§ 3.44 p.m.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. I am grateful to those noble Lords who have had to listen to me speaking on the transport Bill. I am sure that that is not what they had in mind when they decided to attend your Lordships' House this afternoon. I am happy to have the privilege of introducing the National Heritage Bill to this House. Noble Lords have an active interest in the preservation of our past, and a particular interest in our architectural and archaeological inheritance. Most of us, too, share a wider interest in the display and ordering of our great national collections. I look forward with great interest to hearing the contributions to the debate this afternoon; in particular, the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd.
The Bill falls into two main parts. The first part is concerned with four of our best known and internationally respected heritage institutions: the Victoria and Albert Museum; the Science Museum; the Armouries at the Tower; and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Each is pre-eminent in its field, and is served by experts whose work is recognised throughout the world as authoritative. Indeed, many of us know from personal experience how esteemed are their services. The second part is concerned with the establishment of a new Commission for Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings for England, to carry out various functions in England in respect of those parts of our national heritage.
First, I should like to turn to the four national institutions. The Government have been concerned about the differences in management arrangements between our national institutions. Most are already trustee bodies with the managerial autonomy that accompanies that status. They are accountable for their finances, and have scope within the limits of their grants to deploy their resources as they think best. But the scope is not available in the same measure to each of the four. The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum are currently the direct responsibility of the Minister for the Arts, acting for the Secretary of State for Education and Science. The Armouries in the 985 Tower of London are currently the responsibility of the Secretary of State for the Environment, and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Wakehurst Place are the responsibility of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
The main difficulty is one of divided responsibility. The Bill aims to rectify this. At present each controlling Minister of the Crown is answerable to Parliament in detail for policy in these institutions. But this practice is contrary to the present Government's policy of keeping at arm's length from their non-departmental public bodies—a principle which we believe is vital for the integrity of the bodies and the health of their activities. I am sure that this House would agree that it should not expect Government departments to possess the special knowledge required to scrutinise and justify decisions relating to curatorial, scientific and aesthetic responsibilities.
Our predecessors began consultations on the status of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum in 1978. We continued the discussions, which culminated in the decision to carry out a Rayner Scrutiny of the institutions last winter. We welcomed the recommendations of the scrutiny, which came down firmly in favour of devolved status, and in May of this year my right honourable friend the Minister for the Arts announced the Government's intention to legislate to establish boards of trustees for the two museums. We selected that option after considerable thought because, in our view, a board of trustees is a most effective way of enabling the museums to be accountable and responsible for their actions. It is the normal form of management in other national museums and galleries, where it has worked successfully for many years. Similar considerations weighed in our decision to confer trustee status on the Tower Armouries and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Establishment of the new boards will alleviate other problems facing the institutions. All four collections are currently staffed by civil servants, and have had to make their contribution to staff reductions which have been applied to Government departments. Yet the work that they do is quite unlike that of Departments of State, and the services that they offer cannot be directly compared. The proposed change in status will remove the staff from the Civil Service. The institutions will, of course, remain constrained by their overall resource allocations. The Bill is emphatically not a licence for over-staffing, or for disregard of the principles of efficiency. For example, the pay, and hence the grading and loading, of posts will remain under a degree of surveillance by sponsor departments and the Treasury. The new trustee boards will, however, be able, and expected, to use their own professional judgment in balancing the competing demands for their resources, rather than leaving that fundamental policy issue to Government departments. The Government consider that the logical and proper course of action.
Kew perhaps merits a few separate comments. In April this year, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food announced in another place his intention to consult the interests concerned on the proposal to put the gardens under trustees, and the consultations have revealed a substantial weight of opinion favouring independent trustees. The trustee idea is not a new 986 one. As early as 1838, at the time of the Lindley Committee, there was a suggestion that the gardens should be put under trustees, and the idea has since been revived several times. However, no Govermnent before this have been concerned enough with machinery of Government matters to "grasp the nettle" and propose to Parliament the kind of legislation which we are now considering. In our view, as with the museums, independent trustees are best placed to run an institution of this kind and to give the support to the director which he requires in carrying out diverse and important activities in a specialised sector.
Apart from the four national institutions to which I have referred, the Bill also contains provisions enabling the Secretary of State for Defence to grant aid certain designated armed forces museums. These museums already have trustee status but are nevertheless still staffed by civil servants. This places the Ministry in a similar cleft stick to the other sponsoring departments and it is therefore appropriate that the Bill should include clauses to deal with these institutions too. It is intended that no museum would be designated without the agreement of the governing body concerned. Two that are intended to be designated are the RAF Museum at Hendon and the National Army Museum in Chelsea. Others are in mind. However, the majority of service museums are relatively small, unit collections and should not be disturbed.
I turn now to the second main part of this Bill, namely, the provisions designed to establish a new Commission for Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings for England. There are few surprises in the proposals. The idea has been very thoroughly canvassed by the Secretary of State for the Environment, first in an outline consultative document which triggered off a valuable debate, and then in a detailed decision document—The Way Forward—which set out his decision to proceed with this proposal and also drew up a blueprint for the detals of how it might work. The Bill very largely follows that pattern.
It is for the establishment in England of a commission with responsibility, first, for the management and maintenance of monuments in the care of the Secretary of State; second, a lively and imaginative presentation of those monuments; third, to make grants to local authorities, private owners and ecclesiastical authorities for the preservation of historic buildings and ancient monuments and ecclesiastical buildings in use; fourth, the coordination of rescue archaeology work; and, finally, advice to the Secretary of State on listing, scheduling and taking monuments into care. The Secretary of State would retain responsibility and be answerable to Parliament for the broad aspects of policy, confirmation of decisions on listing, scheduling and taking monuments into care, and the exercise of all planning functions under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Acts.
Perhaps here I may pay tribute, first, to all those staff who over the years have made such a contribution to the better preservation and presentation of our heritage in all its forms, and, second, to the members of the Ancient Monuments Board and Historic Buildings Council in England, whose work will be subsumed in the new commission but whose efforts 987 will live on and provide the foundation for further progress. In this context I welcome the contribution later of my noble friend the Duke of Grafton.
Let me list the major advantages which the Government see in the proposal embodied in the Bill. First, it reduces central Government functions in an area where these are more effectively carried out by a commission rather than a Government department. Second, the Government look for a more positive and creative approach arising from the fusion of the existing arrangements. At present the Department of the Environment, the Ancient Monuments Board and the Historic Buildings Council are all involved. Bringing them together will create a body which can exert a powerful influence for conservation in its widest sense.
Third, the Government look for an imaginative approach to the presentation of our national heritage and the development of the commercial and tourist opportunities which they present, and a new approach to the educational use of the heritage. I would stress that such changes are not to be made at the expense of the preservation of the heritage. That remains the basic aim. Fourth, the Government look to the new body to tap the abundant goodwill which undoubtedly exists towards the heritage, through private donations, sponsorship, voluntary assistance and in other ways.
All this makes a powerful case for the change proposed by the Bill. However, worries have been expressed and it is proper that those worries should be answered. If I stress certain matters now, I hope it may reassure some doubters. As I have already said, this change does not in any way reduce the Government's ultimate responsibility for, or commitment to, the preservation of the nation's heritage. Some people have talked about this proposal in terms of selling the heritage for a profit. Nothing could be further from the Government's mind. This Government have, I believe, an impeccable record in terms of protection of the heritage.
