HL Deb 14 December 1971 vol 326 cc1059-98

5.54 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be now received.

Moved, That the Report be received. —[Viscount Eccles.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 1 [Liberty to charge for admission]:

VISCOUNT ECCLES moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 22, at end insert— (3) The power to make orders under subsection (2) above shall be exercisable by statutory instrument; and any instrument containing such an order shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, if I have any trouble with my voice it is not caused by the emotions aroused by this Bill but, unfortunately, by the tail end of influenza. In the course of the Committee stage noble Lords opposite were unhappy at the terms of Clause 1(2) of the Bill, and I undertook that we would propose an Amendment to ensure that where a conditional request to a national museum or gallery in Scotland has been ratified by an Act of Parliament, the Secretary of State's order varying or revoking the provisions of that Act, which would be inconsistent with the making of charges, would be exercised by Statutory Instrument. Other noble Lords, and I think particularly the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, urged on us that we should go further and require the Secretary of State to use the Statutory Instrument for the other variations, of which we believe there to be only two, which are not subject to an Act of Parliament. On looking at the point we thought it was right to go the whole way, and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will now, in the terms of this Amendment, proceed by Statutory Instrument, which will be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament. In this way, we do our best to bring the procedure in Scotland level with the English Act of 1960, and I think I can tell your Lordships that this is a satisfactory way in which the procedure GI' the Secretary of State will be open to debate when he makes these orders.

Before I formally move the Amendment, may I correct a mistake that I made last time? I said that there was a dispute about the ownership of the pictures of the Torrie bequest. I find they are firmly in the possession of Edinburgh University, that the correspondence which I had in mind was entirely amiable, and that there is no doubt to whom these pictures belong. I apologise for that mistake. I beg to move the first Amendment on the Marshalled List.


My Lords, I must first express the sympathy of this side of the House with the noble Viscount the Minister. We are sorry to hear he has not been well, but we very much appreciate the trouble he has taken to come here to-day so that the Report stage can be dealt with. We are grateful to the noble Viscount for moving this Amendment, which, as he says, goes very much further than what he indicated in Committee, when he said, I think, that the Government would be prepared to lay such a measure before Parliament only if it dealt with Acts of a local nature. However, we are very grateful to the Government for meeting the points that were then made. I think that this Amendment, though perhaps better drafted, is virtually the same as Amendment No. 2 which I moved in Committee, and which the noble Viscount said he would look at; and I am very glad that he has moved this Amendment in the way in which he has. I hope this is an augury. The Committee stage ended with the Government accepting one of my Amendments, and they have now started the Report stage by accepting the spirit of another one. I hope this is a good augury for the future.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD STRABOLGI moved Amendment No. 2:

After Clause 1, insert the following new clause:

Parliamentary control of admission charges

".—(1) The Secretary of State for Education and Science in respect of England and Wales and the Secretary of State for Scotland in respect of Scotland shall so soon as may be after the passing of this Act jointly lay before each House of Parliament a statement giving full particulars of the charges for admission to be made by the trustees or other governing body or governing authority of the national museums and galleries in Great Britain. (2) An institution to which subsection (1) above applies shall not make any charges for admission—

  1. (a) until 40 days after the relevant date, and
  2. 1062
  3. (b) if either House of Parliament resolves within the period of 40 days after the relevant date that such charges be not made.

(3) Nothing in this section shall prevent the trustees or other governing body or governing authority as mentioned in subsection (1) above from making from time to time other charges for admission than those contained in the aforesaid statement of the Secretary of State for Education and Science and the Secretary of State for Scotland; but before they so make these other charges the Secretary of State for Education and Science and the Secretary of State for Scotland shall so soon as may be after 31st March 1973 and so soon as may be after the same date in each year thereafter jointly lay before each House of Parliament a further statement giving the full particulars of all such other charges to be made by such trustees or other governing body or governing authority as aforesaid.

(4) No other charges such as are mentioned in the preceding subsection shall be made—

  1. (a) until 40 days after the relevant date, and
  2. (b) if either House of Parliament resolves within the period of 40 days after the relevant date that such other charges be not made.

(5) The relevant date for the purposes of this section is the day on which the statement or further statement, as the case may be, of the Secretary of State for Education and Science and the Secretary of State for Scotland is laid before each House of Parliament.

(6) Nothing in this section shall prevent the trustees or other governing body or governing authority as mentioned in subsection (1) above from making charges for the purposes of special temporary exhibitions and such charges shall not be subject to any of the provisions contained in subsections (1) to (5) of this section."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment seeks to retain Parliamentary control over the financial arrangements. It will be remembered that we debated the principle in Committee. The Minister raised some objections to the wording of the Amendment, so it has been very carefully redrafted. I hope it now meets the points that he raised. The first main change is that the charges will now be "made" by the trustees, and not "determined ". The reason is that the Amendment covers all the 18 national museums and galleries in Great Britain, as indeed does also the Long Title to the Bill. However, while the Bill allows the four institutions listed in Clause 1 to "determine" their charges, there are several others which are Departmental museums—for example, the Victoria and Albert. I have therefore used the word "make" for all. But although the institutions will make the charges, the Government of course will decide how they will be made, as the Minister stated several times in Committee. For example. he said in Committee on December 6 (column 610): The Government can always use their influence to insist that all the charges arc the same.

He went on, at column 611, to say that the museums: accept that the rate of charges is fixed with the Government.

Then again, he said, in the same speech: It is of course the museums themselves that will issue the scale of charges, but they do this on the conditions which the Government attach to their grant.

The second change is that the statements setting out the charges will be laid before Parliament only once a year, the first one after the passing of the Act. These statements will also, however, be subject to the Negative Resolution procedure. This is to take account of the Minister's—I think reasonable—objection that Parliament would continually be asked to pass small changes relating to museums throughout the country. The idea is now that once a year, after the collective arrangements have been made, the Government will lay on the Table the statement which will relate to any changes over the whole field. This proposal does not refer to charges for special temporary exhibitions, which are excluded under subsection (6) of the proposed new clause.

I submit that this Amendment will allow once a year a Parliamentary review of the collective arrangements. It is, I think, important to have some control of this charging scheme. At present there is. for example, nothing in the Bill to stop the British Museum from charging what it likes. I think it also important that future arrangements should be referred to Parliament as a check on the Government of the day; otherwise we are giving the Executive an absolutely free hand and all kinds of financial pressure against which there will be no redress might he brought to bear on trustees. I beg to move.


My Lords, it is not in my mind to go over the arguments that were produced in Committee. The arguments about the new Amendment, as opposed to the one whose place it takes, have already been ably put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. I should like merely to say that we on these Benches still feel strongly that the Government should give way. We are not challenging them any longer, much as we disagree, on the principle of admission charges; what we are doing is asking that there should be some Parliamentary control.

