HL Deb 19 February 1980 vol 405 cc565-6

2.41 p.m.


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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they can contradict the rumour circulating in Hampstead that either they or the Greater London Council intend to seek powers to override the Iveagh Bequest (Kenwood) Act 1929 so as to introduce entrance charges for viewing the collection on days additional to the two authorised by the Act, or to reduce the minimum hours of opening laid down in it.


My Lords, the Government do not intend to seek any powers in respect of the lveagh Bequest (Kenwood), but I cannot answer for the intentions of the Greater London Council.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord for his most helpful reply, I should perhaps declare my keen personal interest as a grandson of the founder, a former trustee and even a signatory aged 22 or 23 of the schedule to the Act. Therefore, I am extremely grateful for what my noble friend has said, as will be all friends of Kenwood in Hampstead, Highgate or London generally.

On the attitude of the Greater London Council, is my noble friend aware that, despite a resolution advocating these changes passed by the GLC last November, their leader has written to me saying that he certainly regards any such changes as needing the support of central Government?—which makes the Government's attitude, as now expressed by my noble friend, extremely welcome.


My Lords, I am glad that my noble friend has declared his interest, because we in this country all owe a great debt of gratitude to his grandfather, the first Earl of Iveagh, for his very generous bequest to the nation. On the question of the Greater London Council, some proposals were put to them, but a General Powers Bill for 1979–80 is shortly to be laid in this House and there is nothing relevant to the subject in that. At this stage they cannot add anything to it. As regards the future, as my noble friend knows, it is the Government's policy—and in particular my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster feels strongly about this—that we do not want to see museum charges extended.


My Lords, in view of the noble Lord's answer, may I ask him whether he will take his original Answer a little further and confirm that the Government have no intention of introducing museum charges into the national museums and galleries, in view of the almost universal hostility which their original proposal engendered?


My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord that we have no intention at present of introducing any such museum charges.


My Lords, will the noble Lord accept that it is, I think, the universal opinion of this House that such charges are undesirable, and that they are very grateful for the statement made by the noble Lord on behalf of the Government?