HC Deb 26 June 1995 vol 262 cc557-8
13. Mr. Lidington

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage which museums and art galleries have benefited from grants from national lottery heritage funds. [28755]

Mr. Dorrell

I understand that 14 museums and galleries have so far benefited from lottery funds of some £2.34 million from the national heritage memorial fund. I am sure that my hon. Friend will in particular welcome the grant of £254,000 to the Buckinghamshire museum.

Mr. Lidington

Will my right hon. Friend accept the applause of many people from all party backgrounds in Aylesbury and the surrounding area for the generous grant which will help to provide funds for the Roald Dahl children's gallery in the Buckinghamshire county museum and art gallery? Does he agree that such a local cultural project, designed to provide education and entertainment, is exactly what the lottery funds are for?

Mr. Dorrell

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Roald Dahl has particular connections with my hon. Friend's constituency, as he lived in Great Missenden. The project, which has been backed by the Buckinghamshire museum, involves the imaginative use of his characters to enhance understanding of the exhibits in the museum. Another point worth mentioning is that the grant ensures the continued use and protection of a grade II* listed building, so, from every possible point of view, it is a good illustration of the power of the national lottery.

Mr. Gunnell

Now that we have a national coal mining museum for England—as the Secretary of State will know, it is in Yorkshire—will the funds be made available for that museum to acquire collections of art and historical documents associated with the mining industry?

Mr. Dorrell

The answer is that the national heritage memorial fund will consider bids that are made to it. I cannot consider the hon. Gentleman's proposition in the abstract; it falls to the national heritage memorial fund and not to me to consider applications when they are submitted. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman should encourage the national coal mining museum, and other institutions in his constituency that may benefit from the national lottery, to submit bids to the relevant distributor body.

Dr. Spink

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that, of the £9 billion that will be raised for good causes during the first licence period of the lottery, a significant amount of that money will be available to assist museums in the next seven years? Will he confirm also that, if the House had followed the policies of the Labour party, which was divided about the lottery, and the Liberals, who opposed it, that money would be denied to the museums?

Mr. Dorrell

My hon. Friend is right to point out the national lottery's power to unlock funds that no Government could have found from other sources. Historically, neither Labour nor Conservative Governments have provided money on that scale to sport, the arts and heritage activities.

The national lottery provides us with the opportunity to invest in the museum sector, among others. For example, the national heritage memorial fund has already made grants to the Ironbridge Gorge museum, which is a major museum illustrating the birthplace of the industrial revolution. It has also made a major grant to the Manchester museum of science and industry, which is a leading science and industry museum on the site of the world's first railway station. There are already many examples of the way in which the national heritage memorial fund has used lottery money to develop the museum sector and I am sure that that will continue into the future.

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