§ 4.1 p.m.
§ Baroness SEEAR rose to move, That this House takes note of the Fourteenth Report of last Session of the European Communities Committee on Community action in the cultural sector (R/2982/77) and proposals for a European Economic and Social Policy Research Institute (R/3184/78) (H.L. 97, 1978–79). The noble Baroness said: My Lords, before we commence the debate, may I say how delighted I am and how delighted, I am sure, your Lordships' House will be that the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, who contributed so much to the evidence which was given to the committee, has chosen to make this subject the reason for his maiden speech. I know that it is customary to congratulate a maiden speaker after he has made his speech, but on this occasion I feel that I am entirely safe in congratulating the noble Lord before he makes it and thanking him very much indeed for so doing.
§ The report which is before your Lordships' House today deals with three separate though related matters. In the report there are a number of individual items of a relatively insignificant nature, although some of them are important in their own right—for instance, matters dealing with free trade in cultural goods, copyright, protection against theft. These are practical issues of considerable importance, the objectives of which will be acceptable, I assume, to all Members of your Lordships' House and, indeed, to most persons.
§ The only reason for hesitation that the committee would have about considering these proposals is the possibility of a still further increase in bureaucracy in trying to bring about the very proper aims that are included in the suggestions and a 524 doubt as to whether it is really necessary always to set up an EEC provision to deal with matters which could perhaps be dealt with by means of existing machinery. I am sure that we all agree that, while in this field, as in all others, we want there to be progress within the Community, we do not want to weigh it down with unnecessary additional bureaucracy. For example, in dealing with theft, it may well be that the existing Interpol provisions are perfectly adequate, or perhaps need only some slight alteration and development in order to achieve the objectives which are outlined in the report.
§ There is also difficulty about what is meant by a " cultural worker ". No definition of a " cultural worker " is contained in the Brussels proposals. If special provision is to be made for cultural workers, we must be clear about who the animal really is. This was not made at all clear in the recommendations which came before us. The strong feeling of the committee was that cultural workers should be regarded as self-employed persons and that if the provision for the protection of self-employed persons is adequate this should, in the main at any rate, be appropriate for dealing with cultural workers—that it is not necessary for persons who are defined as " cultural workers " to be treated as a class apart, as a different kind of animal from anybody who is earning his living by working for himself in his own, chosen way.
§ Apart from those reservations, there is general agreement that the individual items which are outlined here need some attention and that it is appropriate that they should be considered. However, they are not the main issues in the report which is before your Lordships' House today. Had they been the only items to be considered, we should not have thought that it was suitable to recommend the report to your Lordships' House for debate.
§ The first major consideration is the question of cultural policy within the EEC. A number of Members of your Lordships' House will at once raise the question whether cultural policy is, in any case, ultra vires. This issue comes up again and again. It is not easy to see, within the framework of the Treaty, that there is a specific mandate for dealing with cultural matters, though it would be 525 possible, from the way in which the proposals were put forward, to recognise the fact that if cultural action is to be taken by the EEC it must be taken as a result of an indirect application of the Treaty—by a very considerable extension, perhaps, of Article 235. However, it is not the question of ultra vires which we should like to discuss in the debate this afternoon.
When the committee first looked at these proposals I think a good many of its members were divided as to the direction which should be taken in making recommendations. To anybody who wishes to see the Community develop into something which deals with matters of greater importance to the citizen than green pounds and budgetary squabbles, the idea that the Community should be taking a lead over some of those cultural matters which make the pulse of the ordinary citizen beat faster is an attractive proposition. Indeed, as those of us who have been involved in the EEC election campaigns know only too well, the pulse of the British people is not beating very hard at the thought of the EEC, and the injection of a new idea and a new leadership into the EEC concept might well be what is needed at present.
§ Although development along these lines is needed, this does not mean that it is right for the EEC to adopt a positive and specific role in the development of cultural policy. In the first place, the nine members of the EEC, and even the membership extended to 12 when this comes about, do not represent Europe. It is hard to see that there is a European Community culture. Indeed, the fact that these proposals were put forward when Greece lay outside the Community underlines the unreality of claiming that European culture is in any way identical with the culture of the Nine who at present make up the Community. Therefore, one has to ask whether this is the right area and the right place for the development of European culture. If one asks that question, the answer, surely, has to be, No, it is not.
§ Even more significant is the question: Is a Commission, a Community, an inevitably highly institutionalised organization, the appropriate body for the development of culture? There is something even in the term " cultural policy " which is repulsive.526
§ You cannot have a culture which is developed as a matter of policy. The real outbursts of European culture have often come as a result of anger, of anguish, of protest. These are things which cannot be planned and regulated from Brussels, or even from Paris or Florence. So, much as one wants to see development in this field, much as one wants to see new creative impulses coming out of Brussels, one has to say this must not take the form of the development of cultural policies lined up with agricultural policies and regional policies. In culture the wind bloweth where it listeth and it cannot be regulated from Brussels.
§ This does not mean that there should be no effort made, more subtly and in ways of a different kind from those used in agricultural and industrial policies, to develop those areas of life which, although they are, thank heavens, beyond the clutch of the bureaucrat's hand, are of the greatest importance to the citizens of the Community. Surely it is desirable that resources should be made available and encouragement given from Brussels, through other institutions, to help in the development of established bodies who are working in this field, and in fostering small initiatives from which so often new movements, new developments in culture, unforeseen and unanticipated, come to grow.
§ We have suggested that through, for example, the Council of Europe, we should at least have much wider coverage of things European, some collaboration between the resources available in Brussels and the machinery and knowledge and contact in the Council of Europe; not only in the Council of Europe, but in other institutions such as the British Council, such as the European Institute. Help through bodies of that kind could show that the Community cares about things which ordinary citizens care about and which extra-ordinary citizens care about, because the Community is made up of the ordinary and the extraordinary, the exceptional and the average. Resources should be available to help in the development of this side of life which has been remote from the work of the Community up to the present. That is the way we would like to see the development of what is called, incorrectly, we think, cultural policy. 527 The objections to cultural policy do not, however, apply to the third element in today's debate, the proposal to establish a European Economic and Social Policy Research Institute. The Commission and the other elements that go to make up the Community, working as they are in the development of economic and social matters relating to economic development, if they are to be effective, if they are to take wise initiatives, if they are to take stock of what has been going on and to bring about right changes as a result of that stocktaking, do surely need a research organisation of the highest possible quality. At present there is very little of the more long-term fundamental research going on in the area of the European Community.
§ If that kind of research is to be effective, and we believe it is very badly needed, it can only be effective if certain conditions are observed. One is that the research that is to be done should not be limited exclusively to the members of the Community; it should bring in countries which are affected by what happens in the Community and which can affect it. We all know, for example, that the North African countries will be increasingly affected by the enlargement of the Community. What is going on in regard to the relationship between Community action and developments in other countries close to the Community, close either geographically or because of economic and social considerations, needs to be taken into account in the work of such an institute as is proposed here.
§ It is also of the greatest importance that an institute of this kind should be staffed by people of quite exceptional order. It would be a disaster, and an expensive disaster, if this institute became a long-term home for displaced academics, and it is all too easy for something of this kind to happen. It would be disastrous if the recruitment to this institute had to be made on a strict rationing of jobs according to nationality. If either of these two things happened we would be better off without it. It is highly desirable that such an institute should be staffed by people who, though adequately paid, should not be so well paid that they can never return to the academic institutions from which they came. These are all 528 real dangers, as I am sure your Lordships are aware, if a body of this kind is set up.
§ Above all, it is of the greatest importance that such an institute should be as independent of Brussels as it possibly can be in its financing; some money from Brussels, yes, but it is highly desirable that there should be money from other sources, so that Brussels can never have more than a minor say on the basis of the financial contributions that it makes. And, even more important, it should be independent in its management and independent in its right to appoint the scientists who will work there. If those conditions can be fulfilled, then indeed this would be an extremely good investment.
§ In regard to the economies the present Government are proposing—and we know we need economies—I read in the Press, though I have no reason to know whether it is true or not, that the Government's possible contribution of one-third of a million pounds to such an institute is being viewed with disfavour. I hope the noble Lord who is to reply for the Government will repudiate that suggestion. If this is done properly it will save far more than one-third of a million pounds, and it will see that the contribution that the British Government make to Brussels, be it excessive or be it not, is in fact well spent. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this House takes note of the Fourteenth Report of last Session of the European Communities Committee on Community action in the cultural sector (R/2982/77) and proposals for a European Economic and Social Policy Research Institute (R/3184/78) (HL 97, 1978/79)—(Baroness Seear.)
§ Viscount ECCLES
My Lords, is it in order to ask the noble Baroness a question before she resumes her seat?
§ 4.19 p.m.
§ Lord DONALDSON of KINGS-BRIDGE
My Lords, I think we would all like to hear the noble Viscount's question. Perhaps he would like to ask it of me later on and I will pass it on to the noble Baroness. I am in rather a difficult position today because I agree 529 totally with the report of the committee of the noble Baroness and I thought she expressed the background to that report admirably; she did not say a single word I disagree with, and this does make speechmaking rather difficult. However, it does help one to be brief, which I shall endeavour to be.
The committee's verdict is not only sound, but extremely tactful. If I may dot the i's and cross the t's a little, what it is really saying is that it is less than certain that a cultural drive of the kind envisaged in the Commission's paper, R/2982/77, is an appropriate move at all. However, it is certain that, if that move is to be made, it must be made in conjunction with something wider, and the obvious choice to begin with is the Council of Europe which has 21 members including all the nine Members of the EEC. The Government must be careful not to miss any chance of getting any properly given money from the EEC which is not tied up with the type of strings about which the noble Baroness has been talking.
In my official capacity I attended the Council of Europe meeting in Oslo in 1976 and again in Athens this year. It is amusing to note that the turnover of Ministers of Culture is so great that I was the only Minister to attend both meetings. I am sure that at the next meeting the right honourable gentleman Mr. St. John-Stevas will be no less effective than I was. However, we were all—certainly the English delegation—a little puzzled at what it was all about. In Oslo I said that we did not have a Minister of Culture, that we thought that culture was an essential part of government, and that we dealt only with details through different Departments—for example, in my case the arts and in the case of the Department of the Environment, heritage and so on—which came as rather a surprise to those present.
