HL Deb 25 April 1972 vol 330 cc297-330

3.50 p.m.

Committee stage resumed.

LORD STRABOLGI moved Amendment No. 5: Page 2, line 10, at end insert— ("Provided that in deciding whether or not to lend any such item and in determining the time for which and the conditions subject to which any such item is to be lent, the Board shall have regard to the interests of students and other persons visiting the national library, to the physical condition and degree of rarity of the item in question and to any risks to which it is likely to be exposed.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 5. As I said on Second Reading, I do not consider that the present wording of Clause 1(4) is satisfactory. The Minister conceded this and was good enough to say that he would look into the drafting to see whether it could be improved. All through the Easter Recess I watched eagerly for a Government Amendment, but as nothing appeared I thought it would be better if we put something down from this side of the Committee. Therefore, this Amendment stands in the name of my noble friend Lady Lee and myself. It follows exactly the wording of Section 4 of the British Museum Act 1963.

I think it is necessary to have some regard to the risks to which rare items—and in some cases unique items—may be exposed. I know that we can have full confidence in the Board, but this wording is also designed to protect them, as the Trustees of the National Collection, from any possible Government pressure in the years ahead to make loans abroad, rather in the same way as we inserted in the National Gallery and Tate Gallery Act of 1954 a similar protection. In recent years we have seen such cases, particularly in France where the authorities at the Louvre were persuaded against their better judgment to send the Mona Lisa to New York. There have been other cases, and I think it is quite possible that, not this Government, but possibly some Government in the future might bring great pressure to hear on the authorities of the British Library to send very rare items which are national treasures to far-flung parts of the world because they are trying to reinforce some diplomatic approaches, or to "soften up" a possible trade deal. Therefore, I think there should be some such wording written into the Bill.

There is also the question of what loans should be made by a reference library and what should be the policy. Should the reference library loan only to special temporary exhibitions or should it make its books available to scholars in other libraries? I believe that there is now a new school of thought growing up that a reference library should circulate its hooks much more widely in this way. I may say that that is a view that I do not share, because the first principle of a reference library should be the needs of its readers, and if one cannot keep the collection intact it is a very dangerous principle. There is also the risk of damage in transit at the other end, and I think with the development of micro-filming it is increasingly easy to substitute photographs for original documents.

Therefore I have included two principles in this Amendment. First, that the Board of the British Library shall consider the interests of students and other persons visiting the reference library; and, second, that if they are asked to loan a book, such as the Lindisfarne Gospels, which is a national treasure, they should take into account the degree of rarity and the importance of it before they agree to accede to the request. I beg to move.


I should like to support this Amendment. The new Library Board will be engaged as a matter of course in lending from Boston Spa, which is the lending branch of the Library, and as the British Museum does now they will lend, under proper safeguards, to exhibitions. At the same time, it is extremely important that they should not lend from the existing British Museum Library, for the reason stated in this Amendment. It is important for students and other persons visiting the National Reference Library that they should know that they will find the book they want there and not that it has been lent to somebody in the Outer Hebrides. I think this is an important point. I have heard it suggested, for instance, that foreign books should be lent, under the new arrangements, from the British Museum Library. Therefore, I support this Amendment.


The British Library, among other things, is visualised as being a body which lends books. In fact this is one of its prime objects and thus its powers to lend must be clearly stated, as I think they are in Clause 1 of the Bill, which also sets out the duties of the Board and the functions of the Library. I see that this Amendment also includes a point about preserving the interests of students. This appears to be covered in Clause 1, where the duty of the Board is laid out that it shall, … manage the Library as a national centre for reference, study and bibliographical and other information services …". Therefore the interests of students are surely covered.

In looking at this particular problem of safeguards, particularly the safeguards applied to rarities or scarce articles, it is important to bear in mind the size of the problem relative to the general problem of handling standard loans, and I think that in these categories requests for loans, for one purpose or another, would be very small indeed and could be dealt with on an ad hoc basis or on their merits. It would appear to me that the incidence of the problem is more likely to occur in the Humanities than in the Sciences. I imagine that there are fewer scientific than humanities rarities in the collections, although I could not say this for certain. Loans are transactions and the Board has powers to frame rules for transactions under paragraph 11(2) of the Schedule. To my mind this is quite proper, as in Clause 1 the Board has a duty to maintain and safeguard collections and also under paragraph 11(1) of the Schedule it is empowered to do the things which are necessary in this respect. This seems to me to be very clearly laid out.

As to the items which are transferred from the Trustees of the British Museum to the British Library Board, which is covered in Clause 3 of the Bill, it is my impression that these items are subject to a trust, in addition to any specific request which might be attached. Therefore, any item transferred by agreement automatically has a trust attached to it which is framed under the terms of the British Museum Act 1963. Surely the Board of the British Library is to be just as accountable to the nation as the Trustees of the British Museum—perhaps even more so as in many respects their duties go beyond those of the British Museum Trustees. To my mind, this Bill provides the necessary framework for the proper administration and I consider this Amendment to be superfluous, especially in view of the fact that Clause 1(4) already requires the Board to take adequate precautions to safeguard their collections. Therefore, I cannot see that this Amendment provides any protection where protection does not already exist.


I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ironside, when he says that this Amendment is superfluous. I think it is necessary. I am not sure that this is the occasion to enter into a debate with the noble Lord as to whether or not the trusts imposed on the Trustees of the British Museum Library will be equally binding on those who are going to administer the British Library. I hope it may well be that those who administer the new British Library set-up under this Bill will regard themselves as bound by those trusts in so far as they receive books and other documents emanating from the existing Library maintained by the Trustees of the British Museum. But it does not seem to me that that is so abundantly clear as to make it unnecessary for us to write this Amendment into the Bill, and I very much hope that it will be accepted by the Minister.