There is one pertinent point which arose out of the Committee stage which should be raised now. One of the reasons why two trustees or past trustees of galleries and museums spoke against our Amendment at that time was that they wanted to retain the freedom of manoeuvre and negotiation between the trustees and the Government. Some of us on this side thought, "What freedom of movement?" After the complete giving way on this issue, what freedom of manoeuvre could they think was left to them? But an interesting clue to their thinking came when I re-read in the OFFICIAL REPORT the speech of the noble Lord. Lord Robbins. I refer to column 601 of December 6, 1971, where he said: Some people may ask: 'Why did you not resign? ' To that I would reply that I think the thought must have flitted through the minds of many members of those bodies, and it certainly flitted through my mind; but there was also vividly in our minds the fact that, in our judgment at any rate, some matters even more important than the matter of charges were at stake: and it is a well known and irrefutable proposition that you can commit hara-kari only once. I do not question this attitude on the part of Lord Robbins. My question is not to him; it is to the Minister. May I ask what matters the Government have been raising with museums and galleries which raise issues much more important than these—so that trustees who might otherwise have thought of resigning do not do so because they wish to retain the option to commit hara-kari over something that they regard as more important? I think that this is a very pertinent question, because either there are these matters which are more important (in which case I suggest that we should know all about them, though this is possibly not the appropriate time or place) or there are not such matters—in which case I think we are entitled to say to people who ask that the freedom of negotiations be kept between the trustees and the Government: "After this Bill, what freedom of negotiation do you think you have left?" That is the one point that I wish to raise in strongly supporting this Amendment.


I must thank the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, for the moderate way in which he introduced this new clause. I can understand his hope that the changes he has made will result in making this Amendment somewhat less objectionable than the one put on Committee stage; but I am afraid it is still a matter, we think, of very great importance that we should not have this reference to Parliament. I think it would introduce an unusual and, in many quarters that matter in the museum world, an unwanted and serious complication in the system of charging. It could certainly lead to delays that would endanger the Government's plan for financing museums. It is precisely those plans which are of more importance than the charges and therefore of more importance to a great many people in museums.

I must come to them in more detail in order to answer the reasonable question from the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley. Perhaps. therefore, I may explain what the Government policy aims at in introducing these charges. We need this revenue as an appropriation in aid towards the cost of making good the large backlog in museum buildings, equipment and staff. The collection of the charges is therefore part of our long-term plan that is to say, the system itself has to be simple and it has to be sure and it must not be open to political debate at repeated intervals on any change of detail. This is part of the method by which we shall try to get the sums of money we need. I have made a calculation that over a period—and, of course, the shorter the better—at least £40 million is needed for the expansion of the national museums and galleries alone. I would assure the House that if these plans are not realised future Governments will find the museums unable satisfactorily to cope with the crowds that are coming. Programmes of this kind cannot be financed in isolation from the rest of the Government's capital commitments. The introduction of charges allows us to show those who are interested in other areas of Government expenditure that we are being fair—fair as between one art and another, and fair between the Arts and the social services. If these charges are to be a dependable element in the plan of museum finance, once Parliament has accepted them in principle—as it has done in both Houses —the details are best worked out within the normal relations of the museums and the Department concerned.

There is nothing new in putting that to your Lordships. The practice of charging as a means of obtaining an appropriation-in-aid is very common at Government-maintained buildings. In no case are these charges referred to Parliament. At the Tower of London the basic charge is 10p from October to March, and 20p from April to September. The revenue in 1970 was £490, 000 net, almost half the modest total that we want to get from the 18 national museums. The Labour Government, when they were in office, raised those charges. They did the same at Hampton Court where the scale is the same. The Labour Government charged children and pensioners at both these places 5p for each category, and I may tell your Lordships that that was the precedent we followed when we worked out our own scale. There are a great number of other palaces, historic buildings and ancient monuments where charges are made. There has never been an outcry against these charges, and no-one has ever argued that the scale should be laid before Parliament. The reason is obvious enough. The scales of charges are bound up with the size of the grant. They may often require minor amendments, and it is good management practice—I put this point to your Lordships—that the strategy be decided by Parliament and that the small matters of day-to-day management, changes and so on, are settled by the Government Department concerned and the people who run these institutions.

In the case of the national museums and galleries, reference to Parliament would I think be very inappropriate. I do not put much on the fact—but it is a fact—that the charges we propose are lower than those in other Government-maintained buildings which have not been referred. More important is that these charges are part of a very ambitious scheme of finance for the museums; and if, first, the original list, and then every time a change was made, once a year every year, it had to be laid before Parliament, the scope for uncertainty and delay is quite obvious.

During the Committee stage, as the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, has reminded us, we heard two noble Lords oppose reference to Parliament, and I should like to quote what they said. The noble Lord, Lord Robbins, said: … if it is a question of dividing the House on this extension of Parliamentary control I shall feel compelled to abstain."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6/12/71, col. 602.] The noble Lord said that out of his long and distinguished experience at the National Gallery. My noble friend Lord Cranbrook said (col. 605): … speaking as a Trustee—and perhaps it is significant that only two of us who have spoken this afternoon are in that position and I think we are both in agreement-I should prefer our relationships to remain direct with the Minister, without the control by Parliament in between those three-yearly periods which these Amendments involve. The noble Earl was of course referring to the statutory duty on museums to report to Parliament every three years, when, of course, if the Trustees want to come out in the open about any matter of this kind, they can; and they certainly do. Very rough things have been said in those reports, and I hope that, where necessary, they will continue to be said.

I do not wish to delay the Committee much longer on this, but, in short, I think it comes to the fact that the principle of charging is a political question. It is certainly something on which Parliament must vote. Parliament has voted in both Houses in favour of the principle. On the other hand, the details are not, we think, proper material for repeated Parliamentary scrutiny; first, because it is not done in other similar cases, and now because the result would be bad for the relations between the Government and the museums. That is one basic objection. The other basic objection is that the uncertainty about the yield of the charges, if they were, even at only annual intervals, brought back into the political arena, would compromise our financial plans. Therefore I would ask those of your Lordships who do think about the future of the museums to realise that there are these enormous difficulties ahead of us —matters on which a good many bodies of trustees are particularly exercised at this time. I would ask you to accept that we make a trial of the charging system as it is now proposed and then, after three years—I will speak to that on a later Amendment—we shall have a review; and we can then see whether the estimates that we on the Government side have made turn out to be right or wrong. But I do not think that this is a case where our normal practice should be broken and where charges in detail should be brought back to Parliament.

6.18 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, for his support and also to the noble Viscount, the Minister, for deploying his argument. But nothing the noble Viscount has said convinces me that this Amendment should not find a place in the Bill, if your Lordships so decide. The noble Viscount talked about delay, but the proposal is only that the statement shall lie on the Table for 40 days and be subject to the Negative Resolution procedure. I cannot believe that the whole of his charging scheme would be put in jeopardy because of this. As I see it, assuming that the other place passes the Bill without too much delay, the Act will come into operation on April 1. The statement will then lie on the table for 40 days, and during the course of the year, if the Government find that they need to alter the charges in any way and agree this, either reluctantly or not, with the Trustees, at the end of that year it will come back to Parliament and before those changes are made it lies on the table for another 40 days. I cannot see that this is going to make for undue delay.

I also cannot understand the noble Viscount's objection to laying on the Table a statement of this kind. It has been done before. As I mentioned in Committee, in relation to the National Gallery and Tate Gallery Bill, at the wish of the Trustees it was decided that if we wished to send a painting abroad, Parliament should be asked. If the Government told the Trustees, "We want to send the Leonardo somewhere because we are trying to do a particular trade deal, "and the Trustees replied, "We do not like it; the picture is far too valuable and far too fragile," and if the Government then said, "We cannot help that, we have to balance our payments, and the picture has to go ", they would then have to come to Parliament and Parliament would have to approve the proposed action. There is nothing wrong with that. It is not detracting from the Trustees' responsibility in any way.