However, at the Athens meeting the recommendation was put forward—and I discussed it with M. Lecat, who is the Minister of Culture for France, and I thought a most excellent thinker—that the committee should recommend that,the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe invite the CDCC—that is the body concerned—to study the preparation of a European Cultural Charter and report to the next Conference of Ministers responsible for Cultural Affairs ".530 I suppose that that conference will be at Luxembourg next year. Both M. Lecat and I said, " Don't let's go too fast on this. Both of our countries are doing a great deal about this sort of thing and we do not want to be diverted or confused, but we can hardly do less than ask to have papers prepared and leave our successors—in my case and possibly in his—to make a decision how far we go ahead after next year ".
Therefore, I do not think that that proposition—proposition No. 1—should go ahead until after the Council of Europe has produced papers for Ministers to consider, in which I hope and think they will discuss with the EEC the possible collaboration of the two. That would begin to make the sort of sense that we want to see.
In the three years for which I was Minister for the Arts I never made a speech on culture as such. It is not a matter that we talk about very much in England. We talk about specific matters and I made all sorts of speeches defending the Government for not doing things that others wanted them to do and vice versa. However, that brings me to the second point which the noble Baroness made; namely, that a body of this kind, if it were properly set up with the Council of Europe—and, as the noble Baroness suggested, included some kind of liaison with other interested people like North Africa—should still not be a body which does things itself. It should be a body which provides a proportion of money for existing international or national institutions, to do things themselves. It seems to me that the very idea that SEDOC—I cannot remember exactly what it stands for but, roughly speaking, it is the EEC's employment arrangements—should become the sole agency for the exchange of cultural personnel, is totally wrong. However, there are, as the noble Baroness suggested, many institutions—for example, the International Theatre Institute, the International Committee of Museums and many others—which are well suited to receive help and encouragement. That reminds me that last year when M. LeFort, who has just taken over the Paris Opera, came over here and gave a Press conference, he said that he wanted to see an organisation of opera houses which would have some kind of power in dealing with the broadcasting and television companies. That is the type of group which could be 531 [Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge.] helped very much by being set up and assisted with money from this source.
Despite criticisms of various kinds, we in this country are satisfied with our system of arm's length assistance to the arts. Most of us feel that any more direct involvement by Government with the arts would be a mistake. It is fair to say that that is not true throughout Europe—it is certainly not true in France. M. Lecat has far more power than I ever had or Mr. St. John-Stevas will ever have. At any rate we were able to agree that we did not want to go too far in this direction. It was most agreeable earlier this afternoon to hear my noble friend Lady White as regards an entirely different subject—the Wales Bill—defending nominated bodies in defence of which I am always prepared to go to the wall.
Therefore, my attitude to the first proposition is that no action should be taken until the Council of Europe has discussed the problem fully next year at Luxembourg. I am sure that that is right. The noble Baroness's report has been widely appreciated by a group of very non-establishment people—about 150 of them—all connected with the arts, who met in May under the auspices of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (the ICA). They were clearly very suspicious of the kind of bureaucratic danger to which the noble Baroness has referred. I should like merely as a compliment to her and her companions on the committee, to point out that in their preliminary quotations on page 1 as regards " What others have said " they say as regards the Select Committee of the House of Lords:Any attempt to identify European culture with the Community would be artificial, and could damage culture on both sides of the Community's boundaries ".They also say:To direct cultural activity from Brussels would be to run the risk of reducing the cultures within the Community to uniformity ".People who are interested will find this a most interesting and helpful discussion, but really it is in almost total agreement with the noble Baroness's report.
As regards the second paper—R/3184/78—once again I totally agree with the committee's recommendations and with the noble Baroness's exposition. Roughly 532 speaking—and I am dotting the i's again—they say that a European social policy and research institute is desirable, but only if it is entirely independent and in no way run by the Commission. That, I think, is not at all what the Commission had in mind, but I am sure that that is right. I thought that Professor Dahrendorf's evidence was conclusive in this sense, and it would be worth examining further the possibility, which was discussed with the noble Lord whose maiden speech we are so much looking forward to hearing in a few minutes, of setting up such an institute through the agency of the European Scientific Foundation. In relation to dealing with existing institutions Professor Dahrendorf suggested that the Hague Club, which is an organisation of European private foundations, might be a possible vehicle for something of this sort.
My Lords, I should like to end by congratulating the noble Baroness and her colleagues on a very wise report, while hoping that the Government, apart from being prepared, as she suggested, to put up a third of a million pounds towards anything which is properly founded, will not take rapid action here but will at least wait until after Luxembourg.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ Lord FLOWERS
I am most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, for her very kind remarks about me and for the chance that this debate on the 14th Report gives me to address your Lordships. I am very happy also to follow the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, because he was kind enough to leave me in a reasonably non-controversial frame of mind!
The European idea is partly a matter of economic and social policy and partly a matter of history and culture. The Community, however, was created mainly to enable its participants to seek mutual support in their economic policies. It is not, in its present form, a natural grouping for cultural affairs. In the memorable phrase of Professor Dahrendorf that is in the printed evidence, it is not " a natural cultural space ". If the Commission is to rely upon the Treaty of Rome in order to assist the development of European culture, it will have to be extraordinarily sensitive to the fact that culture has to be seen in an historical 533 context. It is a context that goes far beyond the economic perspectives of the present Community, into the membership of the Council of Europe at least, and many would say into the countries of Eastern Europe as well.
Moreover, it seems to me that our cultural heritage derives to a significant extent from our historical minorities. This is no peculiarity of Europe. If there be such a thing, for instance, as American culture, as distinct from the individual contributions of a great number of Americans, it surely derives very largely from the minority groupings of that great continent throughout its history. I am not sure that national Governments always pay sufficient attention to minorities. It would be extremely difficult for the Commission to do so above the heads, so to speak, of the national Governments. I believe it was Matthew Arnold who said:The men of culture are the true apostles of equality ".Equality, yes, but not uniformity. Therefore I hope, if a mere physicist may have an opinion on such a matter, that the eventual outcome of these deliberations may be a loose association of the bodies responsible for cultural affairs in our various countries rather than a centralised cultural bureaucracy. There is much that the Commission could do, if it wished, to catalyse such an approach.
The proposal to set up a European Economic and Social Policy Research Institute raises some problems that are similar. For, although it is easy to accept that the Community is " a natural space " in which to apply economic and social policies jointly conceived, a wider space is desirable for the examination of their consequences and the exploration of alternatives. I agree with the noble Baroness that we have to be particularly concerned about countries that are not yet members of the Community. So I am glad to see in the Commission's recommendation that a number of European non-Member States might participate. That at least makes it a little more open-ended.
The proposed European Institute is often likened to the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. The prime function of Brookings is to conduct policy research into matters of current concern and to 534 make their findings available (and I quote from the Encyclopaedia Americana) to,leaders in business, labour and the professions, senior civil servants, members of Congress and other Government officials ".Its charter provides that the Institution (and I quote again),shall be administered without regard to the special interest of any group in the body politic, whether political, social or economic ".That is to say, it is independent. In short, the role of a policy research institute is to examine the efficacy of current policies, to propose alternatives and to provide fresh food for thought to those who manage our affairs.
I cannot judge whether the time has yet come when the Commission, the Council of Ministers and the national Governments of Europe are willing to expose themselves to independent examination. I hope that the newly elected European Parliament will encourage them, but I doubt whether even they can manage without the help of an expert research organisation. After all, Brookings has functioned usefully for over 50 years in spite of the immense resources available to Congress. I am personally convinced that sooner or later it will be found essential to have a policy research institute in Europe which will act as a mirror, in the words of the 14th Report, to the organs of the Community and to the national Governments. I do not doubt that if it were available today it would be shedding fresh light on the Common Agricultural Policy, the regional development funds, the husbandry of natural resources and many other matters.
The report stresses—and rightly stresses—the independence that such an institute should have. It is not an easy matter. It must guard that independence while having close access to the organs whose policies it is studying. It cannot work in a vacuum. It must seek and respect confidence. But it must be the creature of nobody and especially not of the Commission.
It is here that I view with some concern the precise form of the Commission's recommendation. This makes clear that the institute would be negotiated at intergovernmental level; that it would be managed by a board appointed by the Commission and the national Governments and therefore with its budget not 535 only provided, but also controlled by the very bodies whose policies it would then be its duty to examine. That does not sound like independence to me!
There are several ways to achieve an acceptable degree of autonomy. The institute might be funded jointly by a group of charitable foundations. The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kings-bridge, has already referred to that possibility. In that way no official funds would be involved. If alternatively the institute is to depend primarily upon community and Government funds, as I think it eventually must, one could interpose a suitable body trusted by both sides. It is the kind of role, although of course constitutionally quite different, that is played by the University Grants Committee, interposed between the Government and the universities of this country. How very precious that has proved to he to the autonomy of our universities and the freedom with which we do our work.
It is here that I have to declare an interest, because the 14th Report proposes that the European Science Foundation, of which at present I have the honour to be President, might be made responsible for setting up the institute and for continuing thereafter both to acquire its funds and to guarantee its independence. I was not sure that it is at all proper, having given evidence to the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, shortly before I took the oath in your Lordships' House, now to pop up in another guise to comment on my own evidence. I was assured that if I made a full confession I could rely upon the traditional indulgence of the House, if not in perpetuity at least on this occasion, and I can but try my luck!
I explained in that evidence that the European Science Foundation—perhaps I may call it the ESF for short—might, indeed, be a suitable body. I shall not repeat that evidence here, except to say purely by way of explanation that our chief aim is to assist in the development of a coherent European community of research and scholarship in all branches of learning, including the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. The member organisations of the foundation are 46 research councils and learned academies, representing all these disciplines from 17 West European countries, inclu- 536 ding those of the Community. All of them disburse public funds on basic research, but all are autonomous so far as their scientific judgments are concerned.
The ESF works in close harmony with the European Commission. It also has a good relationship with the Council of Europe, to which it voluntarily accounts for itself from time to time, as it also does to the European Parliament. Nevertheless, although it depends upon public funds, it is two steps removed, so to speak, from direct interference by Governments in reaching its conclusions and recommendations. We are already active in the social sciences. We have not yet tried to create a policy research institute because the proposal has been in governmental hands. We have been interested bystanders. But we shall do our best if our help is sought.
