HC Deb 18 February 1991 vol 186 cc12-3
28. Mr. William Powell

To ask the Minister for the Arts what progress is being made in promoting Gift Aid; and what support the scheme is achieving.

Mr. Renton

A number of arts organisations have already received gifts under Gift Aid. This follows major initiatives to publicise this very imaginative scheme by the Arts Council and the Museum and Galleries Commission, through their tax guide, and the National Arts Collection Fund through its Gift Aid for Art register.

Mr. Powell

May I say how welcome it is that so many people and bodies are taking advantage of this scheme? Has not the time come for it to be extended from gifts of cash to gifts in kind? Is my right hon. Friend aware that considerable success has been achieved in Australia and in the United States by allowing tax reliefs for gifts in kind? Could not such a scheme be accepted in this country?

Mr. Renton

I appreciate what my hon. Friend has said. It is satisfactory that a number of bodies such as the Aldeburgh Festival, the English National Opera and the Tate have recently been able to make use of Gift Aid donations. As to the second point, plans to extend Gift Aid to cover gifts in kind are interesting, but as my hon. Friend will know, the decision on this matter rests with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Dr. Kim Howells

Is the Minister aware that, while many of us in Wales are pleased with Gift Aid in that it has bailed out the Welsh National Opera and other companies, we are worried that funding is being kept from organisations such as the Association of Artists and Designers in Wales, which gives funds to individual painters and sculptors? Is the Minister aware that, while the great institutions may thrive on such aid, individual artists are bereft of funds?

Mr. Renton

I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would be singing from the tops of the mountains about the help given to Welsh National Opera, and would be particularly grateful to the Welsh Office for the substantial sums that it has put forward to wipe off the accumulated deficit. The hon. Gentleman's other point should be pursued with the Welsh Arts Council. He should be suggesting that it should be studying the issue of direct grants to individual craftsmen in Wales.

Mr. Channon

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the success of the scheme would be even greater were it not for the fact that, in some parts of the country, there is difficulty in obtaining Gift Aid certificates? Will he have a word with the Chancellor to ensure that there is an adequate supply of these documents, so that people can press ahead with such schemes?

Mr. Renton

I thank my right hon. Friend. I am interested to hear him say that. One or two other examples of it being difficult to obtain Gift Aid forms have been mentioned to me before. I immediately pursued the matter, to make certain that the forms were available to any charity or artistic organisation that wanted them. If he will let me know the names of any organisation that is missing the forms, I shall follow that up.