. I am sorry that many of those who believe in free admission to museums have accepted the idea of a free day as a second best. I believe every day should be a free day and if that cannot be then to put the poor into a kind of "Monday ghetto" where they will be forced to see art in the museums and galleries in conditions incomparably less favourable than those who have the money to pay for entry is shameful, divisive and the sort of thing which very few people in the House would accept. I would rather see, in all its stark reality, the system of admission charges than have this isolated day when the poor are coralled into galleries trying to peer under each other's arms or over each other's shoulders to view the walls or the objects in the gallery.
Anyone who has been to the opening day of the Royal Academy or even to a fashionable vernissage will know that the people invited can never see the pictures. They are invited guests, of course, it is a free day for them, but once they get there, they cannot see the pictures. I hope that this odious idea of a free day when people are allowed to go free of charge on the understanding that they cannot see the pictures will not be accepted.
One of the great deprivations which the Bill will cause is for the young who wish to explore the museums and galleries. The Lord Advocate spoke about organised parties, which can be attractive and useful when accompanied by an intelligent school teacher who has a sympathy for 1246 the arts and will encourage his class to view the objects in the galleries. But for many children, their first organised visit to a gallery is also their last. It is a kind of horror from which they never recover, a trauma which remains with them all their lives.
What is necessary is not just to promote free organised visits, provided that notice is given. I hope that the principle of this Bill will not be applied to visits to the Palace of Westminster. Taking some of the analogys which the Lord Advocate offered about access to traditional and public institutions, I hope that we will not see a turnstile outside the Central Lobby.
The essential thing is that the child should have the opportunity to explore. Henry Moore, in "An Excerpt of Autobiography", has said that, when he was a child, he visited an art gallery and saw sculpture for the first time. He has spoken about the effect that it had on him and of how, because of the inspiration that he received, he eventually applied himself to sculpture—and he is now one of the glories of our country.
The painter, Oscar Kokoschka, when he came as an emigré to Britain, could not afford to travel and had to walk to get into free galleries. The opportunity that he had of seeing the great works of art—our museums and galleries are among the greatest in the world—was for him too an inspiration which enabled him to resume his work and, as an emigré, to become one of the ornaments of Britain.
Hundreds of thousands of people will feel that the clammy touch of the Government, in reaching for their ten pennies, will put them off museums and galleries, which, after all, do not belong to the Government but are the heritage of the nation. The Bill proposes to impose a tax on learning, a tax on knowledge, a tax on culture. Among all the measures of which this Government should feel ashamed I believe that these charges are the one for which posterity will condemn them most.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles (Winchester)
I must also start by declaring an interest, although not a pecuniary one. I am chairman of the H.M.S. "Belfast" Trust, in her new life as a museum ship. 1247 I hope that the hon. Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his articulate demagogy. His silvery tongue was, not for the first time, in his cheek this afternoon.
The House does itself nothing but good when it discusses a Measure of this sort in a non-partisan spirit, when we can for once get away from firing on fixed lines and pecking and scratching across the Floor of the House like barnyard hens, as we so often tend to do. There is a chance to avoid that today and I do not intend to be partisan in my remarks.
I can avoid being partisan, because there is something in this Measure for all ideologies. For the Conservatives the principle of charging is established—not enough in my opinion, but the principle is there.
Likewise hon. Members opposite can see the greater part of the cost still borne by the taxpayer. I am sure that many of them will have noticed also that the reading rooms are to be free. They will recall that admission to the Reading Room of the British Museum, where Karl Marx sat, will still be free of charge.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles
One may reflect that the ideas which Karl Marx cooked up during the hours that he spent, I believe with a boil on his bottom, in the Reading Room, have evolved into a political régime in Russia, China, Eastern Europe and other parts of the world, where admission to the museums is still free, but the freedom to write tracts against the government and the establishment of the day does not exist. One must ask oneself, which is the greater freedom?
I approve the principle in the Bill of charging for entrance for three principal reasons. First, we must constantly improve the museums and galleries. This is not a static thing. Culture is nothing if it is not living and developing.
§ Mr. Jeffrey Archer
My hon. and gallant Friend says that it is a good thing to collect fees so as to improve galleries. In the short time that I can remember—this is nothing compared to my hon. and gallant Friend's experience—it has never been the policy of the Conservative Party 1248 to collect money in one field to spent it in another. It would be a tragedy if galleries and museums improved by means of collection in that field. That would be a tragedy which I do not believe is a Conservative philosophy.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles
I do not intend to follow my hon. Friend in that, but the two fields which he is talking about are in fact one and the same. We are collecting fees from museum enthusiasts to improve the museums which they want to go on visiting.
The second reason that I approve of the Bill is that people should pay for what they get, even if only partially, because they will then feel involved in what they see and will appreciate it more and not write it off or squander it. Without wishing to raise the political temperature, I must point out that there is a parallel here with the National Health Service charges imposed under both Governments.
I should like to have vouchers, each showing the value of what is handed out by the State, be it in health, education or museums. I hope that the Minister will answer this concrete suggestion, that when these charges are made the ticket should bear the words, "I award you hereby £1-worth of viewing and the price is only 10p." People will think that they have a bargain and will be anxious to return to get more of this sort of bargain. I should like to see this same principle extended in the many handouts that are awarded so magnanimously by the State.
§ Mr. Guy Barnett
Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman extend this principle to churches—that we hand out vouchers saying, "For 10p you get £1 worth of religion?"
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles
Why not? [Laughter.] But I would not care to say how much a single ticket to Heaven might be worth!
Contrary to what has been said by hon. Members on both sides, I believe that the charges which have been suggested will not prove a deterrent or discouragement to people visiting museums and similar institutions. I call in aid of this belief my experience as Chairman of the H.M.S. "Belfast" Trust. This is a museum ship which is now permanently moored in the Pool of London.
1249 Less than 12 months ago there was an all-party Early-Day Motion—it was tabled originally by the hon. Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Ford)—saying, in effect, that H.M.S. "Belfast" should be preserved as a museum ship, being the last of a whole generation of big-gun ships.
I pay tribute to the former Navy Minister, the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Dr. David Owen) who, when hon. Gentlemen opposite were in office, wanted to have the ship preserved in Plymouth. However, the ship could not be expected to pay her way there in view of the small number of visitors who could be expected to visit her, and after the election the new Government logically decided that they could not go ahead with that scheme, simply because it would not have paid its way.
While I am handing out bouquets, I pay tribute also to the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy, my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Kirk), for showing great imagination in persuading the Government to hand H.M.S. "Belfast" over to this charitable trust. I will not detail all the vicissitudes involved in getting this ship organised on the present basis, except to point out that we charge the public 30p, children 20p, for going on board: Service men in uniform are free, and there are special rates for parties.
§ Mr. Jeffrey Archer
Having referred to Service men in uniform being allowed on board free, may I ask my hon. and gallant Friend to say where he stands on the question of charging the young and old-age pensioners, who in their own way have a kind of uniform?
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles
That is a complete red herring which I have no intention of taking up.
Since last Trafalgar Day, 21st October, this ship has been visited by 140,000 people, a large number of them young people. They have come in special parties and individually, and particularly as members of parties organised by schools. I am simply pointing out that even a charge of 30p, and 20p for children, has not acted as a deterrent to visitors to H.M.S. "Belfast", despite the cold and draughty conditions on the Thames these last three months. The 1250 project must be self-supporting and this will involve the trustees in a large annual running cost to maintain the ship in good condition.
A considerable amount of legislation has emanated from the green benches in this House over the years and we have tended to become snarled up as a result. For example, the "pollution boys" will not allow us to discharge the "heads" into the river, so that we must have cesspits in the oil fuel tanks, and pump the proceeds ashore. We have had to install cathodic protection so that the ship will not rust at her moorings. We are anxious to keep her looking decent so that she justifies flying the White Ensign, which the Government have been kind enough to allow us to use, making H.M.S. "Belfast" the only non-Royal Navy ship to fly the White Ensign.
Several years will have to elapse before we can consolidate this project. I assure hon. Members that it is no gold mine, despite the huge number of visitors who we are planning to receive aboard. I make this point especially for the benefit of the Port of London Authority, which seems to think that it might be a gold mine, one in which it should have a share!
I do not want to weary the House by going on at length about the details of this ship, except to add that the long-term objects of the "Belfast" Trust are not simply to preserve any "reeking tube or iron shard". The trustees are interested in the much wider educational aspects, and we have been sufficiently encouraged to install closed-circuit colour television.
We hope to inculcate in the vast number of school boys and girls who come to see H.M.S. "Belfast" pride in the achievements of the past and specifically pride in the part the Royal Navy has played in our history. We want them to understand history not as it is so often served up to them, as a sort of apology for the past, but as something in which they can be proud.
Even more, the trustees hope to teach a special lesson to future generations—and that is the importance of overseas trade to this nation—the basic lesson that the British cannot make a living simply by sitting at home taking in one another's washing.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles
It is all very well for the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) to laugh, but the Labour Government were proud of their undoubted achievement in increasing the balance of payments.
I have a small axe to grind in referring to a point which stems from this lesson which we hope to inculcate into future generations, and that is the need to protect this overseas trade. I therefore end as I began, on a bipartisan note, by pointing out that both Conservative and Labour Governments have demonstrated their understanding of the need to encourage our overseas trade: but, unfortunately, neither seem to have understood the need to protect it.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrew, West)
I feel rather like a person challenged with the question, "How do you follow that?" I refer, of course, to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles), whose speech contained some of the arguments which have been the basis of the case deployed by Lord Eccles in another place, particularly about the alleged value of paying for that which one gets.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to Karl Marx having visited the British Museum free of charge. I was reminded of Marx's comment that the bourgeoisie put up statues to great writers of the past when, if they had read what they wrote, they would have burnt them.
I wish to make it clear at the outset that my hon. Friends and I see nothing of merit in the Bill. It is in this context that I am anxious early in my remarks to deal with two shibboleths that have been put forward. The first is the curious argument—it has been described as a sprat to catch a mackerel—that the proposed charges should be defended because they will result in a bigger budget coming forward from the Treasury. This argument should be examined carefully. Those who adduce it do not say that a bigger total amount will be available. What they are saying is that in response to a political gesture, in response to an ideological gesture, more money will be coming forward.
1252 The argument is that the Minister in charge of the Arts, who most of us thought, rightly or wrongly, approved of this decision, has been pressurised into doing something in which he did not believe, because otherwise his budget would be cut. That is the only conclusion to which we can come. That has been argued from the Front Bench, and possibly by other hon. Gentlemen opposite, as shown by the intervention of the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Sir R. Thompson). That is a monstrous argument. If it is true, it is monstrous. If it is untrue, it is a most dishonest method of trying to defend the intolerable.
The second argument—and it has been put forward by the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester—is that things are better if people pay for them. It may surprise my hon. Friends that Lord Eccles, the Minister for the Arts, argued in the same way when he said,I was rather surprised to see my friend Sir Trenchard Cox writing to The Times to say that paying for a service does not increase the interest of the consumer in the service concerned. My Lords, that is a view contrary to the experience of the rough world, from which Sir Trenchard has happily been sheltered."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 16th December, 1970; Vol. 313, c. 1401.]In other words, Lord Eccles agrees that paying for the service increases the interest and pleasure of the consumer in that service.
In another place, when referring to that argument, one of the noble Lords suggested that the end point of that was that one ought to go whoring, that to go with a prostitute must be the highest point of personal satisfaction. That is what has been argued, that the passing of cash somehow adds to the satisfaction.
That is the point we have reached in this argument. It is not the painting that matters. It is not the statue that matters. What matters is this process of payment. That is precisely, and by definition, the kind of prostitution involved here, and that is what is being defended by hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles
I am rather puzzled. I am trying to follow the hon. Gentleman. I did not speak about whoring at all. I was making the point that if someone were to go on to 1253 the street with bundles of Labour Party propaganda he would get nothing for them, that he could not give them away, but if someone has The Times newspaper everybody rushes to pay him 5p for it.
§ Mr. Buchan
Much might be said on both sides.
I was surprised that the Lord Advocate was put forward to open the debate. More surprisingly, he was supported by four Scottish Ministers and a Scottish Whip. I cannot understand why, but I think the argument is that the right hon. Lady the Secretary of State for Education and Science is ashamed of her own policies. She does not like to face a charge of philistinism in the way that Lord Eccles has. These two Ministers are becoming the Bonnie and Clyde of British culture. That is why the Lord Advocate was put up to open the debate. The right hon. and learned Gentleman cannot dodge the charge, and I hope that his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will not dodge it either, that the fundamental reason for this scheme is ideological. Those are not my words, but the words of the Financial Times.
The Lord Advocate tried to defend the method used by the Government to defeat the legacies of the past. His argument was not in defence of the Bill. It was in defence of the methods being used to crush the independence of the trustees. I think that that is fair comment. The right hon. and learned Gentleman drew an analogy with education Bills, but I must make it clear that when trusts have been dealt with in legislation—the 1962 and 1969 Scottish Education Acts are obvious examples—it has been because trusts were making it difficult for local authorities to administer education in their schools in a proper way. They were democratically elected bodies who had to serve the populations of their areas and therefore, to allow those bodies to carry out provisions to meet the needs of the children in their areas, existing trusts had to be altered.
But that is not the position here. The Government are not altering trust deeds to give a democratically elected body more to say in the running of the museums. They are altering the trust deeds so that the Government themselves 1254 may, by diktat, impose a charge. The analogy does not stand up to examination, and the Lord Advocate must think again on the procedural point. He must make the Orders subject to the affirmative Resolution procedure.
§ The Lord Advocate
Having raised the question of local authorities, the hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware that Parliament when dealing with private local authority legislation, repeatedly varies the trusts of people long-since dead There is nothing novel about the variation of trusts, whether public or private.
§ Mr. Buchan
The example given by the Lord Advocate is that of a trust being altered so that the elected representatives of a community are the better able to protect the interests of that community. That situation cannot be compared with what the Government are doing here. In this instance they are passing a law to crush the independence of the trustees.
It is not the trustees who are seeking this change. On the contrary, every trustee has rejected this proposal. It is the Government who are forcing this change upon the trustees, but they have not the courage to suggest that they should go the whole hog and take over full responsibility for these institutions. They are forcing the trustees to take this action to impose charges, under the threat of cutting their budget if a charge is not imposed. Some hon. Members have compared this situation with what happened in the concentration camps, where people were forced to carry out their own kind of execution. That is what the Government are doing to the trustees. The Government are not saying to the trustees that they shall do something. They are saying that they may introduce charges, but that if they do not they face the threat of cuts in their budgets. This is an intolerable attack on the rights of the trustees, and it is no wonder that they are up in arms.
I now propose to consider what the Government intend to do about one or two of the problem points. The Lord advocate referred to Erskine of Torrie. No doubt the right hon. and learned Gentleman's legal interpretation of how the Government will get round this problem is correct. We shall examine what he 1255 said to see whether he is right, but that does not deal with the monstrosity of the principle. A whole apparatus of legality has to be established to get round the fact that these pictures are supposed to be shown free.
That was a condition of the agreement, but because the Government believe that people should get only what they pay for—that is the whole cash nexus in their thinking—they have to go through all the legal paraphernalia to get round this provision. That is the explanation for the technicalities that are to be carried through in order that the Government may implement a bad policy.
I see no reason why the university should not call all these pictures back and say that it will not tolerate this kind of condition being imposed. I see no reason why it should not say that the trust deed shall continue, and take back the collection for exhibition itself. That would be one way of showing what it thinks of the Government's action.
I now want to deal with the exchange of letters between the trustees and Lord Eccles over the last two days. I have been shocked at what has happened. The Chairman of the National Gallery and the Chairman of the Tate Gallery wrote to ask that a free day should be permitted. The Government's response was monstrous. They bring in a Bill which says that charges may be made for visiting these galleries, but they lay down by letter what conditions must be imposed. We know what charge must be made. That is in the White Paper. We know that there may not be a free day. This is Government by diktat and they tried to camouflage it by using the word "may".
