HC Deb 21 January 1980 vol 977 cc18-9
25. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he expects to receive the report of the Committee on the Export of Works of Art concerning a procedure specifically designed for temporary exports which could be incorporated into the export control regulations.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas)

May I, before answering this question, Mr. Deputy Speaker, with your permission, in my capacity as Leader of the House, express the hope that Mr. Speaker will very soon be fully restored to health from his present indisposition.

In answer to the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), may I say that the committee is considering the matter urgently and, while I cannot predict when I shall receive its recommendations, I hope to do so shortly.

Mr. Dalyell

Is legislation contemplated on this complex issue?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

No immediate legislation. I do not know what the committee will recommend. My hope is that we shall be able to adjust this without legislation, but it will depend on the committee's recommendations.

Mr. Faulds

May I, too, Mr. Deputy Speaker, wish Mr. Speaker a speedy return to health and full effectiveness?

May I underline to the right hon. Gentleman the great importance of ensuring that there is no risk whatsoever in this examination that he is setting up that permanent loss of objects as important as the Michelangelo Tondo could arise from temporary export abroad for exhibition purposes? It is most important that that sort of danger does not arise.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am fully in agreement with the hon. Gentleman. I am most concerned that no part of our heritage should be exported. I assure him that in this regard I shall treat these objects as if they were my own.

Mr. Faulds

I do not wish the right hon. Gentleman to behave as he did about the Newman portrait.