It seems to me that this Amendment involves a question of principle. It is perfectly true, as the noble Lord has said, that there is a reservation in subsection (4) of Clause 1 with regard to safeguarding the collections. But this is a different matter. One of the outstanding features and merits of the Library of the British Museum has always been that it is a reference library; any member of the public, student or otherwise, can always find there available for him any book that he requires, without risk of being told that that book has been lent and is not available. Therefore your Lordships will appreciate that in a real sense there is an inconsistency between the functions of a reference library and the functions of a lending library. It is perfectly proper that the interests of students should be observed in so far as they want to borrow books from some library or be able to obtain micro-filmed copies of the books in a reference library, but the essential feature of a reference library, and particularly of the British Library being set up by this Bill, is that the outstanding advantages of the Library hitherto maintained by the Trustees of the British Museum should be maintained and that it should continue to observe all the essential features of a reference library. Therefore, while when I first read the Bill I was a little disturbed by the fact that the Board would be given power to lend some books, I am perfectly prepared to accept that that provision should remain in the Bill provided that this Amendment as well as another Amendment which we shall come to later is incorporated in the Bill. Therefore, I strongly support the Amendment and hope it will be accepted.


Your Lordships are divided about this Amendment. That I can understand because there really are several different aspects to it. The Bill as drafted did, we think, safeguard the collections: that is to say, it took care, of the problem of risk to the collections if they were lent, they being rare objects. That was the only point in the noble Baroness's Amendment when it was first put down. But yesterday a second point which we have to consider was included in the Amendment: the interests of students and other persons visiting the British Library. Their interest of course is a different interest; it is not the safety of the objects from the point of view of their fragile nature or disintegration of the paper or whatever it may be. Their interest is that when they come to the Library what they expect to find, and know is in the catalogue, shall be there. This is a very important point. I expect that every noble Lord here has from time to time suffered a great deal of disappointment, having gone a long way, especially to the picture galleries in France, to find that in the place of a picture there is a little card saying that it is on exhibition in Paris. This is very annoying. I understand that.

My noble friend Lord Ironside speaks as a scientist, and there is no doubt at all that there is a big difference between scientific books and antiquarian books of a literary nature. The obsolescence of the scientific books is very high compared with that of books of literature. Not long elapses before someone has written a better book on a particular aspect of science and the original hook is out of date. Therefore, the scientist does not need to have the same regard for the First Edition of this or that book on this or that subject because he has got a better book. Therefore, I understand my noble friend's attitude, that in fact this clause is not necessary because the Board, being sensible persons, would do all that we want them to do with the Bill as it stands. On the other hand, I think the clause has been much improved by the introduction of the second point about the interests of students, and I should be glad to accept it.


I am very grateful to the noble Viscount for accepting the Amendment, and to other noble Lords for their support.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 [The Board]:

4.9 p.m.

LORD TREVELYAN moved Amendment No. 6: Page 2, line 21, leave out ("one part-time member shall be a person") and insert ("two part-time members shall be persons").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 6. I must declare my interest as Chairman of the Trustees of the British Museum. This is a practical matter: the close connection of the Museum and the Library in future, apart altogether from the history of the Museum and the old connection of the Library with it, is not in question. This is in fact admitted in the Bill and it is implicit in the old argument about the site of the Library, for the central point of that argument was that the close connection between the Museum and Library must be maintained and there must be physical propinquity between the two. In addition to that, I am glad to know that it is intended that the King's Library with its books should remain in the British Museum; they are used quite a lot, and it will be necessary to have a physical connection, probably underground, between the Library and the Museum for that purpose. But there is another, special reason for the interest of the Museum being maintained in the Library in the initial stages; for the books now on the Bloomsbury site will remain there for at least 12 years, so it is absolutely essential that there should be adequate representation of the Trustees of the Museum, for there will be many questions which will arise during this period which intimately affect both the Museum and the Library. So far there is common ground.

The British Museum is entitled under the Bill to nominate anybody as their representative, but undoubtedly they will wish to be represented by one of their number. The Trustees of the British Museum are almost all, if I may speak with due modesty, men of great distinction in their professions and very fully occupied in their various avocations, and a number of them do not live in London. It will, in my opinion, be difficult if the Museum is only to be represented by one Trustee for their interest to be satisfactorily covered, particularly during the first 12 years. I notice that there is no provision in the Act for alternates. I do not know whether legally that is required, but that would certainly make matters easier. The present provision will not, in my opinion, provide adequate representation in practice. Other learned bodies are not in the same position, though I understand the difficulties which might arise for the noble Viscount if the British Museum had two Trustees, because other learned bodies would probably then press for their own member of the Library Board.

As this is a practical matter I do not necessarily want the question to be solved in the way mentioned in this Amendment. There are a number of ways in which adequate representation can be arranged. For instance, the Secretary of State could nominate another member of the Trustees of the British Museum as well as the one nominated by them under this Act—especially during the interim period—or provision could be made for alternates. I would therefore be satisfied if the noble Viscount could assure us that he has this point in mind, that he considers it a reasonable one, and that he will look into the practical ways in which this question can be solved.


I should like to say one word on this question because although I have not put an Amendment down to alter the constitution of the Board doubtless the noble Viscount has seen the submission which the Royal Society made to the Minister for Education and Science suggesting that science should be more expressly mentioned in this clause. I should like the same sort of reassurance that the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, is asking for. I am quite certain that he is right in saying that for the first 12 years there should be a much closer connection between the Trustees of the British Museum as they are now and the Library, because a number of them have great experience in managing the British Museum Library and ought to be involved in the building up of the new one. I think that that is, as he said, preferable to having two representatives ab initio.

Those of us who are concerned with the management of the scientific side of this Library—and I think one must divorce the management, to the extent that one can quite reasonably talk of the management of the scientific side and the management of the side which deals with the humanities—would entirely agree with what the noble Lord said, that the Library's specific objects should not be defined as being (a) scientific, (b) humanities, (c) social sciences, but with the sum total of human knowledge. So far as its objectives are concerned they are as one. During the debate on the White Paper I expressed my doubts as to whether it was right and proper to have two Reading Rooms, one for the sciences and one for the humanities, because I thought that that sort of divorce was undesirable. I think I was wrong there, because fundamentally when you get down to management slightly different techniques are involved. I think it is very important that when the Minister comes to choose the members of the Board he should remember that, and make it quite clear that he is going to keep the present Trustees closely in touch during the first 12 years. But from the very beginning he will need on the Board people with knowledge of the administration of a scientific library. As I tried to explain on Second Reading, the underlying techniques may very often differ, and it is important that there should be people on the Board with that sort of knowledge.


I quite agree with my noble friend Lord Cranbrook that the administration of the scientific part of the Library is somewhat different, because the scientists require open access to a degree which the people using the arts books do not. I think it is fair to say that the way in which the National Reference Library for Science and Invention has been developed shows that the British Museum Trustees are fully aware that there is a separate technique. However, we can perhaps come to that on the next Amendment.

