HL Deb 10 March 1980 vol 406 cc633-55

7.6 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 1 [Establishment of National Heritage Memorial Fund]:

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Lord Alport)

My Lords, I have to advise the House that if Amendment No. 1 is agreed to, I will not be able to call Amendment No. 2.

Lord REIGATE moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 7, leave out from beginning to ("which") in line 8 and insert ("There shall be a fund known as the National Heritage Memorial Fund, hereinafter referred to as "the Heritage Fund ", to be a memorial to those who have died for the United Kingdom, established in succession to the National Land Fund,").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, your Lordships will recall that at the Committee stage we had a very interesting, if slightly rambling, discussion on the name of the fund and the title of the Bill. I gave the matter some consideration, and it seemed to me that the amendment which I have here drafted might meet all points of view that were expressed. It would bring into the Bill the words "National "and "Memorial". At the same time it solves the practical problem of what it is called in ordinary life, so to speak, by referring to it as the Heritage Fund. Also, the last two lines of my amendment express something of the original purpose which it was emphasised lay behind this Bill. I beg to move.


My Lords, I am very glad to be speaking after my noble friend Lord Reigate has opened the "batting "today. Also I should like—and I do not think that we have done so on this Bill so far—to acknowledge that I am very glad that the noble Lord has been able to be here on Committee and Report, because he was one of the first to be interested in this field. I am very pleased although sometimes his knife gets sharp and my back is too close and I get frightened. Nevertheless, I am happy to see the noble Lord.

We had a long discussion, as the noble Lord said, and I said in Committee that the Government were willing to take the views of the House on this matter. That still remains the attitude of the Government; the Government are totally neutral on this point. Speaking purely for myself, I agree totally with my noble friend that this amendment seems to meet the various conflicting arguments which were put forward. I for one would support him.

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, I apologise for not being in my place at the start of this Report stage. I should very much like to support the amendment put down by the noble Lord, Lord Reigate. It is rather similar to the one that my noble friend Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge and myself put down in Committee but it is rather tighter and neater. It seems to cover various points made in Committee. The important aspect is that it explains what it is a memorial for. It is practical enough to realise that when it comes to working the fund one is not going to be able to use this Long Title all the time. It seems to me to be admirable and, in view of what the Minister has said, I hope that we are going to have a happy concensus on this and that this amendment will be part of what I hope will soon be a statute.


My Lords, I should like to support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Reigate.


My Lords, I, too, in the briefest possible way, should also like to express my support. I think the amendment meets in an admirable fashion all the points that were put from various parts of your Lordships' House during our last debate. I am absolutely delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, has received it in such an amiable and kindly fashion; indeed he dealt with this in a very kindly manner at an earlier stage, and I think it shows that he may be going to do likewise tonight.


My Lords, I think we should congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Reigate, for having summed up the feelings of the House and express our appreciation and thanks to the noble Lord the Minister for his receptiveness.


My Lords, I should like to agree with that, too.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 3 not moved.]

Lord REIGATE moved Amendment No. 4: Page 1, line 12, leave out ("Memorial").

The noble Lord said, my Lords, this amendment is consequential. My name was put to the previous amendment, and this is consequential upon that one. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Lord Alport)

I have to advise your Lordships that, if Amendment No. 5 is agreed to, I shall not be able to call Amendment No. 6.

7.12 p.m.

Lord REIGATE moved Amendment No. 5: Page 1, line 13, leave out from ("appointed") to end of line 15 and insert ("by the Crown on the advice of the Prime Minister.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I should like to begin by expressing my gratitude to my noble friend—I have the feeling that this will be the last time I shall be doing so—for having accepted the previous amendment. I must confess that the brilliant drafting was not entirely mine: I had some assistance. I have put down these two amendments on the Marshalled List and they are alternatives. One is to appoint the trustees by the Crown on the advice of the Prime Minister". and the other is that people are to be appointed by the Prime Minister. I need hardly say that I entirely prefer the first. My noble friend said on Committee stage that he would reconsider this matter, and I hope that in doing so he will have noted that my previous amendment was supported from all quarters. I think we would all wish to retain so far as possible the all-party approach that has prevailed until now. At the same time, we want to make progress with the Bill and I do not propose to make too long a speech. However, I would emphasise that, with regard to the amendments, the purpose I have had in mind all through has been to raise the status of the fund and its trustees and to emphasise in the statute the independence that the trustees should enjoy.