To-day, in Amendment No. 1, the Government have offered to put an Order before Parliament when they wish to revoke any trust, and I am very glad that they have done so. Therefore the Government ate prepared to do it when it comes to pictures, and in the case of wills of dead people; but they are not prepared to do it when it affects living people and gallery-goers. I am afraid that I cannot agree with the arguments deployed by the Minister. This is a basic principle. He said that Parliament has approved this whole charging system. Parliament has approved the White Paper. The White Paper is not legislation. Furthermore, the White Paper is already out of date.

The noble Viscount has made various concessions. He made welcome concessions for members of the supporting societies; he has made the concession of half price admittance for retirement pensioners and so on. In the course of the passage of the Bill he may make other concessions, and when he comes to negotiate the whole system with the trustees there may be others. By the time the Act comes into force Parliament will have no control. Furthermore, when we let the ship go out to sea we shall have no idea what will happen in the years ahead. The Government will have complete power to do what they like. I believe sincerely, as do others of my noble friends in all quarters of the House, that this is a basic principle on which we must retain some democratic control through Parliament.

6.21 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 53; Not-Contents, 82.

Airedale, L. Gardiner, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Ardwick, L. George-Brown, L. Sainsbury, L.
Avebury, L. Granville of Eye, L. St. Davids, V.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Segal, L.
Beswick, L. Henley, L. Shackleton, L.
Blyton, L. Heycock, L. Shepherd, L.
Brock way, L. Hoy, L. Slater, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Hughes, L. Snow, L.
Champion, L. Kennet, L. Stocks, Bs.
Clwyd, L. Kilbracken, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Killearn, L. Summerskill, Bs.
Crook, L. Lea therland, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Lee of Asheridge, Bs. Wade, L.
Diamond, L. Maelor, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Nunburnholme, L. White, Bs.
Faringdon, L. Phillips, Bs. [Teller.] Wootton of Abinger, Bs.
Foot, L. Platt, L. Wright of Ashton under Lyne, L.
Gaitskell, Bs. Rea, L.
Aberdare, L. Colville of Culross, V. Grimston of Westbury, L.
Amory, V. Conesford, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)
Auckland, L. Courtown, E.
Balerno, L. Cowley, E. Hankey, L.
Barnby, L. Craigavon, V. Hanworth, V.
Beaumont, L. Cranbrook, E. Harris, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Crathorne, L. Harvey of Tasburgh, L.
Belstead, L. Daventry, V. Hawke, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Davidson, V. Howard of Glossop, L.
Bessborough, E. de Clifford, L. Hylton-Foster, Bs.
Birdwood, L. Denham, L. [Teller.] Jellicoe, R. (L. Privy Seal.)
Blake, L. Drumalbyn, L. Kilmany, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Eccles, V. Kilmarnock, L.
Bridgeman, V. Elliot of Harwood, Bs. Kinnoull, E.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Erroll of Hale, L. Lauderdale, E.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Ferrers, E. Lothian, M.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Gainford, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Margadale, L. Rankeillour, L. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
Merrivale, L. Reading, M. Strathcarron, L.
Monckton of Brenchley, V. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly. Strathclyde, L.
Monsell, V. St. Aldwyn, E. Sudeley, L.
Mountevans, L. St. Just, L. Terrington, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Saint Oswald, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Sandford, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Nairne, Bs. Sandys, L. Vivian, L.
Northchurch, Bs. Sherfield, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Oakshott, L. Sinclair of Cleeve, L. Windlesham, L.
Pender, L. Stonehaven, V. Wolverton, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

6.29 p.m.

LORD STRABOLGI moved Amendment No. 3: After Clause 1, insert the following new clause:

Children and retirement pensioners

". Notwithstanding the provisions of this or any other enactment, children not in organised educational parties and retirement pensioners, the latter on production of their pension books, may be permitted free entry to the permanent collections of any of the national museums and galleries in Great Britain on such clays as those institutions are open to the public."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 3, which relates to children and retirement pensioners. The charge for children under 16, according to the White Paper, will at all times be 5p. I was very impressed by the words used by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, in Committee when he said: I am absolutely convinced that from an educational point of view it would be a crime to put any barrier against children entering museums and galleries as freely as possible."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 6/12/71; col. 590.]

I commend those words to the Minister. This principle was supported by my noble friend Lady Lee, by the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, who tells me he is sorry that he cannot be here to-day, by the noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, by my noble friend Lord Slater and many others. Indeed the same principle was put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, the Chairman of the British Museum Trustees, in the debate we had a year ago almost to the day on the Motion by the noble Lord, Lord Annan. Turning to the White Paper, I see that children in organised educational parties will be allowed in free. I should like to ask the Government what is an organised educational party? Not all visits, for example, are made in school hours: indeed small groups of children will often be taken informally for visits at weekends or half-term by a teacher or indeed during the school holidays by one of the parents. These small groups can often be seen in our museums throughout the country. I should like to ask the Minister whether they will qualify as authorised educational visits. We cannot underestimate the value of educational visits by children. I should have thought that the educational advantages were worth absolutely every penny of the amount involved, which is only £150,000.

Turning to retirement pensioners, I would point out that the charge for them will be 5p at all times, including July and August. which is one of the concessions given by the Government and announced in another place last June. The Government also said that they were looking into the question of giving free admittance to pensioners receiving supplementary benefits, on production of their pension books. As I ventured to put forward in Committee, there are great difficulties in differentiating between different pension books with identical covers. I think, therefore, there is a strong case for exempting all retirement pensioners, irrespective of whether they are receiving supplementary benefits or not. The noble Lord, Lord Bethell, in fact made the point—and I fully agree with him—on Second Reading, when he said: I wonder whether it might not be simpler to let them in entirely free."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22/11/71; col. 849.]

The noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, again during the same debate last December, supported this exemption. There is a further advantage too, which is that if children and all retirement pensioners were granted free entry there would be no need for the 5p ticket. This would mean a comparable reduction in overheads, which I am sure will commend itself to the Government. For all these reasons I put forward this Amendment, which I now beg to move.


My Lords, I hope that the Government will see fit, if not to accept this Amendment—because I think that is too much to ask, and I see that there are some arguments against putting it actually on the Statute Book—at least to see their way to announce concessions because of the very real distress and care which lie behind it. I hope that the noble Viscount will be able to say that although he cannot accept the Amendment he can accept the principle. To start with, the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, has put his finger on an extremely important point which goes to the heart of the matter when he talks about differentiating between what is an organised educational party and what is not. This is not a matter of detail which can be sorted out. As the noble Viscount knows, as an ex-Secretary of State for Education, it goes to the heart of the movement about modern education. More and more we are getting away from the idea that education is conducted only in groups of children marshalled into a crocodile, with a teacher at the head and a teacher behind, going into museums. More and more will education at every level mean encouraging children to go on their own, sometimes in school hours and sometimes outside, to visit the local museum or the local gallery. This is obviously quite apart from what they choose to do in their spare time.

But the point I am hoping to put to your Lordships is that the ideal for almost all education to-day is to make it and that part of life which we choose not to call education into a complete spectrum which is divisible at no point, so that it should be very difficult to tell where education starts and where it ends. Because education is something which should be going on all the time: in the home and in the school, in those hours which are spent at school and in those hours which are spent at leisure. This is why I feel strongly that it would be a great blow to education and to the educational services of this country if children were not allowed to go into galleries and museums free at any time. As I say, I see that there may be some difficulties in including the Amendment on the Statute Book, but I hope that the noble Viscount can give us some reassurances about the spirit behind it.