In their letter the boards ask that permission be granted to have one day a week when the galleries may be visited free. I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North about this; I support the trustees' demand for a free day. I agree that the objective is that we throw this sorry piece of legislation into the heads, where it belongs. However, if we are not to do that, we should defend the principle of one free day, which is what the trustees have asked for.
The Government, who say that they are not imposing this matter upon the trustees 1256 reply—through Lord Eccles—to this effect:I can shortly recapitulate the arguments which led me to decide that, at any rate at the present stage, this should not be tried out.The first point is that if free days were in force all the national museums would have to raise the general charge from 10p to 20p … This argument would be much more serious if the free day were to be at the weekend. In my own experience the Tate has been uncomfortably full at weekends this summer.So this is their worry—too many people are going to the galleries. Lord Eccles wants to go in a discreet, quiet manner.
This is not the first time that Lord Eccles has made this assertion. In the House of Lords on 22nd November he said this:I do not know whether any of your Lordships have had the experience in one of our museums of being in a particular room or gallery when it was seriously overcrowded. The discomfort for oneself is of course obvious. I took one of my grandchildren the other day to such a place and she was frightened and I had to take her out."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords: 22nd November, 1971; Vol. 325, c. 827.]The answer is to improve the facilities of the museum. Lord Eccles does not want to be crushed by the hoi polloi. He repeats this in a formal letter to the trustees:In my experience the Tate has been uncomfortably full at weekends this summer.Lord Eccles is worried that, if there is a free day, it will be even more crowded.
It is typical that in this Government the Minister for the Arts is also called the Paymaster-General. The Minister for the Arts said this in his letter to the trustees of two of our most important galleries.On Tuesday afternoon, 27th December my wife and I had to queue to pay 30p to see the Hogarths and when we did get in we could not appreciate the exhibition on account of the crowds. I do not complain. It was a fact that inside and outside the special exhibition, the crowds were excitingly large, but what happens when double the present number of ordinary visitors come to the museums?Hon. Members opposite are worried about the crowds. This is nothing to do with raising money. The object of the exercise is to reduce the numbers.
It is against this background that we must look at the imposition of the charge. Hon. Members opposite do not understand how this will operate. It 1257 is no use their saying that 10p or 5p is not too much for an old-age pensioner. What a decision that was! They spent weeks worrying how to make a distinction between old-age pensioners on supplementary benefit who could get in free and old-age pensioners without supplementary benefit who could afford the 5p. The right hon. Lady brought out the three different types of pension book to show how difficult it was to distinguish between them and she looked surprised when I said that that was obscene.
These letters emanate from the same Minister—Lord Eccles—who in December, 1970, said this in the House of Lords:… the social service principle of assessing categories of persons who might be hurt by increased charges will be applied to museum charges …".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords; 16th December, 1970; Vo. 313, c. 1393–94.]Lord Eccles thought at that time that the principle of distinguishing between young and old was to be applied to museum charges. What has caused him to dispense with that?
There will be real deprivation. Those who will be hurt will not be those who consciously and deliberately go to see a particular section of a museum. Such people will continue to go. They know what they want and will pay for it. Such people have arrived at that position, as most of us have arrived there, because they went in free initially—perhaps because it was raining. There is nothing wrong about sheltering in a museum or an art gallery because it is raining. I see no objection to people being introduced to a good painting in that way.
Then there is the child who was taken by his parents on a Saturday afternoon to somewhere like the Science Museum. It is not only picture galleries. It is also the places like the Science Museum. I ask hon. Members to think of the number of families who go round the Science Museum and think what it will cost parents with three children to get in there. It is that kind of accidental dropping into a museum or an art gallery which triggers off one's imagination and interest. And this is where the deprivation will take place.
This is how Lord Eccles will solve the problem of overcrowding. He will prevent any more of this general intake of 1258 museum going amongst the young. This is what hon. Members opposite, in their class-cribbed fashion and their philistinism, fail to understand.
I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North, that this is the Tory Party's general basic attitude. I regret to have to say this. On one occasion I said of an hon. Member opposite that he was trying to save the soul of the Tory Party. I think that the Tory Party has changed. It is not now the party that I knew when I came here in 1964. In 1964 the Tory Party had a certain involvement with the people; it was based on the land and on industry. It has slowly transferred into people who are based only on cash. The Tory Party is now the party of the City and of unit trusts. With that, the Tory Party's moral and other values have gone. When it was based upon the land, the Tory Party's values remained. Based upon industry I believe that its values remain. I cannot see some of our industrialists of the past having taken this one million unemployed so lightly. When the Tory Party becomes detached from the land and from industry and becomes based only on cash, its other values go.
The hon. and gallant Member for Winchester laughed when one of my hon. Friends referred to the children who will be kept out. I think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman laughed because he did not believe that children might want to go to a museum or an art gallery. Hon. Members opposite just do not understand the people.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles
On the contrary, what I was suggesting was that the children will not be prevented from going. They will merely be able to go and see better museums.
§ Mr. Buchan
Sometimes I despair even of the House of Commons. I do not understand the point just made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I have already dealt with the question of the fractional million pounds, which is irrelevant to the amount which will be paid.
I am sad. Therefore, I will stop. This is a shoddy piece of philistinism. I plead with the strong injection of culture, in the form of four Scottish Ministers and a Scottish whip on the Government front Bench this afternoon, to make a valiant 1259 attempt to save at least something of the nation's soul. There has been plenty of evidence of this in Scotland in the past. I plead with them to lean on the Government and on Lord Eccles in this matter. After all, it was thanks to a Scotsman that our great public library system was developed. I ask hon. Members to think of the problem there would be in establishing public libraries today if they did not already exist. What a fight there would be. The attitude to libraries is the same as the Government's attitude is to museums and art galleries—that somehow the books are better if the public pays for them.
Thank God for Victorian philanthropists. I appeal to the Government—for Heaven's sake, think again.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. James Allason (Hemel Hempstead)
The hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) has built up a gigantic edifice on the basis of one remark by Lord Eccles about his visit to a crowded museum:the discomfort for oneself is of course obvious".The hon. Member for Renfrew, West built up from that remark a whole picture of the arrogant Tories who wanted to have the museums to themselves and to keep out the crowds. All that Lord Eccles was saying was that it was extremely difficult for anyone to enjoy the exhibits in a crowded museum. The hon. Member for Renfrew, West was not entirely fair, as he failed to read what Lord Eccles said immediately after that quotation:…another result is that the warders cannot see what is happening. The danger of damage or theft is correspondingly increased, and this is a very real problem which we cannot overlook."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 22nd November, 1971, Vol. 325, c. 827.]This puts a different complexion on the remarks of Lord Eccles with which the hon. Gentleman had such enormous fun.
The agitation against admission charges is thoroughly misconceived. We have just heard a speech based on the theory that if the trustees accept a donation to a gallery on condition that access to that exhibit shall be free, that condition must be sacrosanct for ever. That concept is difficult to swallow.
§ Mr. Alan Williams
I assume that the hon. Gentleman believes in property. 1260 Does he not realise what has happened? Someone in the past has denied his family an asset of considerable value so as to make it available to the State, and the State is now turning that asset to national financial advantage and so depriving the family under false pretences.
§ Mr. Allason
If the hon. Gentleman will be patient, he will hear the unfolding of my argument. An article which is thought to be the last word in taste at a particular time may be accepted in good faith by the trustees. A hundred years later when tastes have changed it may be thought that this is a monstrous exihibit, taking up a great deal of space and costing a considerable amount to exhibit, and it may be the last thing in the world that the trustees want. It may be possible for the trustees to discover the heirs of the donor and offer the exhibit back to them, but it is much more likely that they will put the exhibit in the basement and forget all about it, and about the conditions of the trust. Under the Charities Act, 1960, it is possible to vary the conditions of a trust in England, and the Bill will extend those provisions to Scotland. One should use common-sense in this and not be legalistic and say that once a gift is made the conditions must remain in perpetuity whatever the situation.
The argument has been put forward that if a building has been made available from public funds it is improper to charge admission fees for viewing it. We have the example of the Tower of London which was made available from public funds for which an admission charge is made, and, more recently, the Jewel Tower, also made available from public funds, for which an admission charge was made by the last Government.
It is said that all the art world is against the imposition of charges. I accept that probably most of the art world is against charges. There is no sector of the community that would not be against a charge on their particular interest. The Serjeant at Arms would object strongly to a suggestion for charging for admittance to the Public Gallery, although the rest of the nation might think that this was a suitable charge to be made. The art world is keen to spend money but not so keen to assist in collecting it. The trustees of the National 1261 Gallery believe that they are the best judges of national expenditure on art and of national priorities. Although the House may not be very effective in deciding the right national priorities, nevertheless the decision should be taken by the House and should not come from the other end of Whitehall.
We have heard much about hardship. The season ticket seems to have been forgotten. The price of a season ticket for a child is 50p and it is valid for a year. I cannot believe that 50p will stand in the way of a child who wishes to pay frequent visits to museums, or that a season ticket is so expensive that no family in the land will be able to afford to buy one. Every child could raise 50p for this purpose if he wanted to.
§ Mr. Peter Hardy (Bother Valley)
The hon. Gentleman represents a constituency in the Home Counties, but some of us in the House today represent constituencies which are a considerable distance from London. Children from my constituency would be most unlikely to visit London for more than one day or one week in any year. While the season ticket may represent a concession in the metropolitan area it is completely irrelevant to the majority of children.
§ Mr. Allason
The argument that a child is being deprived of the opportunity to visit a museum equally falls to the ground if the opportunity is just not there anyway.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
The point being made by my hon. Friend is that where parties or excursions come from the far-flung provinces to London and want to visit only five or six museums while they are here they may not be able to afford it. For them to purchase a season ticket is of no use, because they will be gone within the week.
§ Mr. Allason
This leads me to my next argument, which is that if a child is in possession of a season ticket he will want to make use of it. If a school party makes five or six visits at 5p a time it would obviously be cheaper for them to pay 25p or 30p rather than 50p for a season ticket. If the visit is for longer it will be worth paying 50p. Once a person has a ticket he is likely to make use of it as much as he can, and this would encourage children to go more often.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. William van Straubenzee)
This is a very important point. Will my hon. Friend recall the special arrangements that are available for organised parties coming to London?
§ Mr. Allason
I am sure the parties from the hon. Gentleman's constituency will be so well conducted that they will give notice in advance of their visit.
There are about 950 galleries and museums, almost all of which already make charges. If charging is so immoral and puts a tax on education, where is all the great outcry about it? How is it that students are not rioting outside every art gallery and museum in the country?
The right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) was remarkably selective in the examples he gave of museums in Europe which did not make a charge. He gave the example of Belgium, which has some very attractive pictures, but I do not think anyone would seek to place the National Gallery in Brussels alongside the Rijks museum in Amsterdam. The standard is a little different.
The right hon. Member said that in New York the Metropolitan Museum made no charge, but he did not mention the thousands of galleries in the United States which do make a charge. He said that the Louvre in France on one occasion was making no charge, but he did not mention Italy and Spain which both have magnificent art galleries which make a charge.
§ Mr. Jeffrey Archer
Is my hon. Friend suggesting that the standards of other countries necessarily must be imposed upon this country?
§ Mr. Allason
Not necessarily, but the right hon. Member for Vauxhall said that the Louvre would like not to charge if it could afford to do so.
We are spending much more on the arts now than we have done in the past, and we must see whether we can afford it. We should accept any opportunity for contributions to our considerable expenditure on art, which I do not grudge. 1263 Whenever I visit a town I expect to pay an entrance fee when I go to the art gallery. If I am allowed in free, I am agreeably surprised. Having to pay does not detract from my enjoyment of a gallery, and I have never yet grudged having to pay. I shall buy a £1 season ticket and then get as much use from it as I can.
I wish that the revenue from the charges could remain with the galleries rather than having to go to the Treasury, but this is more of sentimental than financial importance. Unfortunately, it gives the Opposition the opportunity of saying that it is a tax payable to the Government. Otherwise, it is not of great importance.
There is a tremendous need for an expansion of expenditure on the arts in this country. We have a building programme for the national museums, particulars of which were set out in the White Paper, and we have to consider the maintenance of our provincial museums which are sadly lacking in funds. There is also the question of future acqusition for our museums and the importance of conservation, which needs a great impetus. I believe the public is willing to lend a hand.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Guy Barnett (Greenwich)
I hope the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason) will forgive me if I do not deal with some of the important points he made, although I hope to cover some of those matters during my remarks.
Perhaps I too should declare an interest since before coming to the House I was on the education staff of one of the big institutions in London, the Commonwealth Institute. I am also proud to have in my Constituency the National Maritime Museum which, although not immediately the concern of this Bill, nevertheless will inevitably be involved in charging.
I paid a visit to the National Maritime Museum only a week or so ago, and when I was shown around I saw the ugly little boxes being put up everywhere as part of the charging mechanism which will have to be brought into effect. I also learned that a large part of the grounds of the museum will be closed to free access to my constituents following 1264 the imposition of these charges. I accept the statement made by the Department of the Environment that it was necessary to do this because of the charges, but this imposes a considerable constraint on my constituents since up to the present time many of them have been able to walk through the grass area in front of the museum into the park or on their way to work. Unfortunately, this access will now be denied to them.
As a member of the education staff of the Commonwealth Institute I was closely in touch with the education staffs of other London museums. We frequently met and compared notes and saw what was being done in these museums. For same time past I have been a great admirer of the education work which is being carried out in the National Maritime Museum. I am also an admirer of the work undertaken in a museum which has not been mentioned in this debate but which ought to gain a mention, namely the Horniman Museum in South London. It is one of the few institutions which has a children's centre and it is doing some remarkable work.
Many hon. Members will be aware of the magnificent work being done at the moment in the Jeffrey Museum. I think I can see before the Under-Secretary of State a copy of a very important document which was published quite recently, namely the Educational Survey No. 12 Museums and Education, a report of a survey conducted by Her Majesty's Inspectors. I should like to quote from that report because it says things which are of particular importance on the subject matter of this debate.The Jeffrey Museum has a reputation, acquired over many years, for making children not only welcome but anxious to return.Later, on page 23, the report says:Children aged from five upwards can visit the museums during the school holidays, to pursue various interests and to use a range of art and craft materials, with help from the museum staff.Later it says:The greatest importance is attached to these leisure-time activities—indeed they are considered to be more important than those of organised school parties and the children are constantly encouraged to visit other places in London and elsewhere.That is a wise statement that reflects the feeling of museum staffs. So often we thought we could judge success or failure 1265 on what we were doing in terms of the number of children who later came back to visit the museum or other museums during the school holidays.
The hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead said that a child could buy a ticket for 50p, but I do not believe the average child will fork out such a sum for that purpose. I can think of many children of my constituents who have not 50p to spare to fork out.
§ Mr. Allason
I was not suggesting that the child would save up his pocket money. There is always a kind uncle or grandparent who would give a very welcome Christmas present to the child.
§ Mr. Barnett
I do not know whether the child has a parent or grandparent or uncle who would be likely to do that. It is sad that a child should have to depend on that sort of present. The interesting thing I found from my experience was the degree to which it was often the child who encouraged the parents to visit the museums rather than the reverse. One interesting consequence of organised visits by school children to museums was that they often felt inclined to encourage their parents to come along as well.
Just before I came into this debate, I made a calculation of what a museum visit would cost a family nowadays. Let us take a family in my constituency in Greenwich coming into London to visit the Science Museum. Let us take the cost in terms of transport, remembering that children will soon have to pay full fare, plus the entry fee for the museum, and possibly giving the family a cup of tea and then taking them home again. A man with an average wage of £20 to £25 a week will not be able to spend around £3 in taking his family on that sort of trip. I know this from my own experience and therefore all the good consequences in educational work which may flow from a trip to a museum may well be lost to such a family.
I wish to refer to the remarks made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate about advance notice. I agree with the necessity for such notice. It would certainly be agreed by educational staffs that everything is to be gained by encouraging teachers to give notice of intended visits so that the education staff can be prepared for the visit and to arrange the items in such a 1266 way that the children will gain maximum benefit. However, if the provisions of this Bill are to be regarded as the right way to ensure such a process, then I must part company with the Government. At the Commonwealth Institute we often faced the problem of an influx of large numbers of parties who had given no prior warning of their intention to come to visit the Institute. We studied the matter carefully and discovered that the solution was to have a close working relationship with the teachers who brought parties to visit the Institute.