While I am doing so, I should like to take the opportunity, having had the chance to study his speech further, to refute some if not all the arguments deployed by my noble friend. At one stage, at column 1295 he said it was modern practice to have ministerial appointments instead of appointments being made by the Crown or the Prime Minister. That is to a certain extent true, because the majority of the appointments to which he is referring arc to what are colloquially known as "Quangos ", of which there have been a great many and of which I hope there will in the future be not quite so many. But we arc talking of bodies with a rather different kind of standing, I should hope, and I refer my noble friend to the Hansard report of the other place of 14th February 1978, and 19th May 1977, where he will find listed no fewer than 40 categories of appointments—not actual appointments but categories of appointment—which are made either by the Crown or by the Prime Minister.

They are not by any means all ancient institutions such as he referred to. My noble friend, after I have mentioned the British Museum and the National Gallery trustees, told us that they were appointed under statutes set up long ago. That is not correct. The trustees of the British Museum are appointed under a statute of 1963 and the trustees of the Tate and the National Gallery are appointed under a statute of 1954. He may well say that is continuing an ancient tradition and I would be the first to agree; but it is not true to say that this is not modern practice and merely an ancient tradition. It was deliberately not altered, in my view. Certain things were altered, as, for instance, in the case of the British Museum the Archbishop of Canterbury ceased to be the permanent chairman. However, the principle and standing of the trustees were entirely maintained.

I could cite other examples, but there is only one I should like to mention. Perhaps it is one that everybody knows; namely, that the Master of Churchill College is appointed by the Crown. Why? I would suggest it is because that college was intended as a memorial to a great statesman. Are we not discussing another kind of memorial today, and does that not equally demand the same kind of standing. position and prestige that the Master of Churchill College should have for that reason?

My noble friend also said in column 1529: Ministers!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. If that really undermines the standing of Ministers, all I can say is that they are pretty poor fish. Does anyone seriously believe that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is in any way inhibited, when he is speaking to the Governor of the Bank of England, by the fact that the latter is not appointed by him? Of course not. Furthermore, I think that if anything my noble friend's words are a little sinister. They are appointed for only three years and can be dismissed after that time. I would say on that, as he kindly referred to my efforts, that I, the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, and many others have been trying to establish the principle of the absolute independence of the trust and the trustees—independent of the Minister or Ministers, independent of the Treasury and, above all, independent of the restrictions which may from time to time be imposed by national policy. I think it is giving the show away to talk of "the Minister's responsibility "in regard to matters such as this.

In his speech and, I think, in the speech of the Minister for the Arts in another place, reference was made to the fact that in making these appointments Ministers would consult the Prime Minister, particularly as regards the chairman. If they are going to do that, why quibble about it at all? Why not let the appointment be made in the first place by the Crown on the advice of the Prime Minister or, if that is not acceptable, by the Prime Minister? What is going to happen if the Ministers disagree? Who is going to arbitrate?—the Prime Minister, of course. The machine of Downing Street is perfectly capable of dealing with the making of these appointments and of ascertaining the recommendations of the Ministers concerned. I think that my noble friend, if he gives this consideration, would agree that it is far tidier and simpler to do it in this way.

Lastly, I would say this to him: this issue of who should appoint the trustees was not properly considered in another place. They did not have the chance to do it. Mr. Arthur Jones' Bill, which followed my first effort in your Lordships' House did make appointments by the Prime Minister. That was a precedent but that Bill was never discussed. I think that before we finally decide on this matter it would be best if it were accepted and the other place had the opportunity to decide. Your Lordships' House would, of course, then accept their decision. I beg to move.


My Lords,I should like to support my noble friend's amendment, and I very much hope that the Minister will accept it. In the course of a long life, I have served as chairman of no fewer than three of the bodies which the Minister quoted when we last discussed the Bill as having their chairman appointed by the Prime Minister—the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art, the Arts Council, and the Tate Gallery. I can tell your Lordships that there are real advantages in this arrangement. The fact of Prime Ministerial appointment not only gives the enterprise a particular status, which in practice means that those who administer it or who are concerned in its administration give it special care and attention, but also the chairman can, in wholly exceptional circumstances, go direct to the Prime Minister to discuss with him some matter of principle which is of fundamental importance. That I know, because I did myself on one occasion have to do it. These are real advantages and I hope that the Government will feel able to accept my noble friend's amendment.