I know the Secretary of State for the Environment would want me to say that his proposal is in no way intended as a cost-cutting exercise. He will continue to protect heritage expenditure so far as possible from the rigours of public expenditure cuts. The important work of archaeological survey and recording will continue, with Government support through the funding of rescue projects. So will work on historic buildings, including the relisting survey, and in conservation areas, in all of which work local authorities play a vital role. The Government see the new commission as a major force for even better performance than at present in caring for the nation's heritage.
I now turn to the detailed provisions of the Bill. Each of the institutions covered by the Bill has its own distinctive and unique character. They have different tasks to perform and these are reflected in the provisions in the Bill and have to some extent influenced its shape. The Bill must be capable of giving clear guidance to those responsible for carrying its provisions into effect in the future and it has been deemed desirable that each of the institutions concerned should be covered in a separate section. I hope the merits of this approach will become clear as I continue through the main provisions.
988 The first two parts of the Bill concern the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum. Clauses 1 to 7 and Part I of Schedule I relate to the Victoria and Albert Museum and Clauses 8 to 14 and Part II of Schedule I relate to the Science Museum. Reference is also made to these institutions in Schedules 5 and 6 which deal with amendments and repeals. Since provisions for these institutions are similar, I propose for the moment to deal with the Victoria and Albert Museum and to return later to identify the differences in the provisions relating to the Science Museum, the Armouries and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Clause 1 establishes a board of trustees. Detailed provision as to the board is contained in Part I of Schedule 1. I do not propose to deal at length today with the matters contained in the schedules. This one concerns the detailed aspects of the status, organisation and procedure of the board and the employment of staff. I should stress to the House that the Government do not wish the interests of any of the staff affected by the Bill to suffer by virtue of its provisions, and for this reason each of the new boards and the commission will be required to make a firm offer of employment to each of its staff serving in those institutions on terms no less favourable, taken as a whole, than those applying in the Civil Service. The Bill specifies a period of three months in which the offers are to remain open, to give adequate time for staff to consider them. Discussions between parent departments and their respective trade union sides are in hand to ensure that all necessary aspects have been taken into consideration.
Clause 2 is concerned with the board's general functions. It specifies the board's duties to care for, preserve and augment the collections, to exhibit them to the public and to facilitate access to them for the purpose of research, and it takes into account the educational role of the museums. The Victoria and Albert Museum has performed long and distinguished service in the fostering of the public's appreciation of all matters relating to art and design and it has achieved this through the unrivalled breadth of its collections and the wide range of activities related to them. To these ends, the board may make all manner of contracts and agreements, acquire and dispose of property, and do such other things as may be necessary for the purpose of their functions. Clause 2 also enables the board to look after objects not in their collections on behalf of the Minister of the Crown. Acquisitions and disposals of land may be made with the Secretary of State's consent.
Clause 3 transfers to the board the objects which form part of the present collections, together with the general equipment required for the upkeep and administration of the museum. The transfer is, of course, to include objects which are temporarily away on loan from the museum. Any funds vested in a Minister of the Crown in respect of the museum will become the property of the board, and rights and liabilities attaching to either objects or funds affected by this clause will also be transferred. In certain instances it may be necessary to withhold objects from the general transfer. Provision is made for this to be done by means of an order made by the Secretary of State, subject to a negative resolution procedure of either House.
989 Specific provision is included in the Bill to withhold the important collection of objects relating to the first Duke of Wellington and exhibited under the care of the Victoria and Albert at Apsley House. The present Duke and the Minister for the Arts have agreed that the objects should remain in the ownership of the Crown. The day-to-day care of the collection is to be transferred to the board of trustees and the Bill provides accordingly.
Clause 4 provides that, in the case of deeds of gifts and bequests which are drawn up before, but do not take effect until after, the establishment of the board, and which may be in such terms as to otherwise vest property in the Secretary of State for Education and Science, such a gift or bequest shall in fact be to the benefit of the board.
Clause 5 is concerned with the acquisition and disposal of objects by the board. Apart from acquisition by purchase, exchange or gift, a Minister of the Crown may transfer to the board any object vested in him which may be appropriate to the collections. The board is not allowed to sell, exchange or give away an object unless it is a duplicate or is unfit to be retained in the collections and can be disposed of without detriment to the interest of students or the general public. Provision is made for the board to transfer objects to other national museums and galleries which are already enabled under existing legislation to make similar transfers to the Victoria and Albert and Science Museums. Objects which have become useless for the purpose of the collections by reason of damage, physical deterioration or infestation, may be disposed of notwithstanding any trusts or conditions that may be attached to the objects in question. These provisions are similar to those which Parliament adopted, and which have been generally recognised to be appropriate, in the case of the British Museum.
Clause 6 deals with the lending and borrowing of objects. When considering loans, the board is to pay particular attention to requests for loans for public exhibitions. The board is also required to take into account the interests of students and the safety of the objects. Loans are not to be made where they are inconsistent with the terms of trusts or conditions attaching to objects, unless 25 years has elapsed since the objects were acquired by the museum, or unless consent to the loan has been obtained in writing from the donor or personal representative of the testator. The Bill enables the board to accept loans either for public exhibition or for the purposes of research. Clause 7 provides that the expenditure of the board is to be met out of money voted by Parliament.
My Lords, I now turn to the Science Museum, which shares its origins with the Victoria and Albert but which, since 1909, has had a distinguished and distinctive rôle to promote the public appreciation and interest in all matters relating to science and the application of scientific principles in industry. Provision for this museum differs only in so far as there are references to the Patent Museum in Clauses 10 and 11 and Part II of Schedule 1. The collections of the Patent Museum have been associated with those of the Science Museum since 1883 when the Patents Act vested the Patent Museum in the Department of Science and Arts. Over the years, these collections 990 have become inextricably merged, but it is necessary to make reference in the Bill to the Patent Museum because it is a legally separate entity.
Clauses 15 to 20, and Part III of Schedule 1, deal with the Armouries at Her Majesty's Tower of London. This museum originated centuries ago as a military store for armour and ordnance. Over time, this store has evolved into a national collection of arms and armour. Trustee status is appropriate for this collection for the same reason as I have already described, and close links with the Royal Collection make it appropriate to provide for one trustee to be appointed by Her Majesty and for the Constable to be an ex-officio trustee. The detailed provisions in the relevant clauses are very similar to those I have already described in detail in respect of the V & A.
My Lords, I turn now to the provisions on the Royal Botanic Gardens contained in Clauses 21 to 26. The individual clauses relating to the Royal Botanic Gardens are in general terms parallel to the provisions for the other trustee boards. Clause 22 lays down the functions of the boards in a way which will enable them to take over the present activities of the Gardens in the fields of research in botany, education, care of a collection of plants and so on, as well as admission of the public to Kew and Wakehurst Place. This clause also makes the necessary provision under which the board of trustees will manage the land concerned, and provides for ministerial control over certain matters; for example, hours of entry and entrance fees. Clauses 23 to 26 follow closely provisions which I have already described.