We discovered that by constant use of the telephone we were able to discuss these visits with the teaching staffs and would suggest a day on which a particular school could come along—a day on which the museum would be relatively free for the museum staff to be able to devote full attention to the visitors. We discovered that this was the right way to tackle the problem. By sending notices to local education authorities and to individual schools we were able to encourage teachers to see that, by booking visits well ahead, everything was to be gained for their pupils.
A good deal has been said by hon. Members on both sides of the House about the principle of charging. I share the view that it is obvious nonsense that one appreciates more the things one pays for. I would regard it as highly dangerous if this were to become accepted as a guiding principle of Government policy. Other hon. Members have already suggested that one of the dangerous features of this Measure is simply that it could become a precedent for further developments on the same lines. A start is made with museums, then libraries will follow and then other sorts of institutions. I should regret any such developments. We in this country have something to be proud of since over so many years some of the major institutions have been kept free for people to use.
It has been said that because people pay to go to concerts to listen to music or opera, they should be expected to pay for their museums and galleries. I do not regard this as a reasonable parallel. On the other side of the picture we have the question of the national parks and the free entry into churches and cathedrals, which is our natural heritage. 1267 God forbid that we should ever encourage the Church of England—which I know sometimes faces financial problems—to impose some kind of charge on many thousands of people who visit our beautiful cathedrals. I am afraid lest such a precedent might be set. Therefore, I hope the Government will recognise that this sort of danger is likely to arise.
I am keen on music and I have no objection to paying to attend a concert. One of the reasons that I take this view is that I know that the violinists, the cellists and the conductor and all the other musicians have salaries to earn and that therefore some kind of contribution needs to be made by the audience present on that occasion. But museums involve an entirely different situation. A closer analogy could be drawn to the situation of people listening to B.B.C.3 since many people of limited means are thus able to enjoy good music at home and they make no payments since a licence is unnecessary to possess a radio. Therefore, I hope that the Government, even at this late stage, will reconsider the proposals which they are putting before us.
Many of my hon. Friends, and even some hon. Members opposite, have referred to the fact that in the past many gifts to museums have been given on the understanding that they should be seen by people at no cost. A point which appears not to have occurred to any hon. Member opposite is that at the moment museums are dependent on the friends of museums and people anxious to support them. This may well become increasingly the case. Many people may continue to make bequests to museums, but they are far less likely to do so if they feel that the museums would simply charge for entrance and therefore make it impossible for people to enjoy those art treasures.
I know that the Institute by which I was employed has escaped the provisions of this measure. I understand that the Commonwealth Institute will not be requested to charge. I believe the reason for this is that all the exhibits in the Commonwealth Institute are paid for by the Commonwealth Governments whose countries are represented.
If the Commonwealth Institute were to charge, it would mean that an appalling sum would have to be done whereby the 1268 10p paid by visitors would have to be divided between 32 different Governments in order that justice be done. If that is the principle which has enabled the Commonwealth Institute to be exempted. I wonder whether the British Museum might adopt a similar principle: that the Governments of Greece and Egypt might be interested in the possibility of some of the revenue coming to them because, after all, such a large proportion of the items on display come from those countries.
I want to end on what I consider an important note. I refer again to the speech of the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead who did not seem to regard it as very important that the Government were requiring the museums to pay the money obtained from entrance charges straight to the Treasury. I regard this matter as of enormous importance, particularly when, in the normal business of politics, one sometimes hopes that the party opposite may do one or two good things which one's own party might not do because it is perhaps not in line with its policy and general attitude.
The party opposite is constantly talking about the need to stand on one's own feet, the need for initiative and the need for giving people responsibility. I am quite certain that many museums would welcome the responsibility of keeping the money which was earned from admission charges, assuming that the Bill goes through, and using it for the benefit of the museum or gallery concerned. This is so now with the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery regarding their postcard sales.
One of the inhibitions of museum staffs in improving the range of services which they provide is the knowledge that, when they are able to make a profit, the money does not accrue to the museum but goes straight into the Treasury and is, therefore, a form of tax. The Commonwealth Institute has a very good bookshop, but there is not the same kind of incentive which one would have expected hon. Gentlemen opposite to regard as important to make it a better bookshop by ensuring that the profits that it makes accrue to the Institute and enable the bookshop to be improved.
I believe that many museums would readily accept that responsibility if the 1269 profits made accrued to them. I am sure that many would have followed the lead which has been given by the British Museum and extended their activities into publishing and many other spheres which would have enabled them to make money on ancillary services. I think that they would have been prepared to do that and certainly would have preferred it to a system which ultimately prevents or discourages the kind of person whom all of us are keen to see entering museums, the kind of person who has envinced no interest in what museums have to offer but has gone in on chance or because he happened to be bored or because it was raining, and has found something of interest or was made to look at something which he had not regarded as important, beautiful or of interest before. That is what worries so many hon. Members on this side of the House.
Another matter which worries me particularly, and many of my hon. Friends, is that we are extending this commercial principle, which has characterised so much of what the Government have done since they have been in power, to the museum world. It is the idea that everything of value has to be paid for. The Department of Education and Science extends it to school milk and things of that kind. This debases the museum, it turns it into a semi-commercial institution, and destroys a great principle which we have observed over many years: that things of real cultural value should be on show for people to see free of charge and that certain things in life, like beautiful scenery, beautiful parks and beautiful things created by our ancestors should be there for all to see for nothing.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Jeffrey Archer (Louth)
I am still unable to support Her Majesty's Government, because I believe that we have made very little progress since the last debate.
I start by referring to the speeches by my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate and the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss). I hope that the Under-Secretary will pass on my remarks because those which are discourteous are not meant to be made behind his back.
The main point which the Lord Advocate made, almost in his opening state- 1270 ment, was that the amount which was to be spent next year was £18 million. Having declared this figure to an astonished House, he then said that it was necessary to bring in £1 million to help. I am told—in fact I know it to be true, because, strangely enough, the Lord Advocate is a close friend of mine; he may be a brilliant lawyer, but he is certainly no economist—that those two figures of £18 million and £1 million bear no relationship to each other at all. I agree that expansion is admirable, but I confess that I thought his point on noise and disturbance in a gallery somewhat irrelevant.
My right hon. and learned Friend talked of children having a genuine interest and wanting to go to a gallery. But that genuine interest is often captured by just dropping into a gallery or accidentally finding a gallery or discovering it by chance. That very chance, that very genuine interest being captured, could easily be deterred and lost.
I say this to my chairman, the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke), who turns away when I make this point, because he has missed most of the debate.
§ Mr. Archer
I take the point and withdraw. I apologise to my hon. Friend.
My worry is that an initial charge to a child may mean never capturing this interest. The Under-Secretary of State on the last occasion said that the charge to children was small. I put forward yet 1271 again, as I did earlier in an intervention, that I do not mind how few children are concerned, because I will pursue excellence at that level on any cost.
The Lord Advocate—I am delighted to see him in his place—ended by saying that there was a target of £1 million. His words were "a target". That was the first time I had heard that expression used. Why was there a target at all? What has a target to do with museum charges. If it were necessary to charge 50p a place, would the target still have been £1 million? If it had been 1p a place, would the target still have been £1 million? To have had a target was totally irrelevant. Were the Lord Advocate not one of the most popular Members of the House of Commons, I should not have been surprised if the Opposition had taken him apart considerably more.
I turn to the speech by the right hon. Member for Vauxhall. I say, I hope with a degree of sincerity, that I thought it one of the finest speeches I have ever heard in the House. It was well-reasoned and well-argued. Having had only nine months in opposition, I was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman did not hold office in the previous Government, because it would have been interesting to see him in operation at the Dispatch Box in those days.
I make two points about his speech. He talked of charges abroad. Often they are not the decision of a government but of a local authority, and so often the nation itself does not charge but the local authority does charge—and I am against that. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the case of Baldwin, a fair case. The right hon. Gentleman will know, as will so many of us, that it was a letter from Kipling to Baldwin that convinced him finally that it was not the sort of action a civilised man should take. It is a tragedy that we do not have, in the Conservative Party, or in a supporter in the country, a Kipling who could write to Eccles and get this Bill removed in one letter.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
I apologise for interrupting my hon. Friend about an earlier point. I am anxious to deal very fully with the argument, if I should catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. 1272 Friend referred to my earlier speech on 21st June. If I understood him, he said that my argument on that occasion was that the number of children involved was only very small. I do not recall having said this. I have had a quick look at my speech in HANSARD. I wonder whether my hon. Friend would kindly give me the reference.
§ Mr. Archer
I apologise. On that occasion I was quoting from memory. If my hon. Friend says that that was not what he meant, I withdraw that comment without hesitation.
One of my grave disappointments about the Bill is that I believe, for what it is worth, that if the Minister were to go to the Dispatch Box tonight and say, "I have listened to the opinion of the trustees"—and no one doubts that 90 per cent. of the trustees of museums and art galleries in Britain are against the charges—"I have listened to these and other views; I have talked it around and discussed the figure of £1 million; I have generally listened, and I have decided on balance that we were wrong", there would be universal praise throughout the country, and we should take benefit upon benefit for having the courage to do something which no one in politics does, which is to say that we were wrong and to go the other way. I suggest to my hon. Friend that we should take every trump card, whereas now we have played into the hands of the Opposition and given them every opportunity, for a petty sum like £1 million, to capture headline after headline against us. That is one of the most disturbing elements of this matter.
At the General Election we described ourselves as the party of consultation. We were going to consult—and we did consult. We consulted, but we did not listen. If we had listened to the consultations, and even if they had come out 50–50 or 60–40, perhaps we could have made it Government policy; but those involved or interested have come out 90 per cent. against the Bill. When one looks among those I call the liberal, intelligent persons who are not closely involved in politics, it is hard to find anyone who will support the Government on this Measure.
I turn now to the debate in the other place, mentioned by the right hon. Member for Vauxhall. He spoke of the first Amendment in the other place. That was 1273 the most important Amendment. On 6th December it was defeated. The Government won. From my point of view, the Amendment was defeated. The Conservative Party won by 71 votes to 68 votes. Among those who voted in the Lobby, presumably with the Labour Party, were Lord Amhurst, Lord Auckland, Lord Cork and Orrery, and Lord St. Just, four well-known Tories who regularly take the Tory Whip and Tory support. All their speeches—I shall not bore the Under-Secretary with them—pointed out very clearly why they thought that this was a retrograde step for the Conservative Party.
We have heard the arguments about the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate Gallery. We have heard the arguments about Turner. I emphasise that if Turner were alive today he would be appalled. I have always enjoyed walking around the Tate on a Sunday, popping along and looking at the Turners. From now on the gallery will be charging anyone who wants to pop along. The queue outside the gallery on a Sunday is not made up of middle-class well-off people but of young people, students, and people who have Walked to the Tate to get there; and the queue can stretch for half a mile. That queue will have a very different intake. A very different type of person will be queuing in the next two or three years because of this change, a change I shall be very sorry to see.
I remind my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of another point. It was, of all men, Disraeli who left his entire collection to the nation on the ground that it should be free. Disraeli was the founder and leader of our party, the man I most admire in the history of the party. So we could guarantee that were he the Minister for the Arts today and sitting in the other place, he would not tolerate the Bill.
I put three specific questions to the Under-Secretary, and I hope that he will find time to answer them. This is not a personal attack against him, because he has an immense knowledge in this sphere. I have discussed this matter with him over about six months on very friendly terms and I am only too sorry that we have never been able to agree. I hope that he will take my questions seriously.
1274 When the Bill says that there is a choice whether the galleries make a charge, what does that mean? How much pressure is being put on the galleries to make sure that they charge, and how easy is it for a gallery to say that it wants nothing to do with it? If it said that, does that mean that its slice of the £18 million disappears?
Second, the Lord Advocate said—I do not know whether he meant to do so—that the very young would not be charged. Would the Under-Secretary kindly say the exact age he means by "the very young"? I shall withdraw my abstention if it is the age of 18.
Third, I hope that the Lord Advocate reads his speech very carefully—there was a hubbub from the benches opposite when he used the words "very young". Will he make any further decision about the old or will this now be put on one side and forgotten? Will he not let the old-age pensioner off the hook? Will he give in on the young and the old and make it possible for myself and one or two of my hon. Friends to join our party in the Lobby?
Finally, I take an individual constituency case, because so often with the individual one can get one's point over more clearly. The headmaster of Louth Grammar School has four children. He brings them to London once a year. Among the things which he thinks it is his duty to do—rightly so—is to take them to certain museums and art galleries. If they like them, naturally they will return. He considers it his duty initially to take them to those galleries and museums. He is right. But he points out that with four children, himself and his wife, and four or five visits, this becomes a very expensive venture. The decision would be that if they wished to have a meal and go to the theatre, they had better not visit two art galleries. That is a very sad thing for him to have to decide. There must be thousands in that category, who will decide to drop one or two visits in a year.
I end with the words of William Shakespeare in that best-known of all speeches—Mark Antony's peroration to the people in Act III, Scene II of Julius Cæsar, in which he describes Cæsar's will. It is interesting that he spoke—no one has ever doubted this—to the common man in the street, yet in telling the 1275 common man the will of Cæsar he lists the following as the most important factors:Moreover, he hath left you all his walks,His private arbours, and new-planted orchards,On this side Tiber; he hath left them you,And to your heirs for ever; common pleasures,To walk abroad, and recreate yourselves.Here was a Cæsar! When comes such another?We need a Cæsar, and we need him today.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Torney (Bradford, South)
I do not lightly give praise to a Tory, but I must pay tribute to the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Jeffrey Archer) not only for his eloquence but for the content of his speech and for his courage in speaking against his party's decision. I wish I could have the hon. Gentleman's eloquence, and perhaps his knowledge and understanding in being able to quote Shakespeare, but because of the very principle that I, with the hon. Gentleman, am arguing against, I do not possess the knowledge of the arts possessed by so many hon. Members on both sides. I make no apology for that, because the system advocated by so many Tory right hon. and hon. Members brought it about.
My roots are very much grass. I had a very humble start in life and had to struggle. Because of that I have perhaps a clearer understanding of what the sum of 10p—or two bob as it used to be called—means to a working-class family than most Tory Members have.
No one has said that art galleries, museums and the arts are not good. We all want them, and we want better ones. Yet, having agreed that they are good for all of us, including the younger generation, we are selective, and we are to make it difficult for some of our people, particularly the aged and children, to go to such places of education and great interest.
My constituency is considerably further from London than is the constituency of the hon. Member for Louth. The City of Bradford is 200 miles away, and therefore to start with the parents of three or four children have a much higher fare to pay to get to London than the con- 1276 siderable amount the hon. Gentleman's constituents have to pay. I have many constituents with families who like to spend a few days in London, perhaps once a year. They face greatly increased railway fares and meal costs, and now there is also to be a charge to go into the places of real interest that they and their children wish to enter.
Very few Tory Members, even if only on the basis of their income as Members—and many of them have extra income, would stop going to museums or art galleries because it would cost them 10p. Possibly they would consider that admission was rather cheap at that. But the kind of people I have described, people from constituencies in the provinces with perhaps three or four children, will find it impossible to pay. Four payments of 10p make 40p, which is not far short of half a pound, and that will buy food for some of the party on the trip down.
§ Mr. Crouch
I do not quite follow the hon. Gentleman's argument. I lived in Bradford for some years. There is an interesting gallery there, and there is another in Harrogate that is extremely good. In Leeds there is a gallery that is good by any standard in Europe, and there is also Temple Newsam in Leeds. Across the Pennines, the Manchester gallery is one of the best in the country. I am not against what the hon. Gentleman is saying about museum charges being a deterrent, but his constituents do not have to come to London to find good paintings or good museums.