The Earl of WEMYSS and MARCH

My Lords, may I in a very brief few words support what the other two noble Lords have said? They have made an excellent case, and I hope very much that the noble Lord who is in charge of the Bill will be able to yield on this and accept either one amendment or the other. There is perhaps one additional point, in that the scope of these trustees will cover four different parts of the United Kingdom. A unifying factor for appointment, therefore, would be found if the Prime Minister or the Crown were to do this.


My Lords, I hope that your Lordships' House will support this amendment, if the Government do not accept it. It is a very special body that we are creating. It is national, and the purpose of this national body is something that is very dear to the hearts of everyone. We discussed for quite a long time whether the word "memorial "should be included and we decided to keep it in. When we consider the nature of the body, there is nothing that would mark it out as more special than any other than that the appointment should be by the Crown. It is right that it should be.

I raised the question of other bodies that have Crown appointments. I think that the Minister may have been misled or was not properly briefed. I have thinking of more such bodies. I mentioned the Forestry Commission. I have checked that up, and it is right that the chairman of the Forestry Commission is appointed by the Queen. We have just left consideration of the Education Bill, to which we shall later return, and there is no ancient statute there wiping out what we in Scotland call the HMI, which is Her Majesty's Inspector. Believe it or not, it is a Royal appointment. It may be a little more ancient than the Forestry Commission. It stems from the fact that education in Scotland used to be run by a committee of the Privy Council. When you consider these things it is not unusual, but in this case it is absolutely right, and what is in the Bill is absolutely wrong. I have mentioned this before and I feel strongly about it.

The noble Earl, Lord Wemyss and March, mentioned the fact that this will cover all parts of the country—Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England—and a considerable number of Ministers is involved there. That is one of the reasons why there is a Royal appointment in respect of the Forestry Commission. There are three Ministers involved there. They make up their minds, they present a suggestion to the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister agrees and then it goes to the Crown.

I was in another place for 33 years and I should not like to count the number of Chancellors of the Duchy of Lancaster whom I knew. There are at least three or four of them in your Lordships' House now, not one of whom had anything to do with the arts. The functions of the Chanccellor of the Duchy of Lancaster depend upon the personality of the Prime Minister. He can be shifted around and given different jobs to do; and the one person who should not be in this Bill is the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. It may be all right just now, but if there is a change and a different person comes into office, shall we have to amend the Bill? If we do not have to amend the Bill, then we are taking discretion away from the Prime Minister and tying his or her hands.

What is the solution to it all? The solution has been given by the noble Lord, Lord Reigate, in this amendment. So from the practical point of view in respect of naming Ministers, or naming anybody at all, and from the point of view of the status of the body that we are creating, this amendment meets the case.


My Lords, I support this amendment. This fund is not going to start life with great resources. It is all the more important, therefore, that its standing and authority is as high as we can make it.


My Lords, a further reason for supporting this amendment is that if we turn to clause 19(3) we find that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, when referred to in this Bill, is to be considered to be the Chancellor. in his capacity as a Minister of the Crown with responsibility for the Arts". If we so enact, it seems to me that we shall be, by statute, making the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster permanently responsible for the arts, and that may be a very inconvenient step to take in the long run.

Therefore, in any event, I should have thought it would be right to accept one or other of the two amendments of my noble friend Lord Reigate, but it seems to me that Amendment No. 5 is infinitely preferable to No. 6. There are those who would say that in strict constitutional result they would be the same, but there are reasons, which there is no need to mention in your Lordships' presence, for realizing that Amendment No. 5 would be infinitely preferable.

7.27 p.m.


My Lords, I feel a small minnow in a large pool where all the whales are waiting to eat me. I have to tell your Lordships that we have taken very careful account of all that the noble Lord, Lord Reigate, and others said during the Committee stage. I promised then that I would look at this amendment, and I have done so. We have been told today by the noble Lord and others of a number of bodies whose members are appointed by the Crown or by the Prime Minister, rather than by the Ministers functionally responsible. These are all bodies which have been in existence for a considerable period of time. I appreciate what my noble friend said about some of them having had their existence reconfirmed by later Acts of Parliament. I do not deny that it used to be the practice for a very substantial number of these bodies to have their members appointed by the Sovereign or the Prime Minister, but it is not the practice nowadays and I feel bound to advise your Lordships that, in my view, the present practice is the better one.