My Lords, I could not agree more with the noble Lord who has just spoken that this is not the sort of Amendment to put on the Statute Book. It is exactly the same point which I made at the Committee stage, as indeed did the noble Lord, Lord Robbins. This is entirely an administrative matter. I can assure the noble Lord opposite that all trustees are anxious—indeed, more anxious than anybody else, I suspect—to see that children get the maximum amount of educational advantage from their collections. I think the arrangements made will inevitably vary from institution to institution and the organisation of them is much better left to the ordinary administrative machine. In moving the Amendment the noble Lord talked about what in fact is an educational party. It would be nonsense to try to define an educational party, whether here or anywhere else. It must be left to those who are responsible for running the museum services as a whole, and to each museum in particular, to decide which is the best way of getting the best out of their collections. So I hope that the noble Lord will not press this Amendment.

As to old age pensioners, I recollect that my first thought when I read about charges being made was, "What about the poor old things who come into museums to have a look round because they are bored, and to keep warm on a cold day?" Now the Natural History Museum, of which I am a Trustee, has made a reasonably complete analysis of the people who come in by age, by the place they come from, by the sort of parties in which they come and the like, and the curious thing is that those of us who are old do not appear to take much notice of our museums. We found that only 4 per cent. of the people who came into the Natural History Museum—although it may very well be different for the Museum for which the noble Lord who sits on the Cross-Benches is responsible—


No, my Lords, it is the same.


Only 4 per cent. were over 60, and the Registrar-General's figures for the over-60s figure in the population is, so far as I remember, about 19 per cent. I do not believe that old people are drawn towards museums as much as we would like to think they are. So far as the old ones who drift in for the benefit of the warmth are concerned, we all have them. We all know them; there are not many of them—a dozen or two in every institution. I suspect that we may well have to give them free tickets out of our purchase grants, or something, if it is absolutely necessary. I can assure noble Lords that there are not many like that who come in through sheer necessity to get out of the cold. I do not believe that this Amendment is necessary, and I hope that the noble Lord will not press it.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, may I say a word or two in support of what has been said by the noble Earl? I do not feel strongly about the position of old age pensioners, largely for the reason which the noble Earl has stated. So far as the National Gallery is concerned, I am well acquainted with the nature of the attendance there. I visit there at least once a week; and since I specialise in audiences, having got into the habit of looking at how much money there is in the house when I was in my other capacity as chairman of the Finance Committee of the Royal Opera House, I have a good look round when I am in the National Gallery. The way that the attendance is weighted in favour of the middle or lower age groups is remarkable.

I rise to add my plea to what has been said on behalf of the children. The noble Viscount will have observed that in the various friendly altercations which I have had with him during the discussion of these charges I have always stated my case very mildly as regards the financial burden to the average gallery-goer. I find it difficult to believe that so far as the average person is concerned the charge of the equivalent of a packet of ten cigarettes, or a pint of beer, is going to be a great deterrent. I regret it for other reasons, but that part of the case against the charges can be tremendously overstated.

There are two classes of persons whom it is desirable to lure into the galleries who may be so affected. The first class consists of children accompanied not by their school teachers, but by their parents. While the charge for the single entry is a mild one, if a family party is in contemplation the cost adds up. Family parties visiting the galleries are an extra-ordinarily salutary and desirable thing. My second class consists of the isolated boy or girl who is not so keen on travelling around in an organised group, but who likes to wander into these places and contemplate by himself or herself the great masterpieces of all time. If you go into the National Gallery and observe the way in which people are enjoying themselves—it is a pleasurable experience to see people enjoying themselves in a way which does no harm to anybody—one thing that strikes one most is the spectacle, here and there, of some young person suddenly transfixed with the beauty which has dawned on him for the first time in his life. I do not want to deter that person. There is the possibility that even the smallest charge may deter him. For that reason I plead with the noble Viscount not that this Amendment should be put on the Statute Book, for I can see all sorts of objections to that, but to agree in principle with the desirability of giving some latitude in this respect.


My Lords, one has the greatest respect and regard for the work which the two noble Lords who have just preceded me have given to the offices that they have held as trustees in museums and galleries. I spoke in the last debate and endeavoured to bring before your Lordships the second point which was brought out by the noble Lord on the Cross Benches, that concerning the family. I referred to the family coming from the North-East; but such families come not only from the North-East but from the Northern part of Scotland, the Shetlands and so on. When they arrive down here, having carried the heavy burden of finding the fare to bring their families to London, and then to pay for the cost of residence for a week, ten days or a fortnight, in one of the cheaper hotels or boarding houses in London, they want their children to see everything possible. They want to see not only the Tower of London, but to go to the British Museum. Because of the fixed charge that may be made in accordance with what we now have under consideration, perhaps the parents will say, "We should like to take you into the museum but because of the charge that we as parents will have to pay, and also the charge we will have to pay for you, we are not in a position to do so." Fix the charge, if it is so desired, in regard to the parents, but not for the children. I am definitely against children coming from various parts of the country not having as much right to privileges and opportunities as children who live within the metropolis. and who are within easy access of some of these places. Local children do not have to face the cost of fares to the same extent as children coming from my area in the North-East, in the North-West, or the Shetlands, or elsewhere.

Coming back to the pensioner, I wonder how many noble Lords are aware that in this country we have what are known as Darby and Joan clubs which are run on a voluntary basis. Committees are organised to enable the people who have entered into the eventide of life to have one or two nights out a week without any charge being imposed upon them. They are entertained at no expense to themselves, for the volunteers pay their expenses and they use various ways and means to raise the necessary finance.

Bills have been brought before another place to allow free travel on buses for pensioners. I hope that noble Lords are not going to throw this matter to one side without giving serious consideration to the people who have entered into the eventide of life. Over the years, in various walks of life, to the best of their ability, they have made their contribution to this country, and if they feel disposed to go into the warmth of a museum, as has been pointed out that in itself is something.

I am one of those people who look upon not only the aged, but the young as being individual units of a great society of which this country ought to be proud. We ought to be proud of the efforts that have been put in over the years to establish the present situation, with freedom of opportunity and liberty of the subject. I sincerely hope that, if the noble Viscount cannot accept this new clause, he can find some words in substitution, or some way round the situation to meet the position referred to by my noble friend Lord Strabolgi.

6.50 p.m.


I doubt whether anything new can be said on this Abject and I have no desire to detain your Lordships unduly. But Christmas is coming, and if we go down any side street in any industrial town and many a village at the present time we shall see up in shops notices about Christmas clubs. Sometimes the notices refer to Christmas clubs and sometimes to clothing clubs. Week by week money has been deposited—perhaps a shilling or two shillings, some humble amount—in order that clothing which is necessary, or Christmas gifts, can be bought and parents will not have to disappoint their children. Would any Member of your Lordships' House go to the trouble of paying into a weekly club for clothes or Christmas gifts or anything else if you were able to meet the full charge of these goods straight away? For one thing, it is a most expensive way to shop. Why do people do it? There are not just thou-sands but literally millions of families in this country—we have a million un-employed to begin with, and we know about the position of old-age pensioners and about families with very small incomes—in which people do really have to count their pence. It would cost the Government nothing—indeed, it might cost less than nothing—to concede the case so ably put by the noble Lord, Lord Slater, and the noble Lord, Lord Robbins. I apologise if I have left out others who may have made a similar case while I was not in the Chamber. Such a small amount is involved.