§ Mr. Stanley Cohen (Leeds, South-East)
As a Member for one of the Leeds constituencies, I should like to make it perfectly clear that I do not want to attempt to run down the provinces or Leeds, but we must be frank and realistic and admit that there is no comparison between the provision of cultural activities and museums in London and the provinces. I can speak with personal experience. I have to bring my children down to London very often to enjoy some of the facilities that hon. Members living here can enjoy in the normal course of events, because we do not have those facilities in the provinces. Any 1277 Measure that makes it more difficult for people from the provinces to pursue such interests is deplorable.
§ Mr. Torney
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his intervention, which perhaps illustrates the problems more clearly than I could. My hon. Friend has four children. I do not have four young children to bring to London, but I am putting the position of someone who does not have the income of a Member of Parliament, a person in the low-income groups, possibly a railway porter, someone working on a mundane task in a textile mill, or a worker in a shop or distributive warehouse where the earnings are about £12 to £15 a week. There are plenty of such people. Let us not imagine that we are living in such a wonderful society that to many of our people 10p comes easily and does not mean much.
I listened with a great deal of attention to the Lord Advocate. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) that possibly the right hon. and learned Gentleman was playing down the atmosphere somewhat by taking it quietly. Certainly the right hon. and learned Gentleman dealt admirably with the many technical aspects of the Bill. However, I thought that he was scraping the bottom of the barrel when he came to deal with the principle involved, especially when he tried to compare it with National Health Service charges.
I admit freely that I do not agree with National Health Service charges. I should prefer to see this service as it was first introduced, a completely free one. However, I remind the Lord Advocate that even in the case of charges under the National Health Service, children are exempt. What is more, old age pensioners can take vouchers to their chemists and have their prescription charges waived. There is no comparison. Even if some adults could fork out the necessary 10p in order to secure their own admission to a museum or gallery, it would come very hard on the aged and on children. It is quite irrelevant to attempt to make any comparison with National Health Service charges.
Then it was suggested from the benches opposite that it was necessary to charge admission to museums and galleries in 1278 order to keep out the riff-raff. When I heard that comment about disturbances coming from the benches opposite, I thought that it was almost scraping a hole in the bottom of the barrel. Was that really the suggestion? If an admission charge is likely to have that effect, should not we charge £5 to anyone wishing to attend a football match on the popular side? That might stop some of the hooliganism which occurs in and around many of our football grounds.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall dealt adequately with the point about the £18 million and the yield from admission charges of £1 million. The hon. Member for Louth developed it. I do not propose to deal with it further.
I come to the purpose behind the Bill. It is a nasty little Bill. It is rather niggardly. If I might be a little partisan, it is typical of the attitude of the present Government, who seem to be seeking to widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots. It is typical of a Scrooge-like Minister of Education who, not content with taking away some of the practical benefits which our children used to enjoy in the shape of free school milk and school meals which so many parents no longer can afford, now seeks to interfere with culture by making a charge for admission to museums and art galleries, thereby perhaps making it more difficult for the children of our nation to enjoy the fuller life to which they are properly entitled.
School teachers whom I know, some of them on this side of the House, have often said to me that the only purpose of taking an organised school party to an art gallery or museum is to whet the appetite. It shows the way in which we hope that our children will go in the future. While I appreciate that organised school parties are to be admitted free, the fact remains that if a child's appetite is whetted and he wants to pop into a gallery or museum on a Saturday morning, he will find himself having to fork out 5p. To parents with very low incomes who have more than one child, 5p is not readily forthcoming once they have bought the family's weekly food supply.
We last debated this subject on 21st June. I was rather struck by a remark in the course of the right hon. Lady's speech when she referred to matters about 1279 which we can agree. The right hon. Lady said:First, that the valuable collections of the, museums and galleries should be properly housed and displayed, maintained and expanded, so that they can be enjoyed by as many people as possible."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st June, 1971; Vol. 819, c. 1004.]For a moment, I wish to dwell upon that word "possible". In the light of the right hon. Lady's intention which she made clear in her speech and in the White Paper that she introduced, I can only think that… as many people as possiblemeant those people who could afford to pay the 10p, 5p or 50p for the season ticket. What else does it mean? It is not possible for the children of ordinary people to continue to go to galleries and museums as they have in the past.
It may be that we are seeing the thin end of the wedge. We have seen charges imposed for milk, meals and museums. We have experienced higher costs in every direction in the last 18 months or so. Is the required £1 million only the beginning? In another few months or perhaps in a year, shall we find that £2 million, £3 million or even £4 million out of the £18 million will be required by way of higher charges? Will the line be extended? It is reasonable to suppose from the Government's attitude and the way that they argue their case that, if it is right to charge for admission to museums, perhaps we should also charge for looking at the beauties of our parks, charge children to play in playgrounds, or even charge our children to go to school. That seems to be the ideology behind some of the ideas among right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite.
I want also to draw attention to the effect on people who are unfortunate enough to be out of work. It is hard enough for a parent on low earnings to take his children to a gallery or museum. It is impossible for a man who is on the dole. It is with considerable regret that I have to remind hon. Members that more than a million people are unemployed at the moment. In the city of which my constituency is part, 7.5 per cent. of the breadwinners are out of work. How do the Government expect people in that situation to afford even the 5p which will be required from any child wanting to get into a museum?
1280 Another factor occurs to me. With so many men denied the right to work, surely it would be a gesture to give a man who has no work an opportunity to use his enforced and miserable leisure in an educational way. He will not be able to afford the 10p to take himself into a museum or art gallery while he is unemployed.
It might be common sense for the Government to ensure that the unemployed man who is suffering enough through not being able to work should at least be able to use such educational facilities as exist to increase his knowledge and add a little brightness to the miserable prospect before him. I wish I could believe that the Government were likely to turn back on their decision. I wish I could believe that they would respond to the plea made by the hon. Member for Louth and give way on the two essential provisions concerning the aged and the young. I do not believe that they will because, having seen how despicably this Scrooge-like Ministry has acted on meals and milk, I do not think they will have the same courage as the hon. Member and admit that they have made a mistake and seek to change matters.
We must demonstrate our feelings in the Lobby tonight, and I hope that hon. Members opposite who feel as I do will join us. Even if they do not we will still divide the House tonight, and posterity will show how wrong the Government were. We look to the next Labour Government to change this and to make our galleries and museums free once again.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)
As one whose constituency is also 200 miles from London, I can appreciate the point made by the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Torney). I was interested in the question put to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch). York museum is a first-class museum—it is comparatively near Bradford—and it makes a charge. I take the hon. Member's point about the expense of rail fares, but nowadays so many people travel by car, and more will do so with increasing prosperity. What I would like to know from my hon. Friend is just how small an educational party can be.
1281 The other point with which I have considerable sympathy, coming from a development area, was that dealing with unemployment. Nothing is worse for married life than having someone who has been in a job for years remaining at home not knowing what to do. If he could go to a museum after having signed on that would be an improvement.
The hon. Gentleman referred to the haves and have nots. We believe that by the time we have finished there will be many more haves than there were under the Labour Government and fewer have nots. We have already reduced taxation enormously. We want to see people being able to choose how they spend their money.
§ Mr. Torney
How can the hon. Gentleman say there will be more haves when we have well over a million unemployed and there seems to be no prospect of the numbers reducing?
§ Mr. Tilney
The hon. Gentleman sees no prospect, but he may think differently by the end of the year. I apologise in that I was not able to be here at the beginning of the debate and I am particularly sorry to have missed the speech of the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) who is an old friend of mine. My hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Jeffrey Archer) referred to it as a great speech. I count it an honour to take part in the debate, having been the chairman of Liverpool museums. I regret to say that it was a very long time ago. Our museum was badly blitzed in the last war. The Mayer Ivories and the Kentish Jewel were locked up in the safe. We had things stored in the old Carnatic Hall in Liverpool, which has now been pulled down, and on the site of which one of our university hostels now stands. There was nothing then for the chairman to do, but since then Liverpool has done splendidly and has one of the finest museums in the country, while the Walker Art Gallery is almost second to none. It is because I believe there is a lesson in what we have done in local government that I intervene now.
Our art gallery and museum are owned by our authority and we do not make a charge. There is a need of a national policy for all museums. Where will museums go under the new local government reorganisation? How shall we get 1282 the right liaison down the line? I believe that our Liverpool museums should be in the upper tier, part of the Merseyside County Council, in close liaison with national museums. If, ultimately, we have some form of regional government, some of our sub-national museums should be regional rather than local.
What is the greatest advantage to society? How should the small museums operate in close association with those that are well staffed and adequately financed? The large institutions must be the source of expertise and academic advice. I am thinking of great museums such as those in Manchester, Birmingham, our own, Norwich and York. The last two make charges.
More than half of our visitors come from outside our area, but I suppose that museums where tourists go such as York or Norwich cannot always count on those outside the area, especially museums in industrial centres. I have been in correspondence with the director of our museum in Liverpool. Although we do not make charges for our museums or the Walker Art Gallery, we do for Speke Hall, which is National Trust property, and we also charge for the planetarium, which is part of the museum. A survey was made of our visitors by a university don which showed that a considerable number were people who had been deprived of a liberal education in their earlier years, and who were trying to rectify that. This don thought that a charge would affect these people more than anyone else. But the director still holds the view—and I agree with him—that there should be charges for special services and that attention should be paid to developing sales on the lines of American museums.
What ought the charges to be? He wrote the other day:At present we have the 'Six Wives of Henry VIII' exhibition from B.B.C. Enterprises for which we charge 20p (lop children and pensioners). In six weeks we have attracted 25,000 visitors and taken about £3,000. Such attendance figures are not exceptional here (except for this particular time of year), and might or might not be an indication of public reaction to charges. This is a special item and has naturally had maximum publicity. Our Apollo space craft exhibition also attracted many visitors—about 16,000 in six days—but in this case the charge was only 10p and it was held during the summer holidays and again had a maximum publicity. Our 1283 planetarium has had 46,608 visitors in eighteen months of operation.What one would like to know, but it is too early to find out, is what the cost of that is against the receipts. One knows that there is a surplus but not how much.
He goes on:Quite a lot of people have said that Liverpool is producing one of the finest museums in Europe; if this is so it is being paid for by Liverpool citizens who are subsidising people beyond our boundaries.What is happening nationally in the provinces will happen internationally in the tourist centres, especially in Edinburgh and London.
Being a Northerner, I take rather a mundane view, that expenditure on permanent works of art, be they pictures, sculpture, or pieces for museums, is possibly better value for money than spending on the ephemeral, much though I enjoy music, the living theatre or ballet. Purely economically, it is better in many ways to spend money on what is permanent.
We have a problem on Merseyside of a new maritime museum. If it comes into being, it should be linked with a national museum in some way. Possibly the Minister could give us his views about that.
§ Mr. Crouch
My hon. Friend told us what his friend said about the special exhibitions at the Walker Gallery. But what is his own view about the permanent collection at the Walker Gallery? Does his friend feel that there should be a charge for the permanent exhibition?
§ Mr. Tilney
I do not know this don. I know the director. I read out a sentence of his view on this, and he was doubtful whether we should charge. He thought that there is a section of the public who are getting more and more interested in the arts and who may be affected by this charge. I do not believe this, because the whole idea of the Conservative Party is that people should in due course have more money to spend and the choice of how they spend it. I ask the Minister whether there is a national policy for our museums.
The Government are involved in the provinces because of the grant we get from the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is only £150,000, which is not enough, 1284 and it is used up by June. Of course it is appreciated, but it is nothing like adequate.
It is interesting to note how many museums in Western Europe charge for entry—and not only in Western Europe. I went to the great exhibition in Leningrad last summer at the Hermitage, the Winter Palace, one of the most magnificent collections of pictures in the world. I was fascinated to see that a charge was made, that the guides were not interested in some of the superb Empire furniture, on which all the public were allowed to sit, and which would cost a fortune at Christie's and Sotheby's and would be roped off in many museums. Nor did they do anything about the soldiers who walked in nailed boots on the lovely parquet floor—although they were very anxious that they should take off their caps. The lady concierge made them do so. They all had to pay for this, even in a Communist country.
People appreciate what they pay for. Our whole purpose is to improve our museum service. Therefore, although we may argue about how the money should be appropriated—I should have liked the grant-in-aid to be reduced and the museums allowed to keep the money they make, because it is an incentive to the profit motive, in which I believe—but I accept the Treasury agreement and I commend the Bill to the House.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)
In extenuation of the Bill, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Waver-tree (Mr. Tilney) did not argue his personal point of view about charges but sought to suggest that, because those who visited Russian institutions were charged, this was a very good example for us to follow. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman would take the same view about how they came by those pictures and riches or the palaces and buildings in which they are housed. We should surely follow our own practice.
One of the points at issue is that the Government are taking powers in Clause 1(2) to destroy agreements made in the past. This is one of the most forbidding features of these proposals, and this should be considered by all hon. Members as a shabby and mean-spirited little Bill.
1285 It is astonishing that a Government who said that there would be less government but better government, and less interference with any public bodies, should go to the lengths that they have to strain the law, in Scotland particularly, to gain their point. I was rather sad for the Lord Advocate today. He is one of the most respected Members of this House and in Scottish Committees he discharges his duties with a gentlemanly conduct and a legal knowledge which very few possess. It was a shame to put a man of his calibre in the position of avoiding the issue altogether. Ignoring our opinions about the issue of charges, he made it clear that he was dealing only with the mechanics by which the money was to be extracted.
The Bill empowers trustees to tax visitors to specified museums and, because this power does not exist in Scotland, the Government are straining the law. This is obvious from looking at the Ways and Means Motion on the Order Paper today in the name of the Financial Secretary. Irrespective of whether the governors and trustees of these institutions have power to make admission charges, the Government are saying that they shall have such power, whether or not they want it.
To what noble end is all this contraption and legal frummery being directed? The purpose is the raising of a miserable £1 million—it is being done in the name of what hon. Gentlemen opposite call enlightened government. In fact this is the Paymaster's contribution to the statements that have been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his mini-Budgets. Despite the resistance behind closed doors that has obviously been made against this charging proposal by the trustees of the various museums; despite the way in which magnanimous donors have made gifts to museums, laying down rigid terms about how they should be put on public view, the Government have persisted in their detestable policy.
In considering this matter, one must examine the grasping results of Treasury action in other social services. An intelligent guess has been made by some of my hon. Friends about the reason why the right hon. Lady the Secretary of State for Education and Science has been absent for a large part of the debate. It 1286 seems clear she has not been here to introduce this miserable little Bill because she is unhappy about it.
I am glad to see the right hon. Lady in her place at least to hear me explain how, for example, milk charges were imposed supposedly to enable more primary schools to be built and how health charges were levied so that the extra cost of prescriptions could supposedly provide more hospital accommodation. Many other examples could be given of the policies of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
It it argued in support of the Measure—this argument was used by the Paymaster in another place—that, if money is obtained from visitors to museums and art galleries, this will enhance the chances of getting more money for these institutions from the Treasury. I agree that more money is needed for this purpose, but not by this method, for there is a distinction between this and other services, an aspect to which I will come later.
How does the Scottish Office come into this and what is their part in this sordid deal? We in the City of Glasgow yield to nobody in praising our museum, which is an excellent institution containing, among other things, one of the finest collections of French paintings. It compares well with any other museum, in London or elsewhere.
What advice did the Secretary of State receive from the trustees of the various museums? Is it not a fact that all of them—not 90 per cent. but 100 per cent. of them—are still, as they have been all along, strongly opposed to the Bill? The Lord Advocate is no doubt supported by the Scottish Whip, and I am glad to see the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education at the Scottish Office, the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) in attendance. He and some of his colleagues cannot be in agreement with the aims of this miserable and cheap little Bill.
For how long did the various trustees, and perhaps some Scottish hon. Gentlemen opposite, struggle against the imposition of charges which this Measure proposes to enforce? Or are we to conclude that they acted like the typist about whom the question was asked "How did 1287 the struggling typist get her fur coat?" The answer was "She ceased to struggle". The Government got this far with the Bill without any real opposition from their supporters on the benches opposite.
Certain figures were adduced in another place about the administrative costs of trying to recover the £1 million with which the Bill is concerned. May we be given the figures? For example, how many more employees will be required in Scottish museums to collect this money?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education, Scottish Office (Mr. Hector Monro)
Nine more employees will be required in Scotland.