I must not trespass further upon the patience of the House in what might seem to be a commercial plug for the European Science Foundation. I have only one brief point to add, but it is, I think, important to emphasise something which the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, has already said. Whatever formal arrangements are eventually adopted—whether they are those recommended by the Commission or those suggested by the noble Baroness, or any others—the ultimate guarantee of success is the quality of the work that is carried out by the institute. That will depend entirely upon the excellence of its permanent staff and of the expert visitors it is able to attract for special studies. I submit that we should ask ourselves what formal arrangements are most likely to attract the kind of people whom we would wish to see in the employment of the institute. That is the paramount question.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Lord O'HAGAN
My Lords, it is a real pleasure for me to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, on a truly distinguished and model maiden speech, drawing on depths of learning and expertise but putting that to the service of the House in a brief and non-contro-versial manner. If I may say so without impertinence, I hope that he will often come to our debates and show that he 537 truly bridges the C. P. Snow gap of the two cultures, as he has today.
It was a special pleasure to hear him because, very largely, I agree with the main burden of his remarks. Before I discuss the report in detail, briefly I should like to give an indication of how I regard these matters. Apart from the election of the present Government in this country, probably the most significant European political event this year was the election of the Polish Pope. I speak as a Protestant. That is the event this year which will have long-term political significance within Europe, the event to which we should pay very great attention now and to which we should look for important political development in the future.
Therefore, I do not regard the European Community as representing Europe. I see Europe as a geographical expression to which the European Economic Community is attempting to give some form of democratic and political reality. When your Lordships, and in particular the committee of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, study proposals of the sort that form the subject-matter of this report, that wider perspective about what is and is not Europe is very important to keep in mind. In that general context I would simply say that the noble Baroness has not gone far enough. Before the end of my political lifetime I look forward to applications to join the European Economic Community from Hungary, Poland and other States which are now neither free nor democratic. When we think about Europe, we must not say " No " to them merely because we stretch the boundaries as far as the member-States of the Council of Europe. We must think of the widest way in which we can interpret the geographical term " Europe " and then narrow it for practical purposes.
In that ecumenical spirit, I find it rather hard to say what I have to say next, because my attitude towards the proposal for a European Economic and Social Policy Research Institute is not wholly in tune with that of previous speakers in the debate. Although I respect the knowledge of the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, who speaks from experience, I have deep anxieties about the independence of research bodies, who 538 pays them and what the burdens are for being paid. I very much admire the Rowntree Foundations, both the charitable and the non-charitable ones, and the Policy Studies Institute under Mr. John Pinder. Those bodies in the area of political research—either activist or general, practical or theoretical—have a great deal to offer. But it is of their essence that they are independent and are not beholden to their paymasters.
Although the committee believes that this proposal can be developed and adapted—and the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, seems to think so too—I am also doubtful that we can transplant what has been successful in the United States, which is essentially a country with a single language and a single political tradition going back several hundred years, into an expanding community of many languages and very diverse political traditions. We cannot transplant institutions just like that. Therefore, provided that these two misgivings can be overcome—and I hope that they can—I am sure that the European Parliament would love to have a policy research institute with which to equip itself in its struggle against bureaucracy and inefficiency both in the Commission and in the Council of Ministers. I look forward to its existing and to calling upon it.
Nevertheless, there is a danger that this proposal has already suffered various changes in the course of its evolution. It may now be in a state of some confusion, and its original purposes must be checked against these two criteria of independence and whether the whole notion can really be transplanted across the Atlantic. I conclude on that part of my remarks with the gloomy report to your Lordships that at the top of my copy of the Fourteenth Report, where it starts to discuss this proposal, I have put " Euroquano? ". That is what worries me about it. Nevertheless, I support its intentions and if it exists, and is to exist, I hope that Her Majesty's Government will see fit to develop it in its formative stages so that we can make a contribution to it and obtain benefit from it.
The real reason for my speaking this afternoon is that, like noble Lords who have spoken in the debate so far, I tend to shiver when I see the word " culture " 539 in large letters on the front of a report. I suggest to your Lordships that your reaction, and I hope my reaction, would be quite different were the words to be, not " culture " but, for example, " the European heritage ". " Heritage " is, again, an abused word. It has assumed a rather bogus and specialist narrow meaning, but it sums up some of the matters that are important for the European Community to deal with, which, in my view, are not subsumed in the expression " culture ". Heritage is defined in my dictionary as, " What is, or may be, inherited ". So far as the Community is concerned it can only grow, expand and develop if it respects the social, political and cultural heritage on which it is based. It must grow from that. Respect what exists within the Community already, and build on the cultural and political traditions of its new members.
It cannot set up a harmonised standard for culture and enforce it on those citizens within its boundaries; but, through its activities it can either frustrate or help, the European cultural heritage—call it what you like, as long as it does not sound too unattractive—that we all know exists. There is something that people the other side of the Atlantic think of as Europe, and that is political culture, cathedrals, paintings, the opera, folk music, and a whole variety of things which have a European significance and are something that can be shared with those who are in countries, such as Hungary and Poland, as well as all the countries in the Community or which are likely to be in it soon.
I have talked in a woolly way because it is a woolly idea, but, to make it concrete, the European Community takes steps every day which affect the European heritage. Anything to do with a Common Agricultural Policy affects the landscape; anything to do with harmonisation of VAT affects buildings open to the public and repairs to old buildings, and the cost of running museums and opera houses; anything to do with town planning (in which the Community does not yet have a role but will be influencing gradually as the different traditions of member-States benefit from each other) affects the townscapes, the way our towns look. All these things have an effect on tourism, and tourism may well be one of the major foreign currency earners of the Community.
540 There is a strong commercial interest in the Community respecting its own heritage because, if we do not preserve it we have not got it there for the rest of the world to come and spend their money to see so that we can preserve it. If we do not preserve it we turn the European Community into a bureaucrats' paradise, and stop it acting as a bulwark for the individuality of the citizens of Europe, which is what it was originally designed to be. When we are looking at these proposals about Community action in the cultural sector, my own view is that we in this House should ask the Commission to redefine what they are playing at. There is no one better qualified in this field, in my submission than the present President of the Commission, who is an historian with a wide interest in cultural matters.
It is essential to have first an historical approach, so that you can build on what European culture has been so far, and at the first stage make sure that what the European Community does in the future does not destroy that; so that the Community is a midwife and not an anaesthetist, or euthenasianist, or whatever the expression is, for what we have already in the form of culture in the European Community. Some of these pettifogging regulations dealing with the activities of cultural workers are a recipe for the death of cultural policy within the Community, and not its expansion.
We have to ask the Commission to think again, and to think rather more deeply, because the European Community, if it has a role—and I believe that it has —has to go back to the drawing board and ask its present President in the Commission to think what the role of the Commission can possibly be. I believe it has a role in so far as the new version of the Common Agricultural Policy will affect how much of our landscape is left within 20 or 30 years.
The Commission deals with education in some ways. That has some effect. Harmonisation of capital taxation would also have an effect on cultural heritage. All these things add up to what must be the beginnings of a Community policy on tourism, because the Community must look to tourism as a way of getting money for the Community's cultural heritage. If we can tear up some of the proposals that we have seen so far in this 541 sphere, that should not act as a deterrent to the Commission because it is the Commission's job to propose, and it is Parliament's job to react. We should encourage the Commission to redefine what it is trying to do, but to persist in these fields.
I hope it is with that slightly chilling message that this report will be taken to Brussels: not chilling in the sense that it should deter them from trying again; but chastening, to make them think, " What are we really trying to do? How can we have a cultural policy that is not negative; that is open to all countries and all peoples who can call themselves European and may one day be members, and at the same time preserve what we all know and feel to be part of a genuine European cultural experience—although we hate saying it, and find it difficult to define?". For goodness sake, do not let Brussels define it, but let them encourage it where it exists and seek to preserve and expand it.
§ 4.57 p.m.
The Earl of GOSFORD
My Lords, first of all, I should like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, for giving us the chance to speak on this subject, and secondly apologise to her for not having been here at the very beginning of her speech. Secondly, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, on his first speech in this House, which I know is a harrowing experience, and on the evidence he gave to the committee when he came along to speak to it as Sir Brian Flowers.
I want to speak to the visual arts side of this whole matter. I shall start with the document, Community Action in the Cultural Sector. This document has some good points, and we should not throw out the baby with the bath water. The noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, recently stated in this House that the British art market was booming. I expect that he means the antiques market, galleries which sell the work of dead artists, galleries which deal in the re-sale of well-known artists, and the auction houses. I am not concerned with these, nor am I concerned with archaeology and nuclear conservation, simply because both these areas are well catered for in this document.
542 My concern is for the living artist. Here I must declare an interest, being an artist myself and also the current chairman of the Artists' Union. We artists do not want charity and handouts any more. As the Economic and Social Committee of the European Commission states in a report requested by the Council of Ministers:The Committee notes that Article 2 of the Rome Treaty does not distinguish between categories of workers. In the Committee's view, therefore, any discrimination against cultural workers should be eliminated and all should be treated as equal with other citizens in the Community ".I go on past the parts in the document which I think the majority of living artists are not particularly concerned with, as these points do not affect them; that is, thefts and fakes.
The first point at which this document scores in relation to social aspects is where it says:The material success of some individual cultural workers has led to a misunderstanding about cultural workers in general on the part of the public as a whole.In fact, such success is very rare. The majority of industrial workers would not accept the living standards of all but a few cultural workers, which are precarious and generally lower than their own. The highest proportion of ' proletarians ' (i.e., the underprivileged) is nowadays to be found in the socio-professional category constituted by cultural workers ".I am not too happy with the phrase " cultural workers ", and I think everybody else feels the same, but it is a step up from artists being hippies, dreamers and all the rest of that caboodle. The document goes on:Since cultural workers are still often badly protected by social security, a series of measures should be taken to increase their cover against social risks, in the form of sickness, invalidy and old-age insurance and family allowances ".The facts concerning social security are, first, that no category for artists exists. In the main, artists are largely unemployed and there is no unemployment benefit on self-employed status; there is only the basic sickness benefit and pension—and I underline " basic"—whereas other people are on earnings related benefit. But for them this is minimal because if artists have to take other jobs they are part-time by nature.