I turn now to Clauses 27 and 28 and Schedule 2, concerning museums which have a close association with the armed forces of the Crown. The position of the Ministry of Defence differs slightly from the position of the other departments sponsoring this legislation. The majority of its principal museums are already constituted as trustee, or similar bodies, and therefore already have the legal capacity to control resources and employ staff which is being given to the other museums covered by the Bill. Nonetheless, the Ministry wishes to change the basis on which the armed forces museums are currently funded in those instances where it is considered that this would give the larger establishments greater scope to manage their own resources. This will be achieved by means of a grant in aid to cover those staff and running costs which are at present provided in kind out of the general defence budget This will put them on the same basis as the other museums in the Bill. No specific increase in public expenditure is expected to result from this new arrangement. Clause 27 provides that any armed forces museums may be funded in this way. At the moment, most of the larger museums receive a small grant in aid from defence Votes to cover the purchase of exhibits, and it is intended that this will continue to be provided.
Clause 28 allows the Secretary of State to designate certain museums by means of a statutory instrument. It is only the museums so designated which will in future be funded solely through a grant in aid, and the effect of designation is to apply the provisions of Schedule 2 to the body concerned. This will ensure that the position of staff currently employed at these museums as civil servants will not be adversely affected by the change in funding arrangements.
991 Specifically, it provides for their continued employment by the governing body of the museum on terms no less favourable than those they currently enjoy, and allows for their continued membership of the principal Civil Service pension scheme. It is very similar to the arrangements made for the staff of the other museums we have discussed. The clause applies only to establishments which actually employ civil servants and does not affect other employees who may be employed directly by these establishments.
My Lords, I have already talked about the policy behind the commission proposal. The relevant clauses in the Bill are Clauses 29 to 32, together with Schedule 3 which makes provision on status, membership and other related matters for the commission. A long and detailed Schedule 4 endows the new commission with functions. The reasons for this rather intricate approach to the new commission is because the new commission largely obtains its functions not by new statutes but by adaptation of functions which at present belong to the Secretary of State. The matter is complicated by the fact that the commission's functions apply only in England, so that the Secretary of State must retain functions in Scotland and Wales. The best way of providing the commission with its detailed functions, stemming from existing statutes, is by detailed amendment of those statutes. I am afraid that this approach produces a very substantial schedule. Incidentally, before Committee stage—in fact, I hope, next week—noble Lords will have available Notes on Clauses which will take them through such a schedule as this and explain to them the purposes of the various paragraphs in it.
Clause 29 establishes the commission and applies the procedural provisions of Schedule 3. Clause 30 gives the commission the purpose of conservation in England of ancient monuments, archaeological areas, and buildings and areas of special architectural or historic interest; it gives the commission the new function of providing education and instruction and enables the commission to receive voluntary contributions and to borrow temporarily. Clause 31 enables the Secretary of State to pay grant to the commission, and Clause 32 confirms that on the creation of the commission, the Historic Buildings Council for England and the Ancient Monuments Board for England will cease to exist.
I said earlier that I did not intend to dwell on the schedules to the Bill. But a brief reference to Schedule 5 may be helpful. This schedule makes certain amendments to the National Gallery and Tate Gallery Act 1954 to place those institutions on the same footing as the other national collections, including those covered by the main body of the Bill, by removing certain requirements for parliamentary approval of certain decisions by the trustees concerning loans from their collections. These unique and stringent controls are a legacy from the 19th century legislation that established the collection in the national galleries. They deal with matters that are more appropriate to the trustees of the institutions concerned. For this reason, the schedule contains provision for their repeal.
My Lords, I hope that I have now said enough to outline the more important aspects of this Bill. It is a 992 measure designed primarily to remove the disparities existing in the control and management of some of our great national collections and others of similar standing. It offers a wider framework for co-ordinating future developments and approaches to the protection of our architectural and archaeological heritage. I believe that the Government's desire to provide for the future in this way will be widely shared by your Lordships whose speeches I look forward to hearing later this afternoon. I commend the Bill to the House.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(The Earl of Avon.)
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ Baroness Birk
My Lords, may I first thank the Minister for explaining so clearly—at least as clearly as he can with this particular Bill—what should in fact be two Bills. So he has now totalled three Bills this afternoon up to now. I do not know what else he has up his sleeve. This Bill, as he said, falls into two distinct parts, one dealing with the museums and the other the new commission. I shall leave the discussion on the museums to my noble friend Lord Strabolgi who will be speaking later in the debate. One personal point I should like to make however is how delighted I am to see that the Armouries Museum is having its own board of trustees. In the days when I was a Minister at the Department of the Environment and visited the Tower of London on many occasions, I always felt that the Armoury was so buried in the body of the Tower of London that it did not really have its own identity and was not always recognised as one of the leading armouries museums in the world.
As the Minister has pointed out, the major innovation in this Bill is the creation of this new Government Commission for Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings for England. I am delighted that we are going to have Notes on Clauses, but, with the greatest respect, I do not think that that is good enough. I do not think that one has to prove that one is the "Brain of Britain" in order to read a piece of legislation, although no legislation is ever easy to read. When one gets to the schedules, particularly Schedule 4,I must confess that that is practically incomprehensible.
What I am suggesting is that a Keeling Schedule should be introduced into this Bill. Noble Lords will be aware that the Keeling Schedule—which was named after a memorandum by Mr. Keeling and other private Members of the other place in 1938—amends a Bill so that one can see the references from referred legislation placed within the Bill. The explanation of this is on page 467 of Erskine May. I hope that the Keeling Schedule is adopted, otherwise it is going to be extremely difficult for those of us who are working on the Bill. Also, people who want to understand, whether they are professionals or interested amateurs, will find the Bill quite impossible. I ask the Minister to consider this matter very carefully.
We also need—almost together with this Bill—a consolidation Act to put together all the pieces of heritage legislation which are now mounting up and are all over the place in different Acts. I will not detain the House, but there have been a number of precedents for using the Keeling Schedule, and the most recent one was the Social Security Act 1980. Those of us on these Benches must have some grave 993 reservations about the Government's motives in creating a body which, to judge from the Explanatory Memorandum of the Bill, enables the Secretary of State to reduce the number of civil servants by 3,000. But will they not be roses by other names? If not, how are they going to run the commission and museums?
However, I do not believe that this Bill will divide the House on party lines; I think that we shall find, right across the House, that we have agreements or disagreements, irrespective of party. I can see the advantage of a body that is free from close day-to-day Government control, which can take a broad, independent view and which can also harness both creative and commercial elements to it. To be able to do this it must, in the first place, be a strongly constituted commission with obviously a first-class chairman. Then it must have—and this is the 66,000 dollar question—the financial resources sufficient to carry out the work. This is an anxiety that has been expressed by all the amenity groups in the field, the statutory bodies and also numbers of other individuals. I shall return to this in a moment. While responsibility lies within the hands of the Secretary of State, the Government are subject to immediate pressure in this House and another place if questions need to be raised or there is something that Members of either place do not like about what is happening.