§ Mr. Hannan
What about the total cost of administering the Bill? We must have this figure if the £1 million which it is proposed to raise is to have any meaning. In other words, how much will it cost to raise this sum? Considering all the exceptions and exemptions that the Government have made from the enforcement of school milk and prescription charges and so on, one is bound to ask this question. What sort of exemptions will there be? A noble Lord suggested in another place that students and even school children should be supplied with chits from their teachers before attending local museums and art galleries.
§ Mr. Buchan
If the Under-Secretary will not supply my hon. Friend with the information, perhaps I can do so. I understand that in one set of museums it will cost about 12 per cent. to collect the admission charges and in another set the cost will be 18 per cent. In other words, those percentages will be lost from the additional charges.
§ Mr. Hannan
I thank my hon. Friend for that information.
I had intended to deal with the legal niceties by which this provision is to be introduced for Scottish museums, for a point of privilege arises. The Bill started in another place and it seems to have been perpetuated in this House. But in view of the shortage of time, the fact that a number of hon. Members still wish to take part in the debate and that my hon. and learned Friend the Member 1288 for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray) will deal with this issue if he catches your eye, Mr. Speaker, I will leave the matter there.
Will the Minister confirm or deny the rumour that a new museum is to be built on the site of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders as an example to future generations of the way in which thousands of Glasgow citizens earned their livelihood at one time? The tools they used could be displayed for the benefit of posterity, who would be provided with an ideal example of the way in which an ineffective and effete Government lost control of the situation.
I do not intend to enter into the legal aspects of this whole issue. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) explained how a museum in his part of the world would be affected by the Bill. It seems that the Measure will not apply to local museums and art galleries. It is clear that Glasgow and most museums could do with help, but not the sort of so-called help that will be provided by the Bill.
The principal argument adduced in favour of the Bill is that more money is needed for the nation's museums and art galleries. Nobody will argue with that. Those who support the Measure go on to argue that if the users of museums are obliged to make this sort of contribution, these institutions will be able to obtain more money from the Treasury. If that is so, why not allow the museums to keep the money raised by charging for admission? In my submission the Government should, as a deliberate act of policy, allocate a percentage of national resources to museums and art galleries.
We live by a combination of bread and roses. We need to earn a living but we must also enjoy our leisure hours. I would like this issue to be hammered out at an election and I hope that as the whole question of new local government arrangements is debated, both here and in the country, that sort of debate will take place.
What assistance will be forthcoming from the Government? The figure of £18 million has been mentioned, but this is more a question of faith than realism. No one will deny the clamant need for more resources, but the choice is not, as 1289 the Government put it, between no charges and no adequate expansion, and a modest charge with expansion, both in London and the provinces.
As I read the debate in the other place, without these charges allocations of money are being made. But museums must be in London before they are considered, and it will be interesting to know from the Under-Secretary of State what was the outcome of the deputation from Glasgow which is seeking resources for the construction of an urgently needed concert hall and cultural centre in Glasgow.
One learns from the debate in the other place that the National Gallery is to receive about £4 million for development on a site a little further up the road from where we are. If such a sum of money can be awarded to an institution without admission charges, and without a national system of admission charges, why cannot a similar provision be made on a national basis, and why cannot some of the provinces be given the kind of consideration that is given to museums in London?
I see from the clock that I have spoken for quite a long time. I conclude by trying to reinforce the plea which has been made by many of my hon. Friends. The Prime Minister has a certain amount of patronage. His knowledge and love of music is well known, and in a humble way I share that love. If any appeal is to be made, the person to make it to is surely the Prime Minister who has such an interest in these matters.
It has been said by some of my hon. Friends and, I think, by some hon. Gentlemen opposite, that Members of Governments have been influenced by a private letter, or by a powerful speech, or in some other way. I hope that the Prime Minister will read the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Jeffrey Archer). I hope that I do not embarrass the hon. Gentleman—it is not my intention to do so—by saying that his was an impressive and powerful speech. If any humble words which flow from some of us even reach the ears or eyes of the Prime Minister, he should say to his Ministers, "Away with this nonsense. Take away the Bill. Abandon this Measure and all the purposes which lie behind it".
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Ernle Money (Ipswich)
I hope that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. William Hannan) will forgive me if I do not follow what he said in depth, save to say that he struck a responsive chord when he spoke of the needs of the provinces. I have no doubt that many of us are jealous of the rich resources of his great city with its collection of impressionist pictures and a superb Rembrandt.
None the less, many of us will take great comfort from the fact that this is one of the matters which has been given priority by the White Paper, Command 4676, and that this is one of the subjects being considered with great care and interest by a distinguished committee.
I confess that I find this a puzzling debate in many ways. I find myself at odds, albeit on a subject about which I care passionately, with some of those whom I regard as my natural allies. I think that this is probably the only issue on which my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Jeffrey Archer) and I would disagree. I also deeply regret, as I am sure the House does, the enforced absence of the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds), who has been a doughty champion and good friend of the arts in so many ways.
When I hear some of the things said by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, I wonder whether we are talking about the same subject. I found that particularly so at one stage in the interesting speech of the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Guy Barnett), when he spoke about the difference between the applied and the living arts. At one stage the hon. Gentleman seemed to be arguing that it was proper and feasible to charge an entry fee for the living arts because, as he said, conductors and orchestral players had salaries to earn, but, on his argument, that did not appear to refer to the applied arts or to museums or galleries.
I wonder whether the House has any idea how real a crisis there is in our museum service. I wonder whether the House has any idea of the way in which our museum service is losing many of its best people because it cannot afford to pay proper salaries, what a state of absolute chaos it is in, as vouchsafed 1291 by the recent publication of the standing committee on the export of works of art on acquisition policies, and, furthermore, the real crisis with which we are faced because of the greatest-ever public demand and the greatest-ever public good will for museums and galleries. It is a service which—and I say this without criticism of the distinguished bodies of trustees and directors of many of our great national institutions—is falling miles behind its counterparts in many parts of the world.
In a way the present situation stems from a curious belief, which has been exhibited by so many speakers tonight, that the museum service as such is a static one, and that we can go on accepting museums as they stand on the basis that if they are left as they are people will be able to look at the contents, and that is all we need to do about them.
I am frightened that we have heard so little tonight about the whole question of care and conservation, about the whole question of adequate display, and about the whole question of moneys which are needed to propagate museums and make them of a standard comparable with some of the museums abroad which have been cited as chargers.
Although the sum of £1 million has been referred to curiously often tonight as though it were a small sum—with respect I suggest that it is a pretty sizeable sum in anybody's money—the advent of that kind of money is desperately needed as a blood transfusion if we are to serve future generations in the way they need to be served. That is why I find it so strange that, at a time when there are so many claims on the public purse, when there are claims for the disabled, claims for dealing with the problem of unemployment, and claims for education, the House can seriously say that this provision will not give the museums the money which they desperately need. I remind the House that the Labour Party's programme of £9 million over 12 years has been stepped up by this Government to £11 million over five years.
The money that will become available in this way is money that will come from the museums, and not have to be called on as an added charge on the public purse in the sense that it would 1292 cut off money that was needed for the disabled, for education, for hospitals, or for some other reason. I find it the most puzzling dichotomy of the debate that often the whole question of the arts appears to be approached in a vacuum, as though it were something which could be considered on its own.
The great difficulty is that this is, above all, a cost-intensive field. The noble Lady, the Baroness Lee of Asheridge, found this more than anyone when she was in the position which my noble Friend the Paymaster-General now holds and when she tried to introduce Sunday morning opening for some of the London museums—something for which many of us had hoped and pressed for years and something which would have been a great advantage and an attraction to the Metropolis. The cost of a scheme which would have brought great benefit made it impossible in the circumstances.
It is exactly for that sort of thing that one needs to turn to this source for the money which is needed for this service, because I do not believe that at this stage the public would accept that it should come from other funds.
I was surprised to hear in the speeches of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen frequent reference to special exhibitions. One example cited was that of queues outside the Tate Gallery. These queues, which were cited as an example of the keenness of the public to go to exhibitions, are forming in fact, as in the case of the Hogarth Exhibition at the moment, at special exhibitions for which charges are being made.
§ Mr. Jeffrey Archer
My hon. Friend and I seem to be discussing this matter every day, although not necessarily in the Chamber. My point was that these were not queues for special exhibitions. This was a Sunday queue. The Tate Gallery opens at 2 p.m. and my point was that there was a long queue there at 2 p.m. and that in that queue at the moment would be a vast number of young people. I feared that with the introduction of charges the numbers of young people attending would fall away.
§ Mr. Money
I know that my hon. Friend has deep concern about these matters. I want to answer him by quoting the experience of the Hayward 1293 Gallery, where the director's answer is that, with exhibitions of Celtic art and kinetic art, they have seen no falling away in the attendance of young people, and there is still the same keenness to come to special exhibitions for which charges are made.
I dealt briefly with the question of Sunday opening. I turn from that question to what I believe is probably the most important point before the House on this Measure, and which the House has not been asked to consider tonight. I refer to the whole question of a serious re-thinking about the place of museums in the spectrum of cultural activity. One of the depressing things with which we are faced at this stage is the idea that a museum will simply be a residual legacy from a previous generation, that we should just take it like that—that we make the corridors clean, even though we cannot keep the pictures in good condition, and that we should leave it like that and do nothing further.
At this stage, particularly with the increasing good will amongst the public and the large number of people who want to get something from this experience, it is vital that we should look at the question of how to make museums not only more attractive for the tourist, not only drawing in more people in the sense of more bodies, but in giving more to the visitors.
Often in the arguments presented today cases have been cited of young persons. I have listened with careful attention to the arguments presented by right hon. and hon. Members. I have much sympathy with some of the opinions which have been expressed. Above all, I wonder how much a child gets from the type of random entry which has been cited so often and so movingly, without the type of adequate display and intelligible presentation and facilities which are presented in the Boyman-van Beuningen Museum at Rotterdam and at so many other museums which will be familiar to right hon. and hon. Members and which cost money.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Louth, I waited patiently for exemptions for some of the causes for which we have fought, in particular. I am glad that over the months the Minister has been able to make exemptions. I do not think 1294 that I could have been able to support the Bill tonight if exemptions had not been made, in particular, for members of the National Arts Collection and for members of the Contemporary Arts Society.
I also welcome the fact that there are to be differential charges, which will make it possible for those who genuinely want to attend museums and galleries to go there.
I take two examples which have been quoted frequently in the Press. They are not public museums, but they are examples from which there may be a lesson for the House to consider. As Member for the County Borough of Ipswich, I find it hard to praise anything about our sister city of Norwich. I find it particularly disturbing that we may have to have Norwich in the First Division with us next year.
None the less, to give honour its due, it is right to say that the Castle Museum at Norwich was until recently, certainly throughout the whole of my childhood, a gallery with a superb collection in the shape of the Colman Bequest and other pictures, but it was abominably exhibited. It is only since the Museum has been able to get rid of the stuffed birds which form the normal entrance to a museum and to create a logical and interesting basis for the collection that this great collection at Norwich has come to be properly appreciated.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Far from the number of people who attend Norwich Museum having fallen, the number, despite charges and although Norwich City Council has increased the charges, has risen.
I turn from that example to another very worrying case which has been heavily on the mind of the House and, I hope, on its conscience. I refer to the Gallery of the College of God's Gift at Dulwich. This is the other alternative. This is a magnificent building with one of the greatest collections in the world—the oldest public collection in this country. It has sunk in a quagmire as a result of the inadequacy of funds available—it is a private collection—to keep the roof on and the burglars out. I wonder whether, if they had had the ability to do so, the Trustees at Dulwich would not have been happier to tackle their situation by imposing a modest 1295 charge, as has been done in these circumstances by the Government, rather than the Trustees having to go to the other and terrible alternative of selling their great Domenichino, with the prospect that other, even more important, pictures may have to go up the spout in due course.
I believe that we must look to the future in an effort to meet many of the things which affect the young people and the future of our museums and galleries—acquisition, protection, proper care, and adequate museum service. In an ideal world I would far rather that it was not necessary to impose charges. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has been able to do it. If it must be done in this way, I would rather it were done, as it has been done, in a fair, equitable and reasonable way by the Government, than that for reasons of political dogma a great service and a great national heritage should be allowed to deteriorate until it becomes totally unacceptable.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Hardy (Rother Valley)
The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Money) said that he wondered whether we were all talking about the same subject. I have at times today wondered if we are even all living in the same country—if "country" be the right word, because there has been a large Scottish content in the debate.
The hon. Member spoke of the massive needs of the museum service. Most people on this side of the House will probably agree that the needs are great, and probably growing, but I cannot believe that the sum which the Government are talking about, £1 million, will be more than a very small part of the total needs of our galleries and museums. Indeed, since the proposal to charge for admission was introduced the escalation of costs and the effects of inflation are likely to have caused the prices of projects which the Government promised to carry out to exceed the yield which the Government hope will be received through the introduction of charges.
I had intended to speak only very briefly indeed, merely to express my own belief that these museums and galleries should be regarded as part of education. And I believe that education should be free.
1296 I tried to intervene in the speech of the Lord Advocate and I regretted that he would not give way, because I wanted to ask a fairly simple question on a point which was relevant, and I hope that the information will be forthcoming before this debate is concluded. The Lord Advocate mentioned that school parties, properly organised, with proper notice given, would be admitted free of charge.
I organised a number of large school parties to museums and galleries and places of that sort when I was teaching in South Yorkshire before the last election. I am well aware that usually teachers are able to organise school parties in good time and that they give proper notice, but there are circumstances which may be peculiar to British education, in which it is desirable to organise a school party with very little notice indeed. Let me give one example. There are students who come on teaching practice and go to a school for three, four or five weeks and who in their last year at college of education, or in their year at university, wish to have the experience of a school party, hoping that it can be organised during their teaching practice and linked to the work which they are doing with the children. This very often means that a party has to be organised at very short notice.
If the children had to pay there would certainly be considerable disadvantage in making it possible for the whole of a class, or a number of classes, to go on the proposed visit. Therefore, the whole question of school parties has to be given very careful consideration, and I hope that the teachers' associations will be considered, as they very properly should be, when these arrangements are made.
I said that there are circumstances which may perhaps be peculiar to this country, and during the debate there have been many references to galleries and museums abroad, but I think the Minister will accept the fact that education in Britain has some advantages which do not generally apply. Teachers in British schools have very much more flexibility, and it is good that there should be this flexibility and that it should be encouraged. To start tying the teaching profession and schools down by insisting on two or three months' notice before a visit to a gallery or museum could be made would be most disadvantageous.
1297 My experience as a teacher in the provinces supports my opposition to that. Far too few people in the House today have recognised that very many children will be put to disadvantage by these proposals. I sometimes found that there were children who could not afford to go on trips to London even though very great care and trouble was taken to ensure that the price of a trip was reduced to the minimum. We were able to run day trips, with meals included, very often for 25s. or 26s. not long ago. It would not be possible now because of the inflation of the last 12 months, but we were able to operate trips very cheaply. To make sure that virtually all the children had the opportunity to visit London we had to do this. These proposals will be a deterrent and they are unnecessary.
There is a general disregard of the fact that large numbers of people are not very well off today. Earlier in the debate an hon. Member said that people are now much better off. Only last week in Committee on the Housing Finance Bill a Minister talked about increasing rents by "only 50p". These sums of money, 50p and 10p, represent a great deal to many people in the country. Many of my constituents bring home wages of £15 or £16 a week. They may wish to give their children every possible opportunity but cannot afford to do so on these wages. Although many hon. Members on the Government side may think that the charges for admission are small, thousands of children will be unable to afford to pay for admission to museums and galleries, and will therefore lose an opportunity which they should continue to have.
The majority of people are probably unmoved and unexcited by the proposals. An hon. Member on the Government side mentioned this in a mood of self-congratulation. The fact that the majority of people are unmoved supports the view that the proposals are harmful. It is because the majority of people do not value these cultural activities that they should not lose what opportunity they have of coming into contact with cultural activities. I find the proposal unpalatable because of this apathy and I think most teachers would share my view. The proposal will undermine the work of thousands of committed teachers 1298 and will reduce the opportunities for young people to get the sort of contact that teachers are encouraging them to take.