The second point comes under the heading: " Freedom of Trade in Cultural Goods ", where the document states:The practice of exempting creative artists in the plastic arts from formalities when transporting 543 their own works should be generally applied and legalised ".I think that speaks for itself. My third item comes under " Freedom of Movement " and this seems OK, except that a star system could produce exhibitions for only a small minority of artists, and therefore perhaps in different countries they might like to have a quota for their indigenous artists in specific galleries. On item four, " Harmonisation of Taxation ", the document states:The effect of VAT on culture is not a neutral one. By making cultural goods dearer, it restricts the circulation which they could enjoy. The situation is particularly worrying in the case of contemporary works. Their very creation may be threatened by marketing difficulties ".VAT, I suspect, should be substantially abolished in this area. If possible, the tax on cultural workers should be spread over several years. The document states:Although it would certainly not be desirable for cultural workers to become privileged taxpayers, it is absolutely essential that they should cease to be discriminated against ".The fifth point I wish to make—it is probably one of the most important—concerns an area which we in this country should take under our wing; it comes under the heading, " Harmonization of Laws on Copyright and Related Rights ". One item under this head has already been achieved in this country, namely PLR—public lending right—put through by my noble friend Lord Donaldson of Kings-bridge, and I might tell my noble friend that the Institute of Contemporary Arts held a very good conference recently; the only trouble was that it was very expensive and the document which my noble friend has in his hand costs £10 for the first copy and £5 for subsequent ones, which is most unfortunate for artists. I cannot see many of them being able to afford that price. Perhaps if future conferences like that occur the Arts Council could make certain that any artist wishing to go could be subsidised.
To return to the subject of copyright, under paragraph 14 bis of the 1948 Brussels Convention on Copyright, which all the EEC countries except the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have signed and which, elsewhere in Europe, Yugoslavia has signed, droit de suite applies, as it does in Sweden and Norway. Subsequent Berne conventions have said the same thing, but have altered the number 544 of the article. This is an area where we can certainly learn from France and other European countries where they have droit d'auteur, which is author's right. In France and elsewhere where this is used, " author " means " creator ", which means that it includes painters, sculptors and writers.
This of course includes both copyright and droll de suite, and the Artists' Section of the ICA conference came forward with the suggestion that there should be a national register for artists from which payments for droll de suite could easily be worked out and which would assist with employment prospects for artists. We should also learn from SPADEM in France, which, and I apologise for my French, is the Société de la Propriété Artistique et des Desseins et Modèles. They collect copyright and droll de suite fees and payments. The organisation is run by artists, though administered by laymen.
I say " Yes " on these matters, but only if the EEC's aim is beyond the Nine. It must go beyond the Nine to the Twenty, or the whole world; we depend so much on each other and our cultures are so intertwined that the idea of a " Nine culture " is totally unacceptable. Otherwise I fear, as the Council of Europe does, that the financial strength of the Nine will be dominant. So I say " No to Euro-rooms in museums and " No " to the promotion of a socio-culture within the Nine and any use by the EEC of the arts as a cultural morale-booster.
I come to the question of the European Economic and Social Policy Research Institute. Basically I fear these institutes and their respectability because it enables them to put a stamp on their activities which in turn precludes activities outside their remit. This, unfortunately, is how the Arts Council works, and indeed the Ministries; that is, if the Minister is asked a question, he refers to the Ministry or the Arts Council for advice.
If the advice needed is not in their remit, then by default that advice is brushed aside by the Minister, the department, and the Arts Council alike. With cutbacks in public spending looming large I fear that small, local cultural activity may become steamrollered and " EEC-fication " will take place. Therefore, I fear that an institute cannot escape this danger, especially if it is run along the usual lines 545 of self-perpetuation. I feel that, if things are working correctly on the ground level, another paternal organisation is not necessary.
May I conclude by asking the Minister what steps he will be taking to ensure that the artists in this country are fully consulted? Here I wish to quote once more from the Economic and Social Committee of the European Commission, where it states:The Committee considers that representative organisations of cultural workers must be consulted regularly on all matters affecting their memberships before the Community Instruments proposed under this Community action are drawn up ".
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ Lord ARDWICK
My Lords, first, I must congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, upon a most distinguished maiden speech. I hope that despite his important duties he will find time to come here occasionally—or preferably, often—in order to enlighten us, particularly when he can bring to bear an expertness, as he did today on the question of the setting up of the European Economic and Social Policy Research Institute. On that subject I wholly agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, who opened the debate, and with what I recall I read of the evidence of the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey: that it would be most improper if there were recruited a number of people who were paid salaries which are not obtainable in net terms anywhere in the world, and who were put there for life. I should much prefer a small staff of people appointed for periods of perhaps five or seven years, and I should certainly wish to get away from the Community's practice of appointing people in such a way that it is necessary to find, say, an Italian Socialist who is an expert in monetary policy so as to be able to fill a particular niche.
That apart, I fear that I am to be in a minority of one here this afternoon. I was the deputy director of the Nuffield Foundation, and so I was very well trained by the noble Lord, Lord Todd, and others in the art of cutting down large schemes for the spiritual regeneration of mankind, or schemes intended to find within five years the answer to certain great insoluble problems. I am pretty tough on this. But my scepticism was 546 allayed by this 14th Report. I feel that it has managed to hit the Commission with every dead cat that it could lay its hands on. The committee was faced with a rather dotty document. The Commission has no competence at all in the cultural field, and so it has had to find slightly bogus and ingenious ways of getting around the problem by applying the economic and social rules to questions which are concerned with cultural workers, cultural exchanges, and so forth.
I believe that in one way our sub-committee was too kind to the document. It took it too seriously, and made too detailed an examination of this fantastic variety of subjects, which ranged from theft to copyright. Then, inevitably, came the summoning of witnesses who came—quite rightly—to defend their own sectional interests or to express the fears that they would lose their primacy, if not their function, if the Commission was to take over something in the cultural field.
As the report indicates, there is a strong feeling, perhaps even a majority feeling, in the European Parliament that there ought to be a cultural side of the EEC. I may say that I have been in Europe sufficiently long to be able to use the word " cultural " without a blush. The European Parliament agree with the Heads of State and Governments who say that Europe is an exceptional seat of development, culture and progress, and that it is indispensable to preserve it.
There is a very strong feeling developing in the Parliament that not even in an economic community can man live by bread alone; nor can the Community. If we are to be a real Community, then a cultural side must develop. If we are going to be even an effective economic committee, then we cannot go on selfishly pursuing our own immediate interests. We have to feel that the Community is more than just nine or 12 nations that have come together, but rather that it is an entity capable of joint action outside the economic field.
One of the unanswerable questions asked during the hearings was: Is there such a thing as European culture? I think it was a representative of the British Council who asked, What is European culture? One can ask the British Council 547 what is British culture. We know that there is such a thing, but the great problem is, how can you define it, and who can define it? I go back for a few words of feeling on the subject to H. A. L. Fisher's introduction to his history of Europe. He wrote:We Europeans are the children of Hellas. Our civilisation, which has its roots in the brilliant city of Athens, has never lost traces of its origin and stamps us with a character by which we are distinguished from the other great civilisations of the human family: the Chinese, the Hindus, the Persians, the Semites ".Of course, the nine member nations and the 12 member nations are not the whole of Europe, as has been said this afternoon. But the 12 member nations are a very large section of it. They are the heart of historic Europe, and I believe they are the heart of European culture, too. These are the nations of Shakespeare, of Dante, of Goethe, of Bach, of Verdi, and of painters and sculptors who range across the centuries.
Among the fears unfortunately expressed in our report is one that a dominant European culture might stifle the national cultures. I can think of nothing more improbable. There was also a fear that the fostering of culture by the Community might affect minority cultures, such as the Welsh lanugage or the Breton language; or that somehow the Icelandic culture might be threatened. It was not quite so clearly explained why this might be so, but I should be grateful if a subsequent speaker—perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey—can explain to me the peril in which Iceland stands as a result of the ambitions of the Brussels bureaucrats.
The great negative argument that culture costs money is advanced; or that if the money was spent by the rich EEC, it would diminish the cultural role of the Council of Europe which has to live on pocket money. I wonder whether the EEC could not issue a challenge to the other members in the Council of Europe—some of them are pretty well-to-do; the Swiss, the Swedes, and so on—that they might like to enter some kind of scheme and put up the required amount of money.
There is also the playing on the fear of Brussels bureaucracy. That is always a very good card to play, particularly if 548 one wants to project a minimalist approach to the Community. I may say that " minimalist " is a polite word to use if one wishes to hold down the Community. One can add, too, Shylock's argument that it is not in the bond, that it is not in the Treaty of Rome.
What must be faced is the fact that the Community is outgrowing the Treaty, and will continue to do so. What must also be accepted, I believe, is that in the past year or two, particularly under the Presidency of Mr. Jenkins, the Brussels bureaucracy has begun to learn its limitations. Nobody believes any more in the old dreams, or nightmares, of a United States of Europe sharing the same law, the same taxes or a common culture. Brussels knows today that it will be allowed to do only those things which it can do conspicuously better than the member nations. The support of culture is not one of these things; it is best done at the regional and the national level. But this does not mean that the Community should not have a modest cultural role, tackling the problems of the producers and sponsors of culture which are subject to economic restraints, but also, and I think most important, enabling us to share with one another, and with the outside world, too, the finest fruits of our European civilisation.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ Lord McNAIR
My Lords, I was asked by my noble friend Lady Seear to support her in this debate because, I imagine, I am one of the small handful of Members of this House who are at present serving on the delegation to the Council of Europe. I only hope that when I have finished she will not be asking herself, " With support like this, who needs opposition? ". But, of course, the real answer is that, after the masterly way in which she introduced this debate, she clearly needs no support from any quarter. My few remarks will deal only with Document R/2982/77 about cultural workers. I mention this in case Brookings addicts might find this a convenient moment to refresh themselves. But I shall not take very long.
Before I get down to work, however, I should like to add my voice to those which have already congratulated the noble Lord. Lord Flowers, on his most effective maiden speech. I do so, not because it is 549 the conventional thing to do but because I have a personal reason for being delighted that he has joined us in this House. When I was fairly new here, and with the reckless bravado of inexperience, I found from heaven knows where the temerity to take part in a debate on energy. Lord Flowers was the author of a report which was so superbly well written, so lucid, that it almost deluded me for a few days into thinking that I could understand some of the hazards and mysteries of nuclear energy. Anybody with that power to explain the inexplicable to the scientifically illiterate must surely be a very valuable addition to our ranks.
I have three points to make, two general and one more specific, and I shall take the general ones first. This communication 2982 does a great service to the ill-organised guerrilla army of cultural workers who are doing their best to resist the insidious approach of materialism and mass-production when it draws attention to their poverty. I am thinking, not of the middlemen but of the primary producers—the people who actually throw the pots, write the books and paint the pictures. I was going to quote several lines, but the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, has quoted some of them already.
The Earl of GOSFORD
My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord McNair, for having taken away part of his speech. I did not know that he intended quoting.