From my experience as a Minister in the Department of the Environment, when I had the pleasant but often contentious task of being responsible for the whole area of conservation, I was made aware of two things. The first was that in a very large department one can often wriggle some sums of money along to undertake or finish certain projects, sums which are really financial crumbs in that department but which for an agency could constitute quite a large sum. One has to get over that problem. Secondly, the interest that is shown in the department in heritage depends on the lead given by Ministers. Apart from the Secretary of State, who has shown tremendous concern with the heritage and also a very productive interest in these matters, I do not believe that there is a Minister responsible for what I would call the heritage package, as there was when I was in the Ministry during the last Administration. This can mean an uneven succession. If there is a bleak period when nobody is particularly interested in the heritage and therefore no lead is given, even to those officials who are themselves dedicated—and there are a great many of them—then it can be very bad.
Therefore I have sympathy with the Secretary of State's desire to see many of these decisions on ancient monuments and historic buildings removed to an independent agency. It will give both freedom and inspiration to the safeguarding of our buildings. I do not believe that people will think that the Government are selling off the heritage at a profit. I do not think that the Government have sold anything off at a profit yet, so I do not think they will be selling the heritage at a profit! But a number of concerns have been raised.
The Minister this afternoon spelt out clearly the arrangements about conditions for staff. I put it to him that there is still a great deal of anxiety, and reassurances are needed to be given to the Civil Service unions and also to NALGO, which provide the people 994 who are involved in the archaeological digs. If there is not sufficient clarity, this matter should be looked at very carefully in Committee. The Government should initiate discussions at the earliest possible date with the unions. It will be very bad to start off something like this and introduce a sour note.
A number of the points that I am going to make—and other noble Lords may also say this—are about matters that are not in the Bill. It is not so much a question of discussing what is in the Bill, as we are doing, but of referring to the large, rather foggy areas. It is not clear which powers will be reserved to the Secretary of State and which to the agency. For example, will the Secretary of State endorse the commission's recommendations? In that case, how much liaison will there be and how much duplication? How much expert advice will he need in order to check on the commission? I have in mind such matters as appeals from the commission to him on certain things, maybe on listing or other things which do not come necessarily within the planning area which he reserves to himself. All this must be spelt out more clearly on the face of the Bill. Will he stick strictly to planning matters and interdepartmental policies which might cut across some of the recommendations made by the agency and which can only be resolved at ministerial level?
Fears have been expressed by expert bodies, amenity groups and individuals, that such an agency might feel itself pressed to exploit the commercial possibilities of the popular monuments—and I think that the commercial element was mentioned by the Minister—and neglect the unsung parts of the heritage, like rescue archaeology and field monuments.
I should not have thought that that was the intention of the Government, but again I think it needs to be spelled out and is probably something to be put into the Bill itself.
I am very pleased to see that education comes into the Bill and I hope very much that the Heritage Education Group, which I set up under the chairmanship of Lord Briggs and which has been going very well ever since then, will be able to be taken in as part of the commission or of its committees, because there we have a ready-made heritage education vehicle for young people, which is where interest in the heritage must start.
Where you have people such as expert archaeologists, architects and people concerned with nature conservancy and everything else, who are concerned about how this will affect them, one way of reassuring them is by using the committees to the utmost and using them well and properly. It is essential that they should be high-powered, professional and expert, and that men and women who think in terms of innovations should be on these committees and that, if I may say so, as many as possible of them should be still in their first youth. Archaeology, architecture, education and also publicity would be some of the committees concerned, and there could be others. If anybody takes the view that people will not want to serve on these committees unless they are on the commission proper or unless they are paid, I would dispute that. I have always found that if you invite people to serve on a panel or a committee and ask them to do a job, if they are interested and feel it is useful, they will readily do it. Sometimes we do not 995 have a complete appreciation of the extent to which people are masochists in doing good works and helping the community.
The local authorities—I am glad the Minister stressed this and I would stress it even further—must be represented on the commission and the committees and they must feel that they are part of this work, because it is through them that so much of the care of the heritage has to be done.
When we come to the palaces and the parks, I know, for instance, that the Tower of London in 1981 achieved £4.329 million in receipts and £617,000 from sales. Of course, it is very tempting to put it over right away into an agency so that it has a money-spinner to start with. I would have thought that the question whether or not the palaces are inhabited is one about which it is not necessary to make a complete distinction; so long as the maintenance is done to the standard employed by the Historic Buildings Council it does not make all that difference. But it does need a lot of consideration and I would suggest that there should be an enabling clause put in the Bill which could be implemented later by order, so that more legislation is not needed.
So far as the Royal parks are concerned—here I speak personally, having been responsible for them from 1974 to 1979—I think they should be left exactly where they are within the department. They are under the bailiff and park superintendents, and I think they are superbly run. Anyhow, it does not seem to fit in with the built heritage. I know that the staffs are unhappy at the idea and I would hope that they could be put out of their anxiety and misery and told that they will be left alone. I am not going to say anything about the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments because I see that the noble Lord, Lord Adeane, is to speak later.
Finally, I turn to the nub of the problem, which is of course finance. I should like to ask the Minister a series of questions. What provision will the Government make to enable money to be carried forward from year to year? I know only too well the Treasury's hearty dislike of such funding arrangements, but really it is time that the Treasury was dragged into the latter half of the twentieth century. They really must budge. This is not a party political point, because they are just the same whoever is in power. I do not think they even notice when a change of Government has taken place. Ministers get sucked into them and just change their personalities; it is quite extraordinary. The Government's consultation paper, however, is absolutely clear on this point—and I quote:There will also be appropriate financial arrangements to allow the commission to carry forward unspent money from one financial year to the next".This is exactly the way that museum purchase grants work.
As the consultation paper recognises, long-term planning and budgeting are essential if the commission is to be successful. It is particularly important in this case because they, and particularly the Historic Buildings Council at the moment, are responsible for long-term repair and even rebuilding work. This must be planned ahead, and one really needs a quinquennial programme in order to be able to carry it out properly.
996 It is no good being told about two months before that your next year's grant is going to be X amount of pounds. I hope that when the Minister replies he will be able to be more explicit about the arrangements that will apply than the Bill, or at least will be able to hold out hope for future Government amendments.
A further vital point is that the commission must be allowed to retain any profits made; otherwise there will be little incentive on the very point the Minister himself made about increasing and encouraging commercial initiatives, improving the attractiveness of places and so on. This is something I was trying very hard to do when in the Ministry, but again shortage of funds and of staff in these particular areas of publicity, presentation and so on made it extremely difficult. It is all very well to have the creative ideas—they come free—but when you are trying to put the creative ideas into practice unfortunately they often cost a great deal of money. Unless the commission can retain its profits, then it is going to make it impossible for it to manage or carry out the new task it is meant to do.
If this is agreed, will the Minister then assure us that this will not result in a decrease of the next year's grant in aid? This used to happen. You worked yourself to the bone to get takings up at the Tower or Stonehenge, or whatever, and then you found that because of that you were going to get a bit less the following year. You really had to feel very dedicated to it all in order to do this. I want to see the commission's financial success used in the entrepreneurial spirit which characterises so many of the Secretary of State's actions, so that it is available for conserving the heritage rather than conserving the Treasury by lining its coffers.