Many teachers had come to believe, before 1970, that the Conservative Party had changed. They had noted the book written by the Paymaster-General three or four years ago, "Life and Politics—a Moral Diagnosis". I read the book at the time and found it interesting and sensitive. I looked at it again a few days ago and took from it one or two quotations. The Paymaster-General advanced the view that the problems of society today were moral rather than economic. He believed that the prosperity which Britain was enjoying and would continue to enjoy should first be put to improving the opportunities for our citizens to engage in pursuits which would uplift their spirit. He said:Conservative concern is with the purpose to which property is put—this must be to raise the quality of society.He said that men should be able to look at the past and take the great things of the past as a model for their future activity. Most interesting of all, he said:Art knows no frontiers. Art appeals to each of us without favour and our response is as free as anything can be of our social and financial circumstances.The response of many of my constituents who work down the pit for £15 or £16 net a week will not be particularly free of their financial circumstances as a result of this odious Measure.
Teachers and others engaged in education will probably have read the noble Lord's book. They may have been impressed by his attitude and taken it as indicating a change in the attitude of will disillusion them of any such assumptions. The Conservative Party is as it always was, and my constituents, many of whom have ample evidence of the manifestations of the Conservative Party in the past, will not be surprised. Many thoughtful and reasonable people concerned with education will continue to deplore these proposals.
At the time when the White Paper announcing these proposals was in course of preparation, the Government were making a considerable donation to the International Hunting Exhibition. This donation was given without debate in 1299 the House. That donation was given to support activities which the majority of people find odious. One of the delights offered at the International Hunting Exhibition was the opportunity to stick sharp lances into live wild animals. At the time the Government were giving money to support this sadistic and unsavoury activity they were preparing the proposals to charge everyone, including young people and students, for admission to galleries and museums. This is an entirely shameful proposal.
§ Mr. David Clark (Colne Valley)
I am intrigued to hear my hon. Friend's comment on the Government's contribution to the International Hunting Exhibition. Is this an annual contribution which the government are making to this pig-sticking competition?
§ Mr. Hardy
I am not aware, but I will take steps to find out if my hon. Friend does not wish to undertake that task himself. If it is an annual event, I hope that pig-sticking will not be an annual occurrence and that we shall have an opportunity of debating this expenditure in the House.
I will conclude by giving a quotation which the noble Lord repeated from St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians:Only let our conduct be consistent with the level we have already reached.The Government's conduct is consistent, but the consistency and the level are particularly low.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)
So much the Government have done, are doing and plan to do is wholly meritorious, and for that reason it is with real regret that I find myself unable to support them on this issue. I do not dissent from the general principle that those who benefit from a public service might reasonably be asked to make a contribution towards its cost, but such a principle ought not to be applied in a doctrinaire fashion. And it is not necessarily applicable where Government subsidies are already customary.
I believe that this Government deserve general support, but if I were asked to name a field in which I believe they are not doing all they should, I would say that this is in recognising their responsi- 1300 bility for maintaining the traditional moral values of our society. Governments exercise an influence over these values—by the order of priorities they choose for social needs, by what they encourage, by what they tolerate and by what they penalise. I regret that in this Bill they have their order of priorities wrong.
The Bill brings to an end a proud tradition of free access by the public to some of the greatest treasures of our artistic and cultural heritage. No one can suggest that free access has done anything but good for the people able to use it. We have been told that the financial gain from the change of policy will be slightly over £1 million a year, nearly 20 per cent. of which will be spent in collecting it. Against a background of an overall Government expenditure of thousands of millions of pounds, one is entitled to ask: is it worth it? Does £1 million more per year—which could easily be found by cutting less worthy causes—justify bringing to an end what I consider to have been a noble policy?
There is, for me, one important consideration. The Government already subsidise culture through the medium of the Arts Council by a figure of around £14 million annually. When museum charges were first introduced, destined to raise £1 million annually, the subsidy to the Arts Council had recently been increased by nearly £2 million annually. Much of what the Arts Council does is good and useful, but far too much of the £14 million goes on worthless rubbish and dirt. Can it be said that the Arts Council is more deserving? If there is £2 million available, why not preserve free access to the museums and art galleries and cut the increase in the grant to the Arts Council?
This is one example where the Government are failing in their responsibility to the public. For is it not better for an elected Government to decide the objects on which taxpayers' money should be spent rather than to leave the whole sum to the unfettered control of a wholly unrepresentative body? It sometimes baffles and depresses me to see that the Government are prepared to allow the moral tone of society to be dictated by autonomous, unrepresentative and non-elected, yet publicly-financed, bodies.
1301 The Arts Council, like the B.B.C., claims to do as it pleases with public money. In the process they both spend much of it on tearing down the traditional fabric of our society. I object to the Government's laissez-faire attitude towards moral questions. I object even more strongly to a policy which penalises the enjoyment of wholesome culture while at the same time rewarding and encouraging much that is worthless and trivial.
It grieves me not to be able to suppport my right hon. and hon. Friends. But if they must pursue this policy, they must do so without my help.
§ 8.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald King Murray (Edinburgh, Leith)
I admire the courage and integrity with which the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) has just spoken. Listening to him, I thought I heard some of the echoes of the better Conservative tradition which has been signally absent from the policies of this Government since they came to power.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss), in a speech which we all admired, mentioned the Conservative election manifesto of June, 1970. I should like to touch a little more on this aspect since I have attended with some care to the speeches in this debate, and I have yet to hear from right hon. Members opposite any hint of an explanation why this Measure is being introduced at all. It is miserable, sordid and squalid and we have not heard why it has been undertaken.
Let us look at what the Conservative Party manifesto said about the Arts:We will continue to give full financial support and encouragement to the Arts.No one can say there is full financial support when the Government are expecting museums and art galleries to impose charges.
Encouragement to the Arts? One cannot say that this is any form of practical encouragement, because, as has been repeatedly pointed out, the trustees and governors of these bodies do not want it. It is not encouraging them to do the job that they wish to do.
The Conservatives of 1970, in another passage of their manifesto, say:We recognise the vital importance of private patronage.1302 What are they seeking? Is it private patronage of the million unemployed and the children for whom they will have to pay to take into the museums and galleries?
In the General Election we heard about the wider world in which there would be some leisure for which we would need training. Is this what it means? Surely this world of ours is circumscribed enough as it is. There is pollution of the environment and concrete jungles of multi-storey blocks. Life is circumscribed and narrow in every direction.
What about the larger freedoms which Disraeli sought to support? What about the four freedoms for which we fought in the 1939–45 war? What would Churchill think of this miserable little Measure?We recognise the vital importance of private patronage.Is it private patronage of the unemployed and those on family income supplement?
Another passage, which is the only relevant one apart from the two which I have already quoted, is:We will devote special attention to those areas of artistic life such as museums … which face particularly acute problems.What particularly acute problem is being assisted by this miserable Measure. These are questions which the Government are bound to answer.
At the beginning of the debate there was some speculation as to why the Lord Advocate had opened for the Government. I very much enjoyed his speech. It was in a low key. It was a competent and able speech. The right hon. and learned Gentleman very modestly indicated that there were some special problems of law relevant to the Scottish scene which made it appropriate that he should open the debate. I accept that. But I very much doubt whether it is the reason why the Lord Advocate opened for the Government. I suspect that they realised that their case was so weak that they would have to instruct counsel. And who better to instruct than the Queen's Advocate?
The Lord Advocate did not dwell at any length upon the power in Clause 2(3) to alter existing trusts which sought to guarantee that various facilities offered by these museums and national galleries 1303 in Scotland should be free. Provisions of this kind are often called "trust busting". It is nothing more than a bare-faced incitement to breach trusts which were given by benefactors to posterity. In place of the great-souled generosity of those benefactors we find small-minded parsimony. In place of charity we have niggardliness. For what purpose?
It is not surprising that the source of this miserable Bill is the same as that of other Bills of this nature. I regret the pun, but one might almost call them grocery Bills of the Tories of 1970: paying for school meals, school milk, museums and art galleries. They are miserable Bills. What value do they have? It is a paradox that these miserable Bills stem from one Department—the Department of Education and Science. Of all Departments, that is the Philistine. These are the sins of selectivity, and they are being visited upon the sons. We have lost contact with the great ideas that the visions of art should be free, freely seen and freely available. We are now dealing with pettyminded matters of selectivity.
Mention was made of Disraeli. What would he have thought of selectivity in art? How can it benefit anyone to select the few who will see the great artistic treasures of Britain? What is the point of the payment? It cannot be financial. It has been pointed out that the financial aspect is trivial, of no importance.
I hope that the Government will deal seriously with the points raised by my hon. Friends. I hope that they will pay attention to the courageous speeches of their back benchers who have clearly disowned this Measure as one unworthy of their Conservative tradition. These Measures are the very antithesis of culture. The eternal verities of art are not to be priced, certainly not by mean measures of this kind.
In conclusion I make a technical plea. I notice that the Lord Advocate is present in the Chamber. The trust-busting Clause 2(3), is to be operated by Statutory Instrument, subject to the annulment procedure. We on this side of the House would have wished that, if this procedure was to be used, it should have been the affirmative procedure, and that we 1304 should not be saddled with the annulment procedure. I hope that this is one of the debates after which courageous dissidents on the Government side will combine with the staunch opposition on the Labour side to defeat the Bill. If I am wrong and we are left with this miserable Clause 2(3), I put forward a sincere plea to the Government that if any Statutory Instruments—I hope that there will be none, and that the Bill will be a dead letter even if it is passed—are introduced, I would implore the Government to ensure that they come before Parliament in plenty of time to take action. It would be quite scandalous—all too fitting for this miserable Bill—that orders should be introduced under this power retrospectively or too late for them to be properly considered by the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments.
If we are to be saddled with the Bill I hope that the power will be exercised timeously, so that the supervision which the House can exercise—small though that supervision may be—can be exercised effectively. I hope that we shall defeat the Bill tonight.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Woodhouse (Oxford)
The Bill has found few friends during the debate. I am prepared to offer my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary a conditional gesture of friendship, but I ask him to pay particular attention to the condition.
It has been argued that the Bill establishes no new principle. That is true. It can be argued in a specious verbal sense and in a more substantial sense. The specious sense is that the Bill is, in appearance, only permissive. We all know what the Government's intentions are. They have been declared in the White Paper and in successive debates. But those intentions are not embodied in the Bill. Many hon. Members have asked for all sorts of exceptions, such as a free day once a week, free entry for children and old people, even free entry for foreigners. I have more than once had it in mind to ask my hon. Friend whether he contemplates with equanimity charging Greeks for looking at the Elgin Marbles. One of my hon. Friends has even proposed that higher charges should be instituted. I mention 1305 those points only to make the general point that all those things will be possible under the Bill when it becomes an Act if the Government or a future Government should change their mind.
I turn to the more substantial sense in which no new principle is introduced, because it is this that leads up to the condition I want to lay down. It has always been the case that some museums and galleries have been free and that some have been subject to charges. That will still be the case after the Bill becomes law. But those that will continue to be free include a very important category—the museums belonging to the universities. I have in mind in particular one that is not the least splendid in the country, belonging to the University of Oxford. The universities, and consequently indirectly such museums, also receive Government finance through the University Grants Committee. I can conceive the possibility that a parsimonious Treasury in the course of negotiations through the U.G.C. might be minded to ask the universities, "If you need extra funds, why should you not follow our example? We have already imposed charges on certain national collections. It is possible for you to do so for the museums in your universities. There is nothing to debar you, and your finances will be strengthened if you do. What is more, if you do not, you may not get quite so much through the U.G.C. in the next quinquennium."
My simple point, and the condition I wish to lay down before determining how I shall vote, is that I should like to receive from my hon. Friend a guarantee that at no stage will that kind of pressure be brought to bear on the universities.
§ 9.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Chapman (Birmingham, Handsworth)
I am glad to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, especially as I have been here for all but a very small part of the debate. I realise that I may speak for not more than two or three minutes. I shall try to be to the point, and I hope that hon. Members will forgive me if I have to telescope my arguments somewhat.
I have listened to the debate with deep interest, but increasing concern. I have enjoyed many of the speeches, particu- 1306 larly, if I may say so without sounding patronising, that of the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss).
I believe that there are good technical reasons for the Bill but also great emotional arguments against it. Our limited resources, whether in the arts, the National Health Service, education or whatever it may be, should go to those most in need. When we are talking about art galleries and museums, that is a matter of judgment in the end, and I regret to say that my judgment is at variance with that of my Front Bench.
I deplore some of the criticism of the Bill, and the strength of that criticism. I am not against the principle of charging, for I believe that in one sense it could stimulate interest in art galleries and museums. The charges will remove from me as a godfather a burning question every Christmas, when I have to decide what present to give my godchildren. It will be a season ticket to art galleries and museums if the Bill goes through.
What I am against is the denial of free access to all people at least at some times during the year to our art galleries and museums. I acknowledge that there is provision for the free admission of parties of school children and of bona fide readers to the Library of the British Museum. However, I disagree with those of my hon. Friends who ask for exemption for the young and the old. I think that there should be exemption for everyone. I do not see why exemption should be granted merely to old-age pensioners and school children.
There are some people who say that there is nothing wrong about the Government's proposal since we have to pay to see buildings of historic or architectural interest. They go on to argue that we pay to attend concerts, so what is wrong about having to pay to see pictures in an art gallery. The answer is that architecture can be seen from the outside in any case. One has to pay to see the interior. The late Frank Lloyd Wright, speaking at an American medical convention, proposed a toast by saying that architects were the most important profession in the world. He went on to say that doctors could bury their mistakes but that architects could only advise their clients to grow vines. By seeing architecture from the outside, one is stimulated 1307 to see the interior architecture. One can appreciate music without paying by listening to it on the radio. But there is a subtle difference with art and pictures. There is no substitute for seeing them in the first place.
After leaving school, I became an architect. I was astounded to recall no lectures on appreciation of art when I was at school. It was not until a few years after leaving school that I began to have an appreciation for art.
My simple point is that I disagree with the Bill for all those reasons. In saying that, I put this suggestion to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State. I could support the Bill if parts of galleries were free to people, with perhaps a room or two set aside where people could see free of charge a representative cross-section or sample of the pictures being shown in the rest of the gallery. As an architect, I spent a number of days over Christmas going to some of our galleries. I came to the conclusion that this was not possible, since it was administratively expensive and might almost mop up the £1 million revenue that is expected.
I do not believe that the Bill is miserable, sordid or squalid. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) said, it brings to an end a proud tradition that we in this country have enjoyed. It is unnecessary to do this to save £1 million net. I congratulate the Government on increasing expenditure on the arts by almost 40 per cent., from £21 million to £25 million. Is it necessary to adopt this proposal with a view to a net saving of £1 million? I think not.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Alan Williams (Swansea, West)
I make my debut in a cause that I have already left. This will definitely be my last appearance in the educational sphere since I have been banished to the dark areas of industrial policy. The reason that I am having to substitute is the illness of my hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds). While his interventions may occasionally be the source of considerable fury to the hon. Member to whom they are directed, I am sure that we all wish my hon. Friend well. At least we miss his participation in this debate, concerned, as it is, with a subject 1308 to which he has devoted such great interest. We all wish that my hon. Friend could have been here.
I am not surprised that the Lord Advocate was the unfortunate person picked upon to open the debate. After the backlash of reaction to the proposals on student unions, on school milk, and on school meal charges, I am not surprised that the Secretary of State was ashamed to be here to open the debate, or to participate in it or to wind it up this evening.
The right hon. Lady is the head of the Department. I have every respect for the Under-Secretary and I am sure that he will make a fighting and a forceful speech at the end of the debate. Nevertheless it would have been a courtesy to the House if the Secretary of State had taken part in the debate in view of the controversy it has aroused, particularly on her back benches. It is as much of an insult to her back benches as to the rest of the House.