I, of course, appreciate the point that appointment of the National Heritage Memorial Fund Trustees by the Sovereign, on the advice of the Prime Minister, would serve to emphasise the importance of the trustees and perhaps invest them with a little extra kudos. But let us, for a moment, examine the realities of the situation. The Prime Minister, and indeed the Sovereign, cannot concern themselves with the minutiae of heritage policy and cannot but be unaware of all the background details. Therefore, they will have to rely very heavily on the advice tendered by those Ministers who hold functional responsibility for the heritage.

As I said during the Committee stage, those Ministers are at present my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Secretary of State for the Environment. I must tell my noble friend Lord Renton that this is not really a problem of the Duchy of Lancaster. If ever he ceased to be involved, the Minister concerned would be put in the Bill. These two Ministers will, of course, consult the Prime Minister about these very important appointments. My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster also made this point during the Second Reading in another place. This is not a mere formality. It is important that the chairman of any major body should be a person whom the Prime Minister has the right to approve, and when a public body is being set up for the first time this is also particularly important with respect to the other appointed members. My noble friend Lord Reigate is concerned that there would be two Ministers making the appointments. I know that he is worried about their possibly disagreeing. My noble friend Lord Cottesloe has implied that introducing the Prime Minister as referee might make matters simpler.

If the appointment of the trustees were to be made by the Prime Minister, or by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister, they would still have to look to the responsible Ministers for advice on the appointments. Governments hold collective responsibility. Where advice to the Prime Minister on appointments was required from two Ministers, those Ministers would have to get together and agree upon their advice beforehand. If they could not agree, then in this, as in other matters on which Ministers disagree, they would be able to take the matter to the Prime Minister.

I believe it is absolutely right that appointments in a particular area of Government policy should be made by the Ministers holding responsibility there and not given a somewhat spurious exaltation through a formal statutory appointment by a higher authority which does not reflect the reality of the situation. The omission of any reference to the Prime Minister does not mean that she is not consulted, nor does it mean that if the occasion arose she would not be able to act as referee.

I hope that with these words your Lordships will see the widsom of agreeing to what I am proposing and I hope that my noble friend may consider withdrawing his two amendments.

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, I was waiting to hear what the noble Lord the Minister had to say in reply to the quite strong feeling expressed in the House. I take his point very well—first, that consultation with the Prime Minister is more than a formality and that it is not just a rubber stamping. The one point which the noble Lord, Lord Reigate, has brought out is how the process will work. It did not sound quite like that either during Second Reading or during the Committee stage. The Minister has also underlined the point, quite rightly, that the two Ministers involved must play a leading part, because they are the people who will operate the Act. If I were now a Minister in the Department of the Environment I would not take it very kindly if an appointment were made, either by the Crown or by the Prime Minister, of someone who, for various reasons, was going to be difficult to work with or who was considered not to be right, practically, for the job.

Having said that, it seems to me from the feelings which have been expressed in all parts of the House that it is not very much of a job for the Ministers concerned to make their strong representations. Certainly nothing should be done over their heads. But for the appointment itself to be in the name of the Crown or the Prime Minister seems to me to get the new fund off to a very much more illustrious start. I myself think that on occasions these things do not necessarily matter; so long as one gets the right person for the job, it does not seem to be of primary interest who makes the appointment. But if it is going to mean such a great deal to the prestige, then it does not seem to me that the Government are being asked to make more than rather a small jump in order to put it on the lines which have been suggested and strongly put forward by so many Members of this House.

Frankly, I do not think that this is something upon which we ought to delay the progress of the Bill, but it seems a pity that the Government cannot come to some sort of an agreement which would suit the Members of this House and which would in no way diminish the standing of the Ministers concerned.


My Lords, I did not rise before on this amendment because I had no wish to impede the progress of this admirable Bill, particularly on an amendment with which every noble Lord seemed to be in total agreement. But we now find that the noble Lord who is handling the Bill is not in agreement, so I have risen to make absolutely sure that the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, is aware of the extent of the unanimity in your Lordships' House on this amendment. As there are so few Members of your Lordships' House who take the view of the noble Lord, would it not be wise for him to allow this amendment to go forward so that he can find out whether there is anyone in another place who takes the view that he appears to take or whether they take the view that so many of us in your Lordships' House take.