On this point of donations and sponsorship, I am afraid I do not believe that private individuals or even companies will donate money to a Government-funded commission. It is like giving it to a Government department. They will not do it. So they must be able to invest any money they want to put in separately, for it to be used for special projects. That means the commission must be able to enjoy the charitable status which is provided in Schedule 5 for the museums and the Royal Botanic Gardens—I found that by skipping through Schedule 4! I wonder why it was not included for the commission? If there is any reason or if it was overlooked then, for goodness' sake, let us put it in so that it can work in the same way as the museums, which set up private funds or private companies for this purpose.
When the National Heritage Memorial Fund was set up after Mentmore and all that (which I will not go into this afternoon) it had an endowment of £12 million. I know that was notionally credited to the Land Fund, but as a result of what happened over Mentmore I set up a committee which led to the legislation and then to the fund. It must give us all great pleasure that the fund has been so successful, and I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Charteris, is to speak later this afternoon.
But it would be wrong to compare them too closely, except that they both need capital endowment, because this is the fusion of two bodies. Unless it can be shown—and the Government can do this through their legislation—that the fusion will produce something better than their working separately within the department as before, it is not worth the effort. In fact, it would be a backward rather than a forward 997 step. Unless the basic financial assurances are given during the passage of this Bill, it would be better if the responsibility remained with DOE. But if the economics are properly and adequately worked out, and other necessary amendments—which will certainly arise—are made to the Bill, it could result in a new and healthier prospect for our ancient monuments and historic buildings.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ Lord Beaumont of Whitley
My Lords, we have a long and distinguished list of speakers today and I will do my best to set a good example by being brief. We have had a very full, and very necessary, explanation from the Minister, for which I thank him, and the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, has brought to bear her own experience of the whole field—she must be among only half-a-dozen Members of your Lordships's House who have this very wide experience—in the very important speech which we have just heard. But the rest of us will probably want to raise mainly questions and individual points arising from various parts of the field, and we look forward to gaining a lot during this Second Reading debate from the experience that noble Lords have to offer.
We are particularly glad to welcome the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd. He brings some considerable experience not only from his period of time as Secretary of State for Education, but also from looking after the whole business of Leeds Castle. Indeed, I am particularly glad to welcome him, after the years in which he has not attended your Lordships' House, to make his maiden speech, since the number of noble Lords who shared the Conservative Benches in the House of Commons in the 1935 Parliament with my father is getting fewer and fewer. He is a welcome addition and I hope that we shall see him taking part in the proceedings in your Lordships' House very often in the future.
I believe that this Bill achieves a number of worthwhile objects, although it is sometimes very difficult to sort out the principles on which this Government's policies are based. The noble Earl the Minister referred to this Government's policy of keeping certain bodies at arms' length. I wrote that down, because I was finding it very difficult to disentangle that from this Government's policy of getting rid of quangos. Somehow, there seems to be some contradiction between the two; in fact, this seems to be a very great quango-creating Bill, but it is none the worse for that. My party has never been opposed to quangos, which have a great deal to be said for them, and certainly I think that the various bodies set up under this Bill have a lot to be said for them. That is really the only major Second Reading point that I wish to make, but I have one or two queries.
One of the most important tasks that the Victoria and Albert and the Science Museums have had in the past has been to administer the purchase funds given by the Department of Education and Science to disburse to regional museums. It is a task which they have performed extremely well and which, on the whole, the regional museums are very grateful to them for doing. But I am not quite clear who will take on that job under the new arrangements. It would not necessarily seem appropriate for them to keep it. On 998 the other hand, the Museums and Galleries Commission is not really equipped to do the same job. Perhaps the noble Earl will inform us about that.
In a small way, one of the more important things that this Bill does is to upgrade some of the service museums. Some of the most important museums in this country are service museums and, on the whole, they have been very well looked after and have contributed quite a lot to the preservation of the past in this country. The fact that they can be taken under the Government's wing in this way is much to be welcomed.
I think that the majority of the discussion that we shall have on this Bill, particularly when we get to the Committee stage, may well centre on the Commission for Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings for England. In some ways, it is the most contentious proposal put forward; indeed, so much so that I gather there are already amendments in the offing. I look forward very much to hearing the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, on this subject, since I gather that there is a draft amendment which the noble Lord intends to put down, to deal with the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments. We in your Lordships' House have become used to Bills having amendments dubbed with the names of their proposers, but until today I had never heard being discussed an amendment in the name of a noble Lord even before the Second Reading has come to pass.
The whole question of the relationship of a Commission for Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings for England and the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments, and the very repetition of the two titles in the same sentence, raises some of the questions that are necessary. The whole of this business need to be gone into very much more fully. We have had two consultation documents on this matter. The first was rather unpopular and extremely brash, and it was superseded by another which was much more reasonable. But the first consultation document raised certain doubts in people's minds which have not been allayed.
The work done by the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments is well-known. It is academic, it is free, it is open to the public and it is very much treasured by a great number of people, not least by the scholastic community. Any reduction of any of these things, even if it is in the perfectly good cause of trying to make our heritage pay for itself, to a certain extent, is to be deplored. The qualifications of members of the Commission as outlined in Schedule 3(3), with its understandable emphasis on tourism, commerce and finance, raise some questions in people's minds. It is a matter which we shall have to examine with care when we get to the Committee stage.
However, in the meantime, I think it is a pity, as the noble Baroness suggested, that we have two Bills in one. It is a habit of this Secretary of State to produce more than one Bill at a time in your Lordships' House and I think we should prefer it if, in future, we had only one Bill at a time. But compared with the Wildlife and Countryside Bill, which was about five Bills in one, this is not a particularly bad Bill. On the whole, it is extremely welcome. We look forward to a constructive Committee stage in your Lordships' House and in the meantime give it a fair wind.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd
My Lords, I am venturing to address your Lordships today for the first time because, as chairman of the Leeds Castle Foundation and working with my fellow trustees, of whom I see several present in the Chamber today, I have spent all my time in the last eight years looking after this beautiful castle in Kent. I believe your Lordships will find that our experience will be useful in considering the Bill, and especially the proposal that a large part of the Government-owned monuments and castles should be transferred to the new commission so that they may be more entrepreneurially managed than is possible by a Government department.
First, however, may I remind your Lordships what we are at Leeds Castle? We are the first of a new breed of stately homes—created by Parliament. It was in Mr. Gaitskell's last Budget that he brought forward the proposal that beautiful and historic houses could, with the same privileges of tax-free transfer as in the case of the National Trust, be given to a Government department, a local authority or the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Up at once got Mr. Harry Strauss, later Lord Conesford, who told the Chancellor roundly that as an Oxford man he ought to know that the Universities at Oxford and Cambridge were not important; it was the colleges which ought to be the recipients. Also Lord Winterton, the Member for Horsham, said that the Chancellor ought to include local trusts, because the Sussex Archaeological Society looked after Lewes Castle and saved the taxpayers the expense of doing so.