§ Lord McNAIR
Not at all, my Lords. I shall quote only the very last sentence:The highest proportion of proletarians ' (i.e. the underprivileged) is nowadays to be found in the socio-professional category constituted by cultural workers ".I prefer the word " peasants " to " proletarians ", if only because it has not been quite so badly mauled by writers like Marx and Lenin and, to my ears, it has a sturdier sound to it. How many of your Lordships, I wonder, have read the article at the bottom of page 2 of today's Guardian? It lists a nauseating catalogue of " perks " which are enjoyed by so many people in other walks of life. But not so the peasant craftsman. With no cut-price mortgage to help him, he probably lives in a very inaccessible place. If he needs a vehicle of some sort to get in and out, he actually has to buy it with his 550 own money. He is probably not unduly worried by the fact that no conniving employer will help him with his BUPA fees or with the education of his children; but travel is very important to creative artists of all sorts, and when they travel they either hitch-hike or buy tickets at the market price, unlike the fortunate employees in the travel industry. Then, when they finally reach the precarious haven of their 65th birthday, they will almost certainly have nothing more to look forward to than the flat-rate pension, with all that that does not entail.
These people are utterly defenceless against the steamroller of inflation, just as they are totally guiltless of starting the steamroller up or of keeping it moving. They have never put in for any inflationary wage claim; they have never granted any inflationary wage claim and then passed it on to the consumer. They are, in a very real sense, the salt of the earth, and anything that the EEC or any other body can do to improve their conditions of work is surely to be welcomed.
This brings me to my second topic. Is the EEC the right organisation to concern itself with cultural workers, or should this perhaps be left to, for example, the Council of Europe, which is already active in this field and which has a very much more comprehensive membership? Taking a longish view, I believe that we are groping our way slowly towards what Winston Churchill called " some kind of United States of Europe "; and, as we move painfully forward, we are constructing a veritable labyrinth or cat's cradle of overlapping, interlocking organisations, none of them wholly satisfactory but all of them, I hope, doing something to sustain our progress. Mean-while, of course, these demarcation disputes are quite inevitable. Who does what? I think the commonsense answer sometimes is, " It does not matter as long as somebody does something ", but in this particular case one must qualify that by adding, " and as long as what is done is not in any way exclusive ". In his evidence to your Lordships' Committee, Professor Dahrendorf put it like this:It would be unfortunate if rules were established within the Community which made it more difficult rather than easier for people outside the Community to take part in whatever cultured concerns one might have ".551 I simply do not believe that the EEC could ever be so stupid as to act as though its nine countries embraced the whole of European culture. You can pick names more or less at random. For example, a culture which omitted Ibsen, Mozart and Kafka, not to mention all the Russians and the Hungarians, could never conceivably describe itself accurately as European. But provided that any rules which are established, any conventions which are agreed, are left open for the accession of non-member States, then surely the EEC, which has the advantage that, in the last resort, it can legislate, should not be discouraged from any measures it can take to improve the lot of these people described as cultural workers. For example (and here I come to my final and specific point), this communication contains the suggestion on which the noble Earl has already touched but I think it can bear repetition—the suggestion which, if acted upon, would be of great assistance to practitioners in the plastic arts, painters, sculptors and the like. I came first into your Lordships' House just in time to play a not wholly mute but very inglorious part in the great campaign of public lending rights which had been waged by so many noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson. It was a subject in which I had been interested for many years, but whenever I wrote or thought about it I was always distressed by the thought that, while we were doing our best for writers, and while musicians were very adequately looked after by the Performing Rights Society, we were leaving painters, for example, very much out in the cold.
After the initial sale of a canvas—often for a very small sum of money when very hard up—a painter has no further financial interest, no further rights in his work. As his reputation grows, he can see it being sold and sold again with not a farthing of the profit accruing to him who made it. I imagined in my ignorance that this was a harsh fact of life about which nothing could be done. You can imagine my delight, and indeed my shame, when I learned from pages 21 and 22 of this document that it is almost only in these benighted islands that this injustice persists. In Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg and in the Federal Republic of Germany, there are varying 552 forms of what is called a " re-sale right " or, in French, a droit de suite. May I conclude my remarks by asking the noble Lord who will reply whether we must wait for an EEC Directive or whether the benign Government of which he is a distinguished member has any plans for bringing the United Kingdom into line with these other countries by putting an end to this particular injustice.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ Lord VAIZEY
My Lords, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, on his maiden speech which was a very great contribution to this debate, as his future contributions will be to other debates. I can only hope that his study of the London medical school to which the noble Lord, Lord Annan, referred in the debate the night before last may result in a new experimental and adventurous medical school being attached to my own small university.
This has been a fascinating subject of study for members of Sub-Committee C under the chairmanship of the noble Baroness. It has also been an opportunity to approach a matter of some importance with, I think, fresh minds. I think that it gave many of us the opportunity to think deeply about the purposes of the Community and the way it works. Much of what I have to say has been said more ably by other noble Lords who have taken part in the debate but there are several points that I should like to underline.
First, why should the Community be concerned with culture at all? That is a fundamental problem. If you read the Treaty—and I imagine that all of us read it every night very carefully from cover to cover—the word " culture " never appears. That is not by accident. There are detailed references to molybdenum, lead and steel. Any metal in noble Lords' laboratories is there in the appendices to the Treaty. " Culture " is not. I think that many people seem to forget that the Treaty was signed for certain specific economic objectives; and, certainly, culture is not directly one of them. This seems to me to be a matter of high importance; because it seems to me to be dangerous for an international body to step outside the specific terms of the Treaty which establishes it; and if the 553 Commission or the Parliament wish to do so then the proper way is to negotiate a specific extension of the Treaty to cover the matter.
§ Lord O'HAGAN
My Lords, I hate to interrupt my noble friend, but surely he would agree that there are many subjects not specifically mentioned in the Treaty on which any proposal of the Commission may have an influence in one way or the other. If every subject which impinged upon an activity of the Community had to be listed in the Treaty that he reads every night, it would be as long as the combined telephone directories of the United Kingdom and the rest of the Community. Surely, the point that he must take on board is whether his remarks mean that the Community cannot take account of the effects on other spheres of what it is legally entitled to do under the Treaty.
§ Lord VAIZEY
My Lords, if my noble friend would be a little less impatient, that was the point I was coming to. I should think that the other Members of the Parliament will regard his elevation to the post of Chief Whip as one of considerable importance in this particular context; because it is one of the central questions to which the Parliament must address itself. It seems to me that this subject is of sufficient importance for it to be properly studied, negotiated and agreed—not just as a by-product of the detailed negotiations about the future of molybdenum. The Treaty is relevant to culture only because it is concerned with the free movement of goods and people within the Community. A violinist and his violin can perform in London if he and it comes from Luxembourg; but the conditions are different, and, it may be, perceptibly different, if he comes from, say, Argentina or Afghanistan. That is the point that the noble Lord, Lord Ardwick, was pursuing. The consequences of har-monisation of the labour market are important for the arts, as my noble friend Lord Gosford mentioned this afternoon.
It is from this basis that demands for a cultural policy within the Community come. But it would be idle to deny—and the noble Lord, Lord Ardwick, mentioned this specifically this afternoon 554 —that the idea of a cultural policy represents to some extent the ambitions of those who think there is a place called " Europe " and that Europe, whatever its dimensions may be, has to have something like a soul. Therefore, a high priority must be given to some set of policies which will lead to a Community band playing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony while we all eat paté de foie gras from Strasbourg—which is a slight modification of Sydney Smith's idea of heaven—which follows from the Treaty.
I admit that I am equally allergic to Eurofanatics who support any proposal, however daft, provided that it has nine flags on it and is measured in centimetres; as I am also allergic to professional pushers of cultural policies who see European funds as another bran tub in which to put their fingers. I think that this is a difficult area in which to formulate public policy. I have two grounds for worrying about a European culture policy. It is, in my view, as in that of other noble Lords, expressed no less eloquently than my noble friend Lord O'Hagan, wrong to identify European culture within the temporary boundaries of what is, basically, a technical piece of machinery for economic management in its origin, concept and present execution.
British culture, with its links with America, and with India, for example, could not fit in to such a straitjacket and Spain with its links with Latin America could not either. And what about Poland and Russia? Are they not European? Any positive development of cultural policy within the Nine, or even the Twelve, which implicitly push other areas of Europe on to the sidelines, would deform European culture.
I doubt very strongly, with the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, the wisdom of anybody's formulating a cultural policy even at the national level, let alone the supranational level. The spirit bloweth where it listeth. I fear the heavy hand of the State in the field of culture. It is something that we must fight continually to try to stop, however much we might want the goodies which the hand of the State may seem to have available to hand out. For these reasons, I hope that the British delegates and British Ministers will firmly sit on any notion of European cultural policy.
555 On the other issue, the proposal for the European Institute, I am afraid that I go much further than my noble friends on the Committee—in fact I go so much further that I go right over the edge. I am opposed to it and I hope that my right honourable and learned friend in another place will not give a penny of the tax-payers' money to it. Let us be frank. I do not think that at this stage a European Institute of the kind proposed is at all necessary. I personally think that it is almost inevitable that it will in fact just become another Euro-Quango. Is there any evidence of an inability on the part of existing research institutions in Europe to undertake such research as is needed? I personally have looked as carefully as I can at this and I doubt very much whether that is the case.
Is there any doubt—and I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Ardwick, raised this point—that an international institute of this kind would pay very high salaries to people who can perfectly well do the work in their own existing institutions at the going national rate? Surely there can be no doubt at all that the pressure for harmonising salaries within the Community institutions will raise their salaries to astronomical levels, as they have already been in the so-called European University. This is, after all, our money that the Commission will be spending, and I cannot help feeling that the European slogan at the moment is that we pay and they eat! This is all cut out to be another butter mountain, and the idea of a mountain of sociologists is not one that personally attracts me.
The only sensible argument put forward in advocating it was that the Community would open its doors to these researchers who would be magically allowed in in some way to look at the way in which the policy was formulated and try to make it more rational. If that is the case, I cannot see why the Community cannot open its doors to anyone else who wants to pursue an honest and scholarly investigation into the way in which the European monetary system might work or the way that the agricultural policy works. Why does it have to be secret? I do not see any reason at all why it has to be secret. It certainly is the case that the real reason behind the argument that one wants to open the doors is that it is a way to put 556 some kind of brain power into Brussels so that it can think about long-term issues, the argument being that bureaucracy is relatively inefficient, partly because it is overwhelmed with detailed day-to-day issues and therefore does not think about the long-term policies. I canot help feeling that this is a bad argument for setting up a Euro-Quango just outside the Commission.
