HL Deb 01 August 1978 vol 395 cc1193-4

2.47 p.m.

The Earl of PERTH

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government when the 1976–77 Report of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art will be published.

The MINISTER of STATE, DEPARTMENT of EDUCATION and SCIENCE (Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge)

My Lords, the 1976–77 Report of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art is in course of preparation with a view to publication in the autumn.

The Earl of PERTH

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply, but does he realise that, by the time this report comes out, some of the events that have occurred in the period under review will be over two years old? In view of these delays and in view of the great importance of these reports to those who care about saving our heritage, will he please take special steps to ensure that in the future the yearly reports are published more quickly and with a high priority?


My Lords, I am absolutely in agreement with the wishes of the noble Earl. In recent years, including the latter part of the noble Earl's distinguished chairmanship of this Committee, the Reviewing Committee undertook an examination of several major wider issues of policy within their terms of reference, in addition to considering individual export cases.

The secretariat has needed strengthening to cope with the extra work thus entailed, and I understand that the Reviewing Committee intends to arrange its programme of work and meetings so that future reports can he published sooner after the end of the year to which they relate than the present one. The publication of the present report in relation to last year has certainly taken a long time, but, if the Reviewing Committee are successful in producing the 1976–77 Report by the end of this year, they will equal the noble Lord's performance when he was chairman during his last year.

The Earl of PERTH

My Lords, in the light of the noble Lord's comment, may I say to him in the form of a question: is he aware that the last report that came out, which was published two months ago, had largely been written three years before, but was not published?


My Lords, without going into figures, I hope the noble Earl will agree with my last remark. I have said it is everybody's intention and desire that this should be speeded up. I have also said that, if the Committee is successful in bringing it out by the autumn, it will have equalled the noble Earl's own performance.