HL Deb 28 February 1980 vol 405 cc1521-613

3.39 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Mowbray and Stourton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Establishment of National Heritage Memorial Fund]:


The reference in Amendment No. 2 is incorrect. It should start "page 1, line 7". Therefore it precedes Amendment No. 1. So may I call Amendment No. 2?

Lord DONALDSON of KINGSBRIDGE moved Amendment No. 2: Page 1, line 8, leave out from beginning to ("which") in line 9 and insert ("As the National Land Fund, which was set up to preserve the national heritage and in this way to commemorate those who gave their lives in defence of the nation, is to be wound up, there shall be established a National Heritage Fund, with the same objectives,").

The noble Lord said: I move this amendment as very much a probing amendment to find out not only what the Government think but also what my colleagues on both sides of the Committee think. I have no intention of being dogmatic or trying to force any issues. My honourable friend Mr. Tam Dalyell, who moved an amendment very much like this at the beginning of the Committee stage in the other place was later, as a result of discussion, persuaded to drop it and to accept the word "Memorial" in the title. I think all of us are in favour of the same thing: we all want to record that Hugh Dalton, in his original setting up of the Land Fund, wanted it to be used (in my words here) "to preserve the national heritage and in this way to commemorate those who gave their lives in defence of the nation". There is probably nobody who does not want this included somewhere.

I find the word "Memorial" in the title wrong. To me—and I know this is not the case with everybody—a memorial fund is something where one is collecting money to put up a statue and when that is done the fund is finished. The National Heritage Fund will go on for ever so I feel—not passionately but fairly strongly—that to have it only in the title is in itself a mistake and anyway it will he dropped as soon as people start working in and talking about the National Heritage Fund. However, I think something must be in and the wording I have put here in Amendment No. 2 expresses most of our feelings.

It could possibly be better in the Long Title, but I am putting this amendment forward quite simply, thinking it to be the better course. My consequential amendments delete the word, "Memorial", where it appears, but if noble Lords for the Government wish to deal with the point in any other way I shall not be difficult about it. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

I should like to second this amendment which was really the child of my noble friend Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge and myself. In doing so, as I was unable to be here at the Second Reading I should like to say how happy I am to see this Bill making its way (as I hope it will) so early in the Government's career to the statute book, and also how pleased I am that it covers so closely the White Paper for which I and my colleague were responsible in the last Government.

I feel quite strongly about bringing in some of the history and referring to the National Land Fund. I think just to have the word "Memorial" could be taken as a memorial to the heritage or it could be a memorial to Mentmore, but I do not think that it would be at all clear to certain people who do not know the history of the Land Fund and any young people. I also think that we must try to find something which combines the past and certainly refers to what Hugh Dalton did in 1946. Also, I think we must be careful that we are making it quite clear that we are looking to the future as well and that the National Heritage Fund will be built into our cultural and heritage society. As my noble friend has said, we have no very strong feelings about where this should be. In the Long Title I think the word "Memorial" could be left, and it may well be—and perhaps the Minister would like to look at this—that it would be better placed in a preamble to the Bill. I know that is unusual, but in a case like this I think probably the Bill needs a preamble which would make it absolutely clear. From then on, I think it makes good sense to delete the word "Memorial" for purely practical reasons, because the fund will be known as the National Heritage Fund for working purposes and it is much better to explain what it is about and then go on to mention the National Heritage Fund. I hope the Committee will support this amendment.


I hope my noble friend on the Front Bench will not necessarily accept this amendment, because in its present formulation I do not think it is correct, as the noble Lord who moved the amendment has said. I certainly think it is important to establish the continuity with Hugh Dalton's original concept, which was the National War Memorial and was agreed by the great post-war Parliaments. It is something which is of great importance because it is the memorial to the people who died in the Second World War and I think that must be stated somewhere in the Bill.

I disagree with what the noble Baroness has just said. The fact that it is a memorial fund to the people who died in the war against Hitler and the Nazis will make a tremendous difference to a large number of people over quite a long period of time, and it is important that it should be in the statute. So if my noble friend will look at this again, I hope that he may be able to move an amendment, perhaps at Report stage, which will meet the unanimous wishes of the House that the Bill should be a memorial to those who died in the Second World War.


I do not wish to detain your Lordships by minute discussions of the wording or its place, but from a very early stage I knew the late Lord Dalton very well because he first taught me economics and he was an excellent, impartial and clear teacher. I formed a friendship with him then and, in spite of many differences of opinion on public affairs, we remained intimately friendly until his death. I am quite sure that he would wish something of the amendment to be part of the Bill. In the latter part of his life, I am reasonably sure that he regarded the setting up of the Land Fund as being probably the thing in which he took the most lasting pride. It seems to me that since we are all agreed—or I hope we are all agreed—that this was a good thing to do, we should commemorate it in words which would commend themselves to the founder.


I should like to support the retention of possibly the word "Memorial", but certainly something which would bring to mind the original reasons for this fund. I believe that the children of the future would also like that, not only for that reason but because I believe that in the future people might wish to leave or to give money to this fund if they know that it is a memorial fund for those who died in the last war.

Baroness BIRK

Just in order not to confuse the Committee—I think it was due to getting the page number wrong—I do not think it was the intention of my noble friend and it was certainly not my intention that the word "Memorial" should be left out of line 1 in the Long Title. I certainly think it should be there. It is when it becomes a working title that I think it should be left out.


In fact, it was my intention, but I am perfectly prepared to withdraw it.


The Government, as always, come to this Bill in a most benign mood. We are totally content to abide by the wishes of your Lordships. If your Lordships are content to accept the amendments in principle, I would undertake to check that they are technically acceptable as a piece of legal drafting and, if they are not, we would draft something of our own for the Report stage.

I am delighted to see the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, in the Committee: we missed her very much in the Second Reading debate, although I fully understood that the work she was doing prevented her from being here. She suggested that it might be put in the preamble. The noble Lords, Lord Vaizey and Lord Robbins, and the noble Baroness, Lady Airey, as she did in her maiden speech on Second Reading, all liked the idea of the word "Memorial" being somewhere—the idea of the late Lord Dalton in setting up his heritage memorial fund. Of course, the heritage itself is a memorial to everything in the past always. I am not quite sure whether the suggestion of the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, that "Memorial" should be moved to the preamble, would meet the approval of the three noble Lords who wish to retain the word "Memorial", or whether they would still like to see it in the body of the Bill. The Government would like to know what your Lordships would like us to do. Originally we did not have the word "Memorial" in; it was moved in in the Commons. I would like to get more opinions from your Lordships.


I wonder whether other noble Lords agree. My view is that I do not like it in the title. I think the noble Baroness, Lady Airey, suggested that she did like it in the Title. If other people agree with her we can step down, but if they agree with me I think I would ask the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray, to do what he has suggested and accept the amendment in principle. I will withdraw it for him to examine it and we can bring it back on report. But I do not want to force this view unless other people agree.


I personally would prefer to have "Memorial" in the Title. I think the point Lady Airey made is relevant, that people will wish to leave substantial sums, or small sums, because it is a memorial to the hundreds of thousands who died in the war. I am not sure that the drafting is correct, so I welcome what my noble friend has suggested, that he should bring forward something appropriate. But I would like to keep it in the Title.


Since opinions have been called for, I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson. It has the merit of being rather a briefer title. I hope I shall not be thought too flippant if I say that if there is to be an office for the fund the telephone operator will have to answer in a bright voice every time, "National Heritage Memorial Fund". It is a little flippant, but it is a practical point. We all know that it will be known as the "Heritage Fund" eventually, and therefore I think the nearer we get to that the better.

I hope I am not putting a cat among the pigeons too much if I say that the word "fund" is wrong, because it has a connotation which is largely financial. It is a bit late in the day to say that. The obvious title for it is "trust", but that has been pinched by another absolutely admirable body. The only other word I can think of is "foundation".

Baroness BIRK

I obviously have not made myself clear. I want to retain the word "Memorial" in the Long Title; then when it goes on to Clause 1 to say, "There shall be a fund known as the National Heritage Fund". I hope that the Committee will agree with me that whether the explanation goes into the preamble or whether it goes in where we have suggested or whether it goes into the Long Title I think we probably would be willing to leave to the Government, as long as it is explicitly stated somewhere where people will see it and understand it.


Perhaps your Lordships will leave it to me to take the matter back with the views your Lordships have expressed. I take it the great silent majority is like the Government, not feeling very stongly one way or the other. If that is not the case I hope noble Lords will jump up quickly and inform the Committee.


I think we are all agreed about the desirability of, in some way or other, having the original purpose there. But the word "Memorial" alone is not enough because people will ask "Memorial to what"? I favour the idea of the title being shorter, but somewhere early on, it may be in the preamble, the extended explanation that was related to the National Land Fund should appear, so that people will know that although the word "Memorial" is not there it is a memorial to those who gave their lives in the last war.


I wonder whether I may make a brief intervention in the hope of helping. In the same spirit as the noble Lord, Lord Reigate, I hope I shall not be taken to be flippant. If we allowed this to remain as the working name of the fund it would look, at least to succeeding generations, as though it were a memorial to our national heritage which has now disappeared. That I would have thought would be the last thing in the world we would want.


I should like in a few words to support the noble Lord and also the noble Lord, Lord Reigate. I think if the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, and the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, could be incorporated and the fund itself could be the National Heritage Fund, that would be excellent. I am all for putting in the reason, but I think the title should be left as it is.


I think we have shown sufficient consensus for me to withdraw the amendment and to point out that the consequential amendments will need to be withdrawn as well. What I do not want is for it to be described throughout as the "National Heritage Memorial Fund". I do not mind it being in the Long Title. With the permission of the Committee, I beg to withdraw the amendment.


I take it that would mean Amendments Nos. 1, 3 and 38?



Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 1 and 3 not moved.]

3.56 p.m.

Lord REIGATE moved Amendment No. 4: Page 2, line 2, leave out from ("appointed") to end of line 4 and insert ("by the Crown on the advice of the Prime Minister").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move the amendment standing in my name. My main argument for putting forward this proposal is the immense importance that I attach to the establishment of this trust and the immense importance I attach to the quality and calibre of the trustees. I do not think any noble Lord here today is likely to disagree with that point of view. Therefore, I feel that the appointment should be made at the highest level—that is, on the advice of the Prime Minister. If your Lordships read the subsection as it stands it seems to me there are two rather obvious flaws. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who is named, may in the future have, as he has had in the past, other duties. He may be superfluous and redundant to this Bill when it becomes an Act. That is one flaw. The Arts may be subsumed into the operations of another Department. Another obvious flaw is the division of responsibility between two Ministers who also have the need to consult the territorial Ministers. Of course in practice this is perfectly workable. But I do feel that this fund is of such standing that nothing less than appointment by the Prime Minister is really correct. But for that, this will really be just another quango, even if it is the queen of all the quangos, so to speak.

I have heard the argument used that if the power of appointment is removed it diminishes the status of the Minister or Ministers. I hope this argument is not going to be put forward by my noble friend, because, if so, I may say now, before he utters it, that I think that is absolute nonsense. The trustees of the British Museum are appointed by the Prime Minister. If my noble friend does not agree with what I am putting forward, I am prepared to quote a list of many other appointments. None of these, in my view, diminish the standing of the Minister. It is on the deeds and words of a Minister that his reputation depends. Therefore, as I think this is of the greatest importance, I beg to move.


I should like to support my noble friend. It is, of course, a slightly clumsy arrangement that the appointment should be made jointly by two Secretaries of State. It would be simpler if the appointment were to be made by the Prime Minister. The important aspect of this is that this would give the fund status, whereas if they are appointed by the Secretaries of State jointly it will not quite carry the same weight. It is a point of some importance and I should like to support everything that my noble friend has said.


I appreciate the idea behind the amendment of my noble friend Lord Reigate. However, the National Heritage Memorial Fund Trustees are, as he has said, an important body of people and appointment by the Crown on the advice of the Prime Minister would, of course, serve to emphasise that point. However, this is not a proposal that the Government are able to accept. There was a time when the Prime Minister made appointments, but that is no longer the practice even with bodies, dare I say it, much more important than this fund. For the most part it would misrepresent the true situation, as the Prime Minister—and a fortiori the Sovereign—would have much less background knowledge of the field of selection and would have to act on the advice and recommendations of the Ministers departmentally concerned.

The noble Lord, Lord Reigate, referred to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster being mentioned by name. That is only the case in this Bill because normally one just says "the Secretary of State" but purely technically the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster happens not to be a Secretary of State. That is why in this case we have had to include this name in the Bill.

The principle by which the Government operate nowadays is that appointments should be made by the Ministers who are functionally responsible. They are answerable for the policy area within which the body works and they provide its money. It would undermine their standing, vis-à-vis the trustees, if they were not also answerable for the appointment and dismissal of the trustees. As is the case generally with appointments to important bodies, the Ministers concerned will take care to consult the Prime Minister and secure her approval, particularly as to the post of Chairman which will be a crucial appointment for the successful launching of the fund.

In summary, the amendment is contrary to modern practice, would not reflect the reality of the process of appointment and would weaken the position of the Ministers with responsibility for policy in this field. I hope that I have said enough to persuade the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.


Would the noble Lord please bring me up to date? He referred to "modern practice." At what stage did that practice come into being? Is it not the case, as the noble Lord, Lord Reigate, urged, that the trustees of the British Museum are appointed by the Prime Minister? Is it not the case that the trustees of the National Gallery are also appointed by the Prime Minister?


Before the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, replies, will he address himself to the fact that, as I understand it, the Chairman of the Forestry Commission is a Crown appointment on the advice of the Prime Minister. It would be an admirable way out—and I could sleep much happier in my bed—if I knew that the appointment was made by the Prime Minister recommending to the Crown. I am very troubled about mention of: the Secretary of State and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster". I think that it is very bad to mention, in a Statute which has to last for all time, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he, obviously, will not. It may well be that the next Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will have nothing to do with the arts. It really is very bad to do it this way.

Of course, the point to be made about the "Secretary of State", is: which Secretary of State? The implication in the Bill is that only two Ministers will be involved, in which case we must change the English or draft the provision in a different manner. If we look right through the Bill it refers to "either of the Ministers" and as far as I know that means two Ministers. It says that "either of the Ministers" may do something or other. I always understood that "the Secretary of State" was a rather hydra-headed individual who could appear as the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, or the Secretary of State for Scotland and that is why it is very handy just to put it "the Secretary of State". Nobody would be worried about that, but I am worried when it says: the Secretary of State and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster". I am very unhappy about this provision. I certainly support the amendment and I think that, from the status point of view, it is absolutely right.


With great respect to my noble friend on the Front Bench, I disagree with almost everything he has said. I hope that, on consideration, he will take the matter away and think about it and perhaps bring forward a corresponding amendment on Report.


I should like to rise simply to say that I think that the argument put forward by my noble friend is unanswerable and I am, therefore, not altogether surprised that the Government have been unable to answer it.


I now have the facts regarding the British Museum and the National Gallery about which I was asked. They were set up by statute long ago and those appointments are made under those statutes by the Prime Minister. All the other bodies one may consider, including the Forestry Commission, are dealt with, in fact, by the departmental Ministers concerned.

I tried to explain that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had to be mentioned in this Bill because he is not a Secretary of State. Five Ministers are involved in the Bill: the Minister for arts, who happens at the moment to be the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; the Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment; the Secretary of State for Scotland; the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and the Secretary of State for Wales.

"The Secretary of State", as has always been the case, means the Secretary of State who is the operative person in that context. If, perish the thought—I cannot believe that the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, is right and that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will not be around for a very long time yet—the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster were, perchance, to cease to be interested in the arts, that part of the Bill would need to be altered. But, as long as he is in his present position, we must do it this way. It is no great problem. At the moment the two Ministers primarily responsible are the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Chancellor, and the other Ministers, of course, will come into consultation immediately the trustees or the in lieu provisions start to affect their particular areas of responsibility. But, on the general scheme of the appointments, it will be the first two Ministers that I have mentioned. It is modern practice, despite what noble Lords say, that the appointments are made on the advice of the departmental Ministers concerned. I have said that the Prime Minister would be consulted. I think that your Lordships would be advised to leave the amendment as printed in the Bill.


Would the noble Lord not add to his obvious virtue of pertinacity the fault of obstinacy? I say that for the following reason: there may be parallel cases in regard to museums, as we have heard, and other very worthy institutions. We are dealing on this occasion, and I believe for the first time, with a matter which affects our national heritage. It is quite unique. In the circumstances and as it deals with matters affecting our national heritage, can one imagine anything more suitable than that the Crown should be associated with it, even if it be nominally, and that the first Minister of State, the Prime Minister, should be the first person to advise the crown on appointments of this nature?


I should like to support that view very strongly. We want to make this fund something special and if we have, as I think the noble Lord said, five Secretaries of State who might, in the course of their lives, put a finger in the pie, I cannot imagine anything more completely muddling. All we want is one person who—and I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon—in view of the importance of this Heritage Fund, should be the first Minister in the Government. If the noble Lord could take this back and think about it again, I am sure that it would add enormously to the importance of the fund and also simplify matters greatly, because five people would not then be concerned.