I do not vouch for the authenticity of everything I read in the papers, but I read from a cutting I have in my hand of a certain Mr. Carl Hawker, who has actually made quite a little sum of money out of his opposition to museum charges. I am informed here that Mr. Hawker is an artist friend of Sir Michael Tippett, the composer, and that in 1961, when Tippett dedicated his new opera "King Priam" to Mr. Hawker, and gave him the manuscript, Hawker sent it to the British Museum on indefinite loan as a gesture of goodwill and in memory of many happy years spent there as a student. This paper goes on to say that when Lord Eccles announced his intention to charge, Mr. Hawker felt he wanted to withdraw the manuscript—like so many other people who have made gifts to a museum or galleries. He knows there is a ready market on the other side of the Atlantic and he was offered a good price. Probably the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, who is with us is in an ideal position to correct or endorse this, but if I can believe what I read Mr. Hawker did not go for the highest price he could find but took the price the British Museum was willing to pay him. He made. I understand, a clear £1,000 out of the deal. What an absurd position that we should be antagonising and distressing men and women of all kinds (we do not know how many are involved) whose impulse is to give because they would wish, as my noble friend Lord Slater said, to create a united nation and not a divided one.

This is all so small. This is so petty. I would say to the noble Viscount the Paymaster General that Christmas is coming. Give the kids at least the opportunity of free entrance. Not many of them are involved and it is the special ones we are talking about. It is the special child who seeks to find his or her way into our museums and galleries alone. They might go in out of the cold, like the odd old person, or they may go out of curiosity. Who knows why? Suffer them to come unto ye. Why should we create even the most minute barrier, any kind of tripwire, between any child who wants to feel that he is accepted as part of the community and that our museums and galleries are part of his home?


It could be that there are serious objections to this Amendment as drafted. For example, as has already been said, "organised parties" is a somewhat vague expression. Equally, a number of arguments could be made in defence of making charges for children. Increased pocket money may be one. But I think we must differentiate between a museum and a live performance. Much play has been made of the fact that there are charges for cinemas and concert halls, but in the latter case we are dealing with live perform- ances. With museums we are dealing with something which is entirely educational. I well recall, as I know many of your Lordships will, as a child going frequently particularly to the Science Museum of the Natural History Museum. Many children visit such museums in organised parties and otherwise. It may be that if three or four boys go in they will run around and let off steam and have to be pulled up by an attendant. But even if an Amendment could be brought in saying that a boy must be accompanied by a parent or a responsible adult, this would go some of the way to meeting what is wanted. The noble Lord, Lord Robbins, instanced the case of a boy going in on his own. Such a boy is probably going to learn very much more from going into the Science Museum or the National Gallery than from going to the Cameo Cinema. For this reason, I urge my noble friend to reconsider this matter. It is not a question of what children earn these days. We all know that children get more pocket money than they received thirty years ago, but museums are, as I understand it, establishments of a purely educational nature and the more youngsters, particularly, we get there, the better for all of us.


I hope that the appeal of the noble Lord, Lord Slater, will be listened to. The noble Lord said that if organised parties of school children are going to get concessionary rates, then let organised parties of retired people equally get concessionary rates. Apart from that, after listening to this debate, I am beginning to wonder whether the Treasury would lose anything at all if the spirit of this Amendment were acceded to. I am thinking of the family party referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, who are travelling together on holiday. Let us say that the family consists of a grandparent, two parents, and their two children. Supposing the question arises: Are we or are we not going round a museum? It might be said, if all five have to pay, "The children won't enjoy it very much, perhaps, and it hardly seems worth it. Don't let's go." On the other hand, if Granny gets in for nothing and the children get in for nothing, and only Mum and Dad have to pay, they might think, "That's a bargain, so let's go." So all the Mums and Dads under those arrangements are going to contribute to museum funds monies which would not be forthcoming at all under a system whereby everybody is going to have to pay. I cannot help wondering whether, by acceding to the principle of this Amendment, the Treasury may be on a money-spinner, whereas if they reject it they are probably on to a loser.


I feel very strongly in favour of this Amendment, but of course I am bound to be influenced by speeches by the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, and the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, who so far as I can see feel that, although they are in general favour of children's entering museums and galleries free, nevertheless it should not be put on the Statute Book; it is one of those matters which should be left to the trustees and governors to discuss with the Minister.

I rise only to warn the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, who I think said that one of his points was that conditions might vary from one institution to another. I see he nods his head. I suppose he remembers the noble Viscount's reply to the Amendment which we proposed on December 6 —that the practical effects of the Amendment would be to introduce a network of charges so uneven, so chaotic, so troublesome to vary in the smallest particular that it would become worthless. He said he was advised that this was exactly what the first Amendment said. These museums do not all think alike. In some the charges might be very low, and the exemptions very numerous. At other extremes other things might happen. This is something which apparently he cannot countenance. The public would ask why, since all the museums depend upon the Government for their money, the Government did not see that the rates and the exemptions were all the same. I do not think the noble Earl will get very far.


My Lords, I want to make one appeal to the Government on the system of charges. Education is one of the best things that this country does for its children. When we are dealing with education it is no good our educating the child and not the parent. Therefore I ask not only that the children should go in free but that the parents should go in free with them.


My Lords, having seen this Bill go through all its stages, I should like to say that in my view what my noble friend Lord Auckland said made a great deal of sense. Basically, in principle it seemed to agree with the Amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. I am entirely behind the idea of children, especially in family parties, being allowed into museums free. The educational side, as we have heard, is very good. In regard to pensioners, I think that what has been said by the experts, such as the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, is perfectly true: this can be left to the trustees because they know who the pensioners are and a working agreement can be arranged.


My Lords, may I just express the hope that the noble Viscount will take into account the—perhaps in a sense surprising—number of Members of the House of Lords who have told him that when they were young if they had had to pay to go to a museum or gallery they could not have afforded to do so. In another sphere he may remember that the noble Lord, Lord Maybray-King (whose musical nature we all know) told us that his introduction to music came entirely from concerts which, he having discovered that it was in the charter of the Albert Hall that on Sun-days there had to be a certain number of free seats, he was able to attend; otherwise as a boy he could not possibly have afforded to do. I think that one of the points which is in our minds is that it seems odd, in a way, that my generation and the generation of the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, who lived as boys in difficult times of considerable poverty, could then be allowed to go into museums free, whereas his grandchildren in much better times are told that we cannot afford to let them go in free and that they will have to pay.

7.4 p.m.


My Lords, we have had a very interesting debate and I am grateful for all that has been said. I think we must divide the Amendment from the idea behind it. It will be seen that the Amendment would put into the Bill a permissive power to grant free entry to children not in organised educational parties, and to retirement pensioners. That is a power which we already have. There is no need whatever to put that power into legislation. We already have the power to charge and also to ask the museums to agree to certain details of charging, so we do not need this Amendment. On the other hand it provides an excellent occasion on which to discuss the two categories of old-age pensioners and children.

I should like first to refer to the phrase "organised party". It may surprise your Lordships that the reason why we have said that organised parties can come in free is that the time is already arriving when directors of museums must have some control over the number of organised parties. They must be told in advance when these parties are coming, because the number coming at one time is getting quite embarrassing. I propose to refer to that point later. If there is a premium on an organised party it is possible for the manager of the museum to space out in a convenient way the number of schools, for example, in the London area who will be sending a party to a given museum. I do not wish to refer to what is happening at a number of the more celebrated provincial museums in France, where they are rationing the number of children every day—and indeed it is happening in America. I will return to that later because it is an important point: the number of children who are coming now and the number who, with very little extra encouragement. would come in the future.