My Lords, if I may say so, the noble Lord the Minister is not in the position of a little fish faced by whales. He is endeavouring very hard to play the part of King Canute. He is asking the waves to roll hack; but they will not roll back. I should like the Minister to know that from these Back-Benches, in the same way as from the Tory Back-Benches, quite apart from the Front Benches, there is unanimous support for Lord Reigate's first amendment, upon the basis that all of us want this, not—and I thought this was an unhappy phrase—in order that the fund may have spurious elegance but so that it may have genuine national prestige. That is what we all want, and I hope the Minister will realise before he replies that there is not one noble Lord who has risen who is in support of the point of view that he has advanced.


My Lords, I agree very strongly with my noble friend's amendment and with everybody on both sides of the House who has so far spoken. I cannot understand the Government's attitude. It is not a vital constitutional point; of course it is not. Why can they not try to do what this House wants and then see what another place decides? I quite see that my noble friend did his best with what he was trying to say, but it seemed to me that he was simply putting up Aunt Sallies in order to knock them down.

He said quite early in his speech—I think I am quoting him correctly—that the Prime Minister could not be expected to be bothered with the minutiae of a body like this. But does the Prime Minister in other bodies where she has the right of prior appointment bother with their minutiae? Of course she does not. It is that kind of argument which distressses one a little about what I think is a sort of shadow boxing display by the Government, which I repeat I cannot understand.

By way of a suggestion to the noble Lord who spoke last, I should like to put in one quick word for King Canute. He did not try to keep back the waves. He told his courtiers that they themselves were being very stupid to try to do it. This mistake is always made, and that has upset me, too!


My Lords, I was not suggesting that King Canute would make this appointment, but I must make this defence for myself. King Canute did ask the waves to go back, though only because some foolish people asked him to do so. I feel that the noble Lord the Minister is in exactly the same position.


My Lords, 10 noble Lords have spoken and there has not been a single dissenting voice. The most eminent people in your Lordships' House who are interested in the arts have all agreed with one another. I should be very foolish to press my luck in the face of such wisdom. I am quite sure that if we called a Division now my noble friends would all seek advice from the Members of the House sitting here and that the unanimous opinion would be that my position is wrong. In the face of that, I must not be like King Canute. I must advise the House that I will accept what they are doing.


My Lords, I am so surprised by what has happened that even my noble friend could have knocked me down with a feather. I of course choose Amendment No. 5. Amendment No. 6 was very much a second best, and I can think of a lot of arguments against it. I am delighted that in the face of this unanimous feeling my noble friend has been so generous as to agree. I have here pages of abuse which I should have poured upon his head if he had not done so, but I am now able very happily to tear up all my notes.


My Lords, if I may have the leave of the House to speak again, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Reigate, would agree that some kind of consequential amendment will necessarily have to be made to Clause 19 when his amendment has been accepted. However, there would be no difficulty about that. While I am speaking on Clause 19, may I say that with deep respect I join issue with my noble friend Lord Mowbray and Stourton. When he endeavoured to convince your Lordships that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster —

Viscount LONG

My Lords, I wonder whether I may interrupt my noble friend. It is the Report stage and we are only allowed to speak once. We have not much time so perhaps the noble Lord would be good enough to take my advice so that we may continue.


My Lords, I will take that advice but I think my noble friend will have to reconsider what he said about the effect of the use of the words "Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster".

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Lord Jacques)

My Lords, Amendment No. 6 cannot be called.

Clause 3 [Grants and loans from the Fund]:

7.41 p.m.

Baroness VICKERS moved Amendment No. 7. Page 2, line 23, after ("outstanding") insert ("archaeological").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 19 and 26. I hope I shall have a helpful answer, as the atmosphere seems to be so right at the present moment. I do not want to repeat all that I said in regard to the number of museums because that is already on record but since the last stage of the Bill I have received considerable support for my view. I am worried about the guidelines. Guidelines can be ignored, torn up or changed by a Minister and I should like to see the strength of the law written into this Bill. For example, there has been a marvellous chalice found in Southern Ireland and it was not found by historians but by archae- ologists and the history is now going to be written up by the historians. The sepulchre was found by archaeologists and not by historians and then, as we know, it was written into the Bible.