My primary concern at the moment in this matter is this rather odd entanglement, with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster being included. But quite clearly it is a matter which, on some future occasion, might require an amendment to the Act itself. The Secretaries of State concerned and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster are subsequently referred to throughout the Bill as "the Ministers". Is there any fundamental reason why we cannot call them "the Ministers" to start with?


When the noble Lord, Lord Reigate, introduced his Bill which was overtaken by the event of an election, he asked this question and I rather think that I managed to avoid giving him an answer. The answer that I was certainly advised to give was the one which has been given by the noble Lord opposite. But this is not a very necessary reason for accepting it. It seems to me that, whatever happens, in the end the trustees will be appointed on the advice of the Ministers concerned. My noble friend Lord Ross of Marnock has made it perfectly clear that, if nothing else, there needs to be an alteration in this subsection. I shall certainly not oppose this amendment, and I think that the feeling of the Committee is pretty solid that the Minister should take it away and think about it.


In the face of the volume of advice supporting the amendment of my noble friend Lord Reigate, I am perfectly prepared to take this amendment away and have it reconsidered. I have a note here which says that we shall also be discussing this when we deal with Amendment No. 46. I revert to my argument and repeat that I shall take this matter back for further consideration. However, I should not like the Committee to go away thinking that this Heritage Fund will be the be all and end all in the heritage world. My two right honourable friends, in a day-to-day advisory capacity, are already interested in the major artistic historical heritage of this country. All the committees and commissions are appointed by these Ministers who have financial responsibility for the funding of all the museums, the Historic Buildings Council, the office of Arts and Libraries, and the Department of the Environment. I want to emphasise that the vast bulk of our heritage is already the responsibility of these two Ministers.

I turn to the point about five Ministers being involved. My noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood and the noble Lord, Lord Ross, complained about there being five Ministers involved. It was thought that it would not be regarded very highly North of the Border if the Secretary of State for Scotland did not have a say in appointing at least one trustee from North of the Border who would be qualified to give advice on matters concerning Scotland which might be considered to be of outstanding or pre-eminent interest and value in Scotland. Another trustee South of the Border might not fully understand the Celtic view or appreciate it so much.

A similar argument applies to the Secretaries of State for Wales and Northern Ireland. They were included to help in the appointment of at least one trustee from each of those parts of the country. This was done to help Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. They will not have a day-to-day interest in the matter. It is not a question of five Ministers interfering. Once they have done their job and appointed the trustees and the chairman, it will be primarily for those trustees and the chairman to manage their own affairs. Having said that, I shall get my right honourable friend and the departments concerned to look again at this amendment.


I must confess that I am very disappointed in my noble friend's reply. It is exactly what I thought I would get. I could have written the speech for him, and, if I may say so, I think I would have written it better. My noble friend entirely missed the point. We all know perfectly well that the recommendations will be put forward by one Minister or the other. I foresee certain difficulties with regard to co-operation. The sort of dialogue I am frightened of is one Minister saying to the other, "Look here, I appointed your friend Lord Snodgrass last time. I think it is time you let me have a go. I want to appoint Sir Simeon Stylites, who is a great expert." These matters are sorted out, as we all know, behind the scenes.

The important thing is the status of the body. My noble friend rather pooh-poohed the question of the British Museum and virtually suggested that the standing of the Minister was diminished because it all fell within the province of his responsibility. The British Museum is not the only one; there is the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery and the National Maritime Museum. A whole list was given in a Hansard Answer on 14th February 1978, and includes the Imperial War Museum, the Museum of London, the National Maritime Museum, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate Gallery and the Wallace Collection. The museum sphere falls completely within the responsibility of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I do not think that his status is in any way diminished by that fact; rather, it is enhanced. It is the Crown which makes the appointments in his province. My noble friend may disagree, but let me take another example. I believe that poetry is one of the arts. Who appoints the Poet Laureate, my old friend Sir John Betjeman?—the Crown, on the advice of the Prime Minister. If it is modern practice to have all appointments made by the Minister, I hope that at least that one will be left where it now is, because of its close link with the Crown.

These are all historic appointments. That was one of the arguments which my noble friend put forward. I simply say that I hope we are making history today, and that when this Bill becomes an Act it will make history too. These are historical appointments and they should be made on that basis. With the support that I have received, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment. My noble friend will hear from us again.


Before the amendment is withdrawn, I should like to add further to the catalogue of important bodies that are appointed by the Crown. The Royal Commissions on Ancient Monuments in the three countries, England, Scotland and Wales, on the advice of various Secretaries of State, should not be forgotten.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.18 p.m.

Lord REIGATE moved Amendment No. 5: Page 2, line 7, leave out from ("applied") to end of line 9.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 5. I must make it quite clear that I am not in any way averse to the spirit of the subsection as it stands. First, I must congratulate the Government on not having included for once the statutory woman and statutory trade unionist—without any prejudice of course against any appointments in that sphere. I also have no prejudice against England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. I just think that it is totally unnecessary. I dislike the wording. It panders to a kind of devolutionism which still perhaps slightly exists. It is not necessary and is largely meaningless because it does not commit the Ministers or the Prime Minister—as I hope it will be—to appointing anybody anywhere, even the whole of Scotland. It excludes only Manxmen and Channel Islanders. Would they be eligible?

The wording does not even exclude foreigners if they are "resident or otherwise". Whoever makes the appointment should be totally unfettered in what he wants to do, even without this curious territorial inclusion.


May I just say that the Arts Council is administered with this in mind, but not in writing, which is what the noble Lord is suggesting.


I must say to my noble friend that the fund is intended to be able to operate, as I said in the previous amendment, over the whole of the United Kingdom. It is going to have the difficult problem of achieving a balance in its assistance as between the different parts of the country, and it will no doubt be criticised for tending to favour one region probably at the expense of others. No doubt this criticism will be wholly unjustified, but the trustees themselves would be much more vulnerable to criticism from those in one of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom if that country did not have at least one trustee on the fund. I can assure your Lordships that these words which the noble Lord, Lord Reigate, seeks to delete were inserted at the insistence of the Secretaries of State concerned, and we would be deeply unpopular and suspected of the worst English perfidiousness if we were to accept the amendment.


I am quite prepared to withdraw my amendment. I am sure that the Minister would be the recipient of many attacks from his colleagues if he did not mention England and Scotland. Did he have any attacks from the Home Secretary for not referring to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, which are also part of the United Kingdom, or territorial appendages? I just wanted to object to the rather woolly wording and, in any way trying to fetter or tie the hands of the Ministers in this matter.


Before we leave this matter, surely if the words which the noble Lord, Lord Reigate, would like deleted meant anything at all, any clear meaning which they did have seems to me to have been totally obscured by the addition of the words "or otherwise". Persons who are "connected by residence or otherwise with England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively". I cannot think of anybody to whom that might not possibly apply. But I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, could tell us what he and his colleagues have in mind when they talk about "or otherwise". Is it by birth? Are we back to grandfathers, or paternity, or whatever?


There is a slight problem here as it stands. When the Arts Council were dividing the amount of money available between different countries there was always a tremendous argument about headage. We had a great deal of trouble, if my Welsh colleagues will forgive me for saying so, with Wales about this. If you put a thing like this in writing in exactly the form it is in, you are liable to get people in England saying, "What proportion of the national heritage is in Northern Ireland? You have got one out of 10. What proportion in Wales? You have got two out of 10", or whatever it may be. This is awkward. I am not sure what the right answer is, but I am not at all clear that this is the right answer.


I should have thought that the answer to the noble Lord, Lord Winstanley, would be supposing, for the sake of argument (and perish the thought) my noble friend Lord Wemyss did not live at Gosford in Scotland, but, for whatever reason, he might want to hand over to his son, and he lived in London. Because he lived in London would not remove the fact that he was a Scot of eminent distinction who knew all about Scottish affairs and art. I would suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Winstanley, that "or otherwise" would cover that sort of case.


My noble friend will agree that it is the most awfully woolly wording. It does, as I really think it should do, give the Ministers a pretty free hand. If the Minister wanted to, I suppose he could appoint a Manxman who had a bank account in Scotland, or London. I just put this up. I am sure my noble friend would be able to defend it, but to me it is bad law making.


I am not sure whether my noble friend Lord Reigate is planning to take up residence in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. It sounds as though he is trying to get a soft option on a trustee for one of those. But they are not kingdoms, or principalities as such. I think we can leave those out. "Or otherwise" is a legal expression which is understood, and for the purposes of common sense I think there will be no difficulty in interpreting this. It is the Secretary of State of the area concerned who will have the chief say in choosing his man, and he can interpret "or otherwise" perfectly easily, I should have thought.


Having risen twice before, I would never have risen on this amendment if the noble Lord had not said that "or otherwise" was a terminology with a clear meaning known to the law. I look at the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate in the hope that Scotland is as clear as England is in regard to such matters. When a lawyer wishes to say that everything ought to be let in to any document or any set of circumstances, he hits upon the words, "or otherwise", and regards that as a net which catches nearly everything in the world. I would ask the noble Lord, the Minister, at the risk of being thought facetious, if he would regard a lady living in Paris, who was the mistress of a gentleman residing in England, as being connected or otherwise with England?


In face of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, I hastily withdraw that "or otherwise" is a legal term. All I say is that in the context we have here— … persons who have knowledge, experience or interests relevant to the purposes "[or]" residence or otherwise"— I think the Secretary of State of the area concerned in this case will have no hesitation in knowing what sort of advice it is giving him.


It must have been a lovely meeting of the Cabinet, or the Cabinet Committee, where we saw all these Secretaries of State demanding their rights in this respect. Can the Minister tell me whether there is any precedent for this in any other statute? There are many cases where the various Secretaries of State have to decide as to who is going to be on various committees, maybe the UGC, may be the Forestry Commission, or maybe something else. I have had lots of experience of this, but I have never seen a statute where it is spelt out in this way.

Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, has led us, and the mind boggles at the various possibilities of the "or otherwise". I cannot remember anything where we had this "connected by residence or otherwise" whether it was England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland respectively. He has already told us that "Secretary of State" includes, or embraces, Secretary of State for the Environment, Secretary of State for Scotland, Secretary of State for Wales, and so on. There is nothing else needed.

This only proclaims the extent to which these Secretaries of State in the various areas at the present time in the present Government do not trust one another. I think you should remove that right away. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Reigate, should persist with this amendment, or at least suggest that some further thought should be given to it. It is all rather trivial. It tends to reduce the national status of the trustees. As a Scotsman I am prepared to leave out that part. I am perfectly sure that someone from Wales would say the same, and be prepared to trust the Secretary of State of the particular country. I do not even like them saying they are all going to get one each. This is wrong. It is the wrong attitude to it and to the nature of the trust we are establishing.


It does not say they will get one each. If that is what they agreed to, they have been had for mugs.


The noble Lord will appreciate that the Minister said, "one".


It is merely anticipated that there would be one each. However eminent the English Secretary of State for the Environment and the Chancellor are, there may be people in Scotland who are suitable for trustees who are not known to them. Such people who might not be known to them would more than likely be known to the Secretaries of State of the areas concerned, or their advisers. This is merely trying to be helpful to the areas concerned to ensure that they get possibly some advice to ensure that a trustee with interest and knowledge of their parts is one of the trustees. I think we are making very heavy weather of what is meant to be a helpful point.


Would the noble Lord take this away and consider a phrase of the kind, "after consultation with the Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales"? That would cover it, would it not?


I will certainly take it away and have it looked at because I think we are all trying to arrive at the same result.


I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, for intervening and making some sense out of what I thought was going to result in absolute chaos. I had no intention of pressing the amendment to a Division, my noble friend will be glad to hear, but we have done something to show up a bit of rather bad and foolish drafting. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Payments into the Fund]:

4.31 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 2 shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness BIRK

I shall be brief so that the Committee can get on. I cannot let Clause 2, which deals with the financial side of the Bill (and therefore I do not think it would have been possible for me to table an amendment), pass without referring to the finances of the fund. It will be given initial capital of £12 million plus in April next; that is, if one subtracts the £3½ million for money in lieu, and we must accept that in these hard times £12 million plus is all the country can afford this year.

I was happy to see that this matter was raised on Second Reading, but I do not feel it would be right to let the clause stand part without referring once again to the £50 million which was financially raped—or, to put it more politely, grabbed—by the Treasury in 1957. If that had not happened, it would have been worth between £250 million and £400 million today, which is probably a conservative estimate, depending on whether it had been invested by the Treasury or outside investors. This is an important point because it would have made a tremendous difference, certainly so far as Mentmore is concerned, which remains a permanent scar, and there may have been other situations where financial stringency based on the paucity of resources prevented acceptance in lieu.

While I realise that at this time there cannot and will not be put into the Bill a reference to paying into the new National Heritage Fund that amount or part of it, I would like to feel sure that it will have a priority claim on resources when they become easier. As things are so readily forgotten, a point referring to this should be included in the promised guidelines to trustees and in any explanatory material that is given out to the public. It should not be forgotten that this was taken out of the fund.

Secondly, as for the money going annually into the fund, I was pleased to see that on Second Reading, at column 107, the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, assured noble Lords that, in his opinion, unless the cow jumped over the moon or something awful like that happened, this sum would be sacred. The economic situation being what it is, one might say that the cow has already jumped over the moon or is likely to do so. I would therefore like an assurance that in any public expenditure cuts which, as we know, the Government are considering for the future, this will be exempt. These are two important points, particularly the latter, and I should like the Minister's assurance on them.


The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, knows as well as I do that "never" is not a word one can ever use in Government. All I can promise her is that the full £15½ million will be paid in on 1st April. As I said on Second Reading, that is the intention, but I could not possibly give any guarantee that it will never be affected by future crises or expenditure crises.

Baroness STEDMAN

That really is not good enough. When this matter was debated in the other place some reassurance was given, albeit in a half-hearted way, that these sums would be paid over each year and would not be subject to cuts. We have a right to ask for a firm assurance from the noble Lord that these sums—which are small enough, heaven knows, when one thinks of what we might have had if it was what was put into the National Land Fund—will be paid in each year and will be absolutely inviolate from cuts. Not only have we a right to ask for that at this time, but the Minister should be in a position to speak at least for the period when his Government will be in office; we will do our job right when it comes to our turn.


If, as the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, says, her party does its job right and helps us all the way round the clock to get the economy better, I should probably be able to be more certain, but I am not certain that she and her friends will do that. Our view of how to get the economy right and hers differ on some rather important points. The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, asked if this cow was sacred and whether I could give a guarantee, and in reply I said that "never" was an impossible word to use in Government. As for future payments to this fund and payments in lieu, she is really asking for the moon when she asks me to give that guarantee. We fully accept the importance of making adequate provision for this heritage and we have demonstrated that by the introduction of this Bill and in other ways. However, as noble Lords will appreciate, future expenditure plans can never be regarded as totally sacrosanct so it would be misleading for me to say that grants in the fund and provision for acceptance in lieu will march with the level of inflation for all time, or even for the foreseeable future. We will do our best, but final decisions must be taken from year to year against the general economic background. I am sorry that I cannot say more.

Baroness BIRK

In that case, may I ask the Minister whether the amount that was taken out—and if one translates that into 1979, let alone 1980, values it is a large amount—will certainly be taken very strongly into consideration? There is money owing to this fund; I am not asking for an increase which has to come out of the air, as it were, as if there were no background for it. The fund has a priority claim as a follow-on from the National Land Fund. We should like to be assured of that, otherwise it will be forgotten and all disappear.


I think we have paid lip-service to the wish that we should have the whole of what had been the fund, but let us be quite honest about this: it is a notional fund and the money is not there. What is there is the £15½ million, and that we have guaranteed to put in as soon as the Bill receives the Royal Assent. However, much we might like to do things, it is a bookkeeping entry into the fund and the bookkeeping money has gone. The £15½ million is all that is there and we really must be content with that.

Baroness STEDMAN

How can one expect the trustees to do their work if they are not certain there will be any money in the kitty for them next year?


The trustees, like everybody else, will have to work from year to year.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Grants and loans from the Fund]:

4.40 p.m.

Lord SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 6: Page 2, line 24, leave out ("or preserve") and insert ("preserve or restore").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 6, and I wish at the same time to speak to Amendments Nos. 16, 17, 20, 22 and 25, which all deal with the same point. I apologise in advance because I do not think that we shall get quite so much fun out of this amendment as we got out of Amendment No. 5. It deals with quite a narrow point. The Bill sets up a fund and provides for the appointment of trustees whose job it will be to safeguard and to increase the various elements that make up our national heritage. The process by which this is done is described at various points in Clause 3. Amendment No. 6 refers to that part of Clause 3 which mentions acquisition, maintenance or preservation, and elsewhere we read about maintenance, repair and insurance. Further on we read about maintenance and preservation, and further on still we read about preservation, and finally we read about improvement and preservation. Taken together those phrases give one a fairly clear impression of the range of activities with which the trustees will be concerned.

