HC Deb 10 December 1984 vol 69 c734
33. Mr. Murphy

asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State answering in respect of the Arts what is the current level of revenue from entrance charges to museums and galleries; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Waldegrave

Of the national museums and galleries in England, only the National Maritime museum makes a general admission charge for its main collection. Its forecast gross income from charges is £353,000 in the current financial year. Information is not readily available on the national museums' and galleries' revenue from admission charges at special exhibitions and out-stations as distinct from their other non-Exchequer income sources.

Mr. Murphy

Does my hon. Friend agree that such charges could be a valuable additional source of funding for the arts? Will he therefore tell us whether he and his right hon. and noble Friend intend to encourage this movement in the future?

Mr. Waldegrave

The Government's policy is that the trustees of the collections themselves should come forward with proposals if they think it right to do so. They know their own markets better than we do.

Mr. Buchan

With respect, that is hardly the Government's policy. The Government are doing everything that they can to encourage museums and other institutions to charge. When opening a library in Ealing in April, the Minister for the Arts said how admirable it was for people to pay, as they would enjoy things all the more as a result. That argument, as I have said before, is the argument of the prostitute, and I wish that the Minister would disclaim it.

Mr. Waldegrave

The hon. Gentleman makes that joke every three weeks and it never seems any more apposite. The policy is, I think, as I have stated it. Indeed, it is as I have stated it, so I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is wrong in this matter.