Also, in subsection (7)(d) of this clause there is one mention of the Secretary of State acting in the discharge of his functions under Section 5 of the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 or Section 11(1) or 13 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Acts 1979, That seems to tie up with my amendments. Also I should like to mention that in Schedule 4 to the Finance Act of 1975 paragraph 17 there is reference in other words to the "in lieu "system as distinct from the business of trustees in Part 1 of this Bill. I should like to know whether there will be pre-eminence for the archaeological property and whether it will qualify. For instance, would Stonehenge be covered? I am merely giving that as an example because there may be other monuments of the same kind in the future and I should like to know whether they are safeguarded. I beg to move.


My Lords, I had hoped that we might have disposed of these amendments on the strength of what I said previously. I realise that the noble Baroness, Lady Vickers, feels very strongly that the term "archaeological "should appear on the face of the Bill but I must make it quite clear that the Government feel equally strongly that these amendments should be resisted.

I must tell my noble friend Lady Vickers that in no way am I open to argument on this amendment because we think it is totally unnecessary. The amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Reigate did something positive; this will not be doing something positive. As I made clear in Committee, there are two main reasons why we cannot accept the inclusion of the word "archaeological "in the Bill. The first is that it is quite unnecessary—the terms "scientific "" historic "and, in appropriate cases, "artistic "do cover archaeology. Second, and I think far more important, there is a real danger that by inserting the word ," archaeological ", we may restrict the very wide legal interpretation which can at present be placed on other words in the Bill, and particularly in Clause 3(1), and this, in turn could restrict the trustees to help in individual cases.

I should respectfully like to remind my noble friend that at the Committee stage we had two similar sets of amendments purporting to clarify the Bill. One was moved by my noble friend Lord Sandford, adding the words "restore "or "restoration "and the other was moved by my noble friend Lord Teviot adding the words, "record repositories". My two noble friends accepted the force of the arguments, which apply particularly to the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness. The noble Baroness has referred specifically to the eighth century silver chalice which was recently found in Ireland, and I can again give her a categorical assurance that had that happened here the trusters would have been able to help in an absolutely unrestricted way. They can help with the acquisition and the preservation of such an item. I keep repeating that it is covered by the term "historic and artistic "in Clause 3(1)(b) and I should also like to reassure the noble Baroness—which I know she does not find satisfactory—that the guidelines given to the trustees will make it crystal clear that the provisions of the Bill include the archaeological matters with which she is concerned. I hope the noble Baroness will now accept the assurance that I have given and will withdraw her amendment, because I assure her that I am not in any way prepared to give way on this amendment.

Baroness VICKERS

My Lords, I cannot very well say, "Thank you "for that reply because it is not in the least to my liking. I am disappointed about this and I was disappointed in the other House because there were 17 Members on the Committee, 15 attended and when it came to the vote only seven voted, which seems to show a lack of interest in both Houses. However, I will withdraw the amendment and perhaps I shall bring it back at the Third Reading.


My Lords, with the leave of the House and before the amendment is withdrawn I should not like the noble Baroness to be under any illusion. We are hoping to have a formal Third Reading and I should not like her to feel that I have misled her.

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, as the amendment has not yet been withdrawn I should like a firm assurance from the noble Lord, in view of his refusal to accept this, that the archaeological interest will go into the guidelines to the trustees and be drawn to the attention of their potential clients, so that as far as possible there is no chance of some archeological object of great value to the heritage being missed because the word "archaeological" does not appear on the face of the Bill.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, I give that firm categorical assurance and while I am speaking I failed previously to mention Stonehenge. That is, of course, already in national ownership and if such a thing occurred the trustees would be able to use their discretion.

Baroness VICKERS

My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 8 to 12 not moved.]

7.49 p.m.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No. 13: Page 2, line 29, leave out second ("or").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, your Lordships will be delighted to hear that this amendment and those following are designed to meet the point raised in Committee by a number of your Lordships, in particular by my noble friends Lord Wemyss and March and the Duke of Grafton, that the trustees should be able to assist with the acquisition of rights in or over land, even though it is not intended to acquire the land itself. Having considered carefully the debate in Committee, the Government accept that there may be occasions when it would be desirable to acquire rights over the land surrounding a piece of heritage property in order fully to protect that property. To take an example, much used in Committee, it may be desirable to acquire shooting rights over land around a nature reserve so that they could be extinguished. These amendments, if accepted, would enable the trustees to give grants to help with the acquisition of such rights.

