HC Deb 18 December 1995 vol 268 cc1209-10
5. Mr. Spring

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what information she has received on visitor satisfaction in relation to the national museums and galleries. [4638]

Mr. Sproat

The statutory responsibility for managing a national museum or gallery rests with its trustees. However, the information submitted to the Department in the corporate plans of national institutions indicates that the vast majority of visitors are very satisfied with their visits.

Mr. Spring

In assessing quality, will my hon. Friend state how many galleries and museums have been awarded a charter mark? Does my hon. Friend agree that museums and galleries can play a crucial part in highlighting our unique national history? Will he give all encouragement to museums and galleries to publicise our rich history to as wide a circle as possible?

Mr. Sproat

From memory, I can tell my hon. Friend that three museums and galleries have charter marks—the imperial war museum, the Victoria and Albert museum and the national museum of science and industry in Manchester. I congratulate all three on that. As to the second part of my hon. Friend's question, I agree strongly that we would wish to see an increase in the understanding of our national achievements. A review that I am carrying out of museums and galleries will play an important part in increasing that understanding.

Mr. Gunnell

Following action in the Minister's Department, we now have a national coal mining museum in Yorkshire. While visitor satisfaction is high at that museum, there are concerns about the price of admission. Does the Minister accept that it is a part of the role of his Department to ensure that those museums which are supported are within reach of the public who wish to visit them?

Mr. Sproat

The short answer is yes, and I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the part that he has played in the development of the national coal mining museum. It is a wonderful museum, which I know is currently preparing a business plan to see how it can get more funds to expand. My Department will do everything within reason to help in that.

Mr. Jacques Arnold

Is it not the quality of our national museums and galleries that attracts so many thousands of visitors from overseas?

Mr. Sproat

Yes—about 60 per cent. of all visitors to the United Kingdom say that visiting museums is one of the key reasons for coming to this country.