Showing his conciliatory and constructive nature, Mr. Gaitskell recognised the force of the arguments raised in debate, and on Report stage came back with a completely new proposal. This was that the recipient could now be "any body not established or conducted for profit", which meant of course a charity. So in 1974 Lady Baillie was able to set up a charity to preserve Leeds Castle in perpetuity. After a strange lapse of nearly a quarter of a century, we became the first major house to be transferred under Mr. Gaitskell's Budget of 1951. Since then, similar charities have been formed at Arundel, at Chatsworth and at Titsey Estates, and there are several more in the pipeline.
The noble Earl told us that the Government had engaged in a long and careful process of consultation before bringing forward this Bill. Indeed, some of it took place at Leeds Castle when we received the Historic Buildings Council for a residential conference to study the consultation paper. The noble Earl also said—and the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, emphasised this—that after all this consultation there is still a good deal of anxiety. On the one hand, there is the anxiety that some conservationists feel that a more entrepreneurial management might damage the heritage. On the other hand, there are those who wonder whether the Government are going far enough m giving a sufficiently free hand to the new managerial organisation which is going to be set up under the new commission.
I think I shall be able to show your Lordships that Leeds Castle might almost have been designed as a kind of test marketing project for the managerial side of the new commission. To start with, we are half in 1000 the public sector because we are a trust for the public benefit. On the other hand, we are also in the private sector because we are quite independent and have to rely entirely on our own financial resources and management.
We began, effectively, in 1975 and had the great advantage of having as our deputy chairman Mr. Peter Wilson of Sotheby's, with his superb artistic taste and entrepreneurial flair. He, anticipating the Bill, obtained for us the entirely charitable services of Mr. Leslie Bond, a main board director of the Rank Organisation. The Treasury kindly agreed to the secondment to us of Mr. John Caff who had been the Assistant Secretary at the Treasury in charge of heritage policy. Thanks originally to Mr. Tony Crosland when he was Minister for the Environment, we have received absolutely invaluable informal advice from the officials of the department. Therefore, in a sense, one could say that we have been almost a tiny microcosm of the managerial system to be set up under the commission.
Your Lordships may be interested in the results of our work. During the negotiations with the Treasury in 1974 it was estimated that the annual income from visitors at Leeds Castle would be £9,000. This year, our receipts from visitors will be over £500,000. The exact figure is £541,000. Your Lordships will find that that is 60 times the original estimate of our income, or an increase of 5,900 per cent. Early on, we invested no less than £500,000 in converting a beautiful old barn into a restaurant for teas and meals. Mr. Peter Wilson personally supervised the whole of the dercoration and produced what the Michelin Guide calls une ambiance agréable. This year our turnover from catering will be £600,000. Our gross income this year at Leeds Castle will be £1,750,000.I admit that I was surprised to find that that is not far short of the £1,950,000 which, last year, was the total income of all the beautiful castles and monuments which the Government, under this Bill, are going to transfer to the new commission. However, as your Lordships know well enough, the crucial point is the balance between receipts and income—that which in a normal commercial company would be called the profit and loss account but which we as a charity refer to as either a deficit or a surplus.
In our first two years we had a deficit at Leeds Castle of £200,000 a year. By 1979, we had converted that deficit into a surplus of £100,000 a year. This year, our surplus will be £300,000. That is a favourable turn-around in eight years of £500.000. None of this could ever have been achieved if we had not been entirely free of the kind of rules and regulations with which officials have to struggle at the moment when they are showing the castles of the Government to the nation.
All these surpluses at Leeds Castle have been immediately reinvested in improving the amenities and attractions of the castle. We have created a new garden, designed by Russell Page. We have also made a small herb garden for the blind. We have replanted a vineyard on the same spot where Bishop Odo of Bayeux, after he had been given the castle by William the Conqueror, had a vineyard, which is recorded in the Domesday Book. We have invested in the castle and now have a fine conference centre for our medical research and other residential conferences. We have 1001 installed ramps and a special lift for those in wheelchairs, and we continue to receive the disabled entirely free of admission charges. Our visitors continually comment on how beautifully the castle and gardens are maintained. We received a civic award for the new kitchen which we have attached to our barn. I have given this account in order, I hope, to demonstrate that entrepreneurial management, far from damaging the heritage, actually has the effect of positively protecting it, because, instead of being starved for funds for adequate maintenance, ample resources become available not only for first-class; maintenance but also for improvements.
I should like to conclude by saying only that the noble Earl has encouraged us today by his speech but that there are still anxieties as to whether the Government are giving the new managerial organisation a free enough hand. If they are not, will it be possible for us to bring forward constructive ideas which they may be able to accept? I believe it is essential to be able to provide for reasonable capital expenditure. I certainly believe, as the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, said, that it is essential that management plans are made for a far longer period than the one year which is so often the time limit within which Government funds are available. Also, I feel that it is very important for the morale of the new management that, if they are successful, the Treasury should allow the money to fructify in the business and not make success an excuse for reducing the grant.
I believe that we shall overcome these difficulties. I believe that the Government want to help us to meet these problems, and so I feel that Government and Parliament together are about to take a very large step in this Bill; a very large step indeed in improving the management of our heritage in a more entrepreneurial way, to the great advantage of the heritage itself, the tourist industry, and the economy of our nation.
§ 4.53 p.m.
§ Lord Adeane
My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will join with me in offering warm congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd, on his maiden speech, to which we have been looking forward for some long time. I hope that we shall all have the privilege of hearing his extremely wise words on many future occasions.
The Royal Commission on Historic Monuments in England of which I am the chairman, and in which I must therefore declare an interest, is not mentioned so far as I can see in the Bill now before the House. Like Banquo's ghost, it is nevertheless very much present at the feast and two noble Lords have already made two kindly references to it. I make no apology therefore for bringing it into general consideration of the Bill. First, I must make it clear to your Lordships that I am not today seeking to make a case in favour of or against the inclusion of this particular Royal Commission in the new body described in the Bill. Such a proposal is not my business—it is the business of the Government who, very sensibly in my opinion, have left it out. Nevertheless, as there is some similarity between the names of some of the bodies mentioned in the Bill and that of the Royal Commission, whose functions may not be generally known to all noble Lords, it may be 1002 for your Lordships' convenience if I explain as briefly as I possibly can what the Royal Commission is and what it actually does.
It was set up in 1908 under Royal Warrant and was charged, in the words of the warrant, with:making an inventory of the ancient and historical monuments connected with and illustrative of the contemporary culture, civilisation and conditions of life of the people of England from the earliest times; and to specify those most worthy of preservation.Since then, amendments have extended the commission's scope so that it comes up to more recent years. But that charter is still, in effect, what the commission does. It is a body for recording and assessing—rather an important word in this connection—our architectural and archaeological heritage. It is not directly concerned in any excavation, repairs or preservation, nor in providing money for any of those purposes.
In the world of architecture, churches and cathedrals have received a lot of special attention, naturally, but both great and small secular buildings have also been covered. The commission has always surveyed archaeological sites and now, as I am sure many of your Lordships realise, there is a great deal more archaeology carried on than there used to be. Archaeological field work is widely used as a method of research, particularly from the air. The results of all this research have been by tradition published in White Papers, and in much greater detail in inventories published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office. The speed of such publication has been determined by the resources in manpower and money available to the commission. These have never been lavish and in recent years cheaper and quicker methods have been added to try to convey this information to the public as it has accumulated.