There is one further point. Some concern has been expressed that the trustees should be able to help purchase not only rights but also restrictions over land without actually purchasing the land. I can assure your Lordships that the amendment as drafted covers this point. Rights and restrictions are, so to speak, different sides of the same coin. If rights over land can be secured then rights to restrict the use of that land can also be secured. There is no need to refer to restrictions specifically in these amendments. I should add that Amendment No. 13 is a paving amendment and Amendment No. 17 is consequential. I beg to move.

The Earl of WEMYSS and MARCH

My Lords, may I say a word before the amendment is put. It does, of course, as the noble Lord has made clear, go together with all the others up to No. 17 inclusive. This is an entirely satisfactory answer to the points which we were urging at Committee stage, which particularly arose out of the experience over many years of the National Trust and the National Trust for Scotland. I think the conclusion, if all these amendments are passed, is entirely satisfactory, and I am grateful to the noble Lord.

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, all I would say very briefly is thank you very much.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No. 14: Page 2, line 33, leave out ("association") and insert ("connection").

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

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No. 15:

Page 2, line 34, at end insert ("; or (e) any rights in or over land the acquisition of which is in their opinion desirable for the benefit of land or a building or structure falling within paragraph (a) or (d) above.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I do beg your Lordships' pardon. I had spoken to No. 15. I had not spoken to No. 14. I am in a quandary. What do we do? Amendments Nos. 13, 15 and 17 go together, which are the ones I have spoken to. I inadvertently said I had spoken to Amendment No. 14. Perhaps when we get to Amendment No. 16 I can speak to No. 14 then, because those two go together.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

7.54 p.m.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTONmoved Amendment No. 16: Page 2, line 40, leave out ("associated") and insert ("connected").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I do beg your Lordships' pardon and especially the pardon of the Deputy Speaker. This amendment goes with Amendment No. 14. The amendment is designed to ensure—and I am really talking to Amendment No. 14 now—that the meaning of Clause 3(1)(d) is not construed too narrowly. The Government amended Clause 3 in another place to enable the trustees to help with the acquisition of land, buildings or objects other than heritage property which they felt was needed because of their connection with heritage property. Since then we have thought further and now take the view that the word "association "could in the context of the Bill be taken to mean historical association. This interpretation would rule out the possibility that the trustees might wish to help with the acquisition of a car park or viewing point for a piece of outstanding scenic land. The use of the word "connected "avoids this problem. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTONmoved Amendment No. 17: Page 2, line 40, after ("associated") insert ("or, in the case of rights falling within paragraph (e) of that subsection, the land building or structure for whose benefit they arc acquired").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTONmoved Amendment No. 18: Page 3, line 6, leave out subsection (4).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I undertook in Committee to give further thought to the necessity of retaining subsection (4) in the light of representations made in this House and in another place. We have brought forward this amendment to remove it. I beg to move.

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, since my noble friend Lord Donaldson and I felt very strongly about this particular amendment, which now enables the trustees to make loans as well as grants, I think this is a tremendous improvement and I am very grateful to the noble Lord.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 19 not moved.]

Clause 4 [Other expenditure out of the Fund]:

The Earl of WEMYSS and MARCHmoved Amendment No. 20: Page 4, line 26, at end insert ("subject to section [Acquisition and acceptance of certain property and directions as to its disposal] below").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 20, 22 and 23 all go together, so perhaps I may be allowed to speak to them together. I am not in the least enamoured of these amendments. What I should like to do, if it were possible, is to strike out subsection (3) of both Clause 4 and Clause 3, but I know that the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, will not accept that. It is my hope that the noble Lord will accept Amendment No. 23, which bears the substance of what I am going to speak about, Amendments Nos. 20 and 22 being merely verbal leads in from Clause 4 and Clause 5, referring the reader of both to the next clause, which presumably would be No. 6, that is referred to in Amendment No. 23. I am sorry it is so complicated.

The object is to prevent the trustees having to ask the Ministers every time they want to acquire or accept property. The clichéwhich we have made, and which is the only really important point here, is that the trustees, being obviously good, substantial, trustworthy people should not be entirely fettered. Presumably when they are appointed the chairman will talk with the Minister, or Ministers, and be asked among other things to be very careful not to acquire property, not to acquire another Heveningham unless they are quite sure they can pass it on to the National Trust or some other suitable receiver. They should have some sort of discretion, and if they do not all the assurances given both in another place and in your Lordships' House, that the trustees are to have unfettered dis- cretion, are really negated. I know that time is getting very short, so I will say no more but hope very much that the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, will have second thoughts, as he has before now, and accept Amendments Nos. 20, 22 and 23. I beg to move.