There are other international institutions, of which the OECD in Paris is a perfectly good example, which do excellent long-term scholarly research in economics and other highly difficult and contentious subjects, with a world-wide reputation which is at least as high as the reputations of leading universities. If the real object of this proposal is to raise the quality of the Brussels bureaucracy, why in Heaven's name is not that done directly by recruiting better people and giving them more sensible jobs to do? That is probably the job to which the new Parliament might well direct its early attention under the enthusiastic whipping of my noble friend Lord O' Hagan.
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ Lord KILMARNOCK
My Lords, I am possibly a more radical European than many of your Lordships, though not perhaps more so than the noble Lord, Lord McNair. I do not expect to see the full establishment of the United States of Europe in my lifetime but I hope my son will. Having thus, I hope, established my credentials as a European, I must go on to say that the first of the documents reported on seems to me a prime example of exactly what the Commission should not be doing. There are two fundamental flaws in the consultative document on Community action in the cultural sector. They have already been pointed out and I shall not dwell on them at any length. The first is that much of the terrain which the Commission wishes to take over is already occupied by the Council of Europe which of course represents 11 other European countries—with the accession of Spain, 12—over and above the Nine. Secondly, a fear was voiced by one of the witnesses for the Council of Europe who said:We would be afraid that in the desire to compensate for lack of progress in other spheres they "—557 that is the Commission—might seek to use the cultural field as a means of creating a Community identity, which failed to pay attention to the other 11now 12—countries in the Council of Europe ".Again, the same witness said:I think there are political reasons … and because of economic difficulties within the Community they are looking to … expand this idea of Community identity ".The Sub-Committee's report shares this fear. In paragraph 12 it states thatthe countries outside the Community … may feel that the Nine are not promoting European culture, so much as using culture as propaganda to promote the internal unity and ideals of the Community ".All this seems to me extremely unhealthy. Does it not begin to smack of the ideological state apparatus? And I am not exactly enamoured of the grisly, totalitarian term " cultural worker "—which, as the report points out in paragraph 19, is never clearly defined. I fear I may qualify as one myself, as I spend some two months a year conducting people round ancient monuments and lecturing them on the fine arts in Spain and Portugal. I therefore beg to remind the Commission that there are a number of quite specific ways in which the Community can both help so-called " cultural workers " and promote the cause of European unity without straying from the firm ground of the Treaty into the dangerous zone of " promotion of socio-cultural activities at European level."
In the first place, Europe would have far greater meaning for the average citizen of this and, I am sure, other countries, if the Customs Union were fully effective, which it is not as we have discovered from our inquiries in Sub-Committee B. The European passport—on which I believe a report is on the way from the committee concerned—would also have a considerable impact, as would eventually a European currency with tangible banknotes. These measures would do infinitely more to make Europe a reality than any number of artificially-inseminated cultural events.
In the second place, in matters of mobility of labour and freedom of establishment, which are fundamental to the treaty, there is a long way to go. If the treaty were properly applied across 558 the whole field of work, there would be no need of special arrangements for " cultural workers ". For example, when I lead the tours I have mentioned, I am described as a " guest lecturer ". As far as the countries we visit are concerned, I am simply a guide like any other and some of the local guides take exception to my talking about their churches and their paintings. The Prado guides are particularly fierce; they will almost lynch an outsider. Of course, Portugal and Spain are only on the threshold of the Community, but when they enter the problem will persist, I am sure. If we are talking about " European culture ", it is this basic barrier that needs to be broken down, but it requires no special action in the cultural sector whatever; it simply requires the application of the treaty as it affects all types of work.
The most useful proposal in the consultative document—and this was referred to by the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, whom I should like to support—in so far as it affects writers, painters and other creative artists is that contained in paragraph 19, which states that:The system in force in certain countries of the Community, whereby cultural workers are allowed to spread taxable earnings arising in one exceptional year over several years, should be generally applied ".Unfortunately, this does not fall within the Commission's competence, as it is a matter for national tax laws. But I agree that artists, writers or indeed any other self-employed persons with highly irregular earnings should be allowed to average them over, say, three years. I think at the moment there is a certain amount of discretion which lies with the inspector but an averaging over three years is not common.
I can think of the recent case of a distinguished but not wealthy artist who received an Arts Council grant in order to pursue his work; when this was added to his wife's earnings as a teacher, the grant was virtually halved. This is giving with one hand and taking away with the other. I very much hope that the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, when he comes to reply, will be able to give one some assurance that the Government will consider taking remedial action here. This is the type of specific remedy that will most help the so-called " cultural 559 worker ". In some instances the Community can help; in others it is up to national governments. The rest is all an exercise in empty, pretentious, highfalutin' jargonry and should be rejected as such.
I turn to the proposal to set up a European Economic and Social Policy Research Institute, which I think is by far the more important of the two proposals reported on here. Though it does not cause me the same dismay as the other, it fills me with a certain amount of apprehension. I think this is the correct place to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, for his fascinating maiden speech and indeed for the evidence he gave in his previous incarnation. With speakers of his calibre and that of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, who is to follow me, it seems that I may be venturing where angels fear to tread. My excuse for speaking on it at all is that I was one of those who advocated Professor Dahrendorf's project for a European Brookings in your Lordships' House on 23rd March, 1977. As I recall it, Brookings is an independent, non-partisan organisation and is the single most important outside consultant to the Federal Government, but it relies on the Government for only 15 per cent. of its finance and works for the Government only on condition that its work will be unclassified and published.
How does this document match up to that? The Committee says in paragraph 9 that there is at present no outside body which can provide effective research on a wide front on European social and economic matters. Their concern, and that of most of those who gave evidence seems to have been mainly with the mechanisms for preserving the institute's objectivity and freedom from intellectual interference.
I entirely agree with that; but there seems to me to be an equally important requirement and the Committee puts its finger on it when, in paragraph 11, it touches on how the programme of topics to be investigated is to be decided. This is absolutely crucial to the credibility of the whole enterprise.
Let me be specific. I, together with various other Members of your Lordships' House, have an almost obsessive interest in unemployment. I think we are right 560 to be obsessed. In proposing a Select Committee of your Lordships' House the other day, I instanced a number of background studies that we would require. Amongst them were studies of the likely effects of technological change on clerical staff, the effects of energy supplies and costs on jobs and the effects of Third World development on world trade.
If we do not get a Select Committee—I am still hopeful that we may—with power to commission its own studies, what are we to do? We shall have to rely on existing work or possibly on a charitable foundation to finance what we want. Would the proposed institute help us? I suspect it would be too grand and too remote. That is my fear. It is not only important to know what sort of questions can be asked of the oracle, but also who can ask them. During the taking of evidence, at paragraph 80, the noble Lord, Lord Chitnis, asked how the agenda for the institute was to be determined—quite right, that is vital. Yet it seems to me that there is some confusion here.
The last Government's Explanatory Memorandum of 13th December, 1978, says:The proposed institute's work would be related in particular to social and economic policy and should therefore be of interest both to government and opposition parties and to organisations outside government in all the participating countries ".This is not the line taken by the Commission's own explanatory memorandum, which states:The institute itself would be responsible for drawing up independently its work programme.It might, however, take account of suggestions made to it by the Community the governments of the States signatory to the agreement and the management board's own members ".There is absolutely no mention here, or in Article 9, dealing with guidelines for activities, of opposition parties or organisations outside government. Furthermore, I am not entirely happy, with due respect, about the metaphor of the mirror chosen by the Committee. In paragraph 16 they say:[we] are convinced of the desirability of an institute that can undertake thorough analyses of policies and so hold a mirror up to the actions of the Community and national governments ".But you can pick a mirror up, put it down, slant it and do what you like with it. Mirrors, after all, are used by many people for applying cosmetics, adjusting 561 a tie, or the tilt of a hat; or they can be disregarded altogether. I do not believe that a mirror is exactly what is required.
If an institute is to come into existence, I should like to see something fundamentally simple and reasonably cheap. In paragraph 15 it is suggested that,research projects could be farmed out when desirable and the institute could conceivably assume an important role in co-ordinating research and disseminating findings, as well as undertaking work itself ".That appeals to me rather more. I said in March 1977 that I was attracted to the idea of a federation of institutes to bring together the results of research. I see from the examination of Professor Dahrendorf as a witness on 17th January that the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey—as he has been too modest to quote himself, I hope he will forgive my doing it for him—stated:My own impression, for what it is worth "—and the noble Lord's impressions are always worthwhile—is that there is not a single question which is not being exhaustively examined by some of the innumerable research institutions which litter the European countryside ".If he is right, why can we not have, whether under the wing of the European Science Foundation or not, a practical and unpretentious set-up which would operate in three ways?—first, as a pool of existing knowledge so that independents like myself and my friends could get information on existing work relative to our concerns; secondly, as an honest broker, telling people where they can best commission the studies that they require; and, thirdly, undertaking original research in certain circumstances but always on the understanding that it is published and that it is clearly stated who has commissioned it and how it has been financed. Then we might be getting somewhere. But if the Institute is only going to get loaded questions from governments or Community institutions we shall not be any better equipped than we are already to meet the challenges and threats that lie ahead, and there will be no radical appraisal of policies.
I should like to end by asking the Government what is their attitude to this extremely important matter and whether they agree with their predecessors that opposition parties and non-governmental 562 organisations should have a perfect right of access to any institute which might be set up.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Lord KENNET
My Lords, can I start with the word " culture "? I think there is more in this than meets the eye, and I am one of those who hate to see it on the cover of this red volume containing the reports of the sub-committee. It is a famous trap to all Europeans, and has been for centuries now. In Germany there is the continuous confusion and the continuous attempts to disentangle culture from cult, in the sense of religious cult. The word in German still carries heavy religious or anti-religious connotation which it does not in any other country in Europe.
The French use the word in about the sense that it is used in this report. This report, like much Commission thinking, is conceived in French. But the French, of course, use the word in a way which permits them to have invented that most alarming profession; the profession of the so-called " cultural animator ". That is a profession, a trade, in France. You can be employed at a given salary scale with a given career structure as an animateur culturel. The picture is, of course, that culture is something that is lying around, waiting to have life breathed into it by a skilled bureaucrat. The painter cannot actually raise his right hand to the canvas until that has happened on a duly regionalised plan.