Furthermore, under Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 the commission also has the duty of recording listed buildings once consent for their demolition has been granted. That means that the owner of a building who is in such a situation is compelled by law to let the commission know a month before he starts any major work on pulling the building down.
Since 1963 the Royal Commission has also been responsible for the National Monuments Record, which is housed in London. It is a systematic record of English architecture and archaeology. It is a public archive very much open to visitors, and it receives upwards of 60,000 new items every year. At the moment it deals with 3,000 personal visits and 13,000 inquiries. Noble Lords may agree that this is quite a considerable data base for architects and archaeologists, whether they be civil servants or private inquirers. In addition to all those activities, the Royal Commission is much involved in joining in projects which come from a variety of quarters: universities, local authorities, the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments, all types of national and local bodies and a good many private individuals as well.
That, my Lords, is a very brief statement of the work of the Royal Commission—independent and, it is hoped, scholarly work, carried out by 16 commissioners and their staff of about 100, a motivated and excellent staff and at the moment rather an anxious staff. I trust that all that I have said may be of some use should the Royal Commission be included in any further of your Lordships' deliberations. Meanwhile, I 1003 shall warmly support the Second Reading of the Bill in its present form.
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ Lord Montagu of Beaulieu
My Lords, before I speak to the Bill I should like to add my personal congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd. He could hardly have chosen a better subject to talk about, as his success in administering Leeds Castle has excited the admiration of many in the heritage business, many of whom follow the same principles as he has been enunciating. I hope that he will play an active part in the Committee stage and continue to let us have his advice. Secondly, I should like to apologise to the noble Earl, Lord Avon, and to all Members of the House because, due to a long standing engagement outside London later this afternoon, I am unable to stay for the rest of the debate.
I speak this afternoon from two points of view: first, as one who has been involved in snowing the heritage for over 30 years and as a past president of the Historic Houses Association; and secondly—and here I must declare an interest—as the president of the Museums Association. On behalf of the members, I can formally and, indeed, enthusiastically welcome the Bill, and I think that I can also do so on behalf of the two distinguished directors of the two South Kensington museums. The trustee status will, I believe, at last free them from the constraints on manpower and expenditure and other Civil Service control from which they have suffered in the past five or six years, and will put them on an equal footing with other national museums.
After all, the Victoria and Albert and the Science Museums are not just London museums. I remind noble Lords that these two famous museums developed from the Great Exhibition of 1851, and from the start, significantly, were given specific educational roles. From 1855 to 1878 the Victoria and Albert circulated loans and travelling exhibitions to educational establishments and provincial museums, and from 1882 it has administered the Government grant-in-aid towards the purchase of objects by local museums. The Science Museum has had similar responsibilities since the 1960s. These grants have been sympathetically and effectively administered and have provided a vital link between the pre-eminence of our great national museums and the rest of the country. The association is anxious that these pastoral responsibilities, partially abandoned in recent years due to cuts, should, when practical, be reinstated by their new trustees who will by then have a more flexible control over their spending. I am sure that this House would not wish to tie down the future trustees too strictly, but I should like to see recognition in the Bill as to their educational and pastoral functions. I know that my noble friend Lord Sandford will be speaking about education in more detail later.
Another important area where the association is concerned is that the staff in the national museums should not lose their status and links with the Civil Service. Here I support my noble friend Lady Birk in what she had to say. I therefore welcome the clause in the Bill which safeguards the position of the present staff and their entitlements.
1004 It is clear that all will be well on "Day 1", but the staff have naturally expressed anxiety that these undertakings should continue for new staff taken on after the change in status. There is no doubt that museum grades defined within the Civil Service do provide an essential framework and guide for the employment of museum staff. It is important that this structure should be protected.
The part of the Bill referring to museums is quite small in content and does not enter into detail about projections of future development of the museums. I hope, therefore, that this rare opportunity for Parliament to legislate for museums will not inhibit future legislation, as I feel it is important before too long to implement some of the far-reaching recommendations contained in the Drew Report on museums and galleries, which dealt with the relationship between Government, the national museums and the leading provincial centres.
Above all, there is the question of the future role of the Museums Commission. I confess, also, that there is considerable unease that the new trustee boards of the two museums may continue to be drawn from the "great and the good", appointed by the Prime Minister, and will have very wide powers in running these museums. I know that strong views are held on both sides on whether the board should be thus constituted or should be representative of various groups. However, I know that my noble friend Lord Eccles, whose experience and knowledge in this field are paramount, will be putting forward alternative proposals. But in the meantime I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to the more satisfactory wording in Schedule 3, paragraph 3, in which it is laid down that the Secretary of State shall have regard, when appointing people to the Heritage Commission, to the person's knowledge in a wide range of fields—from archaeology to architecture, conservation, tourism and commerce—which I think is most appropriate in this day and age.
On the future financing of the museums the Bill is somewhat vague. May we hope that this Government's record in maintaining levels of support for the arts will be continued? I hope that the preamble of the Bill, which states rather negatively that the Bill will not give rise to additional expenditure, can be more positively interpreted as being that the present level of funding for these great institutions will not be affected adversely by their change of status. I welcome the ability of the trustees to raise revenue, including by admission charges, where and when they think fit, but in my view it is essential that any money so raised should be retained and spent for the benefit of the museums, without affecting their Government grants.
As a founder of a technical museum which is one of the largest tourist attractions in England, I feel I cannot agree to the somewhat extraordinary distinction set out in the Bill between the intended functions of the Victoria and Albert and the Science Museums. It would appear that a deliberate omission has been made in defining the functions of the Science Museum, compared with the Victoria and Albert, the Armouries and the Royal Botanical Gardens, for the latter three have been urged to promote the public enjoyment of those institutions. However, the promotion of such enjoyment is not being imposed as 1005 a duty on future trustees of the Science Museum. Is enjoyment to be denied to those interested in science and technology? I can assure your Lordships that members of the public thoroughly enjoy my museum, as they do the Science Museum and its splendid outstation, the National Railway Museum. I think that our 19th century museum directors spoke much more correctly in talking about "educational enjoyment". I certainly intend to move an amendment to ensure that enjoyment should be part of the Science Museum's future policy.
I now turn to the heritage section of the Bill, and I think I reflect the views of most of those concerned when I give it a very warm welcome, for the time for change is overdue. I remind your Lordships that before the last war the majority of buildings open to the public were under Government control and, inevitably, a pattern of administration and a policy towards public access slowly evolved and became entrenched as Government policy.
Although the buildings were hardly excitingly presented and rarely promoted, nevertheless a high standard of scholarship and conservation was established, although few attempts were made to provide imaginative interpretation and only in recent years were any efforts made to provide an education service. Certainly there was no brief for them to be commercially active. I always liked the story of some years ago when the Tower of London wanted to open a new souvenir shop to extract more money from its millions of visitors. The Treasury gave permission for the souvenir shop to be built out of capital, but when asked for money to pay the staff to run it, that was refused, and so the souvenir shop was never built.