My Lords, the Government must, I fear, resist these three amendments. The purpose, as the noble Earl has said, is to give the trustees discretion to acquire or accept gifts of property up to a certain value of the fund's resources, but at the same time to place a limit on the length of time the property may be retained. As I made clear in Committee, we feel strongly that the trustees need not, and should not, have discretion in this particular matter; and though we have carefully considered the point again we remain of that view, for a number of reasons.

First, we do not believe that an occasion will arise when the trustees will have to move so quickly—even by way of giving a financial commitment—that they would not have time to consult Ministers about their proposals. Particularly where land and buildings are concerned transactions are slow; with works of art it is usually known well in advance what will be up for sale, and for the most part it will be museums and galleries who will be the acquiring bodies.

In the very rare case where the trustees needed to move very quickly to acquire an item, they could always seek an urgent meeting with one or other of the Ministers concerned at which the proposed acquisition could be discussed and, if appropriate, approval given. Though I would be the last person to deny that Ministers are busy people, I have no doubt that, in important circumstances, Ministers would be prepared to meet the trustees at very short notice.

Secondly, I think that we must give a thought to the costs involved in maintaining heritage property. These may be small in the case of paintings or manuscripts but, where land and buildings are concerned, they could constitute a heavy drain on the resources available to the fund. And while, under the proposed amendment, the trustees could only acquire items up to a value of 20 per cent. of the fund's total resources without permission from Ministers, the costs of running, maintaining and repairing a property could add significantly to the bill and take it well over the 20 per cent.

Last, but certainly not least, the Government would argue that discretion to hold property for up to three or 12 months without Minister's permission, as the noble Earl proposes, is, effectively, a power to hold property indefinitely. For if, say, the trustees were to acquire an historic house for which they could not find a new owner within 12 months, what could Ministers do but agree to the property being retained until a suitable new custodian could be found—perhaps in two, three or even four years' time? And during that period, the costs of maintaining the property would steadily he eroding the resources available for grants and loans for other equally or perhaps more deserving causes.

For all these reasons, the Government feel it is entirely right that the trustees should not be given absolute discretion to acquire property themselves without Ministers first having the chance to discuss with them what is involved. I believe that, far from finding this requirement a hindrance, the trustees might well find it helpful to have the authority of Ministers behind a decision to acquire. I hope, therefore, that the noble Earl, Lord Weymss and March, will now agree to withdraw his amendment so that the Bill can make progress.

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, I think it is rather a pity that the Government will not accept that there could be some circumstances in which the trustees could be landed in a situation where it was vital for them to hold the property, even for a short time. I cannot imagine that the trustees—and I accept that it is not their job—would buy up property in the form of land or objects and hold on to it for even a short period. However, there is an outside chance and those of us who would like to see this provision inserted in the Bill in some way feel that the amendment would take care of the odd eventuality instead of shutting the door completely. I do not know whether the Government would be prepared to look at the matter again?


My Lords, with the leave of the House, I should like to say that we really can think of no such occasion when a Minister cannot be reached to be asked.


My Lords, I should like to support the noble Earl on this amendment. One knows that so often opportunities arise for trustees and there are inevitable delays during which one has to ask permission from a Minister and those opportunities may be lost. Sometimes the trustees themselves are difficult to reach. Meetings have to be arranged and there will in any event be delays. I should like to support the amendment.


My Lords, I also should like to support the noble Earl. There may well be occasions when this would be a tactical advantage, although one appreciates the argument which the Government have put forward. It is a pity that the Government do not feel inclined to accept the amendment.


My Lords, I, too, should like to support the noble Earl and I shall do so very briefly. I cannot accept the assurance that Ministers will, at all times, be in the same place and readily available. There have been occasions when Ministers have been held up in isolated places. I can remember an instance when the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, could not get away from an island in Scotland for some days—and some days may be vital in certain cases as regards acceptance.

The Earl of WEMYSS and MARCH

My Lords, I thank the various noble Lords who have spoken in support of my amendment. But, in view of the attitude of the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, it is probably useless for me to take the matter further. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw my first amendment.

Amendment by leave withdrawn.


My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.