Our proposal that retirement pensioners should pay 5p and that children not in these parties should pay 5p is due to the fact that we have, I think it might be said, set a modest target, £1 million a year, for the amount of money we wish to collect from charging as an appropriation in aid. That figure, and the fact that we believe that it is right to keep the basic charge down to 10p for ten months in the year, governs the number of exemptions that we can make. We could, of course, go for a smaller sum, in which case we could make these exemptions quite easily. Personally, I should be happy to do that, but we really think that as we have such a large financial plan on hand £1 million must be our target. We could make exemptions and raise the basic charge to 20p, which for reasons that I have explained to the House on previous occasions is the first stopping place after 10p. If we did that, I am quite convinced that the result would be unfair as between those who would then be paying 20p and those who would then be paying nothing. If one looks round on a crowded day it is obvious that most of the few elderly visitors—and I agree with the two noble Lords who are trustees and who have spoken—and most of the children could as easily afford 5p as the visitors of working age could afford 20p. Speaking for a moment about the pensioners, I think we are agreed on both sides of the House that as pensioners wish to spend their money in many different ways, the best help that any Government can give them is to increase the cash rate of pension. Well, we have just done that by £1—the largest increase which has ever been made by any Government.

Now I want to come to the children. I think that those who are so solicitous for children—and I hope to convince the Committee that I am, too—cannot be very familiar with the situation in the museums to-day, and still less with the improvements in the services for children that simply must be made as soon as we can make them. It seems to me that such people are thinking, as the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner said, of the days when they were children. The differences between the pocket money at the disposal of children when I was a young man, and the noble Lord was a young man, and when the noble Baroness was still a child and the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, was in his cot, and the amounts they have now are very great indeed. The noble Baroness told us that her father spent a penny on a concert in Dunfermline; about how much he loved music, and said that that was why he paid his entrance charge, because he loved music. I think it very probable that a penny in those days was worth more to a Fife miner than 5p is to the average child who goes into a museum to-day. At least, that is the general belief of those who look after the museums which are most attractive to children.

It is very important to realise that our museums were built and arranged for adults. It is only quite recently that children have begun to come to them in tens of thousands, and to put tens of thousands of questions to the staff. And the result is that the demand on gallery space and the load on the staff are being radically altered. Some museums have appointed an education officer; others are about to do so. But none, I venture to say, has the number of lecture rooms, separate restaurants and other facilities which the children already need desperately badly, and they will need much more if they are not to get right in the way of the adults and make it very difficult at many times of the day and on many days in the year for the museums to be appreciated in the way we want.

The influx of school parties (it is admirably set out in a Report, which I think the noble Baroness, Lady Lee commissioned, on Museums and Education) is going up rapidly, and it would be very easy indeed to encourage a further enormous increase. If children in the Inner London Education Authority area (let us take the one nearest to our major museums) visited the museum in the proportion which all of us in this House would like, the situation would be extraordinarily embarrassing. I think it is perfectly true also, from what I saw when I was at the British Museum, that many of the children who afterwards come back unaccompanied, or even bring their fathers and mothers, were first introduced to museums on school parties; and I believe that we want more and more of these children to be introduced, to have their curiosity fired, by one means or another. Therefore the question is this: do you want actively to stimulate the use of our museums by children, whether in parties or on their own? If you do—and this is the Government's firm intention—then you must ask how the money is to be found to finance the new building, the extra staff, special publications and all the other facilities which are lacking and which will be very urgently needed.

If we do not put these improvements in hand pretty soon, we shall have to find ways of rationing the number of children going to museums. As I said before, it is already done abroad. We do not want to be driven to doing that in our museums, but it is a race against time. If the new block at the British Museum—the finance for part of which the noble Baroness authorised, and the other part of which has now been authorised—is started next month, we shall have there a whole great set of educational rooms which can be used for children, in small groups, or on their own, or of course in larger organised parties, and we shall have a large new restaurant entirely for the children. I wonder how many noble Lords have witnessed the conditions in which children visiting the British Museum now try to get something to eat. It is really shocking.

Do noble Lords know that the National Gallery has told Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools that they are reluctant to encourage any more school parties for fear of overcrowding at the peak periods of the year? I wonder whether noble Lords have experienced the conditions on a weekend this summer—when of course the situation gets worse—at the museums most attractive to children. And here I must observe that not all the children who come unaccompanied are interested in the displays. Sad to say, a growing number are rowdy and destructive. Two provincial museums have recently initiated charges for the express purpose of keeping the young hooligans away. The charges have worked. The gangs do not come any more, but the attendances as a whole have continued to rise. One of those museums is in the North-East, and the noble Lord. Lord Slater, might like to know that it is now visited by more family parties than ever before. I should like to do what all noble Lords wish and admit children free, but we cannot do it just yet; we must get these museums more prepared. And as the power to do it is not required—we already have it—I feel that the Amendment itself would not commend itself to the House, and that the noble Lord would not wish to press an Amendment that would give a power which is quite unnecessary.


My Lords, do I take it from what the noble Viscount is now saying that the trustees of the various museums already have plenary powers whereby they can, if they so will it, intro-duce a policy whereby children could be admitted free, or could be admitted free with their parents, and aged people could be admitted free? Have they plenary powers to take such action?


My Lords, I am glad the noble Lord raised that point, because it is one on which we had some confusion before. This is a Bill to remove impediments from four bodies of trustees only who do not possess that power. Then all the national museums and galleries will have a legal power to charge. But the charges would be made in principle and in detail on the scales which the Government tell them we think is the best and fairest way of raising the El million. The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, asked why that is not the most important thing in the world. The answer is that the £1 million is opening the door to so many other things. That is why there are other things that are more important. We could, if we thought it was fairer, charge all people of working age 20p and charge children nothing. It is our view that that would not be so fair as between one category and another. But I propose to tell the House, on the last Amendment, that after this system has been working for three years we are prepared to have an official review in which all this experience can be looked at. The noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, said that they had some pretty good statistics in the Natural History Museum. I think they are very reasonable statistics, but I think I am right in saying that the national museums, as a group, have not good statistics now. We must collect them, and I undertake at the end of three years, if it appears that the way these charges are being assigned is unfair as between one category of person and another, we will review them. In the meantime, I must oppose the Amendment because it is totally unnecessary.


My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, and that the spirit of the Amendment has had support from all quarters of the House. I was particularly impressed with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, when he said that he thought that we were dealing with something that is entirely educational. I was also impressed with the plea that the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, put forward for family parties. I must say that I was rather shocked by the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, when he described retirement pensioners as "poor old things", and the slightly patrician attitude which he adopted.


My Lords, perhaps I may explain myself. There are about a dozen "poor old things" who come into our museum. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, would say that he has about a dozen poor old things". I think every institution has that sort of number who drift in just for the warmth. Everybody, except apparently the noble Lord opposite, knows that that very small number exist. I imagine that if charges were introduced we should probably "cook" them through, and say nothing about it.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for explaining what he meant to say. It may be that the retirement pensioners are not so interested in natural history. Many other museums are full of a great many old people, and I think it does them a great disservice to describe them in this rather contemptuous fashion.