In our country, on the other hand, the word " culture " carries quite a different significance and it is a significance which I submit precludes its being joined with the word " sector ". There is no such thing as a " cultural sector ". There is no such thing as a " cultural worker ". The whole of this country and the whole of other English-speaking countries are one single cultural sector: culture is something which everybody has and which everybody takes to work with him. A worker in a car factory and a worker on a farm is just as cultural a worker as a painter, a dancer, a museum curator or whatever it may be. So let us try to get rid of the " cultural sector " out of our thoughts and our documents. Let us also get rid of the " cultural worker " and, above all, let us get rid of that " production of cultural 563 goods and services " which I regret to see heads the evidence of the Society of Authors. My own trade union, the Writers' Guild, used more circumspect and, in my view, wiser language on this question in its evidence to the committee.
I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, that " heritage " is a good word, an exact word, and it is something about which the Community can and should concern itself. Maybe we should he safer if, when we were talking about this kind of thing, we spoke of the arts and the heritage. I am not sure that that is sufficient, but it is certainly English and it does not go against what is valuable, either in our language or in our society. The danger, of course, is that the more we talk about cultural sectors, the more we discuss, define and accord powers to this authority or that to regulate the terms of employment in the cultural sectors, the more we risk that those authorities may in time begin to concern themselves with the content of the arts, and that is something that needs no discussion at all. Once we hear of it, we know at once that we are, were and must always be against it.
The question of expenditure is another one. What is an art? I suppose that it is a way of delighting the tribe, any way of delighting the tribe, without creating wealth in itself. The arts have grown up over the centuries in Europe, as they have in other continents, and it naturally came about that some ways of delighting the tribe were found to be good and delightful, but extremely expensive. During the age of the princes, the money was found for that most expensive of all things, the orchestra, and after that the second most expensive, the corps de ballet. They are joined together in the monster spenders which we now have, and of course it is right for a democratic public authority to take over from the princes and continue to pay for those expensive ways of delighting the tribe. If the European Community wants to take a hand in that, I think it is dangerous, but it is perhaps not impermissible, so long as no control is exercised which would not anyhow have been exercised in the country concerned. For the rest, freedom is the only rule.
If I may now turn to the much more important proposal for the European 564 Economic and Social Institute, I should like, first, to join with others in congratulating my noble friend Lord Flowers on a maiden speech which I think hit with uncanny skill the tone of voice which, at once, charms and impresses this House. I have heard other speakers do it, but seldom quite as exactly as that. Some of us have been speaking so far—and I think that the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, in particular, has been speaking so far—as if this was a proposal to set up a European Economic and Social Research Institute. Well, my Lords, it is not. It is a proposal to set up a European Economic and Social Policy Research Institute, and if we stick fast on that word " policy " and keep it in our minds, I think it can guide our thoughts through the complicated matter before us.
First, I want to talk about the very common use of the word " Brookings " as an analogy—we must have a European Brookings. If you look at the written constitution of the Brookings Institute, as the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, read it out, it is, as he said, a very neutral-sounding institute. But we know from the intellectual history of America in this century, that it is in fact a little more than that. It has been described as the government in exile. It has that role. Very many of the most intellectual statesmen of America have passed fruitful years there while waiting their turn, to the inestimable benefit of the United States as a whole. It also has another role which is a refinement of that. It sometimes constitutes faction in exile. It is possible to say, for instance, that under a Democratic President, it does not matter which, the Democratic Party in exile may be gathering down the street at Brookings, That function of Brookings cannot possibly be transferred to the European Community. There is no European Government, so there can be no European Government in exile; there are no real European parties; so there can be no faction of a European party which is in exile, and which could conveniently gather while waiting its turn at such an institution.
That makes it not easier to justify the creation of such a body but harder, because it deprives it of one enticement for highly intelligent, ambitious and, if you like, glamorous intelligences and intellects. It has to be a policy body, it has to be a policy review body and it has to do policy 565 research. That is a great deal more than asking: how does European society and the economy work? If that was all it was, I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, at once: there is no need for a new institution; it can be done anyway. It has to ask: what is the effect of the present policy?—in whatever field it may be. That can be done anywhere, too, really.
The European Community is about agriculture, as we all know. The rest is frills. One could ask: what is the effect of the common agricultural policy?— indeed, everybody is saying it all the time. It does not need a new institution to think and write well about that. But if you then establish that its effect is disastrous, as has been so often established, the question arises: what alternative policies would have been possible in the past up till now? Can we set them out? The third set of questions is: what would have been the effects of policies which were alternative to the CAP in the past? Can we set them out? Already we see that all these questions, except the first one—what is the effect of the CAP?—must depend on a fairly good knowledge of the outside world beyond Europe.
We can go forward and say, " That is all academic, but the policy research institute must go one further and ask: what are the alternative policies which might be adopted now, instead of the existing CAP, and can we talk about, discourse, guess, speculate and reason about what would he the effects of the policies that might be adopted now as alternatives to the CAP? As soon as we say that, we realise that this institute must be equipped not only to answer those questions, but also to answer questions about the likely course of events in the rest of the world outside the Community, and the likely course of events within the Community on factors other than agriculture—life style, demand changes and so on. There is a whole list of them that comes to everybody's mind at once.
It is possible to do this, but it is very difficult and there are not very many people in the world who have that combination of exact skill with breadth of vision which is required to do it. The problem, as the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, said, is how to get the right people. Those are the people who are needed. 566 How can they be got into the institution, if it comes into being?
I want to say a word here, stemming from my own experience in the past. I am one of a line of people who have in the past proposed the creation of institutes rather like this, and, as we all know, we do not have an institute rather like this yet. Looking back at why the proposal that we made three years ago was not adopted, I am fairly clear that it fell down on an interesting paradox or dilemma about size. Big institutions are unpopular. Many noble Lords this evening have said " Euro-Quango, with fat salaries, eating everything ". People mistrust them, with or without reason—I think without reason. But people distrust them, because they are expensive and they may be conspicuous. They may even be hard to control, and we are all against control; we have just decided that. On the other hand, small institutions are unlikely to be able to provide much wisdom about a series of hypothetical questions on a changing and largely unknowable data base, affecting the present and future fortunes of a population of 260 million people in the Community as it stands today. This is not a job for four chaps and two secretaries, even if they have a driver. That is the paradox. When we attempted it in the Europe plus-30 operation, we were turned down because we proposed too many people. I see it as a danger that this one may indeed come into existence but may have so few people that it will not be able to do what it ought.
Lastly, on the question of OECD, the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, said that surely OECD can do everything which is required. I say, No, it cannot do all that is required. We have here a proposal for a policy study institute. Whose policy? I do not think that it will be the policy of the British and the French governments. They are fairly well supplied with instruments for policy research and policy study. We are speaking about Community policy.
The OECD is not qualified, either legally or professionally, to conduct studies relating to the policies of the European Community, because the interests of the European Community do not everywhere and always coincide with those of the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia, who are members of OECD.
567 We must admit that the interests of a social unit are bound to be reflected in the research done for that social unit, at least when we are speaking about economic and social policy research. I do not think that I need to expand on that. This should be recognised and admitted. In other words, if one is going to look at the future of Europe, one needs a pair of European, not OECD spectacles.
I think that the offer of the European Science Foundation to act as a filter for the money and the political control, as a way of laundering funds on their way through, is imaginative and good. I expect that it will find favour; I hope that it will. I have only one fear. My fear is not that the proposed new institute will in any way be harmed or lessened by the arrangement; but I do wonder what its effects will be on the European Science Foundation. I rather wish that the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, had talked to us about that. What else is the European Science Foundation going to be doing? Will it hold a whole fist of dependent institutions below it? And in what way will its own work evolve, apart from this rather conspicuous and heavy proposal which it has so courageously offered to make its own.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Lord TREFGARNE
My Lords, as is so often the case when speaking from this Box, it is my duty, privilege and pleasure to be doubly grateful to Members sitting on the other side of the House. I am doubly grateful tonight to the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, first for raising this matter—which is most important and interesting—and, secondly, for giving to the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, the opportunity to make his most exceptional maiden speech, which it was a great privilege and pleasure to hear. Like other noble Lords, I hope that he will speak often, and soon, in your Lordships' House.
Since this Motion concerns two separate although not totally unrelated documents, perhaps, like other noble Lords, I can examine them in turn. May I begin with the Commission report entitled Community Action in the Cultural Sector, after which perhaps I may refer to the document Recommendation for a Council decision 568 authorising the Commission to negotiate an Agreement to set up a European Economic and Social Policy Research Institute.
The Government are very grateful for the work put in by the Select Committee in examining the Commission's document and commend the thorough analysis and summary of the subjects under discussion. The Select Committee's report, together with the minutes of evidence, has been transmitted to the European Commission, and I am confident that these views will be taken fully into account when the Commission makes further proposals to the European Council.
Since the document was published, it has been debated both in another place and in the European Assembly. However, no firm proposals have yet been put to the European Council, and there is no likelihood of any immediate action in this area. Before the Commission forwards any concrete suggestions, it will have had the opportunity to consider constructive advice and criticisms from a wide cross-section of people and interests in all member countries of the Community, and to modify its proposals, as necessary. I am sure that the enlightening debate which we have had today will give further evidence to the Commission of the United Kingdom attitude towards Community action in the cultural sector and that the Commission will take this fully into account.
I wish to make it clear at this point that the Government believe that it would be undesirable for the Community to take on work which is already being done or could be better done in a larger forum, such as the Council of Europe or UNESCO. These organisations are well qualified and experienced to conduct and encourage European cultural activities. Your Lordships will be aware—my noble friend Lord Vaizey mentioned this—that the Treaty of Rome does not make direct provision for European cultural policy, or policies. I must point out that in this document the Commission does not propose a cultural policy for the Community and certainly does not recommend that the Community shall direct cultural activity from Brussels.
In fact, the document covers two areas. First, it makes proposals to improve the economic and social climate for cultural workers; and, secondly, it proposes to encourage further cultural co-operation 569 among Community members. In its first aim of helping artists and workers in the cultural field, the Commission in this document makes various suggestions for the simplification of customs formalities, the harmonisation of copyright, the combating of theft and the achievement of greater security and freedom of movement for cultural workers, and for a measure of tax harmonisation. These proposals must be seen in the context of our own United Kingdom laws and regulations, and the Government will make it clear to the Commission that any Community proposals put to the European Council will have to take account of this fact and of the needs of other sections of society besides cultural workers.