The object of my amendment is to make good what I consider to be a gap in this range of activities. In my view the heritage as a whole cannot be conserved and increased and kept in the shape in which we should all like to see it unless provision is made for parts of it to be restored from time to time, and I put it to the Committee that that process of restoration is different from maintenance, repair, preservation or acquisition, and needs to be specified separately.

It would be easy—and if necessary I shall do so—to give many examples and instances where funds have had to be applied to restoration which did not include maintenance or preservation and had nothing to do with improvement, but I shall leave my remarks at that for the moment because I trust that the purport of my amendments has already become quite clear to my noble friend, and I hope that he will be able to say without further hesitation that he can accept them. If he has something else to say, I for my part shall also have something else to say. I beg to move.


Naturally I am completely in harmony with the noble Lord who has moved the amendment, but I wonder whether the word "restore" would be quite appropriate in all cases. Let us take that famous work of art, the statue of Venus—the lady who seems to have everything except her two arms. Would this amendment require Her Majesty's Government to restore the two missing arms to the statue of that lady? I hardly think that it would. Therefore I think that the inclusion of the word "restore" here might do more harm than good.


It confers a power, not a duty.


I fear that I am going to disappoint my noble friend Lord Sandford because we have to resist these amendments—not, I hasten to add, because we do not totally agree with his intentions, but because we do not think that they are necessary or that my noble friend is going about the matter in the right way. The purpose of the amendments is to make it clear on the face of the Bill that the trustees may give financial help towards the restoration of outstanding heritage items, such as buildings, land and pictures. I am able to assure the Committee that the amendments are quite unnecessary. The possibility that the trustees might, say, wish to help with the restoration of an historic building is already allowed for in the terms "acquire, maintain or preserve". These terms are construed very widely, and the Government are satisfied that they give the trustees power to discharge fully their responsibilities for preserving the heritage.

However, my noble friend Lord Sandford wishes to place a wider meaning on the word "restoration". He wishes to make clear that the trustees can help to restore an historic building to its original form, so that if, for example, there was a Tudor building which had been altered or extended in the Georgian or Victorian style, the trustees could help to remove the work of the latter period and restore the Tudor building. I think that this presents great problems. On the one hand I doubt whether the word "restore" includes demolish, but if it does, so does the word "repair". On the other hand, I am very aware of the deep passions aroused by some proposals to restore houses to their original form. I think that the wording we have at present reflects the wording of the 1953 Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act, under which the Historic Buildings Council have operated happily for 25 years. We are firmly convinced that these are the right words for buildings.

So far as works of art are concerned, I do not think that anyone has suggested that "preservation" cannot include restoration. I should like for a moment to take the opportunity to clarify how the Government see the trustees becoming involved in repairs and restoration. As has already been made clear on numerous occasions, we see the fund essentially as a "safety net" which will make it possible for various heritage bodies to acquire and preserve outstanding items of the heritage which might otherwise be lost to the nation, through export, decay or demolition. We recognise that, in helping a body to acquire an item, the trustees may also wish to help to put it into good condition. Thus they might wish to help with the repair and restoration of an historic building which they have helped the National Trust to acquire.

But the fund is not large enough—and could never be large enough—for the trustees to provide help with the restoration and maintenance of all the outstanding items in our national heritage; and, in any case, there are other sources of help which can, and should, be tapped. In the case of historic buildings, for example, there are the grants administered by the Department of the Environment, the Scottish Office, and the Welsh Office on the advice of the Historic Buildings Councils. While the trustees may help with restoration and repairs, therefore, the Government will make it clear to them that we expect them to do so only exceptionally and that, for the most part, where requests for repair grants are received, they should be directed to existing sources of help, such as the Historic Buildings Councils.

I must apologise to the Committee for this rather lengthy reply, but this is a point which the Government consider to be of some substance. I hope that, in view of what I have said, my noble friend will now agree to withdraw his amendments.

Baroness BIRK

I have listened carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, said and to the Minister's reply. I appreciate both what the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, is trying to do and his interest in this matter. I must confess that I think that the Government are right over this one. I think that the word "preserve" embraces restore to the extent that one needs it to do, and that it covers retaining, too. The other point is, where does one stop? One could include the word "conserve" and a great many other words. I think that the matter is much better left in this way. From my experience of dealing with the Historic Buildings Council I think that this is the way the provision should work and that the matter should be left open as far as the Government have it set down in the Bill itself. Frankly, I should prefer to see this provision left as it is.


I think that what my noble friend the Minister has said is perfectly true in regard to ceramics and pictures. The term "preservation" which is in the Bill at the moment covers putting together something which is broken, which is restoration; and the term "restoration" when used in respect of pictures is much the same as preservation. However, I am very far from convinced that in respect of buildings it is conceivably possible to think of maintenance, repair or preservation as covering restoration, and I think that to leave out the term on the grounds that, if it were included, the trustees could not be relied upon to use their judgment as to whether or not to apply their funds appropriately and would go off and spend far too much on restoration, is to underestimate altogether the calibre of the trustees whom we expect to see administering the fund and the range of decisions which we expect them all to take.

I am not by any means convinced that in respect of buildings it is appropriate to leave out the term "restoration". However, I will think about this between now and the next stage, perhaps have some discussion with my noble friend and return with either this or a similar amendment confined, if necessary, to buildings—that is, to the matter with which I am particularly concerned. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.50 p.m.

Baroness VICKERS moved Amendments Nos. 7 to 9:

Page 2, line 27, after ("outstanding") insert ("archaeological")

Page 2, line 29, after ("outstanding") insert ("archaeological")

Page 2, line 33, after ("outstanding") insert ("archaeological").

The noble Baroness said: I beg leave to move Amendment No. 7 and Amendments Nos. 8 and 9. Having read the debates in the other House, both in Committee and on the Floor of the House, I think this amendment had considerable support in the other House itself. In fact, at Committee stage it was lost by only three votes to four. My Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 go a little further than the ones discussed in the other House, because they include single objects, collections and groups of objects. It is apparently suggested that the interests of archaeology are covered by the words "historic" or "scientific". However, the Council of British Archaeology state that there are 105 archaeological trusts in Great Britain.

I gather that the total number of museums likely to come under this Bill is about 950, and they are classified as follows: fine and applied arts, archaeology and antiquities, natural sciences, industry, physical sciences and social history. For archaeology there are 24 museums belonging to local authorities and nine to the universities, and there are 34 "private and other". I think the "other" refers to small collections and some National Trust museums, like the one at Avebury. So there is a total of 67. It would seem to me that to have 67 separate museums, with local authorities spending the rates maintaining 24 of them, indicates that these authorities and the universities do not consider that the subject is covered by historic or scientific museums. There is also the important fact that there are 34 private museums, which shows that people have a real interest in the subject.

On 18th December reference was made (col. 54 in Committee F) to the danger of losing archaeological sites because of improved agricultural methods, and I therefore think that this needs particular attention. I realise, as my noble friend the Minister said, that it is intended to issue guidelines to the trustees, and they, of course, will be very knowledgeable people. But they will also be human beings, and they will have their likes and their dislikes. Having lived near Dartmoor for 20 years, and now on Salisbury Plain, I have naturally taken a great interest in these sites and this subject. As 34 of these museums are private, it would be very advantageous if, under Clause 3, they could have loans. I am not suggesting grants, because most of them are very able at raising money and looking after themselves.

To give your Lordships one example, a little museum in Devizes, which is entirely archaeological, has just recently been building an extension. They have had to collect most of the money themselves; but, one of the interesting things is that, though I expect a lot of people know all about Stonehenge, I wonder how many people have heard of Woodhenge. This is now having a special room for itself, and I think will have great interest to many people. Of course, we have an exceptional curator there, who has given over 20 years of service. The worrying factor about archaeological finds is that these areas are very scattered, and I wonder how many of the trustees will have had the time or the interest to go and visit them.

In April 1946 Hugh Dalton, when we had this fund of £50 million, was thinking of saving the aspects of British landscapes, and these sites that I am particularly thinking of are on the British landscapes. Therefore, I hope it will be considered that archaeological interests should be completely separate and should be accepted into this Bill. I beg to move Amendments 7 to 9 en bloc.

Baroness BIRK

I should like to support this amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Vickers. Frankly, on reading the Bill for the first time I was amazed to find that the word "archaeological" had been omitted. I must say that I thought first of all that it had perhaps been omitted by error, or was a printer's error, but evidently it was not. So much of the heritage of this country is archaeological. As I understand it, the Minister is probably going to tell us that this is included in "scientific" interest. I feel that to make archaeology a poor relation of the heritage is really a bit hard and is not only undignified but is not giving enough credit to a large part of the great cultural wealth of this country, which is in archaeology going back to Roman times, medieval times. It is quite magnificent. What is stated here is not covered by the Ancient Monuments Act; this is an entirely different point. If the Government are going to say that it is covered in the Bill, then I do not think it is asking too much to say, "Put in that one word". If it is not covered in the Bill, then this is an entirely different situation and I think we shall then want to know why, and certainly I imagine all sides of the Committee will want to insert it.


I should like to support my noble friend Lady Vickers. I am sure the original intention of the National Land Fund was principally about the landscape; it was about things like the White Horse, the Icknield Way and things of this kind. It would seem that no harm would be done by putting "archaeological" in, but a great deal of harm might potentially be done by leaving it out, and I would have thought that in principle, whatever the Minister's advice may have been, he would be wise to accept this amendment.


Let me start off by saying that in no way does anyone regard archaeology as a poor relation; and let me quickly say to my noble friend Lady Vickers that I cannot conceive that the intention of this Bill was to provide new wings for places like archaeological museums at Devizes. I should like to preface my remarks in that way, because I think we are going off at a tangent if we start thinking of things like that.

There are two reasons why the Government cannot accept this amendment. First (as your Lordships have guessed I was going to say), it is unnecessary. The words "historic" and "scientific" in the list of criteria are sufficient to cover "archaeological". These words are all very broadly construed. "Historic" does not exclude "prehistoric" Secondly, if we were to add the word "archaeological", we would begin to cast doubt on how widely the other words in the clause could be construed. I beg your Lordships to take this point on board. Furthermore, in other places in the Bill where similar combinations of words appear, the absence of the word "archaeological" would lead by necessary implication to the exclusion of archaeology. For example, in Clause 3(7)(a) we have a list of the types of collection which museums which are eligible recipients of assistance from the fund may have. These collections are described as collections of historic, artistic or scientific interest. The noble Baroness's amendment would have the implication that museums of archaeology were not eligible. Similarly, in Clause 16(2)(a) there is a description of museums which may benefit from the Government indemnity if they maintain a collection of historic, artistic or scientific interest.

These amendments are a perfect illustration of the danger that can arise from adding unnecessary words to a Bill. I hope that the noble Baroness will accept my assurance that archaeology is well and truly covered by the Bill in Clause 3, both in 3(1) and in 3(7), and that there is no need to make these amendments. As a general proposition, I hope it will be accepted that we should not add words unnecessarily to the Bill. Clarification is often desirable, but, as in this case, it can have unfortunate side-effects. I can assure your Lordships that full guidance on the scope of the trustees' ability to assist will be published, and that this will make it clear that archaeology is covered.


The Minister's reply has added new horrors to the clause. I therefore hope that my noble friend Lady Vickers will be fairly fierce. First of all, if the Minister believes that "historic" includes "prehistoric", I can assure him that he is just incorrect. Secondly, the notion that you cannot have consequential amendments as a result of the acceptance of one extremely wise amendment to one clause seems to me to be quite contrary to the normal practice of your Lordships' Committee. It is perfectly possible at Report stage to move amendments if the civil servants think them necessary. It is clear that these words do not include archaeology otherwise the archaeologists would not make such a fuss.


I did not say that historic meant prehistoric. I said that historic did not exclude prehistoric.


Would it help my noble friend if he found the opportunity to insert somewhere the words "or otherwise"?

Baroness BIRK

I must agree with the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, over this. I found the answer extraordinary. We get back to the crux of it; which is that if the Bill is meant to include archaeology, and archaeology is accepted as part of our heritage, why are the Government not prepared to put in the word so that it is on the face of the Bill as well as in the intention of it? I take the Minister's word, personally; but in this context we have only his word for it. Since reading Hansard is not the way that Bills are allowed to be interpreted, it must be in the Bill. There is no use in having it in Hansard saying, "Yes, we did mean that"—or that is not going to do any good. I would point out that when the Minister was talking about land, buildings and structures outstanding, it would have to go in and we were not thinking of buildings; that is up to the trustees. What is more important are the objects or groups of objects. This is the point that has been made to me by archaeologists.


Would the noble Lord explain why we could not cut all this out and use "scientific" to mean historic and architectural as well as archaeological?


I had, in effect, said in my speech what the noble Lord has said. The noble Baroness said that what is in Hansard is not in the Bill. I accept that. She must accept that there is going to be guidance to the trustees. I have made it clear not only that it is legally all right already, but it is going to be in the guidelines for the trustees to make it clear beyond peradventure.


If a lawsuit should develop over any action or lack of action by the trustees, what would be the attitude of the judge if, in addition to being provided with the text of the Act, he has the text of the guidelines as well? He would say: "The guidelines do not matter; I shall go by the text of the Act".


I do not know why the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, with his clarity of thought, should think in terms of judges being involved. We are dealing with advice to the trustees who are going to be helping to save objects of great historic and scientific interest. There is no question of the trustees being taken to court. This is merely a guideline to explain where their interest lies. There is no problem here.

Baroness VICKERS

Having heard my noble friend's explanation, I should like to point out that I did not suggest the extension to museums. I was showing how it was done by private people and how interested people were in this subject. In view of what my noble friend has said, I will withdraw the amendments now and return to the matter at Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendments.

Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.

5.3 p.m.

The DUKE of GRAFTON moved amendment No. 10: Page 2, line 33, leave out second ("or").

The noble Duke said: Before I address the Committee on the first of my amendments, I must declare my interest. I am the owner of a house and a collection of pictures and furniture et cetera which I venture to suggest might be considered to be outstanding heritage property. I am also the patron of the Historic Houses Association, which one might loosely describe as the trade union of owners of outstanding country houses. I must set aside these declarable interests and, instead, wear several other hats. I am a member of the executive committee of the National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland and chairman of its regional committee for East Anglia. I am speaking today for our chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Gibson, who has asked me to say how much he regrets (as I do) that he is not able to be here to follow up various points he made at Second Reading. I am speaking today also as chairman of the Joint Committee of the National Amenities Society, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, of which I am also chairman, the Georgian Group, the Victorian Society, the Ancient Monuments Society and the Civic Trust. Those may be known to some of your Lordships.

This Committee has been very much involved since 1974 in the protection of heritage from the potentially destructive taxation then proposed. I am also a longstanding member of the Historic Buildings Council for England; but I do not speak for the Council today. My membership of it for some 27 years has given me a unique opportunity to study many of these problems. I am also chairman of the trustees of the Sir John Soane Museum and the vice-chairman of the trustees of the National Portrait Gallery, appointed, incidentally, by the Prime Minister; but I do not now speak for these bodies.

I now turn to my first amendment. I beg to move two of the three amendments I have tabled to Clause 3, Amendments Nos. 10 and 11. The first is tabled for purely grammatical reasons. There is an "or" to remove if another paragraph is to be added to Clause 3(1) as is the substance of my Amendment No. 11. It is to this that I shall now refer. The Bill sets out in Clause 3(1) all sorts of categories of property with respect to which grants and loans can be made so that eligible recipients can make purchases. Under Clause 4(1), the trustees can make other expenditures on property falling within Clause 3(1); so that it is important that Clause 3(1) should cover all types of property of importance. This it seems to do with one exception which was raised by my noble friend Lord Gibson on Second Reading; that is, associated rights with respect to land not being purchased.

Land, in Clause 3(1), by definition, includes all rights associated with it. But it may be that some eligible body, such as one of the National Trusts, is trying to purchase rights over land which is not itself being purchased and a grant is in question thereon. Let us say that it is a right of way to use a length of road, the last link in the chain being put together to open up fine countryside; or, to take another example, there may be a bird sanctuary, already safely owned by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and they have an opportunity to purchase shooting rights over adjoining or associated land which they can then control so that birds may live in peace and quiet.

This subject was raised in Committee stage in a nother place by Mr. Bulmer, Member of Parliament for Kidderminster, who mentioned Offa's Dyke, access to beaches and coast paths, fishing rights and tree planting rights. The Minister gave an assurance, without commitment, to look at the problem and, if necessary, to put down an amendment. No Government amendment was brought forward at Report stage. Mr. Bulmer was not present to raise the subject again. Study of the present Bill certainly suggests that an amendment is still needed to cover this important point.