I can assure the noble Viscount the Minister that I know the Refreshment Room in the British Museum very well. It is a ghastly place. It is a small catacomb leading out of the GrecoRoman rooms. The caterer there does extremely well in very difficult conditions. This is not the fault of the children. I do not think that you could argue that children should not be allowed into the British Museum because of this rather small and unsatisfactory refreshment place. I seem to remember that when the noble Viscount was chairman of the Trustees there was talk then of building a new refreshment room there, and I think that the Trustees at that time announced that they were generously going to give up their own board room. But nothing seems to happen, and I think that this is the fault of the Ministry of Works and not of the children.

We often forget that we are dealing with very small figures. The noble Viscount has his target, to which he must keep, but, as I said before, to exempt all the children would cost only £150,000. I know that the Government do not have the figure for the retirement pensioners, but it cannot really be very much. Nothing that has been said convinces me that this Amendment should not be accepted, and I must ask your Lordships to divide.

7.24 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 3) shall be agreed to?

7.32 p.m.

LORD STRABOLGI moved Amendment No. 4: After Clause 1, insert the following new clause:

Running costs

". If the proportion of the charges of admission attributable to running costs exceeds 10 per cent., the charges of admission may not solely for that reason be increased pro rata."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment seeks to ensure that if the 10 per cent. estimated running cost is found to be too optimistic, the admission charges may not be increased pro rata solely for that reason; so gallery visitors

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 37; Not-Contents, 75.

Airedale, L. Diamond, L. Peddie, L.
Ardwick, L. Falkland, V. Phillips, Bs. [Teller.]
Arwyn, L. Foot, L. Platt, L.
Avebury, L. Gardiner, L. Rea, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Headfort, M. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Beswick, L. Henley, L. Shackleton, L.
Blackett, L. Hughes, L. Shepherd, L.
Blyton, L. Lee of Asheridge, Bs. Simon, V.
Brockway, L. Maelor, L. Slater, L.
Champion, L. Milner of Leeds, L. [Teller.] Strabolgi, L.
Collison, L. Norwich, V. Summerskill, Bs.
Crook, L. Nunburnholme, L. White, Bs.
Davies of Leek, L.
Aberdare, L. Eccles, V. Nairne, Bs.
Abinger, L. Elliot of Harwood, Bs. Northchurch, Bs.
Ailwyn, L. Erroll of Hale, L. Oakshott, L.
Aldenham, L. Ferrers, E. Rankeillour, L.
Amory, V. Fortescue, E. Reading, M.
Balerno, L. Gainford, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Barnby, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Beaumont, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebons, L. (L. Chancellor.) St. Helens, L.
Belstead, L. Sandford, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Hanworth, V. Sandys, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Harris, L. Sherfield, L.
Bradford, E. Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Somers, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Hawke, L. Stonehaven, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Howard of Glossop, L. Strange of Knokin, Bs.
Colville of Culross, V. Hylton-Foster, Bs. Strathcarron, L.
Conesford, L. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Strathclyde, L.
Courtown, E. Killearn, L. Sudeley, L.
Cowley, E. Kilmany, L. Swansea, L.
Craigavon, V. Kilmarnock, L. Terrington, L.
Cran brook, E. Kinnoull, E. Tweedsmuir, L.
Crathorne, L. Lucan, E. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Daventry, V. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Vivian, L.
Davidson, V. Milverton, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
de Clifford, L. Mountevans, L. Windlesham, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Wolverton, L.
Drumalbyn, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

will not have to pay for any miscalculations. So far as the Scottish national galleries are concerned, the 10 per cent. estimate seems to be little more than wild surmise. The total income from Scottish admission charges is calculated at about £70,000 in a full year, but according to an Answer given in the other place on December 8 last, the running costs are estimated at £11,000. I make that well over 15 per cent. In actual fact—and this calculation is based on the attendance figures—about half of this amount will come from the Royal Scottish Museum, with the remainder coming from the other four Edinburgh galleries, including the Scottish National Gallery. No wonder, my Lords, that the Trustees of the National Gallery in Edinburgh stated in their last Report that, even on the practical level, they had doubts about a levy which will be difficult and expensive to collect.

The minimum running cost at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, I am informed, will be £20,000 a year for wages alone. I understand that 15 new staff members will be required and there is very little accommodation for them. This does not seem to accord with the Government's policy of reducing the number of civil servants. At Greenwich there are ten entrances, which may now have to be reduced to seven, with some inconvenience to the public. I am afraid that the same heavy costs may be repeated in several other institutions. The last time an attempt was made to impose charges at the British Museum was in 1923, and one of the reasons for dropping the scheme was that the cost of running it would be far too great. The other reason was strong opposition from all Parties in the other place. I should like to ask the Minister whether it is true that an order has already been placed for a hundred ticket machines and 25 million tickets, presumably at a cost of £55,000. If that is so, it seems rather premature, when the Bill has not yet been passed by this House let alone considered by the other place. Perhaps the Minister will confirm that. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, I think the noble Lord has proceeded with his Amendment with the idea that the estimate of costs has to apply museum by museum. Of course that has never been possible. It is perfectly obvious that some museums are much more thinly attended than others and that therefore the cost of collecting the charges at some will be less than at others. We have tried to make our assessment on the basis of all the museums taken together. Of course the Amendment does not make sense, and I am very surprised to see it on the Marshalled List. What I understand the noble Lord would like to happen is that if, let us say, we have underestimated the costs in the whole of the museums by £25,000, we should then be prohibited by his Amendment from increasing the charges—and how we should do it, I cannot imagine—by £25,000. But the noble Lord's Amendment states that we may increase the charges by £24.000, or we may increase them by £26,000. In fact, your Lord-ships will observe that the words in the Amendment read, "… may not … be increased pro rata." I am afraid that this destroys the value of what the noble Lord is asking us to do.

On the general point, I am afraid that I do not know about the order for machines. I can say that we had hoped that the Parliamentary timetable in both Houses would be such that we could have got the Bill through by the Christmas Recess, in which case we should obviously have required the machines in order to start the charging on January 1. We could not possibly have ordered them between, let us say, December 17 and January 3. So I should think it is probable that some arrangements have already been made, but I am afraid that I do not have the details. It may be that, in practice, however much we try to keep the costs down, we shall find that at certain museums the net result is really hardly worth while. If that happens, then I have no doubt that when we come to our review in three years' time, that will be one of the points taken up.

But, in our opinion, when something like this scheme is started, which evidently arouses such a lot of public interest, we must start on a uniform basis and then, if experience tells us that we should vary it, we shall do so in time to come. If charges are kept where they are and for one reason or another wages are increased, then it is obvious that our original estimate of the proportion of the total receipts required for administration will go up. Obviously, there are matters of that kind which make it impossible to say that the proportion will never go up. But if the noble Lord reflects upon the amount by which the estimate might be wrong—if it is wrong —he will agree that it is so little that it would be extremely difficult to increase the charges to match it. How would you spread over, let us say, the sum of £25,000? I regret to say, therefore, that the noble Lord's Amendment does not do at all what he thinks it does, and I hope that he will not pursue it.