This Bill was described in another place by the Paymaster-General as "small". The Paymaster-General said:Small the Bill may be, and behind it the money is small—it is really all about 10p."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 22nd November, 1971; Vol. 325, c. 819.]I intend to challenge whether it is all about 10p and whether it will remain to be about 10p, whether it will remain to be about museums and galleries or whether it will eventually extend into other areas where at present people enjoy free facilities
As for the proposition that the Bill is small, the only small feature is the minds of those who conceived it. They are misguided, devious and positively deceitful. This is particularly so when they try to give the impression that it is an enabling Bill, to enable the galleries to do what they want to do, because it is plain that galleries do not wish to impose charges. I have a copy of a letter from the Chairman of the Trustees of the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery addressed to the Paymaster-General. In it they say:As you know, both Boards of Trustees have stated both publicly and to yourself that admission charges are undesirable. Nevertheless, both Boards of Trustees have decided, and the National Gallery has so informed you, that since the charges have been stated by the Government to be part of Government policy and thus in practice to be imposed 1309 upon them, they would on that basis be willing to co-operate in implementation with the minimum of administrative friction.If this is expanding freedom, it is expanding the freedom to be compelled.
What is particularly disturbing is that the compulsion, apart from being overt, is often concealed, as I hope to demonstrate. It was put at its frankest by Bernard Levin in The Times on 23rd November when he said that the Government:… are not going to compel them by law to institute seven-day standard charges, but are instead to blackmail them into doing so.Later in his article he quotes from an answer given by the Paymaster-General in another place:The Trustees are free to do a whole range of things. The Act simply says they are there to manage the museums. But since they get all the money from the Government they always agree with the Government. … We are saying that we know they need more money and that one of the things that should be done to make that money more easy to get is to charge, and that is what we are going to do.It is an act of political cowardice to impose these charges under concealed pressure while purporting to be giving galleries greater freedom. I invite the House to look at the self-revealing absurdity of some of the propositions put forward by Government spokesmen in support of the Bill. We are told that Continental and American galleries charge. Many do, but many do not. My right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss), in his excellent speech, gave figures which made it clear that in Germany 50 per cent. of the galleries have free access, while the figure in Switzerland is about 40 per cent. Virtually all are free in Belgium and the United States. If the Continent is the precedent then it is a dubious one. Even if we accept it as a precedent, why should we follow it? As the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Jeffrey Archer) said in a telling and sincere speech, there is no reason why we should abandon a tradition which we value to follow a Continental precedent, in so far as there is one.
Ministers seek uniformity. They seek for precedent when this will raise money, but they do not look for precedent when it will cost money. If precedent is so important, on the basis of some galleries on the Continent imposing charges, why do the Government refuse the free day when all those galleries which impose 1310 charges on the Continent have a free day? When there is a universal precedent, the Government do not accept it. Where there is a partial precedent, which supports their disfigured policy, they grasp it desperately.
Most galleries want the freedom to give a free day. That same letter from the Chairmen of the National and Tate Galleries says:Both boards of trustees regard the principle of one free day in the week, which they believe is followed in most public museums and galleries throughout the world where charges are imposed, as of the greatest public importance and benefit. They consider that the maintenance of one free day would go further to protect the interests of the public than any of the other concessions they would have liked to obtain in the system. Moreover, they consider that what may well be the relatively small cost that a free day would involve should not be allowed to stand in its way and would be fully justifiable in terms of the public benefit.So that is the view of the galleries. But the Paymaster-General rejects this appeal without even waiting to hear what his hon. Friends have to say. This sheer impudence and arrogance of the Paymaster-General is revealed in the fact that he released to the Press a letter turning down some of the very things for which he knew his hon. Friends would be asking in this debate. At least he could have had the grace to allow them to state their case and pretend to listen to it, even if he did not listen to that of the trustees.
Why has he refused, in his speeches and in his letter? He gives a series of contrived reasons—I will not elevate them to the level of arguments. He says that it would cost too much money to have a free day. The figure is £200,000. This is equal to the administrative cost of imposing these charges in the first place. It is minuscule when compared with the Government's claims to have helped the citizens of this country by removing £1,000 million in taxes.
Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman says that the galleries are overcrowded and that the free day would lead to further overcrowding. Because of the overcrowding, he says, there is discomfort for visitors and a security risk. But whether one tolerates discomfort or not is a personal choice. If people do not want the discomfort, they do not have to go. It could be left to their own discretion whether they wanted to jostle with all the other people who go to the gallery.
1311 Also, surely, security is best judged by the trustees, who know the conditions of the gallery and have responsibility for its contents. Surely it should be left to them, as reasonable men—they would not have been appointed in the first place if they were not men of sound judgment—to decide whether the free day would impose a security risk. But the dictatorial egocentricity of the Minister is clearly revealed in one quotation after another.
On 22nd November, the Paymaster-General told the House of Lords:… there are solid reasons for thinking that the introduction of charges may be to the advantage of the museums themselves."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords; 22nd November, 1971, c. 820.]This is his attitude, despite the arguments of the galleries—that he knows best what will be to their advantage.
The second argument put forward is that people do not appreciate what is free as much as they appreciate that for which they have to pay. As my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) said, this proposition is the greatest moral case yet produced for giving respectability to prostitution. The Times of 31st October, 1970, informed us that in the view of the Paymaster-General:State patronage is much better than no patronage, but it does not arouse interest with the same directness as a dip in your own pocket.In other words, a satisfaction which is obtained on payment is of a higher order than a satisfaction which is obtained free. But how does he know? What evidence is there for this psychological conclusion?
If the right hon. Lady the Secretary of State sees a Titian painting free in one gallery and then goes to another gallery where she sees another Titian but must pay 10p to get in, is it proposed in anything of a meaningful sense that she has a higher level of aesthetic appreciation of the second? Wordsworth wrote:To me the meanest flower that blows can giveThoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.The Paymaster-General would have said, "And you would have had deeper thoughts if you had had to pay in the first place." This is a new Conservative commercial concept of the human soul.
1312 The Paymaster-General is saying, in effect, that all the benefactors of the past were wrong; that they should not have made bequests to our galleries and that their bequests were not really in the national interest. If that is what he is saying, what conclusion will be drawn by contemporary artists and collectors who may have been thinking in terms of leaving bequests to galleries?
Particularly appalling about this thesis of having to pay fully to appreciate is the fact that the Paymaster-General and the right hon. Lady do not seem to understand that many people, and particularly youngsters, will have no chance to appreciate at all unless they can get in free of charge. In other words, there will be no appreciation if for them there is no entry to the galleries. After all, it is the public who pay for these galleries. Their taxes pay for their upkeep, so that there is no question of saying that they get in free.
We had an astonishing proposition from the Lord Advocate in support of charging admission. I sympathise with the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He was given an almost impossible task and he skirted around the subject as best he could. On the odd occasion when he touched on the central argument he had very little conviction. He said, for example, that one of the benefits of the Bill would be the avoidance of unannounced arrivals of parties of schoolchildren at galleries.
I do not see the relevance of the Bill to that. Conditions of admission to galleries are already within the control of the trustees and the Bill will not alter the capacity of the trustees to demand prior notice of entry by parties of schoolchildren. But this is the level of barrel scraping to which the Government have had to stoop in an effort to justify this Measure.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman then said that the Bill would make more money available for galleries. If so, why is this money to be paid to the Exchequer, instead of being retained? Or has the Treasury agreed to pre-emption in this case? If so, this will be a fascinating precedent, especially as we have in power a Government who are fond of precedents. If the Treasury has agreed to pre-empt the tax, it will be doing something that it has never done in the past. On the 1313 other hand, is this a small example to be added to the history of the road fund licence?
The Paymaster-General argued that it would be unfair for galleries to retain the admission money because some would get bigger receipts than others. But it should not be beyond the wit of man, or even beyond that of the right hon. Lady with the full support of the executive machine and the Civil Service, to weigh the contribution of the Government to offset any difference in income obtained by the various galleries from this source. How can anyone be sure that the expenditure on galleries and museums after the Bill is passed—if it is passed—will be raised beyond that which it would otherwise have been? No one can. Without pre-emption, no one can. Even with pre-emption one cannot, because the Government can still not take it off other sources of funds.
We have here yet another example of the logical inconsistency of the Paymaster-General, because he said that the Government think it reasonableto ask a small contribution towards the growing expenditure …".In other words, they are asking for one-eighteenth of the cost, but then the Postmaster-General went on to say:The choice, as we see it, is between no charges, with no adequate expansion and a modest charge with expansion both in London and the Provinces."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 22nd November, 1971; Vol. 325, c. 821–23.]In other words, a contribution of one-eighteenth of the running costs will make the difference between an expansive concept of our galleries, and no adequate provision. I find that a singularly absurd proposition to put forward.
Let us look at the facts behind the Bill. There was no prior consultation. It was imposed without warning. My right hon. Friend, in opening the debate for the Opposition, referred to the Paymaster-General having said that this wascentral to the policy on which we fought the General Election."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 16th December, 1970; Vol. 313 c. 1391.]I defy the Paymaster-General to find a reference to the Bill in the Tory Party's election manifesto. This is the Prime Minister's so-called open Government. 1314 This is the new style of Government—arbitrary decisions, implemented by the use of the Government's bludgeon behind the scenes.
The Paymaster-General said that it was not constitutionally possible to consult in advance. What arrant nonsense that is. Anyone who has served in a financial Department knows that a tremendous amount of consultation goes on before changes are introduced. My noble Friend, Lord Diamond, destroyed that argument in the other place, and yet the Paymaster-General persists in using it publicly. If the Paymaster-General had consulted, if he had conformed to the open Government about which we heard so much and now see so little, he would have become aware of the second underlying fact, and he would not have introduced the Bill.
The second underlying fact is the excessive administrative costs to which this Measure will give rise. It is not even the 10 per cent. that was indicated by the Paymaster-General as recently as December. On average, administrative costs will take up more than 16 per cent. of the yield. But, even if it were 10 per cent., let us compare that with the annual report of the Board of Inland Revenue on other sources of finance by the Government. In its latest annual report the board says that 1.47 per cent. of the total net receipts of tax go in administrative costs.
This is one of the most wasteful switches imaginable, and it is not 10 per cent. as the Paymaster-General said. As the Under-Secretary of State said in an answer on 18th of this month, in only one gallery is it as low as 10 per cent. The average figure is 16 per cent., and in some cases the administrative costs will gobble up 32 per cent. or 33 per cent. of the total income. In other words, the administrative costs of this Measure will amount to about £200,000, all to raise £1 million. What a wasteful way of trying to raise money. Think what could be done with that £200,000, other than creating jobs as attendants at turnstiles.
The Bill conceals, and is intended to conceal, the real intention of the Government. The real intention is not to raise £1 million. The real intention is to impose much higher charges later. The Bill does not set a fixed charge. In fact, 1315 the charge is variable, because the Paymaster-General said:It does not specify the scale of charges because that is a matter of arrangement between the Government and the museums."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 22nd November, 1971; Vol. 325; c. 819.]What he does not say is that it is a matter of continuing arrangement between the Government and the museums. It is not a once-for-all arrangement. Indeed, it can be changed whenever the Minister wishes. I asked the Lord Advocate this afternoon whether the Minister would be free to vary the charges, and he admitted that he would be. I asked the Lord Advocate whether the Minister would be free to vary the charges without getting the consent of the House. They would be free to vary them. This is what is behind the Bill.
If the Government do not intend eventually to make the charges higher, why are they providing for the income to be paid to the Treasury at the outset, when it is allegedly a small sum? Why are they accepting appallingly high administrative costs—33 per cent.—to get the money? Why, bearing in mind this variability, did the Paymaster-General make it clear—c. 823 of the House of Lords Report of the debate on 22nd November last—that the efficacy of future provision depended upon the introduction of charges?
The only answer is that this is one stage of the operation. It is the first stage. It is an old Treasury tactic—kill the principle first; kill it as painlessly as one can publicly appear to do so; the carcase can be bled later and then the argument is only about how much blood should be taken, because the principle has already been killed.
As was indicated in the debate in another place, it should be noted that in future the increase would not be the C.B.I.'s 5 per cent. but would be 100 per cent. The Paymaster-General said this:The point is that a machine which handles only one coin is apparently very much easier and does not break so often as a machine which handles two coins of two sizes. … I cannot really recommend anything between 10p and 20p."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. House of Lords, 22nd November, 1971; Vol. 325, c. 878.]Here we have a proposition to introduce charges for the first time leaving variable powers with the Minister, and the Minister has indicated that very increase will 1316 be an increase of 100 per cent. Surely this should indicate to hon. Members opposite where the Government are going.
Some may think that this was not realised by the Secretary of State for Education and Science and that she is being taken for a ride by the Chancellor, who has been trying to woo her to some extreme right-wing policy. If this is so, it is an act of attempted political seduction as grotesque as it is utterly unnecessary. The right hon. Lady is so much to the right in politics that she makes the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) look like the Fidel Castro of Tory politics.
If it were a contest between the right hon. Lady and the Chancellor as to who would have his way, there is no doubt that it would be the Chancellor who would end up closing his eyes and thinking of England. There has never been a more consenting adult than the right hon. Lady in this matter, aided by the Paymaster-General, who make a perfect partnership with her. He was a bad Minister of Education in his day.
So what are the final effects of this sordid little Measure? The law of trusts is to be treated with disdain by the Government. The Government are taking it upon themselves to set aside the last wishes of those who wish to make gifts to posterity as opposed to bequeathing to their family what are, after all, national treasures. The powers of boards of trustees are being eroded by concealed pressures. "Blackmail" was what Bernard Levin called it.
I wonder whether before the end of the debate the Government would care to send one of their officials back to the Department to produce the letter which was sent under a highly confidential heading to the chairmen of boards of trustees on or about 18th December. There was at the same time a Press release stating:The aim is to see to what extent the institutions can be given more freedom in the day-to-day management of their affairs.But the accompanying highly confidential letter, far from extending freedom, outlined the Government's intention to intervene in future in conditions of opening, on questions of loans, of items, and other such matters. The House should see this correspondence. It should not have been 1317 suppressed. It should have been made available to us.
Meantime, it should be made clear to the trustees that there is no constitutional basis for the power which the Government claim to have at the moment. Their only power is the power of sanctions, their ability to strangle suggestions from other directions. There is no legislative foundation for their position in this matter.
The worst effect of this Measure is that it is socially selective and socially divisive. This is the most appalling feature of all. The Paymaster-General said:For my part I regret very much that special exhibitions have had to become so expensive and so socially divisive."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 22nd November, 1971; Vol. 325, c. 824.]Does not the Paymaster-General understand that deprivation by lack of cash is purely relative, that to some people it is deprivation to be unable to go to the special exhibitions but that to the majority of our people it is deprivation if they are not able to go to the permanent exhibitions? What of the families of the million unemployed? How are they to go to see these exhibitions? What of the large families? What about those with low incomes?
The right hon. Lady has already risked stunting the physical growth of our children by starving their young bodies of milk. Now she is willing to stunt the growth of their minds. IfBeauty is truth, truth beauty.then thousands of children from backgrounds in this country of almost universal ugliness will be denied the few glimpses of beauty which were previously available to them. They will be denied opportunities to glimpse a more beautiful world.
This Bill is misleading; it is devious; it is deceitful; it is divisive. I urge the House to destroy it, or it will be the first of many similar Bills.
§ 9.36 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. William van Straubenzee)
Since there will be some times during the minutes I have available—and I make no complaint about the shortness of my time, because that is 1318 not the fault of the hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Alan Williams); I make that very clear—when, I suspect, I shall not be saying things which will be universally agreed, let me start by saying something with which I can carry the whole House, and that is that we all of us greatly miss the presence of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds). I should like the hon. Gentleman the Member for Swansea, West to be, as it were, my Mercury in this matter, if I may say so, to take to the hon. Member for Smethwick my message of good will and wish for his quick recovery to his old rumbustious self. I say Mercury because Mercury was the messenger of the gods.
Not much of the discussion which has taken place has been about the actual Bill. That is because the actual Bill is a very modest Measure, as various hon. Members on both sides have said, and, in any event, as has been generously said by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray), it was extremely competently explained by the Lord Advocate at the beginning.