I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, that it is absolutely essential, especially during the long period of transition when the new buildings are being erected, that there should be every possible form of co-operation between the British Museum Trustees and the new Board, and I give him the undertaking that, in one way or another, I will see that the British Museum Trustees are represented at every Board meeting; and we can have various other schemes of co-operation that we could work out between us. I am certain that we can come to arrangements which would be just as satisfactory as having two part-time members—and I find that difficult for the very reasons which he himself gave. We are not trying to establish a board of trustees; we are trying to establish a comparatively small board of management. Therefore in the few places that are open for part-time members it will be necessary for the Secretary of State to think very carefully about the kind of experience which is required.

If we have these part-time members appointed by outside bodies, they would not necessarily take into consideration the particular needs of the Board itself. They would perhaps be more likely to put on one of their members who was interested in another aspect of the Library, which might already be covered on the Board. Therefore I think it is important that we stick to the principle that all members of the Board should be appointed by the Secretary of State, excepting in the two really special cases. One is that of the King's Library; and Her Majesty will appoint a part-time trustee with the interest of that great Library in mind. The other is continuity with the British Museum itself. If we keep to that, we can stick to the Board as a management body, which is what I believe a modern great Library of this kind requires. I hope that, in view of the fullest assurance that I have given to the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, and his colleagues that we will make these arrangements work, he will agree to withdraw the Amendment.


In view of the assurance given to me by the noble Viscount the Paymaster General, that he will ensure that the British Museum Trustees can be adequately and physically represented at all times on the new Library Board, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.18 p.m.

BARONESS LEE OF ASHERIDGE moved Amendment No. 7: Page 2, line 23, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Baroness said: I beg to move Amendment No. 7. If we read the clause we find that it sets out a category of persons to whom the Secretary of State shall give preference: those who appear to him to have knowledge and experience of library or university affairs, finance, business or administration.

Even if a later Amendment is accepted substituting "industry" for "business" I am still puzzled why this subsection should be included. Taking, for instance, the words experience of library or university affairs", does "university" specifically include technical colleges, primary schools, and the whole field of education from the nursery to the postgraduate? When the word "university" is specifically used with reference to education, is it a limiting word or an all-inclusive word? Then we come to the word "business". Precisely what does that mean? Does it mean representatives of managements of businesses great or small; representatives who have a great knowledge of the very important subject of leading and managing people who work in industry, such as those on the trade union side?

I was entirely in sympathy with the Minister when he rejected the idea of putting knowledge into separate categories, but I believe that the same logic applies about not having a list of certain fields of activity. If by including this list we are being exclusive, then it is better that it should not be put into the Bill. But if we intend to translate the various fields mentioned in the widest possible way, then the list becomes all-inclusive and therefore unnecessary. No one thinks that a Minister in his senses will appoint someone whose entire interest is in, say, bingo or polo, though bingo is big business and is not excluded. I really think that this is a silly subsection. It is quite unnecessary if the words are to be all-inclusive; it is dangerous if they are to be limiting in any sense; and it is particularly dangerous when we are planning great libraries which we hope will go far beyond any of our lives into completely new fields.

We have talked about microfilms. There was some mention on Second Reading of the fact that the Library might have an archive for films. There are so many uncertain things about the future. If my noble friend Lord Bernstein remains hale and hearty, he may represent films or something else. I am trying to stress the point that this subsection is unnecessary if it is all-inclusive, and rather dangerous if at some future time it can be used to exclude some field of activity which we want to include. In making his appointments a Minister ought to be free to range over a wide field, and a little common sense, taking into account the needs of the time, would be a much surer guide to him than the retention of this subsection.


I must point out to the Committee that if this Amendment is agreed to, I shall not be able to call Amendment No. 8.


I should like to support my noble friend for the reasons which she gave in moving this Amendment, because to include this subsection in the Bill—which I know is common form—could lead to some undesirable effects. I do not suppose that it would lead to the undesirable effect that no woman could be appointed. But it was used as an argument in another place only last week that, because of certain provisions in other Statutes, it had been found quite impossible to appoint women to various public boards because they did not quite fulfil the qualifications laid down.

As my noble friend has pointed out, this list is by no means all-inclusive. She mentioned films, which had occurred to me. There might also be the question of recorded sound. We have one institution concerned with films and another concerned with recorded sound. We are legislating for the future and either of those establishments might at some point be brought into collaboration, at least, with the British Library. Someone who was an expert in the fields of either films or recorded sound, but who was not necessarily a librarian or connected with a university, or who was not even an administrator, might still be a very valuable person to appoint to the Board. My noble friend is quite right in what she said. If these words are meaningful, then they can be dangerous. If they are meaningless, why should we include them in the Statute? Therefore, I hope that the noble Viscount will feel disposed to omit them.


It is a little difficult to know what noble Lords opposite really think about Ministers, because when we were discussing the previous Amendment they said that Ministers could not be trusted not to exercise political pressure to get valuable objects lent to their friends abroad. So we had to write into the Bill words to restrain Ministers from behaving in the way they wanted to behave. In this case, almost the whole Board will be appointed by the Secretary of State, and if we write nothing into the Bill we shall be showing a touching faith in Ministers. I accept the compliment and I think it is remarkable. But I wonder whether people outside this House, and outside political circles, would feel a certain uneasiness about an institution which is of such tremendous importance to a range of very different interests if we did not give in the Bill some indication of the kind of people for whom we expected the Secretary of State to have preference.

The subsection does not state that all members of the Board must be appointed because they have certain experience, but states simply that the Secretary of State "shall give preference to" those who appear to him to have knowledge and experience of certain aspects of life. I know very well that there would be great uneasiness in industry—and if my noble friend Lord Trevelyan moves the next Amendment, assuming that this one is not carried, I shall of course accept it—if it felt that there were not some words in the Bill to show that its interests would be represented, or at least (because it is not certain), had a very good chance of being represented, on the Board. Library and university affairs appear to me quite essential because the interests of the scholars, which are very important, are apt to be lost sight of under the enormous pressures of scientists, technologists, engineers and so on.