My Lords, may I make quite sure that the noble Viscount does not have in his mind at this moment any idea of making these ridiculous charges still more ridiculous by increasing them? I was rather alarmed, when he started talking about labour and costs going up, that charges might have to go up as well: because I believe that the fallacy under-lying all these discussions is that we are continually trying to feed the dog with its own tail. The particular dog we are dealing with is a very small dog. If you compare the total Estimates for the Arts and the museums and galleries with the Estimates for most other Departments of Government, you will see that in some Departments they are very large dogs—Defence, Transport and, quite properly, those concerned with hospitals and education. It may be that in those cases you can trim the tail or take a hair or two off the ears here and there without that having very much effect; but when you are dealing with something which is really a new form of public responsibility in its present size, is it not high time that, instead of going round in circles wondering whether we can pinch-penny here and pinch-penny there to get an extra little lavatory in the children's restaurant in a museum by charging some children, we turned to the Government and said to them, "Look here, you have got your priorities wrong"? Instead of sort of eating in on ourselves in this cannibal fashion, what we need is a little more money all round so that we should not have to indulge in this sort of discussion, which, quite frankly, I think is undignified.


My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend Baroness Lee for her support, and I have little to add to what she has said. This, of course, is only an exploratory Amendment, and I shall not press it. I must say I am shocked to hear the Minister con-firm that the Government have spent a large sum of the taxpayers' money in buying these machines before Parliament has even passed the Bill. It seems to me an absolutely flagrant disregard, not only of this House but of the other place as well. But having said that, my Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.42 p.m.

LORD STRABOLGI moved Amendment No. 5: After Clause 2, insert the following new clause:


". This Act shall continue in force until the thirty-first day of March nineteen hundred and seventy-four, and shall then expire unless Parliament by affirmative resolution of each House determines that it shall continue in force."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment limits the duration of the Act to two years from next March. We are setting out on new territory so far as the post-war period is concerned. All the museums and galleries have been free since the last war. Indeed, the Victoria and Albert Museum has been free since 1914—all my life—and the British Museum has been free since the middle of the 18th century. We do not know what effect these charges will have on attendances generally, or on the general attitude of the gallery-going public. We do not know what effect they will have on children's attendances. Also, of course, this is enabling legislation, through which Parliament will be giving more or less a free hand to the Government, who, by financial pressure, can get the arrangements changed or amended without having to come back to Parliament, since the second Amendment has been defeated. In our view, therefore, it is absolutely essential to have a review after a period. The National Gallery Trustees, in their last report—in which, of course, they came down firmly against charging—said that they considered that all arrangements for charging should be subject to revision after twelve months, but this period may be a little too short. After consultation, I think that two years would be about right, and that is the period I have put in the Amendment which I am venturing to move. I propose, therefore, that the Act should expire after this period unless Parliament decides that it should continue in force. I beg to move.


My Lords, we have not amended this Bill in any way which alters its character. It is a Bill—and here I read the Title— to remove impediments to the making of charges for admission to the national museums and galleries in Great Britain". It then goes on to remove the impediments in respect of the four bodies of trustees who are at present uncertain of their powers. If, therefore, we accepted this new clause, all we would be doing at the end of 1974 is to call in question whether or not the removal of the impediments to the powers of these four museums had been a sensible thing to do —and that is not what the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, wants. What he wants—and I quite understand it—is that a system of charges which are novel and which have aroused very considerable opposition in many parts should be looked at.

Now we think the same, and therefore I have been giving thought to the best way in which I could give an undertaking to the House that we would have a thorough review. I am of the opinion that three years is needed before we shall know how these charges are working out, and whether there are any major changes that need to be made. I will undertake that the Government will have an official review of the working of the system in three years' time, by which time we ought to have proper statistics from which we can really know what has been happening—and we do not have them now. That, I think, is a much more satisfactory offer to the House than an Amendment which, as I say, is so narrowly confined to the actual Bill, itself a very narrow Bill, that we have been discussing.


My Lords, I want to put on record that in my view the attendances at our museums and galleries are going to go up, irrespective of charges. They are going to go up because, although we are taking such a reactionary step in imposing charges, there is a more liberal attitude in our schools and there is much more encouragement to be interested in the Arts, as the noble Viscount knows. One of the last reports produced during the last Parliament was on the use of the museums and galleries by our schools. Indeed, as the noble Viscount has said, the real problem is the tidal wave of young ones and those of middle age who want to go in. You cannot have the kind of television programmes that have been given by Lord Clark—television programmes which have appeared on B.B.C.1 now, as well as on B.B.C.2—or the experiment of television programmes dealing with the treasures of the British Museum, without their having an immense impact. There are enormous numbers of people who never before knew of the existence of these institutions. To them, they were strange, dark, unattractive places. These people are now having their interest stimulated in all kinds of ways; schools are learning about museums and galleries, and so on.

Therefore, I hope it will not be taken for granted that any of us on this side of the House thinks that an increase in the total of attendances is a justification for charges, because what we have tried to say is that, although a wider public will become interested in museums and galleries, and in all that they stand for, which is my view, that still does not answer the point that unless society changes radically in the next few years there are going to be families—not just a few families, but thousands and hundreds of thousands of families; and I could go to a much higher number than that—in which there are individual children and individual middle-aged people who are going to be prevented from attending these places because of the charge. That is the gravamen of what we are trying to say.


My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt, particularly as I definitely shall not be a trustee in 1974 because my period of office expires before then, but I can assure noble Lords opposite that the trustees are as jealous as anyone else of what will be the results after this Act has been passed. Certainly in our triennial reports we shall put before Parliament very full reports of what has happened and all of us, I am certain. if dissatisfied will make it abundantly clear that we are dissatisfied and will expect Parliamenet to take action. I do not think this Amendment is necessary, for that reason.


My Lords, I would ask leave to say one or two further words. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Lee. I think that she is right. The tidal wave is such that. charges or no charges, attendances will go up. It is a matter of interest that in the museums in the Provinces, where charges have been put on in fairly recent years, attendances have gone up faster.

The reason is very simple. It is because interest in the museums has grown so much. More people have talked about them and more ratepayers have, I suppose, insisted that more things were done. I hope that this is going to happen here. I agree that if we really "went to town" on the advertising of our museums over the mass media we should certainly see some extraordinary results.

I should like to say that I was at the British Museum for eight years, and for eight years I saw that this was going to happen. But did anybody listen? It is all very well to discover in 1971 that we are going to be swamped by these crowds. I think that we all have to take a share of the blame: that we ought to have found it out in 1961. If we had, by now we should have had many extensions built. But better late than never! Let us now combine and try to do what is right. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Cranbrook and I assure him that the tougher that he and his co-trustees make their reports the better the Government will be pleased.


My Lords, I was rather hoping from the tone of the noble Viscount's earlier remarks that he was going to accept this Amendment—as he accepted the last Amendment on the Committee stage. The last Amendments seem to be the lucky ones. But we must be thankful for half a loaf, and I am glad to hear that after three years he will be reviewing this whole project It may be too early to ask him this question, but I should like to know what kind of review it will be and what form it will take. The difference between this and my Amendment is that the Government review will be conducted by the Government while my Amendment would ensure that the contents of the Bill would be subject to the Affirmative Resolution procedure of Parliament. I know that the Government always are anxious to avoid coming to Parliament—and have been so, right from the beginning of this scheme. It is at least consistent with that policy.

The noble Viscount mentioned how the attendances were going up in the provincial museums after admission charges had been put on. I suppose he had in mind Castle Museum in Norwich, for that is always cited. The reason for this is that it is now a focal point and highlight of many of the coach tours. It has nothing to do with the charges and the admission charge is often part of the overall day ticket. Having said that, I am grateful for the fact that the Government are regarding this as something that is experimental. I am sure it is right that something so new and so different from what has been the policy prevailing since the war should be reviewed again after three years. I welcome that and beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.