HC Deb 07 March 1988 vol 129 c14
52. Mr. Yeo

To ask the Minister for the Arts how the Government indemnity scheme assists art in the regions.

Mr. Luce

By removing the need for commercial insurance of exhibitions mounted for public benefit, the Government indemnity scheme has proved very effective in encouraging loans of works of art between London and the regions as well as between provincial museums and galleries.

Mr. Yeo

Is my right hon. Friend aware that for a small regional establishment, such as Gainsborough's House in my constituency, this scheme is of considerable importance? Will he assure the House that he will continue to develop the scheme, as it offers a means whereby people living in the regions can have access to art treasures that are all too often available only to those who live in or visit London?

Mr. Luce

I certainly acknowledge the important role played by Gainsborough's House, and I reinforce yet again the importance that I attach to encouraging more exhibitions of our treasures around the country. The public have a right to see them, and the more that the exhibitions can be encouraged, the better. It might be of interest to my hon. Friend to know that this year there has been an increase over last year of 66 per cent. in the applications for indemnity, amounting to £322 million. In addition, I have established, at the Museums and Galleries Commission, a travel and exhibition unit that is designed to encourage these exhibitions.

Mr. Boyes

While welcoming the Minister's statement on this matter, may I ask whether, when he visits the Photographers gallery, which I understand will be in Cardiff in the next week or two, and the Side gallery in Newcastle, he will ensure that as we approach the 150th anniversary of photography he will do all that he can to encourage those galleries to take advantage of the scheme so that we can have more exhibitions from London visiting the regions?

Mr. Luce

I am very happy to do just that. I must stress that these are subject to certain conditions, including security, because if such conditions are not satisfied we cannot go ahead with such schemes. However, subject to that, my answer is yes.