I think it is right to include this list. I do not claim that it is perfect—it is not—but it is an indication of the fields of experience where one hopes the Secretary of State would look for a suitable Board member. Therefore, I do not think we should delete the subsection and leave it entirely to every future Secretary of State to make any kind of appointment that he or she likes. It is better to say, "This is rough drafting. It is a rough list of what we want, and we would rather have it in the Bill than not."


We do not intend to press this Amendment to a Vote, but I would ask the Minister to look at it again before Report stage. He made a point about someone in industry feeling a little uneasy if industry were not specifically mentioned. I did not get a clear reply about the field of education, but someone whose interest in education was widespread and profound, but who was not specifically attached to the work of universities, might also ask, "Why am I not mentioned specifically?". There are a whole number of cases like that.

The Minister was extremely ingenuous—and he knows it—when he suggested that a Minister lived on a lonely pinnacle, and that in making appointments to our great boards of trustees and so on he was indulging in purely private caprice. We know the conventions of the British Constitution—and I think they are very good conventions. We know that Ministers consult their most senior and experienced civil servants in these particular fields. We also know that there is consultation with colleagues; and that when a new member is added to an existing board then in courtesy the chairman of the board and the members of the board are consulted. It is not a case of dictatorship coming either from the side of the board or from the side of the Minister. It is a consensus, a gathering together. So I know the Minister did not mean his first point to be taken too seriously, but I hope he will take seriously that some members of this Committee feel that this is a rather fatuous subsection and that it would be better left out.

4.31 p.m.


I should like to support what the noble Baroness has just suggested, that the Minister should look at this again. I must say that I was not greatly impressed by his argument for retaining this provision. Indeed, he suggested that it was not by any means perfect. It is a limiting provision, as the noble Baroness has pointed out; and the noble Viscount himself, in an earlier intervention, indicated that we are concerned only with rather a small number of people. If he has to give preference, as the subsection requires, to these various sorts of people, then he is limiting himself, I would have said, very seriously. I do not like the word "preference". I agree with him that there is something to be said for indicating the sort of interests which should be considered in this connection, but accepting the obligation to give preference to quite a substantial number of interests of this kind is, I think, altogether unduly limiting. I am sure there is a better way out of this than this subsection, and I hope that the Minister will find it, as I am sure he can.


This wording is, of course, common form. In the legislation relating to the Gas, Steel and Transport Boards, the National Research and Development Corporation and other national institutions which provide national services in the same way as this one will do, there is a provision defining the categories of experience to which the relevant Minister should look. If we did not have this in the Bill, we should be doing something new in relation to this kind of institution. Therefore, though I am prepared to look at it again, I have very grave doubts whether it would commend itself to Parliament as a whole that the Secretary of State should be left with an absolutely blank cheque. I am not saying that one could not find Secretaries of State who would make the appointments perfectly well, but I think Parliament might say that it would prefer to have something in the Bill. As I have said, I will look at the point again, but I cannot give any assurance.


Would the Paymaster General, in looking at it again, verify whether, as he said just now, there is a precedent for this form of words? My recollection is that there are Acts which have words to the effect that, in making appointments, the Secretary of State or the Minister concerned shall "have regard to" persons with particular experience. But, speaking subject to correction, I think it is a matter which requires verification as to whether there is a precedent for using the words "shall give preference to" persons of one category or another, as distinct from giving the Minister responsible for the appointment appropriate guidance as to the kind of persons whose experience should qualify them for appointment.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD TREVELYAN moved Amendment No. 8: Page 2, line 26, leave out ("business") and insert ("industry").

The noble Lord said: I will not repeat the arguments on this point put forward by several noble Lords on Second Reading. "Business" is an unsatisfactory word. What we want is a man with experience of industry, particularly in the light of the close connection of the Science Library with patent work. I am very glad to hear from the noble Viscount that he is prepared to accept this Amendment. I beg to move.


I am very glad to accept this Amendment. I am quite sure that "industry" is a better word than "business".

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

VISCOUNT ECCLES moved Amendment No. 9: Page 2, line 35, leave out ("incidental powers and staff") and insert ("and incidental powers, to the employment of staff and the terms and conditions of their employment").

The noble Viscount said: This is simply a paving Amendment to enlarge a phrase in this clause in order that it can cover an addition to the Schedule which, if your Lordships agree to such an addition, will spell out our obligation to the staff of the British Museum and the other constituent parts of the British Library. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Schedule [The British Library Board and its Advisory Councils]:

4.36 p.m.

BARONESS LEE OF ASHERIDGE moved Amendment No. 10: Page 5, line 17, at end insert ("provided that, except for a whole-time member, this is not for an aggregate period of more than seven years").

The noble Baroness said: Your Lord-ships will observe that in this Amendment I am seeking to make a distinction between whole-time members of the Board. Obviously, whole-time members, salaried members, who are working for the Board, who are giving their entire energies to the Board, need continuity of service. But as the Schedule now stands it says: A member of the Board who ceases to be a member, or ceases to be chairman, shall be eligible for re-appointment. If that includes the part-time members of the Board, it could mean that not only the full-time, salaried employees but also part-time members could serve indefinitely. I am not persuaded that that would be in the interests of the Library. The Library obviously needs a superb staff serving it at every level. It obviously needs some full-time members of the Board. But, in addition to that, for this great Library, as for our museums and galleries and for almost all our public services, an invaluable element is introduced by part-time members coming in from the outside world and giving their services—still keeping a good deal of their energies in other fields—serving for a period, and then there being a refreshment of the Board by other people coming in and taking their place. I see the noble Lord, Lord Clark, is in his place. He served as a most distinguished chairman of the Arts Council for a considerable time. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, may appear at any moment, and he is finishing a seven-year stint. But I think anyone who has had great experience, whether it is on the arts side or on the libraries and museums side, would say that it is a good thing to have the refreshment of new blood coming in. I have put down an extremely moderate Amendment, because all I am saying here is, provided that, except for a whole-time member, this is not for an aggregate period of more than seven years". I beg to move.