As well as owning a large tract of countryside of 426,000 acres and about 400 miles of coastline, the National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland holds covenants over another 76,000 acres of countryside and a further 27 miles of our coastline. In many cases we have had to buy these covenants. Thus the National Trust exercises a control over and above that exercised through the planning Acts. On a lot of important land it is a control which the National Trust would like to extend with the help of the fund on occasion. We have a case at this moment where the National Trust owns a house to the West of London where we hold covenants over some important land which makes the setting of a unique group of medieval buildings. Planning permission has already been given, lamentably, for the building of housing quite close up to this group, actually on the covenanted land, land over which the National Trust holds covenants. We are resisting this. We are at the last ditch over this particular site. I only instance that to try to impress on the Committee the importance of these covenants. That is all I have to say to introduce this subject. I beg to move the amendment.

5.11 p.m.

The Earl of WEMYSS and MARCH

In rising to support the amendment so ably moved by my noble friend the Duke of Grafton I should also like to declare a very strong interest in this subject, being at present the president of the National Trust for Scotland, and also having been involved with both National Trusts for something like 35 years which, if I have it right, is rather longer than the existence of the National Land Fund itself. This is apart from some family interests of my own in the heritage. The two National Trusts are united in not only their welcome to this Bill but in the various improvements that they are trying to bring about in it. I am deeply sorry that I was unable to be present to hear the speech on Second Reading of the chairman of the National Trust, the noble Lord, Lord Gibson, which read very well in Hansard.

This new heritage trust is going to take the central role to some extent which we, the two national Trusts—often with difficulty and always with inadequate funds—have tried to take in the centre of the movement to save the heritage up to this time. We are very glad indeed that this extra body is going to be inserted and we wish it every success. On the subject of what has been called associated rights, I too am aware of the promise that was made in another place by the right honourable gentleman in charge of the Bill, speaking to the amendment of Mr. Bulmer. It is to be found in column 88 of the relevant Hansard.

However, there was a slight misunderstanding; namely, that the right honourable gentleman, in his reply, seemed to think that the associated rights referred to were associated with the land that the trustees were going to acquire or had actually acquired. It is not so much that that we are talking about this afternoon, not the land purchased but some adjoining land. The better phrase, rather than "associated rights", is "geographical association". For example, there could be land which overlooks an area or on which it would be desired that there should be a prohibition against the building of houses or some covenant not to fell trees without consent.

Some of your Lordships may know the charming little borough of Culross in Fife, much of which is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. How marvellous it would have been if we had had some sort of right to prevent those beastly council houses being erected on the skyline overlooking it. Some of your Lordships may know Castle Sween in Argyll, where it would have been a very good thing if someone had had the right to prevent or inhibit the caravan site being located far too near this beautiful and historic ruin. As a success story, I should like to quote the Galloway Dee, where the National Trust for Scotland have succeeded by persuasion—with the owner's willing consent—in getting the owner across the other side of the river from our wildfowl gathering place, to refrain from exercising shooting rights. In the two Trusts we have special arrangements already existing and therefore, with respect for every other body, we have more experience of this matter than anybody else.

We have what we call restrictive agreements. In England they are called restrictive covenants. It is the same thing by another name. Nowadays in both countries we are inclined to call them conservation agreements, which is more positive than the word "restrictive". This agreement can be obtained by the generous gift of somebody, or possibly by purchase at a preferential price less than the market price, or maybe by paying the full market price for this covenant, inhibition or prohibition. Whatever it is, it is bound to be cheaper than actually having to buy the land concerned, the geographically associated land, which is probably not necessary and is an unnecessary or extra trouble for the Trust, or whatever body owns the land that we are seeking to protect. I have pleasure in supporting this amendment.


As president of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, I should like to associate myself fully with this amendment.


This amendment has powerful support. I have listened with great interest to the speeches in support and I gather that the point at stake is that the trustees may wish to acquire rights over land without acquiring the land itself. An obvious example is that given by my noble friend the Duke of Grafton of a nature reserve where trustees helped to acquire and presumably extinguish shooting rights or hunting rights over land surrounding the reserve so that birds and animals sheltering in the sanctuary are fully protected.

My noble friend Lord Wemyss and March talked about Culross Abbey, which I know well. I congratulate him and the Scottish National Trust on the admirable job that they have done not only there but in the surrounding village where some of their restoration of houses has been most admirable. I am sad that the noble Earl and his fellow trustees have not been able to influence the local planning authorities at Culross, and their advice was possibly not heeded.

The noble Duke and the noble Earl referred to a Government assurance in the Commons that the point would be considered and they would do something on this matter. We have considered this matter very carefully. We have concluded that the amendment must be resisted. Apart from other considerations, even its most ardent supporters would accept that the amendment is somewhat unhappily worded. Although I have understood the principle involved from what has been said this afternoon, I do not think it is at all clear from the drafting of the amendment before us.

We must also consider more fully whether this amendment is necessary, given the wide powers already at the disposal of the trustees. The Committee will agree that the occasions on which the trustees may wish to acquire rights over surrounding land are likely to be very few and far between. We have mentioned shooting and I have mentioned hunting. The noble Duke mentioned approach roads, and we can think of one or two others. I need only point out the difficulties of acquiring, say, the shooting rights around a nature reserve, particularly when as is often the case, those rights are owned by several different parties. Unless all the parties are willing to sell their rights, the acquisition would not be worth while. In most cases the existing owners would wish to rent out rights rather than sell them off altogether.

Furthermore, in many cases it would be necessary to acquire rights for miles around a piece of heritage land in order to protect it. One thinks of the shooting in a sanctuary and how far birds will fly. To be effective one would really have to buy rights over quite a large area. In the Government's view that is impracticable.

We take the view that, even if a suitable form of words could be found, the addition of this provision to the existing powers available to the trustees would be of little value. As your Lordships know, the trustees may already help acquire or themselves acquire land, and therefore the rights associated with that land, which they consider to be of outstanding heritage importance. They can also help acquire or themselves acquire land, and consequently rights over that land, which in their view it is desirable to acquire by reason of its association with heritage land. Thus, as the Bill stands, the trustees would already acquire rights over surrounding land if they thought that was absolutely necessary. I hope, in view of what I have said, that my noble friends and the noble Baroness will not press the amendment.


I could not quite understand the noble Lord's last remarks. He said that if it were valuable for the trustees to purchase some rights on neighbouring land, they would do so. Surely the point of this amendment is that the trustees could give money towards, for example, the RSPB to do so. The fact that the RSPB have not done so may have been because they have not got any money—though I am glad to say that that is not the case at the moment.


I take the noble Lord's point, but what we are worrying about really is what lies behind my noble friends' amendment, in that buying up rights in the surrounding area of country beyond what they own could be very hard indeed, because it is very hard to know, if you are thinking of a sanctuary and therefore buying up shooting and hunting rights, how near the boundary would have to be. For instance, birds have to fly about, and therefore an imponderable amount of discussion would be involved as to how much you would need to buy. Therefore, if you start by buying a bit, it is hardly worth buying at all.

Baroness BIRK

I think this is a very complicated subject, and the Minister may well be right in saying that perhaps the drafting is not quite correct. However, I think it is the point of principle we are really concerned with. As I understand it, he is saying that if the trustees want to buy land and in buying that land they acquire the associated rights, that is correct. But what this amendment is getting at is to be able to buy certain rights without buying the land. If it is possible to do that, it seems to be quite wrong for the trustees or anybody else to be either forced or encouraged to buy land when all they want is certain rights over it. When the Minister asks where it would end, and when he says that it is very difficult to judge how much land would be needed, those surely are matters we need not be too concerned with as regards the Bill. They are a question of arrangement and negotiation between the trustees. There are legal questions involved, and so on. All I want to know is this: is it possible to buy associated rights under the Bill as drafted?—because I think if I understand it correctly, there is a certain difference of legal opinion about that. If I may say so, this is not clear from what the noble Lord has said so far.


I quite agree that it is a very complicated matter, and it is not helped by the slightly imperfect wording of the amendment; but the last sentence that I read out to your Lordships—that is, As the Bill stands, the trustees would already acquire rights over the surrounding land if they thought this was absolutely necessary", seems fairly clear.


If that is the case, then it seems to me to meet what is in the amendment. Is that what the noble Lord is telling us?—that, in other words, the trustees can advance money to an institution to buy rights associated with the neighbouring land without buying the land itself? That is the question at issue. Is the noble Lord saying that under this Bill they can do so? If so, I think we shall all be perfectly happy.


The last sentence of my brief was as I read it out to your Lordships, but since then I have received further advice. The Committee must know that covenants often cannot be enforced unless there is a continuing interest in the land over which the covenants are given or bought. The only real way to preserve is to own the land—to purchase it. A covenant is not a safe investment. That is therefore saying that although I take it that my last sentence is technically correct, and though it is equally correct, from what I have just read out, that one can buy a right without owning the land, if the trustees do so it seems as though they would be pushing their luck somewhat.

Baroness BIRK

I do have a great deal of sympathy with the Minister, quite seriously, because it is a very difficult and technical matter and one is sometimes in a difficult position when—shall I say?—the pigeon arrives at the last moment and one has to read out the information and sometimes the handwriting is not quite clear.

In view of what the Minister has said, I wonder whether it would help if he could take this point back, because I think that when he and his officials have a chance to read this in Hansard he will see that there is a very specific point we are all on about: that is, whether it is possible to buy associated rights. If it is, when is it in the Bill? If not, then how can it be put right? If it cannot be put right we want to know exactly why it cannot, including the legal reasons, and so on.


With the greatest respect to the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, there is some misunderstanding here both on his part and on that of his advisers. If we are told it is not likely to be very useful to acquire rights round about—rights which are at present in no legal way associated with the land the trustees are going to acquire—how does he get past the fact that the National Trust holds many thousands of acres and all those miles of coastline in Cornwall and elsewhere, as well as the three cases I have quoted in Scotland and incidentally the wildfowl refuge on the Dee that I mentioned? It is only necessary to acquire or get an understanding about one other property with shooting rights: it is quite enough in the context. It is by no means necessary to get 17 other people in a ring all round. Geography is not like that, at least not in Scotland.

I would strongly request that the noble Lord would take this back. If it would be any help, we could provide him with a list from Scotland, and I dare say from Queen Anne's Gate in London too, of all the covenants and restrictive agreements held in all these counties, just to show him and his advisers how extremely useful and valuable these are.


I can assure the noble Earl that I will take this back, because I do seem to be advising your Lordships that the trustees have rights, while on the other hand I am saying that if they use those rights they will have to watch it! Therefore I will take this back and consider it further.


If the noble Lord is taking this back to look at it again, I hope he will bear in mind that it might be considered desirable or even essential for somebody to acquire rights over other land—not wholly, as the noble Lord appeared to think, for the purpose of extinguishing them. I think he should look at the other side of it. There may be many circumstances in regard to access and things of that kind where the need to acquire rights over neighbouring land is not solely for the purpose of extinguishing them but for the purpose of allowing others to use them in a different way.


There is one kind of right which has not been mentioned so far: what are called easements in England and wayleaves in Scotland. In the case of buildings or houses, they are very necessary for obtaining water supply and electricity. Does the Bill, as it stands at present, enable the trustees to buy these?


I should have thought that it would cover that. But I will take advice and confirm it and, if I am wrong, will write to the noble Lady.


I am very glad that the noble Lord has said he will look at this, because it is of very considerable importance. I can think of one small town in Scotland with an abbey owned by the Church of Scotland. I can remember the heart-rending letters that I used to get from an ancient minister at that place, asking that something be done. Unless the planning department of the local authority are prepared to exercise certain rights, then you will see a vital part of the national heritage being spoiled by a slow growth around it. In this case, it was not council houses; it was private houses going right up. This place sits in a valley and that surrounding saucer of houses spoiled the whole area.

The noble Lord said that it was impractical, but he must explain to me how it is that along the coast, in the part of the country where I live, from Culzean to Dunure and up to the Heads of Ayr, the National Trust of Scotland—and I am very proud to be a member of its council—has conservation agreements. You have only to look at certain parts of our coast, even in the North of Scotland, to see that the whole place has been devastated. It would have been desirable, from the point of view of the heritage, to have reached some agreement or to have been able to buy a certain right, in order to restrict development of that kind. If we really mean to conserve the heritage, let us not forget this aspect. You can separate rights from land, and there is nothing worse than going across a beautiful area and seeing a great scar of quarrying. I hope that the noble Lord will give the power that we ask here. I also hope that he will find words. It is no good the Minister saying that the drafting is bad, because the drafting can be put right if he wants it to be put right. He did not say that he accepted the principle; he said that he understood the principle. What I should like him to say is that he accepts the principle as well.


It is really for the trustees. But we must put out of our minds that this would be a usual occurrence. If this were to happen, it would be a most unusual occurrence. But I have told my noble friend that I will take it back and look at it sympathetically.

The Earl of WEMYSS and MARCH

In view of my noble friend's sympathetic answer, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 11 not moved.]

5.33 p.m.

The Duke of GRAFTON moved Amendment No. 12: Page 3, line 5, leave out ("securing or improving") and insert ("ensuring public benefit or reasonable").

The noble Duke said: This amendment touches on public benefit and reasonable public access. Subsection (3) now contains the phrase "securing or improving public access", it being incumbent on the trustees to have regard to just that when considering the making of grants and loans. A great deal has been said on this subject, both in another place and in our own Second Reading debate, and I know that the Government have taken the points made. But there has been no change in the wording of the Bill and I find it difficult to read all that should be read from the words in the Bill, as it stands now.

There seem to me to be two main points. First, access may have to be limited for the public benefit. It may well be necessary, for example, to close off a headland to allow the turf to recover from over-use. Privacy of nature reserves is surely another obvious example. For the public benefit, the trustees may need to weigh and ensure privacy by limiting public access.

Secondly, access may need to be carefully controlled for other reasons. There may be circumstances, particularly in connection with private premises, where works of art have been left in situ and where reasonable public access is enough. This is a phrase which is very well understood in what one might call heritage circles. Indeed, it is a very difficult subject, which has been the concern of the Historic Buildings Council since very early days. Reasonable public access has to be set, so that occupants of private houses et cetera and the visiting public can co-exist in harmony. There are many cases where access taken to excess will destroy the thing which visitors have come to enjoy.

My amendment deals with those two points by inserting the words "public benefit or reasonable", but it begins by changing the word "securing" into "ensuring". I think that the new word has a slight edge on the old, but I do not want to over-stress that and would leave it to the Government for consideration. Overall, changing the words to "ensuring public benefit or reasonable public access" seems to meet the need more clearly, but I look forward to hearing the Government's view. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

I wonder whether it would be for the convenience of the Committee if we also discussed Amendments Nos. 13 and 14, because they are on the same point.


I should be most grateful if we could do that.

Baroness BIRK

I shall be moving Amendment No. 14, which covers the same point, and which I prefer to the amendment moved by the noble Duke. I prefer to keep the word "improving", in connection with access. I spent many years trying to improve access to various places and I think that the word is simpler. I know that the word "reasonable" goes through Finance Acts and other Acts, and I was always trying to get that changed to "adequate". Therefore, I think that "improving access" is a better phrase. Having said that, I find that I am in opposition to myself, since Amendment No. 14 seeks to insert the word "controlling." As I have said, I have always been anxious to increase access, because I think that there should not be financial privilege, whether by way of taxation or grant, without social responsibility. This is the right place to pay tribute, in passing, to the many house owners all over the country, who give access beyond what they are asked to do. I have had the opportunity to visit many of those houses.

As the clause now stands, it assumes that public access of any kind is always desirable. But there certainly are situations, some of which were pointed out by the noble Duke, where uncontrolled public access is in danger of destroying the heritage. As he said, there are bird sanctuaries and wildlife habitats. However, there are also places such as Stonehenge. That has nearly 800,000 visitors each year, and when I was a Minister in the Department of the Environment I instituted a form of crowd control, in order to protect the monument. Incidentally, it also made it very much easier for visitors to walk around with much greater facility and in greater comfort.

The whole question of crowd control is something over which we are still at a primitive stage in this country. We do not deal with it in the same way as, for example, America, and with the increasing number of tourists it is very important to have more control under this Bill. This also applies to houses. Some of them, such as houses recently bought by the Government, like Baddesley Clinton, a small manor house, and Kelmscott, William Morris's old house, cannot take a tremendous weight of visitors at any one time because of wearing out the fabric of the house. It seems to me to be a very good step forward to have both improved access on the one hand and, on the other, the opportunity to control it, both in the built-up historic areas—environment—and also in the countryside. Therefore, I beg to move Amendment No. 14.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Baroness Wootton of Abinger)

Amendment No. 14 is alternate to Amendment No. 12. The noble Baroness will take Amendment No. 14 in order when it comes.


With the permission of the Committee, I can speak to Amendment No. 12 of the noble Duke and the noble Earl and also to Amendments Nos. 13 and 14 which stand in the names of the noble Baronesses opposite and the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge. As I have said, I should like to take all these amendments together.

The Committee will know that the question of the trustees having power to control or restrict public access to items they help to acquire was fully debated in another place. At that time the Government made clear that, in our view, the clause as drafted adequately covered the possibility that the trustees might wish to help with the acquisition of, say, a nature reserve or a small manor house to which it would clearly be undesirable to admit vast hordes of visitors. Your Lordships will recall that I stressed this point in my opening speech during the Second Reading debate.