It is perfectly true that it is only a simple enabling Bill—and the answer to, for example, my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Jeffrey Archer) is that it imposes no duty at all upon any gallery to charge. It is perfectly true, as has been said on both sides of the House, that if it were decided to increase charges, or to decrease them, or not to carry them out, or to change in some way the actual method of charging, that would not require an amendment to this Bill or a return to this House. It does not—I answer my hon. Friend directly—specify the matter of charges.
I do not dwell on the purely Scottish legal points, which were very ably explained, because, in any event, I think I might very easily get lost in the labyrinth of Scottish matters.
The debate today has been on the principle. The words in the Bill may be simple and affect only four named institutions—one a group of institutions—but the principle behind it is much wider, and it is to that that I will seek to direct my attention.
The scale of proposed charges remains as it was when last we debated this 1319 matter, with the alterations which have been generously noted from both sides of the House—adults 10p, except in July and August, and children under 16 and retirement pensioners 5p at all times. I liked the idea of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) that the ticket should bear the words, "You are given £1 of viewing time but we charge you only 10p." I cannot undertake that that will necessarily be printed, but it is a perfectly fair message, that the cost to the taxpayer of each individual visit to the museums and galleries is the equivalent of £1 per head, and it is rising. I share the view of hon. Members on both sides of the House who believe that the season ticket will become an attractive proposition. I have in my hand a mock-up of the £1 season ticket for the adult, and a 50p season ticket will be available for children and retired pensioners.
I have naturally paid close attention to the arguments which have been put about children. I genuinely believe that a considerable number of children receiving this season ticket as a present will be encouraged to use it. I do not make the case for the Bill on this of course, but that will be one of the subsidiary advantageous results.
The individual visit of a child at 5p I cannot honestly feel is unreasonable in present circumstances. There are exceptions for organised educational parties. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) asked a question on this, and the answer is that size is not of itself the criterion. The criterion is the obvious bona fide nature of an organised educational party. I foresee that there may be specialist groups of children and young people which are quite small in number and which will come in free.
I note that some hon. Members have ignored the one piece of evidence which has become available since we last debated the matter and which was interestingly referred to by the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Guy Barnett). That is the report of Her Majesty's Inspectors on Museums in Education (Education Survey No. 12) which made a comment on the problem posed to the museums and galleries by groups of young people coming in in parties which 1320 were not properly organised. This was written as a result of visits in 1969, and page 3 reads:Teachers who abandon their parties at the museum entrance and meet them there two hours or so later, are happily in a minority. Nevertheless more than one director of a national museum has asked that advice be given to L.E.A.s and to schools on this subject, since it is, more often than not, the few children not properly briefed and supervised who create problems for the museum attendants.As a by-product of the Bill, anything which directly encourages groups to be properly organised is an advantage on the plus side.
I visited the Tate Gallery on Sunday afternoon—
§ Mr. Buchan rose—
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
The hon. Gentleman will understand that for reasons which are not my fault or the hon. Gentleman's fault I have less time than might be.
On Sunday afternoon I went to the Hogarth Exhibition at the Tate Gallery. It is an admirable exhibition—[Interruption.]—yes, this is a commercial. Thinking that the hon. Member for Smethwick would be winding up I had some references to 18th century forms of political activity which are more in his line than mine. The standard charge for the exhibition is 30p. In answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Louth, as I was standing in the queue I noticed that it was made up predominantly of young people. He is perfectly right, but that was at 30p, and a provision was made for the old age pensioner. Just under 50,000 people had visited that exhibition up to last Sunday.
Even in this debate there has been a dispute about the free day. Not all want it. The often-quoted letter was released to the Press today because the two directors said that they would release theirs today, and it was not unreasonable for my noble Friend to do so on the same day. The National Portrait Gallery is on record as not wanting anything to do with the free day. The hon. Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman) used an expressive phrase by saying that he did not want to see a Monday ghetto. This is a matter which is by no means agreed.
1321 Presumably I am asked: nevertheless, can we not agree just to those institutions which particularly want to do so? Suppose this were to be agreed? If the free day were at a weekend, since the crowding in the Tate is already very considerable one has only to imagine how this would be added to if there were a free day on Sundays. If it is to be mid-week, what use is that to the sort of people the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members have in mind?
The fact is that I do not have to rely on my own view on this matter. The inspectors made careful inquiries at the National Gallery, and indeed the National Gallery is one of the two institutions, which has published its letter. This is what the inspectors said as a result of their visits from 1969, and I quote from page 31:However, with an average daily attendance of 5,000 from October to Easter rising to between 10,000 and 20,000 in the Spring and Summer, there is a reluctance to undertake any additional publicity which might result in such overcrowding as to diminish the pleasure of visitors.This was the evidence of the National Gallery given to the inspectors. I sum up on this point, in the very short time at my disposal, by saying that this is why in the Government's view the free-day argument falls to the ground.
I wish to deal with the penetrating and deeply sincere speech of my hon. Friend the member for Louth, and I shall seek to answer his questions. I have answered the first question. He asked me what "young" meant in this context. This is the same as on the railways and buses: under three [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but my hon. Friend sought to make a serious point and he deserves his answer. I now take up the example he gave—[Interruption.] It is all very well, but if the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) were a mother in arms—[Laughter.] Let me take the case put by my hon. Friend. Very understandably he was much affected by the letter he had received from the headmaster of Louth Grammar School who said he wished to continue to come down to London with his four children. This was the kind of difficulty which very much affected my hon. Friend. I can understand my hon. Friend's anxiety to try to meet the arguments of this headmaster, but my 1322 hon. Friend represents all the electors of Louth. How many of the voters in the constituency of Louth approve of paying, and enjoy paying, the full cost of the museums and galleries with no contribution from those who use those facilities? My hon. Friend also has a duty to the others concerned. The headmaster will be using a return fare from Louth. I find that the adult return, second class, is £5.20. Therefore, the cost of the museum is a very small part indeed of such an outing.
§ Mr. Jeffrey Archer
I rise to make the general complaint that when the Opposition were in power they stopped the train going to Louth, and now I have no train.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
That is why I looked up the fare from the nearest station.
I must deal with the serious questions which were put to me by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse), and I must choose my words carefully. The relationship between Government and the University Grants Committee—and my hon. Friend understands this extremely well—is such that I must not undertake to myself, particularly without reflection, some kind of statement about what the U.G.C. will or will not do. What I can say is that nothing in this Bill impinges upon the universities' own museums. None of it is intended so to impinge, and there is no intention on the part of Ministers to bring pressure to bear on the university my hon. Friend has in mind in order to make them impose a charge. I hope that my hon. Friend feels that, in the short time I have available, that is as far as I can be properly asked to go tonight.
I know that sometimes people get gloomy about the results of our educational system—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] And those who, like myself, stand for an expansion of expenditure are sometimes shot at from all sides and from all quarters of opinion. I do not share this doubt about the generation now growing up and I genuinely see that we are experiencing rising demands from the younger generation of all kinds—in drama, music, opera and ballet. The assertion made today is that in some way the visual arts and museums are different.
1323 But the whole of the Arts—this surely is the argument—by their very nature are labour intensive. More money is required even with no expansion in what I will call "output", but where the "consumer" is understandably expected to make a contribution to all this expansion in drama, music, opera and ballet. No one would surely argue to the contrary.
Why should they not do so in the case of the visual arts and museums? If that is the view of the Opposition, why did they not follow it through consistently when they were in Government? For example, people visit the beautiful collection of royal pictures at Hampton Court. Nobody can assert that Hampton Court is not the repository of very beautiful pictures. Yet why was it that, under the Labour Government, the cost of visiting Hampton Court to look at these beautiful pictures went up? How was it that the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss), in a most persuasive speech, was least effective when he sought to distinguish museums and galleries from the Jewel Tower and felt that in some way there were not certain beautiful things there which equated it with museums and galleries? Why was it that the charges were not taken off at Apsley House or Osterley?
The answer is that if we need the increased services which, self-evidently, these visual arts require, then we must have the increased expenditure. It is true that some people—they were not heard in the House tonight—oppose the charges because they do not want the increased numbers coming and, in a somewhat superior way, want to retain their galleries as oases just for
§ art lovers like themselves. [An HON. MEMBER: "Like Lord Eccles."] This is where the hon. Gentleman is wrong. My noble Friend was responsible for the increased major building programmes, quite rightly in my judgment, which in turn require a greater contribution from those who use them.
§ The average expenditures over the next five years of £2 million a year for the British Museum, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and many others are set out in the White Paper for all to read.
§ In opening my right hon. and learned Friend was able to make announcements about the review of needs extending well into the 1980s and how the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries has endorsed a programme which involves a number of completely new projects. There is to be further work at the British Museum—I am going beyond the White Paper—the conversion of the Portrait Gallery as an extension to the National Gallery, a new west block for the Science Museum, a new part for the Tate on the site at present occupied by the Military Hospital, and so on.
§ The background to the Bill is expansion. If expansion is to be secured, if we are to welcome the increased numbers of people which we on this side want to see using the museums and galleries, we have to provide the wherewithal, and part of this is a contribution by those who rightly use the heritage. That is the justification for the Bill.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 292, Noes 265.1329
|Division No. 42.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Body, Richard||Carlisle, Mark|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Boscawen, Robert||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Bossom, Sir Clive||Channon, Paul|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Bowden, Andrew||Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher|
|Astor, John||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Chichester-Clark, R.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Braine, Bernard||Churchill, W. S.|
|Awdry, Daniel||Bray, Ronald||Clark, William (Surrey, E.)|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Brewis, John||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)|
|Balniel, Lord||Brinton, Sir Tatton||Clegg, Walter|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Cockeram, Eric|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Cooke, Robert|
|Bell, Ronald||Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Coombs, Derek|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Bryan, Paul||Cooper, A. E.|
|Benyon, W.||Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)||Cordle, John|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Buck, Antony||Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Biffen, John||Bullus, Sir Eric||Cormack, Patrick|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Burden, F. A.||Costain, A. P.|
|Blaker, Peter||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Critchley, Julian|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Campbell Rt. Hn. G. (Moray&Nairn)||Crouch, David|
|Crowder, F. P.||Jopling, Michael||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Curran, Charles||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Raison, Timothy|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. James||Kershaw, Anthony||Redmond, Robert|
|Dean, Paul||Kilfedder, James||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Kimball, Marcus||Rees, Peter (Dover)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Dixon, Piers||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Kinsey, J. R.||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kirk, Peter||Ridsdale, Julian|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Kitson, Timothy||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Dykes, Hugh||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)|
|Eden, Sir John||Knox, David||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Lane, David||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Rost, Peter|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Royle, Anthony|
|Farr, John||Le Marchant, Spencer||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Fell, Anthony||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Longden, Gilbert||Scott, Nicholas|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Loveridge, John||Sharples, Richard|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whltby)|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||MacArthur, Ian||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Fortescue, Tim||McCrindle, R. A.||Simeons, Charles|
|Foster, Sir John||McLaren, Martin||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Fowler, Norman||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Fox, Marcus||McMaster, Stanley||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Soref, Harold|
|Fry, Peter||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Speed, Keith|
|Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)||Spence, John|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Maddan, Martin||Sproat, Iain|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Madel, David||Stainton, Keith|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E)||Maginnis, John E.||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Goodhart, Philip||Marten, Neil||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Goodhew, Victor||Mather, Carol||Stokes, John|
|Gorst, John||Maude, Angus||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Gower, Raymond||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Sutcliffe, John|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C)||Mawby, Ray||Tapsell, Peter|
|Gray, Hamish||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Green, Alan||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Grylls, Michael||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Gummer, Selwyn||Miscampbell, Norman||Tebbit, Norman|
|Gurden, Harold||Mitchell, Lt. Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W)||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Moate, Roger||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Molyneaux, James||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Money, Ernie||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Tilney, John|
|Hannam, John (Exeter)||Monro, Hector||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Montgomery, Fergus||Trew, Peter|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||More, Jasper||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Hastings, Stephen||Morrison, Charles||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Havers, Michael||Murton, Oscar||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Hawkins, Paul||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Hay, John||Neave, Airey||Waddington, David|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Heseltine, Michael||Normanton, Tom||Walters, Dennis|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Nott, John||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Hiley, Joseph||Onslow, Cranley||Warren, Kenneth|
|Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Holland, Philip||Orr, Capt, L. P. S.||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Holt, Miss Mary||Osborn, John||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Hordern, Peter||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Hornby, Richard||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Wilkinson, John|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Parkinson, Cecil||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Peel, John||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Percival, Ian||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Hunt, John||Peyton, Rt. Hn. John||Worsley, Marcus|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Pink, R. Bonner||Younger, Hn. George|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pounder, Rafton|
|James, David||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Mr. Bernard Weatherill and|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.||Mr. Reginald Eyre.|
|Jessel, Toby||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)|
|Abse, Leo||Fraser, John (Norwood)||Meacher, Michael|
|Albu, Austen||Freeson, Reginald||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Galpern, Sir Myer||Mendelson, John|
|Allen, Scholefield||Garrett, W. E.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Gilbert, Dr. John||Millan, Bruce|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)||Milne, Edward|
|Ashley, Jack||Golding, John||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)|
|Ashton, Joe||Gourlay, Harry||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)|
|Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Moyle, Roland|
|Baxter, William||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Beaney, Alan||Hamling, William||Murray, Ronald King|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Oakes, Gordon|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Hardy, Peter||Ogden, Eric|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Harper, Joseph||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Bishop, E. S.||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Oram, Bert|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Hattersley, Roy||Orbach, Maurice|
|Booth, Albert||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Orme, Stanley|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Heffer, Eric S.||Oswald, Thomas|
|Bradley, Tom||Hilton, W. S.||Padley, Walter|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Hooson, Emlyn||Paget, R. T.|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Horam, John||Palmer, Arthur|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Buchan, Norman||Huckfield, Leslie||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Pentland, Norman|
|Cant, R. B.||Hunter, Adam||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Carmichael, Neil||Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Janner, Greville||Prescott, John|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Chapman, Sydney||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||John, Brynmor||Probert, Arthur|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Rankin, John|
|Cohen, Stanley||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Richard, Ivor|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Cronin, John||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Judd, Frank||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||Kaufman, Gerald||Roper, John|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Kelley, Richard||Rose, Paul B.|
|Dalyell, Tam||Kerr, Russell||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Davidson, Arthur||Kinnock, Neil||Sandelson, Neville|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Lambie, David||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Lamond, James||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Latham, Arthur||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lawson, George||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Leadbitter, Ted||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Deakins, Eric||Leonard, Dick||Sillars, James|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Lestor, Miss Joan||Silverman, Julius|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold||Skinner, Dennis|
|Dempsey, James||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Small, William|
|Doig, Peter||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lipton, Marcus||Spearing, Nigel|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Lomas, Kenneth||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Loughlin, Charles||Stallard, A. W.|
|Driberg, Tom||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Steel, David|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|Dunn, James A.||McCann, John||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Dunnett, Jack||McCartney, Hugh||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Eadie, Alex||McElhone, Frank||Strang, Gavin|
|Edelman, Maurice||McGuire, Michael||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mackenzie, Gregor||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Mackie, John||Swain, Thomas|
|Ellis, Tom||Maclennan, Robert||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)|
|English, Michael||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Evans, Fred||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)|
|Ewing, Henry||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Marks, Kenneth||Tinn, James|
|Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood)||Marquand, David||Tomney, Frank|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Marsden, F.||Torney, Tom|
|Foot, Michael||Marshall, Dr. Edmund||Tuck, Raphael|
|Ford, Ben||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Urwin, T. W.|
|Forrester, John||Maybew, Christopher|
|Varley, Eric G.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Wainwright, Edwin||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)||Whitehead, Phillip||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Walker, Harold (Doncaster)||Whitlock, William||Woof, Robert|
|Wallace, George||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Watkins, David||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Weitzman, David||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)||Mr. Tom Pendry and|
|Wellbeloved, James||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)||Mr. James Hamilton.|
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 40 (Committal of Bills).