I quite agree that one would not want to have a Board on which there were a number of what one might call professional part-timers who came on and stayed on. But this is not a self-perpetuating board. There are some boards where the trustees are able to appoint or to co-opt members of their own choice and they can go on appointing the same ones. But in this case every appointment is to be made by the Secretary of State. It appears to me fairly cer tain that the Secretary of State, not having a great many part-time places to fill, will look around for men and women with considerable experience. They are likely to be middle-aged and it is not very probable that the period of seven years would be too short for the kind of service that they would wish to give to the institution. But there can be exceptions. I can readily conceive of someone not of a very advanced age but who is deeply concerned in books and printed material (it may be a great collector, it might be a publisher; but someone who is outstanding in the aspect of this world in which they have their own job) who says, "I will serve as a part-time member." If you have to say that in no case—and that is what this Amendment says—can you renew the membership of a man or woman after a period of service of seven years you might lose some really very valuable people.

I hope that my old friend will not take it amiss, but let us take the example of Sir Mortimer Wheeler. It would have been terrible to have lost the possibility of having his services over a very much longer period than seven years. I do not think anyone can say that it would be at all easy to find anyone to replace him in the particular field of archæology in which he is so acknowledged an expert. I do not think that we ought to put into legislation a rule which stops us from re-appointing anybody who shows a really exceptional ability—and the Secretary of State will be there to be the judge. Therefore, I do not feel that to accept this Amendment would improve the Board. If it did so, I would accept it. In nine out of ten cases the part-time member will already be someone of middle age with considerable experience. In the tenth case it may be that you will find somebody younger who is already very distinguished and you will be only too glad to have him or her for 10 or 15 years on the Board. If we accept the Amendment this would not be possible. I recommend that we leave the subsection as it is.


I see the skill with which the Paymaster General has shifted his ground. He tells us now that it is the Minister who should be left to be the judge in a matter of this kind. I take the point. At one moment the Minister must not be allowed; at the next moment the Minister's judgment and common sense can be trusted. We are not pressing this Amendment to a Division, but we have put it down very seriously because we should like it to be the spirit of the Bill that it would be an exceptional case where the part-time member of the Board would be asked to continue beyond this very considerable period of seven years. We should not like an atmosphere in which it was considered a kind of downgrading for a part-time member of the Board who had served three or five years to be replaced. Rather, we want it to be the case that if someone is asked to serve it is because here is an exceptional person in exceptional circumstances and because when we looked around the world of scholarship there were no other claimants who could equally well refresh the Board by their services. If the Minister were to accept what we said in that spirit, I should beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment by leave, withdrawn.

4.45 p.m.

BARONESS LEE OF ASHERIDGE moved Amendment No. 16: Page 6, line 1, leave out paragraph 6.

The noble Baroness said, This Amendment is one that I regard very seriously. Your Lordships will see that paragraph 6 deals with the disqualification for membership of the House of Commons. We know that Members of another place are not allowed to occupy offices of profit under the Crown. I believe that we can get round this by amending this legislation in such a way that while full-time members of the Board must be paid salaries, the part-time members of the Board should receive only expenses or allowances. We should then avoid doing something which I think would be very serious indeed; namely, excluding from the Board Members of the other place, whatever their qualification. I do not think that it would be a good thing if the elected Chamber in our country was made up entirely of full-time serving Members of Parliament. I think its status and usefulness are enhanced when it contains a considerable number of persons who retain their outside interests. Further, it would surely be in the interests of the British Library to have in the other place an advocate who is informed, who is able to ask questions, able to speak and aided in doing his duty in the other place because he has an intimate, up-to-date and detailed knowledge of the working of the Library.

If I were concerned only with seeing that the rights of Members of another place were not lost, that in my view would be sufficient reason for moving this Amendment. But, in addition, I do not think it is a good practice for part-time members of a board to be paid salaries. If we are talking about full-time members, we know precisely what we are asking them to do; for they are working full-time. When we come to part-time members there is a difficulty. What does "part-time" mean? Does it mean attending a board meeting occasionally, perhaps for one or two or three days a week? Would it be compulsory? We could get into great difficulties. For all those reasons, I think it would be in the interests of the Library, and would strengthen the Bill, if the paragraph on disqualification for membership of the House of Commons (and I will come to the other point later) were omitted.


As the Bill now stands, it provides in paragraph 5 of the Schedule that the Board shall pay to the members of the Board such remuneration and allowances as the Secretary of State may determine". There was on the Marshalled List an Amendment to that provision limiting its application to the whole-time members. That Amendment was not moved. Had it been moved I might have supported it. But as the Bill now stands, it seems to me that the Board, in all probability, will wish to make some payment by way of remuneration to all members of the Board, whether they are whole time or part-time, and I imagine that most of those who are invited to become part-time members might, not unreasonably, expect some remuneration. That being so, one has to consider whether it is appropriate to include the Library Board in the Schedule to the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1957.

It so happens that I had a certain amount to do with the preparation of that Act. It was based on a number of Reports and involved a very exhaustive consideration of those offices of one kind or another, paid or unpaid, which should, quite properly as a matter of public policy, exclude from membership of the House of Commons. Your Lordships will remember that prior to 1957 the law on the subject was very obscure and produced a number of anomalies. Therefore that Act was based on a very comprehensive review of the whole subject. Sorry as I am to disagree with my noble friend Lady Lee of Asheridge, I am bound to say, recollecting the discussions which took place at that time, that I should have thought that on principle if the philosophy that actuated the preparation of that Schedule were applied, it would not be right to do otherwise than, as the Bill now provides, make membership of this Board a ground for disqualification.

4.53 p.m.


I also greatly regret having to disagree with my noble friend but I think that she is proposing something which goes back very much on existing practice. It is a very common practice now that some remuneration should be paid to the members of boards and public bodies. The B.B.C, the I.T.A. and nearly all the boards of nationalised industries include part-time members who receive some remuneration. I appreciate that this normally excludes Members of the other place but, much as one wishes Members of the other place to have outside interests, I think experience shows that the outside interests have to be compelling in order to get their fair share of attention from the Members of the other place who are so fully occupied by their pressing duties in their House. I know that the noble Baroness has not moved the Amendments about remuneration, but I understand that they are tied up with this Amendment and therefore it is perhaps not out of order to speak to them. I should very much regret if a decision were made that members of this body should be an exception to the fairly well established rule that some modest remuneration is paid.


