HC Deb 20 December 1999 vol 341 c519
16. Mr. Peter Brooke (Cities of London and Westminster)

If he will make a statement on the role of the heritage lottery fund in purchasing important works of art. [R] [102010]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Chris Smith)

The heritage lottery fund has so far committed about £59.9 million to support the purchase of works of art by museums and galleries throughout the UK. Heritage lottery fund trustees have agreed to set aside £10 million a year to support museum and gallery acquisitions of all kinds, including works of art, which will add to the enjoyment of visitors and encourage an increase in their numbers.

Mr. Brooke

Although I am aware of some notable contributions by the heritage lottery fund—notably for the Botticelli in Edinburgh—there has been some unpredictability in the fairly recent past. Will the Secretary of State join me in welcoming the decision of the heritage lottery fund in making so firm an announcement?

Mr. Smith

I do indeed. I also very much welcome the grant that made possible the purchase of the Botticelli, thus saving it for the nation. By contrast, I note that the annual report of the National Art Collections Fund for 1994—a year that the right hon. Gentleman may recall—stated:

We very much regret the reduced Government support for national museums in the 1994 budget. That is something that we are trying to put right.