Clause 3(3) only requires the trustees to have regard to the desirability of securing or improving public access, a sentiment which would, I am sure, have the support of the Committee in the majority of cases. But it lays no rsponsibility on the trustees always to insist on such access. If they were to feel restrictions on access are desirable, they could just as easily make this a condition of grant. Strictly speaking, therefore, these amendments are unnecessary.

Nevertheless, the Government recognise the strength of your Lordships' feelings on this question and we are prepared to concede that some declaratory phrase be included in this clause to reflect this concern. However, I fear we must resist the amendments tabled by the noble Duke, the Duke of Grafton, and the noble Earl, Lord Wemyss, for two reasons. First, in the Government's view the word "reasonable" is rather weak. We must expect people to be reasonable and, not least, the trustees on whom we intend to place so much responsibility for the preservation of our heritage. Second, the Government wish to retain the idea that public access should, in appropriate cases, be improved and this would be lost if we accepted the proposed amendments.

We think it is right that in deciding to give grant the trustees should consider whether public access to the item in question can be improved. We are, after all, talking about preserving the heritage for public benefit. If we are to make clear that the trustees should consider restricting public access in some cases, it seems appropriate that they should also be required to consider improving it in others. I therefore hope that the noble Duke and the noble Earl will agree to withdraw their amendments.

This leaves us with the amendments proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, and by the noble Baronesses, Lady Birk and Lady Stedman. I am delighted to be able to say that the Government would wish to accept this amendment. I think it should lay to rest the fears that many have felt about the need, in certain circumstances, to control public access, and we welcome it.


I support Amendment No. 12. Here we come up against the word "reasonable". This is a word which is used in statutes, and I prefer it because the word "improving" might mean that you could build a great tar-macadam road to the point of interest. One cannot always guarantee what Governments will do. That might very well spoil the amenities. I prefer here the word "reasonable".

If we may go back to Amendment No. 5, I thought that the Committee dealt rather hardly with my noble friend on the Front Bench. We had a big debate on the word otherwise Several noble Lords, especially the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, described the word "otherwise", which is in the Bill, as "a complete nonsense"—or words to that effect. If one finds the word "reasonable" in statutes, I cannot see the word otherwise" is any wider than the word "reasonable". Noble Lords may not quite understand what I am getting at.


Is the noble Viscount aware that the Government have asked that this amendment should be withdrawn in order that the next amendments can be accepted? Is he saying that he is not in agreement with the second amendment? If not, he is wasting our time.


No, I agree with it, but I thought that the Government were accepting Amendment No. 14.


I hope that they are.


I thought that they were not accepting Amendment No. 12.


That is right.


We are not accepting Amendment No. 12, but we are accepting Amendments Nos. 13 and 14.


I understand. Therefore I will sit down. I am content.

The Duke of GRAFTON

In view of the noble Lord's very friendly acceptance of these amendments, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.45 p.m.

Baroness BIRK moved Amendments Nos. 13 and 14:

Page 3, line 5, leave out ("or").

Page 3, line 5, at end insert ("or controlling").

The noble Baroness said: I beg to move Amendments Nos. 13 and 14 en bloc. I should like to thank both the Minister and the Government very much indeed for accepting these amendments.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord DONALDSON of KINGSBRIDGE moved Amendment No. 15: Page 3, line 7, leave out subsection (4).

The noble Lord said: We are going awfully slowly, so I shall be rather fast on this amendment—or I shall try to be. I think that the subsection that I am asking to be withdrawn is quite ridiculous. Who would lend money to somebody they would not give money to, and who would give money to somebody they would not lend money to? The test of financial stability is exactly the same in both cases, so the distinction is foolish. It is just as easy to assist the heritage by lending money at no interest, or even at interest, as it is to assist the heritage by giving money.

Secondly, what on earth has it got to do with the Treasury? If the Bill had said, "Without consultation with the Ministers" I should have objected, but not half so much as I object to bringing back the Treasury again. The glorious thing about this Bill—the Treasury are just as pleased as we are about it—is that we have got the Treasury right out of it. For goodness' sake let us keep them right out of it! I beg to move.


The Government do not envisage that the trustees will often wish to make use of their power to give assistance by way of a loan rather than a grant. Certainly we would not wish them to regard giving a loan as the easy option in marginal cases, on the basis that over a period the money would be repaid so that, in effect, it could be recycled for heritage purposes. It will be important that before giving a loan the trustees are fully satisfied that it will be repaid, otherwise it is simply a grant by another name, which clearly will not have been the trustees' intention.

It is in this area that the Treasury can help, in assessing the recipient's future cash flow projections and in determining the period of repayment and the rate of interest, if any, which would be reasonable. We think it right and proper that this should be so, as it will be monies provided by Parliament which will be involved.

There is no reason to anticipate difficulties arising between the trustees and the Treasury. If—and I stress the word "if"—they did, then the last word would always rest with the trustees since they could decide to proceed by way of grant if their proposals for a loan were unacceptable. But we do not expect this to happen. It is not a question of the dead hand of the Treasury seeking to frustrate the wishes of the trustees. It is, as I have said, a matter of ensuring that the trustees and their small staff are not misled into believing that a loan represents an easy option in marginal cases.

There was a lively debate on this point in Committee in another place, and the Bill now makes it clear beyond doubt that the trustees will be able to make interest-free loans. However, it would in the Government's view be most unwise to go further and leave the trustees alone with the responsibility of deciding whether, on financial grounds, assistance in a particular case should be given by way of loan. Therefore I hope the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, will withdraw his amendment.

Baroness BIRK

Before my noble friend replies I should like to make one point. In the subsection as it is now—and this was put in to the Bill in another place—it says "Interest (if any) on any such loan" and the noble Lord has made quite a lot of the point that, as I understand it, they would be able to make a loan at a low rate of interest. I find that extremely doubtful. I really cannot envisage the Treasury giving permission for a loan at a low rate of interest. I just cannot see it happening and in fact in another place in Standing Committee F, Official Report col. 99, the Minister said: The trustees can say 'if the Treasury will not let us make a loan we will give a grant'.". I think this is an incentive for the trustees to be more or less forced to give grants rather than to make loans. When I was dealing with this area in the department I was anxious that the Historic Buildings Council should, where possible, make loans rather than give grants. There were circumstances where they could and the recipient would have been happy with that position, but the trouble was that the Treasury rate of interest made it almost impossible and people were not prepared to accept it. So the situation at the moment will be exactly the same unless this subsection is deleted.

Since the Government made great play about unfettered discretion for the trustees—and obviously they will be sensible people and members of this fund—it should be left to them and they should have this opportunity. If they go berserk, which I cannot imagine happening, the Government would have to withdraw this, but I just cannot see why they should not be able to make loans rather than to give grants, which is really an uneconomic stance for a Government which is anxious for us all to make economies.


What is the point of the Government appointing trustees and then not trusting them? They will not get the right trustees if they are not prepared to give them reasonable freedom of action on their own responsibility. There is no point in keeping them on leading strings and I hope the Government will think again about this.


I really must support the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, and the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, on this particular amendment. It seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, has arrived at the committee today with a difficulty for every solution. He told us earlier how very important it was not to include any unnecessary words whatsoever in the Bill. Now, by his own words, he has made it utterly clear that this subsection is unnecessary. He has told us over and over again how sensible the trustees will be; he has told us that the trustees will be entirely free to seek the advice of the Treasury, and he himself has demonstrated that this subsection is not necessary. If, as he says, we should not include unnecessary words in the Bill, why does he resist us when we try to help him to remove some?


I should like just to reply to the noble Lord's answer to my amendment. Of course, I read the report of the discussion in the other place very carefully, and it was because the Government's answer was so totally unsatisfactory that I have raised the matter again. The noble Lord really did not answer with the frankness that we have come to expect from him. This does not say, as he implied, that the trustees shall not make a loan under this clause except after consultation with the Treasury, which would be an obvious thing to do anyway. It says "except with the consent of the Treasury". I object totally to this, and if the noble Lord cannot take it back and alter it I think we should divide on it because it is against the whole basis of the new world that this Bill is bringing in.


I think there is one point that the Committee have not fully grasped. This is not meant to be the Treasury acting as Big Brother stopping the trustees from using their powers. The trustees are people of great common sense in the world of art. They are not financial experts; they are not in a position to assess the financial stability of the people to whom the loan is being made. This is where the Treasury is reckoned to be useful. It is the Treasury's interest in whether it is financially prudent to make that loan. They will not be particularly interested in the rates of interest; it is the mere fact of whether it is a prudent loan. It might be that their advice would be that these were not worthwhile people, their cash flow was not suitable, and it would have to be a grant or nothing.


But the advice that is being laid down to posterity is absolutely incredible. We should not give a cash loan to somebody who is economically not viable. That is absolutely ridiculous. The whole business of the trustees is to look at the people to whom money is being given, to see whether things are properly run and proper accounts are kept; and every now and again, if they wish to do so, they can consult the Treasury. What we are objecting to is that the Government are saying that something should be done with the consent of the Treasury, and then they say that this is not meant for the Treasury to forbid. It may not be meant to, but like so many other things in this Bill, that is what it does.


Obviously the Committee feels strongly on this. The intent was good but I will take this back and have it looked at.


In return for that—so long as the noble Lord will give it what is known as "a good looking at"—I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments 16 and 17 not moved.]


Amendment No. 18 should be taken after Amendment 19 because they were unfortunately printed in the wrong order.

5.56 p.m.

Lord TEVIOT moved Amendment 19: Page 3, line 29, after ("gallery") insert ("record repository").

The noble Lord said: This Amendment asks for the words "record repositories" to be added to museums and art galleries as eligible recipients for grants. Before I go any further, I should make it quite clear that assurance has already been given by a Minister in the other place, Mr. Hector Munro, that record offices are within the scope of "other similar institution". I suppose I should bear in mind what has already been said about unnecessary words, but I still feel that "record repositories" are necessary words.

The reason for adding these words is to make the position entirely clear. For a few moments I shall endeavour to explain what a record repository is; how in character it differs from a museum or art gallery. I shall take the second point first. The main purpose, surely, of museums and art galleries is to preserve works of art and antiquity for display and study, whereas the function of a record office or a repository is to preserve the nation's historic records and documents for research by the public. Their display is very much a subsidiary activity.

Archives and records are an integral and essential evidence for the knowledge and understanding of the historical heritage of this nation. Their importance has been recognised by the acceptance for the country of the Blenheim archives and the papers of the first Duke of Wellington, for example, and also by the public concern that was shown over the sale of the estate archives from Warwick Castle. It is well known that collections of historic documents are in danger from dispersal and export.

There is at least one record office in every county in England and Wales—with one exception—and there are archive departments of universities and other learned institutions in the United Kingdon, amounting to about 230 to 250, whose aims include the systematic collection and preservation of records to make them available to the public. It is strongly felt by the archival profession that all this should be recognised. Another point worth mentioning is that archives and records are managed by persons who have taken diplomas as well as degrees in a subject, which count as professional qualifications.

The words "record repository" have been chosen to embrace all kinds of records. One has toyed with the words "archive repository", "record office" and even "muniments", but I have chosen "record repository" as being the term used in the directory Records Repositories in Great Britain, published for the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts by HMSO, now in its sixth edition having been first published in 1964. I hope my noble friend will be able to accept this amendment. As I have said, there is a need to give recognition to the importance of records, which are primary sources of historic learning. I beg to move.


The position here is similar to that we have already discussed as regards the words "archaeological" and "restoration". In other words, these words add nothing to the Bill which cannot already be done under its powers. We are advised that archive and record offices are already covered, both in Clause 3(7)(a) and in Clause 16(2)(a), by the words "museum, art gallery or other similar institution", and that the Government amendments which I have tabled which add "library" to the list reinforce this. I am sorry this amendment has been moved out of order, because it would have been easier for the noble Lord had we done it in the order that we had planned.

There is absolutely no doubt that record repositories are already covered. However, if we now proceeded to add them explicitly to the list we should have quite a mouthful and we should have the unfortunate side effect that the more specific drives out the general. In other words, the words "other similar institution" can at present be construed quite broadly because all the members are described in general terms. But if we mention specifically a type of body which is already covered we have to interpret the words "other similar institutions" much more narrowly. This could have very unfortunate effects in the future when some marginal cases come to be considered by the trustees. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will accept my assurance that record repositories are already adequately safeguarded, and that he would not wish to be the cause of excluding others and will therefore withdraw his amendment.


I shall withdraw the amendment, but I would like to say very strongly that I do think a record repository is something quite different, and I do not really accept the argument that it would narrow the category of "other similar institutions". I can think of a lot of other similar institutions. But this has gone around the mill in the other place and I am not going to waste the Committee's time by pressing it here. I would just say I am sorry it has not been accepted, and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No.18: Page 3, line 29, leave out from ("gallery") to ("a") in line 31 and insert (", library or other similar institution having as its purpose or one of its purposes the preservation for the public benefit of").

The noble Lord said: I would like to speak, in moving Amendment No. 18, to Amendments Nos. 21, 24, 33, 41, 42, 45 and 47. This is a very complicated set of amendments, with a very simple purpose. It was always the intention that the trustees should be able to assist private non-profit making libraries—such as cathedral libraries. But the explicit references to public libraries and university libraries in Clause 3(7)(b) implied that private libraries were excluded. So we propose to add the word "library" to 3(7)(a) and to remove the explicit references to public libraries and university libraries in 3(7)(b) and 3(9).

This has consequential effects on Clause 9(2), where we no longer need to refer back to the separate category of recipient in 3(7)(6), and in Clause 16(2), where we can no longer refer back to an earlier full definition of the libraries covered and we have therefore to reinstate the definition in full here. There are other purely technical drafting changes to Clause 19.

I should also direct your Lordships' attention to the widening of the terms of 3(7)(a) and 16(2)(a), which now cover institutions having as their purpose or one of their purposes the preservation for the public benefit of a collection. The previous wording restricted the scope to those institutions which existed wholly or mainly to preserve such collections. It could not be argued that a university library or a local authority library existed wholly or mainly for such a purpose, but in so far as they did maintain a collection of historic, artistic or scientific interest clearly this would be one of their purposes. I beg to move.


I think we will all join in welcoming this amendment and its consequences. As somebody who has taken a very great interest in libraries, I am particularly pleased. I think it is perfectly clear from the words the noble Lord used that Lord Teviot's amendment is covered by what has just been said. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, will think so too.


I thank the noble Lord for referring to that. It does cover it, but I would also like to say that again a library is a very different place from na archive. A library is very much concerned with books—I hate to state the obvious—to be referred to either for lending or for reference. An archive is a place of primary source and if there are books in an archive they are there only for reference to help with the archives. But I do take the point, and I am glad that my noble friend has moved this amendment, because if he had not moved this amendment libraries would have come under "other similar institutions".

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 20 not moved.]

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No. 21: Page 3, line 33, leave out paragraph (b).

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 22 not moved.]

6.7 p.m.

Lady SALTOUN moved Amendment No. 23:

Page 4, line 14, at end insert (";and (g) the proprietor of any land, building, structure, object or collection or group of objects, falling within subsection (1) above.").

The noble Lady said: I beg to move Amendment No. 23. I propose this amendment purely as a safety net, and I hope a very temporary one. All of us who are concerned at the imminent fate of many of the smaller and more awkward houses which are of importance to our heritage, hope that in the forthcoming Finance Bill there will be some provision for tax relief on maintenance costs. But should this not happen this year, this amendment is designed to empower the trustees to help out urgent cases pending the legislation that we really so desperately need. It might save the struggling owners of these properties from giving up at a time when real help may be just around the corner. If do not envisage that expenditure of a very considerable sum would be involved in any particular case, but the sums, which might be "peanuts" to the trustees, might be too large for private owners to find. Naturally, in the event of the fiscal legislation we are hoping for, the trustees, being trustworthy people, would cease to give assistance of this kind to private proprietors.


I appreciate the idea behind this amendment. It is of course to seek to maintain as much of the national heritage as possible in private hands; to enable private owners to maintain their houses and contents intact; to avoid their being dispersed, sold abroad or acquired at vast expense by the State. There are, however, already provisions which deal with this, and which cover expenditure incurred on the advice of the Historic Buildings Councils, and tax reliefs administered by the Inland Revenue and the Treasury. The amendment would go much wider than that and would allow the trustees to provide assistance to anyone who was the owner of an object of outstanding heritage quality, even to help such people to acquire more. This would widen the field of potential activity of the trustees enormously and into a situation where they had to spread their assistance very thinly indeed. Their supply of "peanuts" is very limited. This fund is not intended to provide that kind of help. Its primary task will be to assist in the acquisition of truly outstanding property, and the eligible recipients of the funds are therefore restricted to nonprofit-making bodies and institutions which might wish to acquire land or objects.