I hope that, before we come to the Report stage, we shall give serious consideration to the position of Members of the other place. If this point is not cleared up in your Lordships' House, I think that it will certainly be raised in the other place. I see the varying points of view, and I accept what has been said about remuneration by my noble friend, Lady Wootton of Abinger. But remuneration may be given in different forms. If it is given in the form of a salary it excludes Members of another place. If it were given in the form of expenses—as happens in the case of anyone, for instance, who travels from Inverness to attend meetings of the Arts Council—it would not exclude Members of the other place. I hope that we shall look at the methods of payment to part-time members in such a way as to take into consideration something about which I feel very strongly; namely, that if there are suitable applicants from the elected Chamber they should not be excluded just because of the method of remuneration.


I understand what the noble Baroness, Lady Lee of Asheridge, feels about the disqualification of Members of another place, of which, I am happy to say, both she and I were once Members. But we have had the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Fletcher, and I am glad that he spoke because I suppose that he had more to do with the House of Commons Disqualification Act than any other noble Lord. I have looked at the Act and I was much impressed by the very long list of bodies to which the disqualification of membership of the other place applies. I do not wish to weary your Lordships by referring to them all, but there are bodies like the University Grants Committee. I tried to find bodies which seemed to have some sort of relationship to the area about which we are now talking: the British Film Fund Agency; the Commission for Industrial Relations; the Commonwealth Development Corporation; the Community Relations Commission and the Consumer Council. The names of the bodies occupy three pages of the Schedule to the Act; and, of course, additions are made every year.


I wonder whether the Minister realises that he mentioned the Consumer Council, which his Government abolished.


I know; but the Consumer Council was a body on which one might have expected Members of Parliament to serve, yet they were disqualified. And no doubt there will be other such bodies which will arise and, in their turn, disappear.

The noble Baroness did not move Amendment No. 11 which was concerned with the payment of part-time members. Therefore, as the Bill stands, and as we should like it to remain, part-time members may be paid at the discretion of the Secretary of State. I have a list (it relates to November 1, 1969, the latest issued) of members of public boards. It is Cmnd. 4245, and it shows that in every case now where there are part-time members they are paid. This has become a common practice. Indeed, I think that the sort of life we live to-day calls increasingly for people of experience to do more than one job. It may well be that one would miss somebody if one were not able to offer a modest salary, in addition to expenses. That is a very important point when considering the problem of the disqualification of Members of another place.

The second point I would bring to the notice of your Lordships is that, as I said before, this is a small management board which we hope to set up. Because of the range of subjects which the British Library will have to cover, with all the problems connected with collections and reference and scholarship; the problems arising from lending to the different classes of user; the large problems connected with the improvement of the techniques of library services; and the very considerable international problems, which will probably increase all the time, it will be a board on which, as I see it, part-time members will have to serve on committees and will have to do some real work. There will be so much work involved, on such a variety of subjects. Therefore I do not think that this is the kind of board on which someone who was primarily engrossed in another job could serve. I do not think that such people could very easily give the time. I feel fairly sure that if the right organisation is to do it (I do not know whether the parallel is correct), it will be something like the Bank of England where the part-time members do a considerable amount of committee work. Therefore, on the ground that it is almost certain that the precedent which is now well established will be followed and the part-time members will be paid a salary, and on the ground, as I hope, that these part-time members will be prepared to give a considerable amount of time to the work, I think it is right that we should maintain the disqualification as in the provision that we are now discussing.


I am afraid that I am not convinced. I think it will be a sad day for this country when we do not have the tremendous amount of unpaid voluntary service which we have in so many fields. I can remember that when the National Health Service was introduced there were all kinds of able and highly qualified people who were giving a good deal of their time to the maintenance and care of hospitals. When the service started they had the wrong idea that their help would no longer be required. But we owe an immeasurable debt for all kinds of voluntary service in local authority work, and I think it is good for the community and the individual that there should be fields where, if people have the time, energy, specialist knowledge and concern, they should offer their services. However, at the moment it looks as if my point of view is in a minority in this Committee. We shall have further time to discuss this at a later stage, and I am certain that it will be debated at considerable length when it goes to the other place. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.2 p.m.

LORD TREVELYAN moved Amendment No. 17: Page 6, line 40, at end insert— ("Provided that the disposal of all articles specified in section 3(1)(a) of this Act shall be subject to the conditions imposed by section 5 of the British Museum Act 1963 on the disposal by the Trustees of the British Museum of objects vested in them and comprised in their collections.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 17. This relates to the powers of the Library Board to dispose of books and manuscripts which are now in the collections of the British Museum. On Second Reading, I expressed the view that the Board should have full discretion on this matter, on the principle that you appoint a good Board and then trust it to behave sensibly. But I have since consulted my colleagues on the Board of Trustees of the British Museum, some of whom feel strongly about it, and I think there are good arguments for changing my view.

I should like to explain the effect of this Amendment. It means that the power of disposal of the books and manuscripts at present in the collections of the British Museum remains as at present; that is to say, in terms of the British Museum Act, 1963, that the Board can dispose of a book or manuscript taken over from the Museum only if it is a duplicate, or made after 1850 and can be photographed, or is unfit to be kept in the collection and can be disposed of without detriment to the interests of students. That, I feel, is a reasonable provision, and I think that the Board would welcome it, particularly because the Trustees have found it to be a useful defence against various pressures put on them from time to time to give away articles from their collections. This will increase public confidence that these great collections will be preserved as a national heritage. I hope that the Government will agree to accept this Amendment which is parallel to the Amendment on lending which has already been accepted.


I should like to support this Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, and I, too, hope that the Government will accept it. I am very much opposed on principle to museums being able to dispose of objects, although, as the noble Lord has said, we can have full confidence in the Trustees and the Boards. I think that the British Museum is probably a special case. I am glad that the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery have not the right to dispose. I suppose that in the 'thirties they would have disposed of many of their Victorian paintings, because the Bloomsbury Group taught us to despise them. Now we do not think much of the Bloomsbury Group, but of course revere Victoriana. The British Museum is, I feel, a special case. We debated this at length at the time of the British Museum Act 1963. As the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, has said, I think that the section in that Act is about right, and it is important that this should be included in the present Bill.