The second aim of the proposals in this document is to encourage cultural co-operation. This latter aim is not to the exclusion of existing or future co-operation with other member and non-member countries, but I am sure that the House will agree that any modest and carefully planned encouragement to further cultural co-operation in this multilateral context will be beneficial and that our main concern should be to ensure that there is no duplication of work already being done by other bodies.
So far as copyright is concerned, the Government intend to present legislative proposals in the not too distant future, but any proposals from the Commission will of course be given most serious consideration.
Your Lordships will be aware that during the last Parliament an Act was passed to establish in the United Kingdom the principle of a public lending right. This was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord McNair, the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, and other noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kings-bridge, who played a conspicuous role in bringing the Bill to your Lordships' House.
Under this Act, a scheme will be made whereby payments made to authors are related to the number of loans of their books from public libraries. However, this scheme differs fundamentally from those proposed by the Commission, which are derived from existing schemes in Denmark, the Netherlands and West Germany. We do not agree that the 570 Commission is right to give the preference it does to those schemes. A lot more work will have to be done before there can be any serious prospect of harmonisation in this field because of the differences between the existing schemes and between them and the United Kingdom scheme which has yet to be implemented. Furthermore, there are other member States which neither have nor are contemplating a public lending right scheme.
Noble Lords may be aware that the Council of Europe has recently published a report on public lending right which favours the United Kingdom scheme. The distinguished rapporteur was the honourable Member for Warley East, Mr. Andrew Faulds, who is a Member of another place. For the moment, we prefer the Council of Europe's proposals to those of the EEC Commission, but we shall keep an open mind.
On the question of the architectural heritage, the protection and preservation of that heritage already receives considerable attention from international bodies such as UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The Commission has made two proposals: first, to promote specialist training in conservation by awarding scholarships to existing institutions such as those at Bruges, Rome and Venice, and, secondly, to promote nuclear conservation techniques to halt the decay of materials which cannot be restored by normal methods. I am pleased to assure your Lordships that the Commission's proposals do not duplicate other work, and we welcome them. The United Kingdom record in this field is excellent and the Government will continue to take a keen and active interest in the preservation of monuments and ancient buildings.
The Commission report, Community Action in the Cultural Sector, has been considered by the European Parliament and has now been returned to the Commission with suggestions. Our information is that at the present moment action will not be hurried. It has taken a long time to reach the present stage of development and I can assure your Lordships that before further action is taken on the Commission's proposals the Government will be given ample time and opportunity to consider the proposals and their consequences, particularly in the light of the views of your Lordships 571 expressed today, and those expressed in another place just a year ago.
The noble Lord, Lord McNair, and, I think, the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, also raised the question of re-sale rights of creative artists in the so-called plastic arts, known as droits de suite. The United Kingdom copyright law does not give artists and their heirs the right to an interest in any re-sale of their works and the Copyright Committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Whitford, which reported in 1977, recommended against the introduction of such a right, concluding that it is not necessarily fair or logical and that there are serious practical difficulties. However, I can assure your Lordships that a final decision has not been taken by the Government and that the report of the Whitford Committee is at present under careful consideration.
The noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, again supported, I think, by the noble Earl Lord Gosford, raised a number of questions, in particular the case of copyright where a work has taken longer than one year to produce. I am advised that in that case the author may spread certain payments backwards over the previous three years. In addition certain lump sums in respect of copyright can be spread forward for a period up to six years where the copyright is sold more than 10 years after the first publication of the work. However, cultural workers are not exceptional in being subject to wide fluctuations in income from year to year. The case for introducing special provisions to mitigate the effects of irregular earnings has not yet, we believe, been made out and it would not be right to make cultural workers into a specially privileged class of taxpayers. In any case the substantial cuts in income tax introduced by this Government have already gone some way to lessen the problem of income fluctuation as it applies to United Kingdom residents.
Perhaps I may now refer to some other points among the many raised by the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, before I come to the matter of the policy research institute. The noble Earl, Lord Gosford, asked me first how we were going to consult among the artistic community—if I may refer to them as that—on these proposals. We shall certainly want to consult artists and I can assure the noble Earl that we shall 572 make this point to the Commission for their consideration when they draw up their final proposals. However, we think that consultations on the Commission's current ideas would be premature. We must wait to see what specific proposals the Commission decide to submit to the Council of Ministers before we finally decide how to arrange for consultation in this country.
Another very important point raised by the noble Earl was the question of VAT charges. Unlike some other member States, the United Kingdom already operates a special system for works of art, antiques and scientific collections under which VAT is charged on the seller's margin and not on the entire selling price. This avoids the distortion of trade or accumulation of tax which would otherwise result when goods having borne VAT at the full rate when new, change hands between private owners and dealers thereafter. Thus the United Kingdom can support the Commission's proposal for such a scheme on a Community basis, though there is room for argument as to the exact form that any harmonised scheme should take. As to the possibility of some form of exemption from VAT on cultural goods, the United Kingdom could not support that proposal.
The noble Earl also asked me about the freedom of trade in cultural goods. The United Kingdom has been in the forefront in calling for greater simplification in customs formalities at the frontiers between member States as well as between the Community and third countries. Any measures specially designed to case such formalities for one class of goods, such as cultural goods, would need careful consideration since it is not certain that such singling out would he justified. For example, the United Kingdom is not convinced of the desirability of the proposal to exempt creative artists from formalities at frontiers when they are carrying their own works of art, as this would create a new exemption from VAT. On the other hand, cultural goods would benefit from general measures of simplification which we strongly support, subject of course to adequate control in the Community and national revenue being maintained.
I now turn to the proposal for a European economic and social policy research institute. First, I wish to congratulate 573 the Select Committee on the work they have done on this proposal. Their report contains a lively appreciation of the reasons why we might want to set up this new research organisation in partnership with other countries of Western Europe, what we might hope to gain from it and where the problems lie. The Committee have raised some significant issues to which I shall refer in a moment. The origin of this proposal is in itself unusual. It stems from an initiative of the Ford Foundation which suggested that an institute might be set up in Europe on the lines of the well known Brookings Institute in Washington. The objectives of the proposed institute would be like those of the original Brookings Institute, to produce research of high quality on current problems of social and economic policies. In the words of the Select Committee report, its purpose would he partly—and these words have been referred to by a number of noble Lords, not always with approbation—to hold up a mirror to the actions of the Community and national Governments ",and partly to break new ground in suggesting solutions to the policy problems with which Governments are faced.
Negotiations on this proposal have been proceeding for well over a year but no firm agreement has been reached. Several of the participating countries have had misgivings as to whether the proposed institute is really necessary, and we have heard these again tonight, and how it would relate to existing research bodies. The Government have been taking stock of the proposals in the light of their general concern at the level of public expenditure and in particular the burden of the total net contribution by the United Kingdom to the Community budget.
It is noteworthy that the project was designed to embrace not only the Community but also as many countries of Western Europe outside the Community as wished to join. The Ford Foundation attached great importance to that. Others, too, including the Select Committee have seen virtue in a new institution to span the divide between the EEC and non-EEC countries. The Government recognise the need for concerted efforts on problems which are genuinely common to all the countries of Europe, but there is 574 also a danger that the proposed institute might be forced into trying to please too many customers at once. In the search for problems of interest to all, its work might become too diffuse or too general to be of practical value.
The Select Committee noted the possibility of setting up the new institute under the wing of an existing organisation such as the European Science Foundation under the leadership of the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, in the interests of economy. The Government's concern with greater economy has led them to consider whether perhaps the work envisaged for the institute could be carried out by existing organisations. It would undoubtedly be costly to assemble an entirely new staff and to provide them with a suitable new home. The Government would be reluctant to agree to that unless there was a clearly established case for doing so. We must therefore consider carefully whether the work of the new institute would be sufficiently distinct from that of existing bodies to justify the additional expense. A number of our EEC partners share our view that this needs to be studied more deeply.
There are, however, many research institutes active in the field of economic and social policy. We are fortunate in having several of high quality in this country. Influential institutes also exist in several other EEC countries and several international organisations cover this ground as well. One of the Government's concerns is that the proposed new institute might, especially if it were invested with considerable prestige, divert both funds and talented staff away from the institutions which we already have. This could detract from the efforts being put into the study of problems of specific concern to this country.
The question of financing is of central importance. The Select Committee laid emphasis, and rightly, on the need for the proposed institute to be completely independent of Governments and of the EEC Commission. The plans so far discussed would guarantee the institute a large measure of independence in formulating its research policy, but it is still envisaged that it would derive a major portion of its funds from Government sources. To that extent, it would inevitably he subject to some influence by 575 Governments. Given that the fundamental purpose of the institute would be to analyse—and to analyse critically—the policies being pursued by governments, it is obvious that its position would be more comfortable if it were supported wholly by private funds. That, however, is not the proposition at the moment. The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, asked me about the reported decision—it is not a decision yet, I understand—that the Government should contribute one third of a million pounds for the initial setting up of this institute. I can confirm that there is I am afraid no more than a rumour to that effect, but the Government have certainly taken no decision in the matter.
I have outlined some of the points on this project on which the Government have reservations. I do not wish to imply that the Government are wholly opposed to it, however. They recognise the real concern that public policies should be subject to analysis and criticism of the highest quality. It may be that a new institute on the lines proposed could contribute to that. The negotiations in Brussels are continuing and the Government will continue to examine the points of difficulty more closely in discussion with the other countries concerned.
I think that in general the Government's role in all these matters of cultural effort and activity must be limited. As many noble Lords have indicated, culture tends to spring up from minority groups, from rural activities and all sorts of areas like that, and we do not believe that mammoth institutes like this policy research body, and even less the EEC Commission itself, are necessarily the right source for inspiration. But I promise that all these speeches of such importance that we have heard this evening will be given the very careful study which they deserve.
§ Baroness SEEAR
My Lords, it only remains for me to thank noble Lords for taking part in the debate this afternoon, which I think we all agree has been an extremely fruitful and interesting debate. I would like to say this to the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne. The economic and social policy research proposal is, of course, not really concerned with culture. These are two separate matters. The criticism made of cultural development 576 cannot be levelled at the proposal for an economic and social policy institute. May I remind the House of the very important point the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, made when the question arose of overlapping. If this institute comes into being, it will be about policy in relation to Europe and in particular to the European Community. It is not true to say, when that is seen as its focus of activity, that there are many other organisations that are working precisely in that field; they are working in related fields but they are not focussed on that issue. It is on the question of the importance of having a high-powered body focussing on that particular area of European policy that this whole argument rests.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.