There is a further serious objection which I should mention. Your Lordships will be aware that it is the Government's intention to provide that the fund shall be treated for tax purposes no worse than a charity, though it does not in fact qualify for charitable status. The relevant tax reliefs from corporation tax, CGT, CTT, and stamp duty will be provided in this year's Finance Bill, as my right honourable friend the Minister of State at the Treasury promised during the Report stage of this Bill in another place. Rate relief is provided in the Bill itself. I must advise the Committee that this very important concession is dependent on the fund remaining very similar to a charity. If it were able to make grants to private persons for their own property this would take it so far away from the charitable field that the Government would have to reconsider the desirability of granting these tax reliefs.

The amendment is based on a misapprehension of the nature and purposes of the new fund and could, as I have explained, jeopardise its claim to an important range of tax reliefs on its income, its capital gains and capital transfers to it. Therefore, I hope that the noble Lady will agree to withdraw it.

The Earl of WEMYSS and MARCH

Before the noble Lady withdraws the amendment, as I think she will, may I say that I am sure that many of your Lordships are extremely grateful to her for so widening the scope of the debate for a few minutes and drawing your Lordships' attention to what is really, when we boil it down, far more important than the National Heritage Memorial—or otherwise—Fund. I am very happy indeed that the noble Lady has drawn from the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray, the assurances that he has just given about the protection and fostering of the heritage in private hands, to which we all look forward in a favourable Budget.


I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 23.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No. 24: Page 4, line 21, leave out subsection (9).

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 24. I have already spoken to this amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 3, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness STEDMAN

I hestiate to intervene at this stage because I realise that the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray, has rather a lot on his plate this afternoon. However, I hope that he might be in a position to give the Committee some information about the guidelines that will be laid down for the trustees. On two or three occasions this afternoon he has said that "this" or "that" will be covered by guidelines. I asked a rather long series of questions for ideas of the sort of things that might be used as guidelines for the trustees. The noble Lord did not reply on Second Reading and I have not heard from him in writing. If he is not in a position to reply this afternoon, may I ask whether he would write to me between now and the Report stage?


I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman. I am in rather the same position as the noble Baroness: I know a little, but I do not know the whole.

Baroness STEDMAN

Am I to take it that the noble Lord may know the whole before the Report stage and will write to me?


I cannot guarantee that, but I would hope so. Obviously, if we are to get the Bill on the statute book by 1st or 3rd April, whenever it may be, the guidelines will have to be hurried up somewhat. I shall try to make sure that they come my way before the Report stage.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 [Other expenditure out of the Fund]:

[Amendment No. 25 not moved.]

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Baroness Wootton of Abinger)

I must call your Lordships' attention to the fact that if Amendment No. 26 is agreed to, I shall not be able to call Amendment No. 27.

6.14 p.m.

Lord REIGATE moved Amendment No. 26: Page 4, line 37, leave out subsection(3).

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 26. It might be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss Amendments Nos. 26 and 28 together because they are, in effect, the same. I shall be very brief. I echo the words of my noble friend Lord Cottesloe on an earlier occasion, when he said, "Trust the trustees". This provision seems to me an unnecessary shackle to be imposed on what I think is going to be a most reputable body of people. I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, has another amendment down allowing a freedom for 12 months; but I really do not see why even that impediment is necessary, and I should like to see it removed altogether. I shall leave the matter at that. I beg to move.


With the permission of the Committee I should like to speak to four amendments, Amendments Nos. 26, 27, 28 and 29. That will save the Committee's time as it is getting rather late. I understand the various amendments. However, I should like to say that the Government are not convinced that we should accept the proposed change.

While I think that the Government have fully honoured their undertaking to give the trustees unfettered discretion in the operation of the fund we believe that, where the holding of property is concerned, giving total discretion to the trustees is neither necessary nor desirable—even for a limited period of time. It is not necessary because we do not believe that there will ever arise a case where the trustees have to respond within a matter of minutes—or even within a matter of hours or days.

As far as land and buildings are concerned, it is the nature of transactions to be ponderous and slow. This does not mean that a fairly early commitment to purchase is not sometimes necessary, but the Government know of no case where such a commitment was required so quickly that, had the trustees been involved, they would not have been able to obtain the permission of Ministers. And, though your Lordships have suggested that the trustees may need to move quickly to acquire works of art from auction rooms, the Government believe that in the vast majority of cases involving works of art of importance to the heritage, museums and galleries in this country would already be attempting to acquire them and would have approached the trustees for help.

It must be remembered, too, that a list of the items which are to appear at auction is nearly always available several months in advance of the auction date—when the catalogue is published—so that even if no museum or gallery showed interest in a particular case, the trustees would have plenty of warning and could seek the necessary approval of Ministers if they wished to acquire the item themselves.

The Government also believe that it is undesirable for the trustees to have these powers, particularly in respect of buildings and land. All those concerned with preserving historic buildings will know only too well of the expense involved in repairs and maintenance—expense which could be a significant drain on the resources available to the new fund. Some will also know that once an historic building has been acquired it is sometimes very difficult, even with the best will in the world, to dispose of it as soon as might be wished. We do not want the trustees to become burdened with such a responsibility unless we have also had an opportunity to consider and to discuss with the trustees whether any alternative means of saving the item exists.

Your Lordships will also appreciate that, if the amendments were accepted, and the trustees were to acquire a property which they could not get rid of within 12 months, Ministers would effectively be presented with a fait accompli—confronted with no choice but to endorse and perhaps underwrite a decision in which they had had no voice. We do not wish to be put in this position and therefore consider that it is entirely reasonable to require the trustees to obtain Ministers' permission before making an acquisition themselves or accepting a gift of property.

I hope that your Lordships will accept the reasoning behind the Government's refusal to give way on this and that the noble Lord and the other noble Lords and noble Baronesses who have not yet moved their amendments will see fit, in due course, not to press them.

Baroness BIRK

I wonder whether it would help the Committee, as we are taking these amendments together, if I spoke to my Amendment No. 27. I shall be brief because I am conscious that time is going by, and the one thing that we do not want to do is to lose the Bill by drawing out the proceedings. I do not altogether go along with the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Reigate, mainly because if there is no time limit, I do not think that it has a chance at all. I should like to see the trustees having a certain amount of discretion, in the event—it may be the very rare event—when they have to step in very quickly to get a picture or house, where negotiations take time, otherwise it might be lost.

We must be practical about this. Ministers are extremely busy people. Although they may feel strongly about a particular matter often it gets to the bottom of a box; and, in the case of a Cabinet Minister it can be the bottom of the third box. Therefore, decisions can be held up. Again—and I am sorry to keep coming back to this, but it is still on my mind—we have only to look at how three Government departments managed to delay as long as they did over the whole problem of Mentmore. Really the question is one where speed is necessary. I do not think for one moment that the trustees will use their discretion ad lib. They should not be holding objects or property—indeed, they will not want to do so; there is no point in it. However, I think that there should be this discretion in the odd case.

6.20 p.m.

The Earl of WEMYSS and MARCH

We are grateful to be allowed to discuss the four amendments, Nos. 26, 27, 28 and 29, because they are all bound together. The noble Lord, Lord Reigate, has said that the phrase "trust the trustees" was becoming a cliché, but it cannot be said too often. We shall surely see very responsible people appointed to this job, so why cannot they be left to improve their procedures and to get on with their responsible job?—as has been promised by the Government on numerous occasions. Can we not leave the timing and the tactics to the trustees?

This is a much larger principle than the comparatively detailed points about which the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, has told us, although they also are important. I am not so much frightened about the question of movables—chattels—because admittedly, as has been said somewhere, the trustees can give a grant to the X or Y museum and it can buy the object. It is heritage land and buildings that cause the trouble. There again, it is not so much the big cases (the conceivable other Mentmores) but the smaller properties, nature reserves, parts of coastline and so on where the good offices of the trustees—without being fettered by Ministers, and according to the experience which both the National Trusts have had—will very often be required to secure an acceptable solution to this sort of problem.

Let us suppose that in the recent story of Iona the Argyl trustees had really been in a hurry and that the national heritage trustees could perhaps have come in, had they existed; they might have had quite some difficulty in finding someone to take it over. Yet someone had to take it over quickly. Why should they not take it over themselves? There could be a case where the owner is hesitating, where he might change his mind before Ministers return from being on hoilday, or wherever they are, or before the necessary process of obtaining ministerial consent—looking at all the accounts and everything else—is completed. This is even more important in the case of Clause 5—that is, the acceptance of gifts—than it is in the case of purchasing. To be unable to buy without Ministers' consent is bad enough, but to have to be churlish in refusing to accept a gift is even worse.

Thus, to keep the trustees in leading strings is surely a thoroughly bad idea, and I am afraid will very often cause the price of whatever is to be bought to rise. Let the trustees please get away from the aura of Government, politics and all that and, if I may say so without offence, the aura of the Treasury in which this business of the preservation of the heritage has been sunk for far too long. Can we not trust the trustees?


I should like to endorse that. As a Minister, it has been my business to deal with chattels, and it may often be desirable to decide to buy a chattel on behalf of an institution, or to give an institution money towards buying a chattel, before the institution knows where the rest of the money will come from. This kind of thing has to be done from time to time. It is entirely desirable that the trustees should not become collectors. I quite agree with a time limit, but we must demand a time limit; they must be allowed to buy and keep for a period. In relation to real property I think that a year would be the minimum, but in relation to chattels my own view is that three months would be sufficient. However, it would probably be less trouble to have both periods the same. This is extremely important.


For the reasons I gave, the Government do not want the trustees to have unfettered discretion in this case. The noble Earl, Lord Wemyss and March, said that he found the gift aspect particularly stuck in his gullet. As he will know, in the Bill we allow unconditional gifts, but we have all heard of gifts which are conditional and which are nothing but white elephants. The Government do not wish to see the trustees put in a position of that sort. I think that this is reasonable. In these days of telephonic communication there is no problem. Very seldom is it that all Ministers are away or off-duty; nearly always there is someone about. As I said earlier, these important matters do not normally arise overnight.


My noble friend galloped through his remarks on my amendment with such speed and fervour that I am not sure that I took the purport of all his remarks on board. Therefore, I propose to withdraw my amendment, and I hope that we might return to the battle, in some form or another, on a further occasion.

The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, referred to Mentmore where she suffered a "desolating experience", if I may quote a remark made by an honourable Member in another place. I remember the case very well indeed and she was in great difficulty. My noble friend must appreciate that any efforts I made were in order to give the power of immediate decision to someone who was not hedged in, if I may say so, by politics. That is the whole point. It was not a question of anyone going away on a summer holiday. It was a question of someone taking a decision, and jolly quickly. However, I shall reconsider his remarks; but at the same time I must say that when it comes to white elephants, I think that the trustees will know much more about white elephants than does the Treasury. I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness BIRK had given Notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 27: Page 4, line 38, after ("section") insert ("for longer than 12 months").

The noble Baroness said: In view of what the Minister has said to the noble Lord, Lord Reigate, I take it that matters are so intertwined that he will look at both amendments. In that case, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 28 and 29 not moved.]

Clause 5 agreed to.

[Amendments No. 30 and 31 not moved.]

6.28 p.m.

Baroness BIRK moved Amendment No. 32: After Clause 8, insert the following new clause:

"Evaluation of, and consultation on pre-eminence in historic settings

.Where an object or collection or group of objects is formally offered in satisfaction of tax the Ministers shall obtain advice from those experts that appear to them to be appropriate as to any significant association of any such property with a particular place and where they are advised that such a significant association exists they shall consult with the Trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund as to whether it is desirable for such property to be accepted with a view to its being, or continuing to be, kept in that place.".

The noble Baroness said: This group of amendments is concerned with preeminent objects and objects in situ. I have been made aware of the widespread feeling in the historic houses world that these matters should be made clear on the face of the Bill. Although I certainly do not doubt the Government's good intentions as expressed in Clause 9(5), which has made a tremendous difference to the approach to this whole subject, the point which motivates all these amendments is not yet specifically spelled out. I do not want to enter into, nor am I any party to, a battle—a sort of Wars of the Roses—between the historic houses world and the museums. When I was Minister in the Department of the Environment I was fortunate to have the happy task of dealing both with historic houses and with museums. Certainly in the museum world I made many friends and achieved as much satisfaction as I did when I dealt with historic houses.

I know that the directors of national museums are apprehensive about this being spelled out even more, but I do not think they need be. Let me take the case of a very important picture where it could be argued that it had an association with the house, with the significant place, but at the same time was so magnificent or unique that the proper resting place for it should be in a pre-eminent place in a gallery or museum. In spite of different attitudes being adopted on certain objects or property between the Minister for the Arts and perhaps his colleagues from Environment, I believe that in this case the trustees would be the people to arbitrate, because they would not have, and should not have, a vested interest in either side of our cultural heritage.

Those who have worked in both these worlds know what can be achieved by these close associations between museums and historic houses in their vicinity. Here we talk not only of the national museums but also of the provincial museums. This is why I think that the amendments in the name of the noble Duke, the Duke of Grafton, and my noble friend Lord Donaldson and myself, are what I would call more moderate than the amendment to be moved later on by the noble Marquess, Lord Hertford—maybe he will feel at this stage that he will withdraw that amendment in favour of these amendments.

All these amendments do is to spell out in a little more detail what is in fact in the Bill both by implication and in a wide way set out in Clause 9(5). These amendments also stress the point on disposal and also when objects or property are offered in lieu of tax. I hope the Government will feel that what I would call this moderate approach, which is really a bridging operation and a clarification, is something that can be accepted without upsetting anybody.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Lord Nugent of Guildford)

Before I put this amendment to the Committee, I should "stand part of the Bill" Clauses 6, 7, and 8, unless there is any debate noble Lords wish to initiate.

Clauses 6 to 8 agreed to.

6.32 p.m.

The Duke of GRAFTON

I apologise. I have been trying to condense five clauses to try to save time. The noble Baroness has covered some of the ground already. I must start with Amendment No. 30, which we are still on, and which slots into the Bill after Clause 5, and refers—

Baroness BIRK

It is too late.

The Duke of GRAFTON

May I go on to Amendment No. 31? With the leave of the Committee, I refer to my Amendment No. 35, which is to leave out Clause 9(5), but I really only bring this forward on the basis that your Lordships accept my new clause, Amendment No. 32, which makes it superfluous. Without my new clause, the existing Clause 9(5) is of course essential.

Finally, on this complex problem of leaving in situ, I should like to refer, with the leave of the Committee, to my Amendment No. 37 to Clause 12. The effect of my amendment is to alter wording in paragraph 17 of Schedule 4 to the Finance Act 1975, and in particular in (a) and (c) of sub-paragraph (4). Subparagraph 4 contains the provision whereby pre-eminent objects, or collections, or groups of objects, are accepted in satisfaction of tax. The important words are: pre-eminent for its national, scientific, historic, or artistic interest". It is to this that my amendment would add the words: or is pre-eminent in a particular place with which it has significant association". I am deeply conscious that a firm assurance has been given on the interpretation of the existing wording to which I have been referred by the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray, at the opening of the Second Reading debate. I hope it will not be thought that I question the good faith in the giving of that assurance. I certainly do not. The problem is that the interpretation of the words behind that assurance has been justified on the strength of words in sub-paragraph (5) of paragraph 17, to which I have already referred. It says that "national interest", includes interest within any part of the United Kingdom". That is not really clear. We are dealing here not with national interest but with historic interest. Therefore, what is contained in sub-paragraph (5) is irrelevant.

The interpretation of sub-paragraph (4) must stand on the words in that subparagraph alone, it seems. It seems to me here that there is a doubt to be resolved. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray, will be able to set all doubt at rest and assure us that the interpretation now placed on the words already in subparagraph (4) really is absolutely right. Perhaps it is not the interpretation that has changed but Government policy on leaving in situ, and that is really what all the confusion has been about. I am persuaded by my advisers that an amendment is needed, if for no other reason than the avoidance of doubt. I must apologise for having come in late and having spoken at length on this complex problem.


My noble friend made an unusual error in saying that my name was on this amendment. It certainly is not. I do not agree with what is in this amendment. I think that we are much better off to stick to Clause 9(5), which gives the in lieu situation everything they can possibly want, in my opinion. This amendment suggests that the Ministers, whose duty it is at the moment to accept objects in lieu, should before they decide what to do with them consult with the trustees. This I am totally and absolutely opposed to, because what you do not want is two lots of non-expert enthusiasts asking advice from various other people, and then coming to different conclusions. It is bad enough having two Ministers, but to have two Ministers consulting 10 trustees is simply foolish.

My experience is that the right thing to do is to go ahead as in Clause 14, when we come to it, and I shall have something to say about it then. But until we go ahead as in Clause 14, after Clause 8—that is to say in relation to objects accepted in lieu—I beg the Committee and the Government to leave it to the Ministers to make the decision. Of course they can consult whom they like. In the case of large estates I should think they will have to consult the trustees. But to say they have to do so over every old-fashioned clock, or something of that sort, is not the right way to do it. This is the first time I have had to ask that an amendment from our side of the heritage lobby, if I may so describe it, should be rejected, but I really think it is quite mistaken.