I do not think that either of the two noble Lords who have spoken on this Amendment realise its full implications, because the disposal of objects in the collections and otherwise of the British Museum under the 1963 Act was dealt with not only in Section 5 of the Act, to which the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, referred, but also in Section 9, which deals with the transfer to other institutions. On Second Reading, I ventured to draw the attention of your Lordships to a number of manuscripts which are now held at Bloomsbury, and which I think in the interests of students should be transferred to another national institution. I rather think that if we qualify the powers given to the Board under Clause 11(3) by Section 5 of the 1963 Act it will mean that we shall have to move an Amendment at the Report stage carrying forward Section 9 of the 1963 Act, which, as I have said, refers to transfer to other institutions, in order to regularise the position.


I suggest that this is really a different point. It is one which has not come to my notice before. I personally should support the idea that Section 9, if it is found to be legally necessary, should be continued, but I think it should be considered separately from the Amendment that I have moved, perhaps on the Report stage.


As a generality, I entirely support the noble Lords, Lord Trevelyan and Lord Strabolgi.


I have not the text of the British Museum Act 1963 before me, and no doubt the Paymaster General has, but he will recollect, as I do, that when we were considering the 1963 Act in another place considerable thought was given to this matter. I do not think that anybody then disputed the desirability of including Section 5 in the Act of 1963. It was done for very good reasons and, if my recollection holds, the Paymaster General was in support of it, as I was. Desirable as is this present Bill—and we all welcome it—it is difficult to imagine any grounds that have arisen since 1963 which make it any more acceptable now than it was then that either the Trustees or the new Board should be released from the conditions which Parliament then thought fit to impose.


When I saw that my noble friend Lord Cranbrook was present I was certain that the other part of the 1963 Act would be mentioned. First, may I say that I am convinced by the arguments of the noble Lords, Lord Trevelyan and Lord Strabolgi, that it is right to do as they wish and carry forward into this Bill the section from the British Museum Act 1963. I feel sure that the Board would have recognised this inheritance, and would not have tried to dispose of property which they had had transferred to them from the British Museum in this way; but I think it is right to put it into the Bill, and I gladly accept the Amendment.

As to whether on Report stage we should incorporate Section 9 of the 1963 Act, perhaps I should remind your Lordships of what that section provides. It gives the British Museum Trustees now, and would give the British Library Board in the future, power to transfer certain objects to the Natural History Museum, in which my noble friend Lord Cranbrook is much interested. The question whether these books and objects that belonged, I think, to Sir Joseph Banks, should or should not be transferred has been discussed for many a year and will no doubt go on being discussed. We will look at this point and if it seems desirable we will also include on Report stage Section 9 of the British Museum Act. However, I am not absolutely sure about this and I should like to discuss it with the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, and the Trustees of the British Museum before giving an absolutely definite assurance.


I hope that the noble Viscount will also discuss the matter with the Trustees of the Natural History Museum.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

5.11 p.m.

LORD STRABOLGI moved Amendment No. 20: Page 7, line 15, at end insert— ("(4) Civil servants and staff of the British Museum who are transferred on the appointed day to the British Library will retain terms and conditions which correspond, as nearly as the circumstances permit, to those of the Civil Service. These conditions will not be varied in the future without the agreement of the recognised staff associations.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 20. On Second Reading I pointed out that the White Paper, in paragraph 15, contained conditions about transfers of staff but that there was nothing in the Bill. The noble Viscount promised to look into it, and I see that since then the Government have put down Amendment No. 21, which the Committee will be considering in due course. My own feeling is that Amendment No. 21 does not go far enough and therefore I am moving my own. The creation of the British Library requires for all practical purposes the compulsory transfer of civil servants and the staff at the British Museum to a new employer. For the civil servants it is a compulsory transfer out of the Civil Service. For the British Museum staff, who have always enjoyed conditions identical to those in the Civil Service, it is a compulsory transfer to another organisation in which, as things stand, they may or may not have Civil Service conditions in the future.

None of the staffs concerned, of course, has sought these transfers. Notwithstanding that, the associations representing the staffs have, I understand, adopted a very positive and constructive attitude to the proposed British Library. The one thing they have asked for in exchange is that the staffs they represent shall not be worse off in the future than they would have been if they were not compulsorily transferred to the new organisation. The most practicable way to achieve the staff associations' request is for the Government to agree that Civil Service conditions will continue to apply to the staff of the British Library after it has been created. That is why the Amendment has been drafted in the way it has been.

So far the Government have agreed that the conditions will apply at the date of the transfer, to which the noble Lord will come in his Amendment, but in my submission that does not meet the fundamental point. It may be held that the objection to my Amendment is that its acceptance would mean tying the hands of the new employing authority on the future conditions and terms of employment of their staffs. But it is clearly provided in the Amendment that the future conditions of employment can be varied from the Civil Service conditions by agreement between the new employer and the appropriate staff associations. This formula, I submit, safeguards the staff yet makes it clear that departures from Civil Service conditions can be made when both parties agree. As time goes by and mutual confidence is established, I have no doubt that the two sides will be able to agree on such departures when they are appropriate and sensible. I would remind the Committee that similar arrangements have worked well in, for example, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and the Natural Environment and Science Research Councils set up in 1965.


The British Library, of course, is going to afford wider career opportunities for librarians and also more opportunities for promotion. Therefore I think the way in which the staff have received the idea of this great integration of these four parts is understandable. None the less it is very welcome. In our discussions with them, the staff have been extraordinarily co-operative and I should like to place that on record.

It is not really possible for me to discuss this Amendment unless I refer to the alternative one which I have put down, so I hope that your Lordships will not mind if I do that. There are two things which we want to do and which also form the purpose of the noble Lord's Amendment. The first is to see that on transfer the conditions offered by the British Library to those employees, some civil servants and some not, who come into their service are no worse than the conditions they had before. We have already given an undertaking in that regard, and we spell that out in the first part of my Amendment: that is also what the noble Lord does in his. However, the first sentence of the Amendment we are now considering is a little too narrow and I think probably that on reflection noble Lords will agree that it is covered better in subsection (1) of my Amendment.

Then we come to the second sentence of the noble Lord's Amendment: These conditions will not be varied in the future without the agreement of the recognised staff associations. That, of course, is going further than we have gone before. It is one thing to assure all these people—which we certainly intend to do—that their conditions will be at least as good, taken as a whole, on transfer as they were before; but it is another thing to give the staff associations the right of veto on any change, in however long a future, in their conditions of work. This, I think, would not be a wise approach—I hope that your Lordships will agree—to introduce into an institution of this kind or, indeed, any other institution. Therefore when we come to my Amendment you will not find the future mentioned. What I am doing is what I feel we must do—that is, to give a guarantee for here and now. As the years pass, and there are rises in salaries, changes in grades and all that sort of thing we simply cannot give the staff associations (indeed we do not do this in any other institutions, so far as I am aware) a complete veto as to whether or not a proposal of the Board should be accepted. I must tell the Committee that we are not able to accept this Amendment, but in the following Amendment all that we have been asked for, and all that we have done, in other cases is provided.