Baroness BIRK

May I apologise? I do not suppose it can be struck from the record. I made a mistake, perhaps because we skipped one or two amendments. As is absolutely clear, my noble friend and I are not in total agreement over this.

6.38 p.m.


I think I had better make it clear that I am speaking to Amendments Nos. 32 and 35. This amendment was debated in Standing Committee in another place, along with a number of other amendments designed to oblige Ministers to seek advice specifically on whether objects offered in lieu of tax should be kept in their historic setting. I have already made it clear that the Government wish to encourage the retention in situ of pre-eminent objects which have been accepted in lieu of tax, where this is consistent with the requirements of security, conservation, public access and opportunity for study.

There are two stages at which this falls to be considered: first, when the object is offered to the State and, secondly, if it is accepted by the State, when it is disposed of. The existing law is so framed as to allow the desirability of leaving objects in situ to be fully considered at both these stages. The Government added some words in Clause 9(5) in Report stage in another place, which the noble Duke wishes to delete, and which are intended to be a balanced explanation of what should happen when the objects which have been accepted come to be disposed of. The position on in situ, when objects are initially offered and assessed as to whether they are pre-eminent and can be accepted, is covered by words in the Finance Act 1975, Schedule 4, paragraph 17(4) and (5), on which I will say a little more when we come to debate the noble Duke's amendment to Clause 12.

Turning to the noble Duke's new clause to go after Clause 8, I have to advise your Lordships that this is incompatible with the acceptance in lieu procedure, for the following reasons. First, it requires Ministers to seek advice on the in situ aspect in all cases, even when, in the vast majority of the cases of objects offered in lieu, it would be quite irrelevant. The number of cases where there is any suggestion of any hint or possibility of the objects staying in situ is in fact very small and it would be a pointless task to obtain expert advice for what would be self-evident fact.

Secondly, the new clause requires the Ministers to obtain advice on the in situ point before they obtain advice on whether the object is pre-eminent. This is putting the cart before the horse. An object can be pre-eminent in its own right and it can be pre-eminent only by virtue of, or in, a historical setting. But Ministers can and do get expert advice on both these possibilities. There is no point in seeking to establish the in situ case unless the preeminence case has been established first. Thirdly, the new clause requires the Ministers to obtain the advice of the National Heritage Fund trustees on whether it should be accepted. The trustees are not experts and would have to consult experts themselves. The Ministers already consult experts, probably the same ones as the trustees would have to consult.

Finally, as regards the allocation of the object, Ministers consult now the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries and the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. These bodies will remain the appropriate bodies for advising on the allocation of objects. They are expert in themselves but can co-opt and consult other experts. They are fully sympathetic to the arguments in favour of leaving objects in situ wherever possible. They are aware of Ministers' desire to encourage this. The cases which I have mentioned as being in the pipeline testify to this.

I hope I have said enough to convince the noble Duke that the Government are at one with him in the policy that he wishes to see pursued, but that the new clause that he has tabled would not be an appropriate or effective means of achieving it.


In view of my noble friend's most friendly reception of my amendment, I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 9 [Disposal of property accepted by Commissioners]:

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No. 33: Page 6, line 39, leave out ("(b)").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

6.42 p.m.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No. 34: Page 6, line 40, after ("it") insert ("to the National Art Collections Fund or the Friends of the National Libraries if they are willing to accept it,").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is designed to provide explicitly for what has been Government policy since 1973, following a ruling by Mr. John Nott, then Minister of State at the Treasury. If a testator requests that his property should be offered in lieu of tax on condition that it is allocated to the National Art Collections Fund or the Friends of the National Libraries, then provided that the property is regarded as of pre-eminent quality, this condition can be accepted and the property can be transferred to these two bodies. The decision as to the allocation of the property to a gallery or library in the United Kingdom is then a matter for the discretion of the NACF or the FNL.

In the normal course, Ministers refer to the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries and the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts for advice on the final allocation of objects and manuscripts accepted in lieu of tax and they pay due regard, of course, to the wishes of testators and executors. But this alternative route of using the NACF or the FNL has, in law, always been available; and it has been available as a matter of policy since 1973. The Government were pressed in another place and on Second Reading in your Lordships' House to provide explicitly on the face of the Bill for this situation, and we are happy to do so. I hope my noble friend Lord Cottesloe in particular will be happy.


This is a point I raised on Second Reading and I am immensely grateful to my noble friend Lord Mowbray and Stourton for introducing this amendment to give effect to it. It will give great satisfaction to those concerned with the National Art Collections Fund and the Friends of the National Libraries to have those institutions specifically named in the Bill.


On this side of the Committee we are equally delighted at this sensible concession by the Government.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 35 not moved.]

6.44 p.m.

The Marquess of HERTFORD moved Amendment No. 36: Page 7, line 19, leave out from ("shall") to end of line 23 and insert ("direct that such object, collection or group of objects shall be or continue to be kept in that place unless they receive expert advice to the contrary.").

The noble Marquess said: I move this amendment with a good deal of hesitation and diffidence. This is such a good Bill that nobody wants to delay its passing. It will, I believe, do a lot to diminish the flow of works of art across the Atlantic or into other countries where taxation is less of a burden than it is here. What I think the Bill will not do at the moment is discourage the equally steady, and in my view almost equally regrettable, flow of works of art out of country houses and into museums.

Perhaps I should declare an interest, as I am the owner of a country house which is a tourist attraction. But I also speak as president of the Heart of England Tourist Board. The Tourist Board has a clear duty to attract tourists away from London and into the countryside, and to persuade English people to spend their holiday money here rather than abroad. Our task is made much easier by the popularity of the historic houses and castles in our area, so I hope noble Lords will forgive me if I dwell briefly on the reasons for that popularity.

Few people visit a historic house for just one reason, such as its architecture. The glory of the English country house is greater than the sum of all its parts. It is the combination of the architecture, the interior decoration, pictures, furniture, china, books, garden, park, woods and the farmland around that makes it such a very special experience and one that gives pleasure to so many millions of people. Seeing works of art in the setting for which, in many cases, they were designed, or in settings which in some cases were specially designed for them, obviously enhances their value, and if they are still in use by the family who first built and furnished the house, there is an additionally pleasing sense of history and continuity. That is why visits to historic houses and castles number about 27 million every year, and it is why the tourist trade earns more foreign currency than any other industry.

We all know how historic houses have been gradually denuded of their contents by taxation; it is a process that has been going on for the whole of this century. Some of us had hoped that our new and enlightened Government would stop this steady deterioration of one of our greatest national assets. But this Bill does not do that. All it says, in effect, is that a work of art should, or may, or might in some circumstances, be left where it belongs, provided that no museum curator or director thinks it should be in his own collection. There is not a private house in Britain which has to store works of art away in the cellar for lack of room to display them. My amendment is a modest attempt to tilt the balance just a little away from the overcrowded museums, away from London and towards the country houses.

6.50 p.m.


Anyone would think from the remarks of the noble Marquess that the National Gallery, British Museum, Tate Gallery and Walker Gallery were not great English assets. I was astonished to hear what he said, and I know he did not really mean it. Of course we must have both. We all know that. To me the satisfactory thing about the Bill is that it is putting into the hands of a jury of so-called, and we hope, cultured people the decision as to what shall be done with objects which are acquired.

The situation will be perfectly simple. If a great house has a picture that it wants to sell, first of all will a gallery want it? Secondly, will that gallery think it suitable to leave it in that house? Thirdly, will anyone else think that that gallery ought to leave it in that house? All these matters will be considered by the trustees This is the whole point of the Bill, and to make what would be an anti-museum rule, as it were, would be something which I for one could never tolerate or support for a moment.

I think that the noble Marquess has made his point that all of us want to see many fine houses lived in, with fine objects in them, and open to the public; of course we do. But there are difficulties about it. The noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, comes to mind in this regard and this kind of thing is being done absolutely admirably at three or four places. This is what we hope will happen in the future.

But with regard to the smaller objects, it must be possible for an ordinary individual who has a picture or article which he wants to sell to be able to sell it and have a museum take it, and get the trust to go some way towards financing it. I do not believe that the noble Marquess will press this amendment, but if he does, I shall certainly vote against it.


The Committee will be aware that the question of leaving objects in situ when they have been accepted in lieu of tax has already been very fully debated. The Government's position is that they favour leaving property in situ where this is consistent with security, adequate public access, conservation, and opportunity for study by scholars. We must of course remember that the property in question has been accepted by the State; it has become public property. It would not be right to leave the original owner in what was effectively full enjoyment of the property if the objects could be disposed of to better advantage for the benefit of the public as a whole.

We have to balance here the interests of the country houses, which none of us wishes to see stripped of their contents, and the interests of our national museums and galleries, which are major European cultural institutions and which aim to display fully representative collections. I was very glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, spring to their defence because they are, I think, almost second to none.

The wording which the noble Marquess is now seeking to amend was introduced after considerable debate in another place. There was no strict need to have the subsection in question, subsection (5), in the Bill at all, since Ministers already have the discretion to leave objects in situ, and indeed in certain cases are already proposing to do so. The words which were inserted in Clause 9(5) are in fact declaratory and reflect a careful balance between the interests of the country house owners and the interests of the museums The wording proposed by the noble Marquess would very slightly—as he very fairly said—move that balance towards the country house interest, and as such would be regarded by the museums as a provocation. It is important that we should be even-handed in our administration of the heritage and that neither wing of the heritage movement should antagonise the other.

The Committee will realise from what I have said that this is a very sensitive and delicate issue on which it is important that the Bill should use only the most neutral and impartial phrases. In the interests of preserving amity and co-operation within the heritage world, I ask the noble Marquess, whose reasons I fully understand and appreciate, to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness BIRK

As I said earlier, I consider that the noble Marquess has turned the whole thing on its head and has gone too far, but I think that he has done great service in spelling out this side of the problem. Having had the opportunity to visit his lovely house and to see the objects there, I can appreciate the problem. Although I personally should have liked to see something spelt out rather more clearly in the Bill and in more detail—though on the whole this is an extremely clearly drafted Bill—on the lines of the amendments that were to be moved by the noble Duke, the Duke of Grafton, I must acknowledge that we have come a long way in the appreciation of leaving objects in situ, compared with even a few years ago. I hope that this point is taken on board and looked at very carefully, and that the trustees will be aware of it. It is a balancing act, and I think that the balance has to be right. The noble Marquess is absolutely right in what he says about a house which we do not want. I think a point was made at Second Reading by the noble Baroness, Lady Airey of Abingdon, about not having houses denuded, as they are in France. At the same time there must be a flow of objects and pictures to the museums.

If at this stage, in order to help get the Bill through and on to the statute book, we rest on Clause 9(5) and give it a chance to see how it works, I am quite certain that if the balance goes wrong, or something happens regarding houses, there will be—as there should be—a very quick reaction. I say this because I feel that this is a matter which one could go on discussing and arguing ad infinitum. Frankly, while I should have preferred the noble Duke's amendment to have been accepted in some form, even if the drafting was not right, I should still rather see the Bill get on to the statute book. Therefore, I hope that the noble Marquess will withdraw his amendment, because I think that the points that he made have now been recorded, and we are all aware of them.

6.56 p.m.

The Marquess of HERTFORD

I was taken aback by what the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, said because I had not in any way meant to imply that museums are not of the utmost importance. I was, I hope, making the point that the countryside is sometimes unnecessarily impoverished of works of art of which London is quite full; most of the galleries and museums in London are very full. It seems a pity to remove and bring to London a work of art that is being enjoyed in the Provinces. Obviously, the National Gallery attracts more visitors than the average country house, but it already has more items in it.


May I interrupt the noble Marquess for a moment? The bulk of the in lieu chattels—that is to say, pictures, et cetera—over the last two years have all gone to the Provinces.

The Marquess of HERTFORD

I am delighted to hear that. I should also like to say that my amendment only very slightly tilts the balance, because it says of the Ministers, unless they receive expert advice to the contrary which of course they very often might do. I must say that I am not changing my mind as to the desirability of my amendment, but I realise that it has very little support, and so I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 9, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


I feel that I must make a few short remarks at this stage about a matter which is not mentioned in the Bill and which has not been mentioned here; namely, the current system by which the national institutions, if they are to receive an object in lieu, have to pay for it out of their grant if its cost is less than 25 per cent. of the grant, as it was, but which has now been reduced to 15 per cent. I think that there were quite good reasons for this in the past. It was frightfully important that the rich, central institutions should not be able to buy everything. But under the new system I do not think that this 15 per cent. is any longer necessary. For example, if a modern picture comes up in some place or other, and the trustees have the chance of acquiring it in lieu, it seems to me that they are just as likely to give it to the Whitechapel Gallery as to the Tate Gallery. Equally, if a fine masterpiece comes up, the trustees are just as likely to give it to Cardiff as to the National Gallery; in fact, I should have thought more likely. If the trustees do not do this kind of thing, they will not be any good and we shall have to change them.

To keep the 15 per cent.—which because museums are very conscious of their need for purchasing objects is something which they resent very much—would be a great pity. I believe that the coming of the Bill gives the Government a chance—I think that it can be removed without legislation—to wipe this arrangement off altogether as soon as the trustees are appointed, and I hope very much that they will be able to do so.


We are well aware of the concern of the museums and galleries about the 15 per cent. rule of reimbursement to the National Land Fund if a national collection is allocated an object which costs less than 15 per cent. of its annual purchase grant. We are considering the recommendation of the Expenditure Committee of the other place that the rule should be abolished. I hope the noble Lord will not press me too hard on this question, as I hope an announcement of the Government's decision will be made before very long.


I am most grateful to the noble Lord.

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 [Approval of property for acceptance in satisfaction of tax]:

7.2 p.m.

The Duke of GRAFTON moved Amendment No. 37:

Page 8, line 16, at end insert— ("( ) in sub-paragraph (4) (approval by Treasury of objects to be accepted), in paragraphs (a) and (c) after the words "artistic interest" there shall be inserted the words "or is pre-eminent in a particular place with which it has significant association"").

The noble Duke said: I beg to move the insertion of this paragraph on page 8, line 16. I have already spoken on the subject. I just think that it is an improvement on the existing wording. I beg to move.


This, we think, is an unnecessary amendment, in that the law already provides that when objects are assessed for their pre-eminence they may be regarded as pre-eminent even if they are pre-eminent only in a particular setting. This interpretation of the law has always been accepted by the Treasury, and there are cases currently in the pipeline which have been accepted under this interpretation. However, I accept that the amendment proposed here by the noble Duke may be a useful clarification, and I should like to have a further opportunity to study it with the benefit of the advice of the parliamentary draftsman.

One problem which the amendment may produce is that if we add these words we may be obliged, under the canons of legal construction, to interpret the existing words differently; and this may, for example, deprive us of the power to assess objects as pre-eminent in relation to a local, as opposed to a national, collection. This would be an unfortunate narrowing of the existing scope of the law, and contrary to Government policy. If the noble Duke will consent to withdraw his amendment, I undertake to consider the words he has suggested, without commitment, and if they have merit I will table a Government amendment on Report.


Perhaps I may say that I think the amendment is something which must be very seriously considered, and I am very glad that the noble Lord said that it will be. We all remember the case of the Doddington Reynolds, which fits this exactly. It was quite wrong that it should have worked out the way it has, and I hope that this amendment, or something that the noble Lord will be able to do, will put that right.

The Duke of GRAFTON

In view of the kindly reply of my noble friend, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 [Transfer of Ministerial functions]:

[Amendment No. 38 not moved.]

The EARL of WEMYSS and MARCH moved Amendment No. 39:

Page 9, line 16, at end insert— ("(4) A draft Order in Council shall be laid before each House of Parliament within three years of the bringing into force of section 8 above transferring the functions of the Ministers with respect to the acceptance of land in satisfaction of tax.").

The noble Earl said: I am in a slight difficulty here as one does not wish to say anything unkind about what has been said in that other place which we normally speak of as though it was the only other place, but certain people are rather worried about the effects of a rather indirect thing that happened there. It can be found recorded in Hansard at column 1434 of 30th January, which was at the Report stage in that other place, when a promise was apparently given that an order bringing into force the Section 8 which is referred to in my amendment would never be moved unless the museum people—those who are concerned with museums—gave their consent, so to speak. This is rather worrying for those of us (and this surely includes all your Lordships) who are concerned, not only with things that might go to museums but with land and the buildings upon it. Therefore, the amendment which stands in my name concerns itself only with land—land of course includes buildings—and says nothing whatever about chattels or moveables.

The demand of this amendment, if your Lordships see fit to pass it, is that within three years there shall be brought before each House of Parliament a draft Order in Council transferring the functions of the Ministers to the new trustees—that is, taking the thing out of Part II and putting it into Part I—but only in respect to the acceptance of land, including, as I say, buildings. This leaves the moveables and the chattels and the museum interest, unless they consent, where it is put in the Bill. So far as I know, nobody who is concerned with land and buildings dissents from this, though I stand to be corrected. The desire is to have the whole business of acceptance in lieu, acceptance of gifts, purchasing and all other means of acquisition under one responsibility; namely, that of the new trustees, whom we must trust, and trust to build up their own comprehensive centre of intelligence and contact all round.

Of course, if this draft order is laid before the Houses of Parliament it may be turned down, but at least there will be a chance for the matter to be discussed. Of course, also, this will mean, if it is agreed to, redividing the available money and transferring something more to the trustees, but leaving, surely, sufficient still, under the Part II acceptance in lieu arrangements, for dealing with the museum interests, objects and moveables. Accordingly, I beg to move.


I should like to give qualified support to the noble Earl's amendment. Our belief when we were in Government was that the right solution to this is contained in Clause 14, and that the final structure of the trustees and their funds should be that they deal with everything, as the noble Earl said. At that time I do not think the museums were very apprehensive. In any case, the Government fell, so we never got to final discussions with them. I hope that this will happen in the end, but, of course, I would not support doing this against the museums' open objections. I think one has to get round those or else postpone doing it.

The noble Earl is suggesting that three years is long enough, and that if the Minister for the Arts cannot get the museums to agree to a system of this kind within the three years then the heritage be divided, one hopes temporarily, between real property and chattels, roughly speaking. I must say that I have a certain sympathy with that. I feel pretty certain that the noble Lord will not be able to accept this. I am not quite sure why, but I feel pretty certain that he will not, and I certainly do not want to divide on it. However, I think the fact that the noble Earl has put this forward and has given his reasons, and that we from this side have agreed with his reasons, though not necessarily with his solution, may take the whole thing a stage further.


Part II of the Bill transfers responsibility for acceptance of property in lieu of tax from the Treasury to the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and, as the noble Lord has said, Clause 14 provides that, if the Government so decide, they can transfer the responsibility on from the Ministers to the National Heritage Fund trustees without recourse to any further primary legislation. The transfer from the Treasury to the departmental Ministers will be a significant change, which will be carefully monitored; and, once the new system has been in operation for a year or two and has settled down, we shall review it to see whether it should be maintained under Ministers or transferred on to the trustees. In this review we shall have to consider the views of the various elements in the heritage world, who it is well known, as has been said, do not all see eye to eye on this point.

I gladly give an assurance that the Government will undertake such a review well within three years from the start of the new system, but it would be wrong, we think, to prejudge the outcome of that review or to oblige the Government to proceed, within a particular deadline, to implement their decisions.

The Earl of WEMYSS and MARCH

I think I understand what the noble Lord is saying, but could he make it a little clearer that the promise apparently given at second-hand in the other place (and it is difficult to say that without discourtesy) that the museum interests would be able to block what the land and buildings heritage interest wants, is really not so? And that the review that the noble Lord promises will, if necessary, override that apparent promise to the contrary given in another place? If that is so, I will withdraw the amendment.


I am not willing to give a firm assurance on a hypothesis. We have said that we will consider all the views of the various elements. It would be wrong to anticipate a misconception because, if we do so, it will encourage it. I anticipate that there will be harmony.


I think we have probably said enough. On that understanding and seeing the point has been made that land and buildings could be taken out of Part II by leaving movables in Part II, if that is so, I am happy to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 14 agreed to.

Clause 15 agreed to.

Clause 16 [Indemnities for objects on loan]:

[Amendment No. 40 not moved.]

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No. 41: Page 10, line 3, leave out from ("which") to ("a") in line 4 and insert (" has as its purpose or one of its purposes the preservation for the public benefit of").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

7.12 p.m.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No. 42:

Page 10, line 12, leave out paragraph (b) and insert— ("(b) a library which is maintained—

  1. (i) wholly or mainly out of moneys provided by Parliament or out of moneys appropriated by Measure; or
  2. (ii) by a library authority;
or the main function of which is to serve the needs of teaching and research at a university in the United Kingdom,").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No. 43: Page 10, line 16, leave out ("or") and insert ("and").

The noble Lord said: This corrects a slip in the drafting when amendments were tabled in another place. "And" is the right word in this context. "Or" would imply that these bodies listed were in some way alternatives. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No. 44: Page 10, line 29, leave out ("(3) and ") and insert ("to").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is intended to correct a slip in the drafting and to avoid any doubt as to the position of objects owned in Northern Ireland, which are, of course, within the scope of the indemnity arrangements. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No. 45:

Page 10, line 34, at end insert— ("( ) In subsection (2) above "library authority" means a library authority within the meaning of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, a statutory library authority within the meaning of the Public Libraries (Scotland) Act 1955 or an Education and Library Board within the meaning of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1972 and "university" includes a university college and a college, school or hall of a university.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 16, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 17 and 18 agreed to.

Clause 19 [Short title, interpretation, repeals and extent]:

Lord REIGATE had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 46: Page 11, line 20, at end insert ("or such other Minister as may from time to time have responsibility for the Arts.").

The noble Lord said: The hour is late. In the circumstances, I shall not move the amendment.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved amendment No. 47: Page 11, leave out lines 21 and 22.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 19 as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 1 [The Trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund]:

Lord DONALDSON of KINGSBRIDGE moved Amendment No. 48: Page 13, line 15, after ("allowances") insert ("and to the Chairman such emoluments and allowances").

The noble Lord said: This is the only amendment that I am moving with some determination. Most of the time we have been half agreeing. Here we may find a real difference. We on this side of the Committee believe that, although it is very often possible to get absolutely first-class people who do not require payment and who, in many cases, would not take payment, occasions can arise when you cannot get the best man without payment. Therefore, this Bill should be permissive in that way. We do not think this is necessary in the case of the trustees. The trustees of the British Library are paid a small sum, as they are in certain other organisations; but generally the trustees' work is a meeting a month or something of that sort. The chairman, particularly for a post as important as this, will have to give two to three days a week, at least at the beginning.

I should have thought that anybody that this Government with their particular friends and relations are likely to appoint would probably not particularly require to be paid and might even not accept payment if given it. But this Government, thank goodness! will not be in power for ever. The rate of 20 per cent. inflation looks as if it may, and monetary situations will change very much. I visualise, for example, that a director of a museum who has a serious illness and has to give up his job might be exactly the man that we want for chairman, but he might not be able to take it because he cannot afford to work without being paid. Our party, on the whole, take the view that work should be paid for. If people have enough money not to require it, they can give it back. My amendment says that. It does not ask that the trustees should be paid. It does not ask that the chairman should be paid. It asks that it whould be possible to pay the chairman. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

I should like to support my noble friend on this amendment. On this, we are in complete agreement. I think it is very important that a permissive power should be in the Bill for payment to the chairman but (I agree with my noble friend) not necessarily to the trustees. We have seen such cases. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, when the payment for Cabinet Ministers came up, accepted the principle of it but refused the increase himself, as, I believe, did the Prime Minister.

When this fund gets under way (as I hope it will very soon) I would imagine that there will be quite a lot for the chairman to do. It will not be a sinecure. I should have thought it would take certainly half-time or three-quarter-time work. I am not suggesting a large salary should be paid, but, for somebody who would find it really difficult to do it without any payment at all, a quite small emolument could make all the difference between somebody being able to accept or not.

Some years ago I was for four years chairman of the Health Education Council. I was not paid because, for the time being a kept woman, I was able to do it without being paid. I was appointed by the late Richard Crossman when he was Secretary of State for Health and I continued under Sir Keith Joseph. During my term of office I pointed out to Dick Crossman that, although I would not have suggested there should be a change during my tenure of office (for that would have been quite wrong), I thought that the chairman of a body like that-which really involved a considerable amount of work-ought to be paid; and that it was quite wrong to have to rely upon people who were able to do it and wealthy enough to be able to afford to do it without payment. I think it very unusual to set up a body like this without making it possible to pay the chairman.

As we all know, in another place on a Division on Committee stage, this provision was in the Bill. Then, at Report stage, the Minister for the Arts took it out. I do not know why I should be suggesting to the Government how they can improve their image, but I should have thought it very wrong, particularly for a Conservative Government, to have something in a Bill like this which does not even give the power to pay a chairman, let alone the chance for a chairman to be able, with great grace, to refuse the emolument. It is not a party political point; it is something that people from all sides of the Committee would agree should be in the Bill.

7.20 p.m.


I hope that the Minister will look at this amendment carefully. It seems to me that everybody agrees that my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has really worked miracles in getting the Bill this far, and in getting the sum that he has in circumstances of great economic difficulty and fiscal stringency. I understand the reasons for not wishing to create another Quango with paid officials, friends and relations of Ministers of the Crown.

On the other hand, it is a fact that the arts have always been a field where people have been expected to do something for nothing. For example, I put down a Question when the previous Government were in office about the fact that the charter of the Arts Council forbids the chairman to be paid, which makes it practically impossible to appoint somebody in a full-time job to that particular position which is itself a full-time job, if it is properly done. This is a great misfortune and something which I hope will be looked at. The last Government did not do that. Some Government in the future, I hope, will do so.

I share the view of the noble Lord on the Front Bench that it is a pity to tie the hands of any Government about the possibility of at least paying some emolument to a chairman if it turns out—as it almost certainly will turn out—that this is a substantial job. I do not necessarily agree with the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, that this job is something for somebody whose health has broken down and who has been compulsorily retired. I hope very much it will be for somebody vigorous. For example, it seems to me that the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, would be an excellent chairman of such an institution. I hope that it will be somebody who is very vigorous and goes bustling around the countryside and is able to visit these wonderful places and chivvy the civil servants.

I appreciate that my noble friend on the Front Bench will not be able to accept the amendment tonight; but I hope that he will look at the matter very seriously. It is a pity if the particular financial stringency at this time affects the staffing of the Heritage Fund, which is something that we all hope will last well into the next century.


I too should like to support this amendment, very much on the lines outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey. I believe that it is absolutely essential that the choice of the person for this important and onerous office must be as wide as it could possibly be. I am not saying that it will necessarily fall on to somebody who will need payment. I do not think that the Government would be wise at this stage to narrow down their choice when, as they know—and as the noble Lord has said so often—we are relying on getting people as trustees, and as a chairman in particular, of quite unusual ability, expertise and dedication. It may well be that they find somebody who does not require and does not need payment. At this stage to narrow the choice would be very ill-advised. I too hope that this amendment will be looked at with sympathy.


We all realise, or ought to realise, by now how terrified the Government are of any new suggestions which would involve them in additional expenditure. But, on the other hand, as the noble Lord, Lord Winstanley, has said, it would be a fundamental mistake for the Government to narrow their choice to the extent that will probably be likely, unless this amendment is carried. We on this side of the Committee realise that people may be particularly qualified to render the Government this assistance and yet are denied the opportunity of doing so through no fault of their own. I warmly support the amendment.

The Marquess of HERTFORD

I am sure that the Committee is aware that I have absolutely no interest to declare in supporting the proposition that the chairman should undoubtedly be paid, simply because it seems a great mistake to limit the choice of chairman to those who can afford to give up their time. Surely I would be right in supposing that the pay would come out of the Land Fund which has already been allocated by the Government. Therefore, there will no no question of any extra Government funds being required.


It is very important that every voice possible should be registered from these Benches in support of the principle of this amendment. It is permissive. I accept that present circumstances are unfavourable; but there is nothing to stop the Minister saying to an appointee, "I do not propose to give you the emoluments that I could give". That is perfectly all right. The other arguments are absolutely valid. I must also say that I think it is rather surprising that something which was agreed by a Committee upstairs should be reversed. I think that we ought to go back to that position.

7.26 p.m.


Like the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, this is a matter on which the Government also feel very strongly—so strongly that when it was debated in another place they twice took the matter to a Division: in Committee, when they were defeated; and on Report, when they restored the position that no trustees would be paid.

The Government regard this as a matter both of principle and of practicality. As regards the principle, no bodies in the arts world funded by the Government pay their chairman except the British Council and the British Library which have a very heavy executive load. The chairman of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art, the chairman of the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries, the chairman of the Arts Council, the British Film Institute, the Crafts Council, the South Bank Theatre Board, and the national museums and galleries are not paid for their services. It is the case that the chairman of the Historic Buildings Council is paid, but that post also has a heavy executive load. Contrary to what my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said in another place, the chairman of the Ancient Monuments Board is not paid.

It is the considered view of the Government that it would diminish the post of chairman and the status of the fund in the eyes of those it was designed to assist if it were to be a paid post.

Baroness BIRK

I wonder whether I may interrupt? Could the noble Lord tell me why it would diminish the chairman to be paid? I wonder whether the Minister feels diminished as a Minister because he is paid. I do not feel that he is diminished; I do not feel that he is paid enough.


Of course I do not mean that merely because he receives pay in the abstract it diminishes anyone. Every workman is worthy of his hire. But in this case we are dealing with Government bodies, and the chairmen whom I have mentioned are not paid. No chairman of any charity is paid; and although I accept that this is not technically a charity, it is to be treated as a charity as regards tax matters.

Quite apart from the principle of the matter, is there any need for payment? There is no need to offer an inducement to attract candidates. There is no shortage of candidates of the highest calibre. Will the post have a heavy executive load? Many noble Lords seem to think that it will. At first, setting up a new important body will make some demands, obviously, on the chairman's time. But the fund will essentially be a reactive agency which deals with applications from other bodies. It will have a skeleton staff and meet probably no more than once a month. This is not a post like some of those which were mentioned in another place: the Gaming Board, the Horserace Betting Levy Board, the Forestry Commission, the Tourist Boards, the Development Board for Rural Wales, et cetera. These are all bodies with a remit to take initiatives and launch projects of their own. The National Heritage Fund is a totally different animal.

Will the trustees be out of pocket? Again, the answer is, No. They will be able to claim their travelling costs, subsistence and any loss of earnings. It has been suggested that unless the chairman is paid, a large section of the community will not be able to take on the post. A large section of the community would not be capable of taking on the post. As my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy said in another place, we are looking for cultural generalists, people with a high degree of cultural perceptiveness. The field is already a narrow one, but I can assure the Committee again that it is still a very rich field, with an embarrassingly large number of excellent candidates.

The noble Lord, Lord Winstanley, said that it was narrowing the choice. From the candidates coming forward, I do not believe that it is at all narrow. The noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, said that it was a substantial job. I think I have explained that once the initial settling in is over we do not anticipate that it will be that heavy. This is not the time to start new paid jobs. This Government are determined to try to "cut our cloth" and we are doing what we think is quite a lot in this Bill.

This matter of paying the chairman, and so on, is a small one. Before, in another place, the other side tried to pay all the trustees. We have now narrowed it down to enabling only the chairman to be remunerated. As has been pointed out, it is permissive, but we feel very strongly that on principle this is wrong. It is not

necessary and we feel very strongly on this and we shall not budge on it, I am afraid. I would ask your Lordships to reject the amendment and I hope, while we are doing this, that we are talking about the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, as well.


I do not think there is any point in arguing about this. The noble Lord speaks of a principle but he has not given us a principle. He said that a number of people doing similar jobs are not paid. Of course, that is true. There is no principle involved in it. The principle which we wish to have involved is that cultured people without large incomes can be approached on this point. It is only permissive and, if I were Minister for the Arts, when the first chairman was appointed I should not pay him, but I should be very glad to know that I could if the time arose when it was suitable to do so. I think we have a principle, but I do not think the noble Lord has; and in any case we will let the Committee decide.

7.33 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 48) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 35; Not-Contents, 49.

Avebury, L. Hale, L. Northfield, L.
Birk, B. [Teller.] Hanworth, V. Reigate, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Hertford, M. Saltoun, Ly.
Bowden, L. Hood, V. Segal, L.
Boyle of Handsworth, L. Janner, L. Southwell, Bp.
Brockway, L. Kirkhill, L. Stone, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Llewelyn-Davies, L. Strabolgi, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.[Teller.] Thurso, V.
Crathorne, L. Vaizey, L.
David, B. McCarthy, L. Vickers, B.
Davies of Leek, L. Mishcon, L. Winstanley, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Morris, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Falkland, V. Lyell, L.
Belstead, L. Ferrers, E. Macleod of Borve, B.
Bessborough, E. Ferrier, L. Mottistone, L.
Caithness, E. Gainford, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L
Cathcart, E. Galloway, E. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Cockfield, L. Gowrie, E. Northchurch, B.
Cottesloe, L. Grafton, D. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Croft, L. Haig, E. Orkney, E.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Harvington, L. Sandford, L.
Daventry, V. Holderness, L. Sandys, L. [Teller.]
de Clifford, L. Hornsby-Smith, B. Sempill, Ly.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Inglewood, L. Strathclyde, L.
Dundee, E. Kintore, E. Swansea, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Long, V. Trefgarne, L.
Trenchard, V. Vernon, L. Wemyss and March, E.
Tweeddale, M. Vivian, L. Westbury, L.
Vaux of Harrowden, L.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

[Amendment No. 49 not moved.]

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Remaining schedule agreed to.

Title agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.