I am disappointed that the noble Viscount cannot accept my Amendment. As he said, and indeed as I said also, there is no provision in the Bill or in the Government's Amendment for safeguarding the future. On the other hand, I note what he says and hope very much that the Board will enter into discussions if they wish to change any of the conditions. I may say that the situation and the gaps in the Government's Amendment have caused concern to the Institution of Professional Civil Servants; and they are concerned not about the conditions which will prevail at the time of the transfer but about those that may come about afterwards. I hope that the Government will bear in mind that there must be consultations and, wherever possible, mutual agreement before decisions are made. Perhaps the noble Viscount will give some such assurance.


I am glad to tell noble Lords that to the best of my ability I will see that the members of the Board are people who will do exactly what the noble Lord asks. Any good Board consults with the staff associations when making any changes in conditions. I should be surprised if the people who are appointed to the Board did not do that. But we cannot accept that there should be an absolute right of veto.


The Civil Service Department have had long experience in working with staff associations. They have the Whitley Council system which works superbly, although there are difficulties now and again. There is bound to be a little concern that the general ethos of negotiations with staff associations, which both sides within the Civil Service understand so well, may be lost. I do not know what my noble friend's intentions are, but one appreciates that it would be difficult to accept all that he asks. The noble Viscount has promised to speak to the new Board and I hope that he will at that time ensure that so far as possible they meet with the staff associations concerned. Although he may not wish to give them directions, I hope that he will, if necessary, seek the help of the joint Whitley Council machinery in ensuring that they get off to a good start. This will give great confidence to the general secretaries of the unions, to their members, and to those who are directly responsible for these particular workers. The workers will be on contracts of employment; their position will have changed from that of civil servants. One cannot go too far in giving assurances. The noble Viscount's heart may be right on this; we want to make sure that it carries through into the right action.


I assure the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition that I will do my best to see that that comes about. I believe strongly that a rather intricate kind of business such as the British Library is going to depend tremendously on the good will and the enthusiasm of the staff. Therefore consultation with them is an absolute necessity.


I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.26 p.m.

VISCOUNT ECCLES moved Amendment No. 21: Page 7, line 15, at end insert— (".—(1) In the case of persons to be employed by them on and after the appointed day who immediately before that day are employed either in the civil service of the State or by the trustees of the British Museum, the Board shall, in negotiating their terms of employment, ensure that the terms, taken as a whole, are not less favourable in the case of each such person than those on which he is employed at the time when an offer is made to him of employment with the Board. (2) In the following provisions of this paragraph, "the Act of 1963" means the Contracts of Employment Act 1963, "the Act of 1965" means the Redundancy Payments Act 1965 and "the Superannuation Acts" means the Superannuation Acts 1965 and 1972. (3) Where a person enters the employment of the Board on the appointed day having been, immediately before that day, employed as mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) above, then—

  1. (a) for the purposes of the Acts of 1963 and 1965 any period during which he was so employed before that day (other than a period excepted by sub-paragraph (4) below) shall count as a period of employment with the Board, and the change of employer shall not break the continuity of the period of employment; and
  2. (b) if he was employed by the trustees of the British Museum and his contract of employment was terminated with a view to his being re-employed by the Board as from that day, he is not to be treated for the purposes of the Act of 1965 as having been dismissed by reason of redundancy.
(4) A period of employment excepted by this sub-paragraph is one which ended before the appointed day in consequence of termination of the employment, where there was made to the person in respect of that termination a payment in accordance with Part I of the Act of 1965, or under the Superannuation Acts or any enactment replaced by either of those Acts, or under any such arrangements as are mentioned in section 41(3) of the Act of 1965.").

The noble Viscount said: I beg to move Amendment No. 21. The first subsection does what I said before; namely, gives an assurance that: the terms, taken as a whole, are not less favourable in the case of each such person than those on which he is employed at the time when an offer is made to him of employment with the Board". That follows the Civil Aviation Authority Act 1922 and is accepted as a sound formula.

When we come to the other part of my Amendment, when we drafted the Bill we overlooked the fact that if we were not to put some such words in as we are now seeking to do, then when employment with the British Museum and other constituent bodies ceased, there would arise certain rights for redundancy payments; whereas what we are all aiming to do is simply to arrange that the employer should change from one day to the next but that the service be continued. It would not be in the interests of the employee if the service did break at that point, because we want to take into consideration the period in which a member of the staff has been employed by the British Museum, the National Bibliography or one of the other two bodies, and aggregate it with the period of employment in the British Library should any circumstance occur when it may be necessary to make a man redundant. He will get a different redundancy payment if there has been no break as between one employer and the other and it is treated as one period of service. It is very much in the interests of the staff that subsections (2) to (4) should be in the Bill. If noble Lords want any further explanation I have a long brief on the topic. My Amendment makes it quite clear that all the rights the man had before are carried over and aggregated with the rights that he will accumulate under the new employer.


I am very grateful to the noble Viscount for moving this Amendment. I am sure that it was right to put these subsections in the Bill rather than leaving the intention to the White Paper. It is always better to get all the facts and legal backing that one can into the Statutory Instrument rather than leaving it to the White Paper. Therefore, I am very glad that the Government have included the wording in the Bill.


While generally supporting this Amendment, I should like to enter one caveat: there has not been time for the British Museum administration, which deals with staff matters, to scrutinise the Amendment. I have no reason to suppose that they will have any comments on it but if they have I should be grateful if I may give them to the noble Viscount before the Report stage.


I have a simple question to ask which I am sure can be answered without reading the long brief. Would subsection (4) cover any echelon of service whatever position the staff are in so far as superannuation is concerned? I gather that that is safeguarded by subsection (4).


I hope so. I had better reserve the right to communicate with the noble Lord in case I am not exactly right.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with the Amendments.

House adjourned during pleasure, and resumed by the Lord Chancellor.