But one of the most remarkable phenomena since the war is how the heritage—in particular our historic houses, ancient monuments and other historic sites—has become one of our major tourist attractions, not only for our own people on a day out, but also for millions of overseas tourists. As a result, our tourist authorities have been more than active and helpful in publicising our heritage abroad.
But this new boom in heritage interest was spearheaded by the private owners who, for reasons with which Members of this House will be only too familiar, had little choice but to surrender their privacy and act as unpaid curators, and thus save their houses for the nation. With notable exceptions, such as the Tower of London and Stonehenge, the household names in this extensive stately home business, now belong to the private sector and some run by the National Trust. I believe that the owners have shown enterprise, imagination and flair, and have brought into the heritage world elements like the need to provide a good day out for the whole family, education, marketing and entertainment.
However, it would be ungrateful not to acknowledge the increasing support given by successive Governments to the heritage, in particular to private owners. Grants, expertly and sympathetically administered by the Historic Buildings Council and the Department of the Environment, and various tax concessions have saved our houses for the pleasure and enlightenment of future generations. But the 30 years' experience of the Historic Buildings Council must not be lost, and indeed the committee system which has been mentioned must continue. I am sure that we look 1006 forward with great interest to the speech of the noble Duke, the Duke of Grafton, who has had so much experience of the Historic Buildings Council over that period.
In the meantime, buildings under the Department of the Environment have been struggling against increasing competition from the private sector and restriction by the severe straitjacket which Government control and all it entails has imposed. Happily now, the Bill gives powers to a commission, independent of day-to-day Government control, to develop and enhance their heritage buildings and land under their control, and adopt a creative policy of conservation and public access.
This single agency will be able to embrace those now separate bodies, many of whose functions at present overlap. It can act as an adviser to Government on heritage matters and, most important, can build up over the years a permanent and expert staff outside the sometimes restrictive practices of the Civil Service. There are, however, in my opinion, two serious omissions to the structure and responsibilities of this new body.
The first, I am sorry to say to my noble friend Lord Adeane, is the non-inclusion of the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments, whose work is very much admired by all concerned. I personally believe that it should be integrated into the new commission. I can see no good reasons for leaving it out on a limb. Why continue fragmentation when, clearly, one strong authority is desirable? I cannot see why its continuing authority need be affected.
Secondly, there is the omission of the unoccupied Royal palaces. To leave out places such as the Tower of London and Hampton Court is, in my opinion, undesirable and will certainly weaken the ability of the new commission to create a national policy. If the commission is to do its job efficiently, it must coordinate all the marketing, publishing, souvenir-buying and other activities under one directorate. I hope that amendments will be moved at the Committee stage, but if the Government feel that it is important not to include the Royal Commission and the Royal palaces at this stage, I hope that there will be enabling clauses, as the noble Baroness has suggested. I also regret the non-inclusion of Scotland and Wales, but that is up to them.
Turning now to financial matters, I would be failing my duty if I did not express considerable concern about the ability of the new commission to function with the greatest possible financial freedom to manage its properties in the best manner for the benefit of the state. I very much hope that the commission will not only be given a generous capital sum at the outset to pay for all the extra expenses of setting up the new commission, but also will be allowed to work on at least a three-year advance budget.
The commission's ability to plan ahead will be restricted if it has to negotiate its grant from Government from year to year. The commission must be able to carry forward at least a proportion of its grant unspent in the financial year, and this applies particularly to grants for historic houses, where major works can be delayed or protracted by factors outside the owner's control. The commission must not be penalised for being successful, and if it increases its income from public opening or other commercial 1007 activities, its grant from central Government should not be reduced correspondingly. Above all, the commission must take risks and be allowed to make mistakes, for, from these mistakes, it may well learn much. I am glad to see that the commission will be allowed to acquire property and sell it when necessary, and perhaps we can look forward to a revolving scheme for heritage buildings, like that so successfully set up by the National Trust for Scotland.
The plight of some of our more remote historic monuments is becoming an increasingly serious one. Although devotedly wardened and maintained, there can be little hope under the present system for the sites to be presented in an interesting or educational manner. Of course, this needs staff, but I believe there is an enormous reserve of voluntary labour in the amenity societies throughout the land just waiting to be tapped. They could adopt a local site, raise money for it, care for it—indeed, love it—so that it becomes an important part of the community and gives people a sense of belonging to something worthwhile. Thus, I welcome the clause which establishes the right for the commission to receive voluntary contributions, but perhaps at the Committee stage we could add too the words "voluntary services".
I particularly welcome the inclusion of gardens of interest in Schedule 4—a long sought-after addition by the Historic Buildings Council—but I hope that we can include gardens of scientific interest as well. 1 believe that the commission should be responsible for the wider area of landscape management.
Finally, may I say that I believe that this Bill provides the most exciting challenge, and I should like to congratulate the Secretary of State on his bold approach. But all will fail unless historic buildings are promoted, presented, interpreted and used educationally in the correct way. To succeed, the most modern methods of marketing must be used in order to realise the full potential in co-operation with the tourist authorities and local authorities. It is in the interest of all those concerned with the heritage to make quite sure that this commission works. Above all, let us remember the interests of the future generations of this country and of many people all over the world. It is for their benefit that museums, historic sites, buildings and gardens must have sufficient resources and should be administered and preserved with imagination, dedication and skill—qualities which we as a nation claim to have pride in possessing.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Lord Annan
My Lords, I should like to add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd. I hardly knew which to admire most—the expertise, the eloquence or the charm. I am interested in the debate today because the day before yesterday we had an extremely good example of good Government consultation: we had the Hunt Report published; we then had a debate on that report in this House; and presumably that will be followed either by a White Paper or by a Bill. In the case of the Rayner Report, we have gone straight to a Bill and I imagine that it is parliamentary time which did not enable a separate debate to take place actually on that report. That is rather a pity, because there are one or two 1008 points which could have come out and which I should like to ask whether the Government have considered.
First, let me say how much I welcome the Bill and, for instance, how much I welcome that the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum will get a freedom which they have long deserved. But the point I want to raise first is that the name of Sir Derek Rayner is synonymous with expert managerial skill, and it is this particular quality which I am wondering whether we shall find expressed as strongly as it should be by setting up boards of trustees. This is a matter which I know that the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, will talk about, and nobody is better entitled to do that because it was he who, when he was a Minister, set up an entirely new kind of public body—a board of directors in the British Library—which did not follow the usual pattern of the boards of trustees of museums and galleries.
Perhaps I might interpolate here that I am speaking entirely in a personal capacity and not at all in my capacity as the chairman of the National Gallery Trustees, who have never heard these views. They spring from my experience there and also 15 years as a trustee of the British Museum. At present the trustees of museums and galleries have no specific managerial function. Indeed, I have known them to be viewed with some suspicion by the staffs of museums and galleries if they attempt to intervene in matters of policy which the director and his staff think are solely their business.
That is perfectly understandable, but the trouble is that so much business in museums and galleries today has become so complex: the design of rooms; the design of cabinets; the display of objects; the presentation of rare objects; the responsibility for overseeing at all stages the erection of new buildings; the plans for a new display; the management of shops and of publications; of security; of fund raising; of the proper funding of different departments within museums and galleries; the shift of resources from one to another; the work of departments of conservation and scientific research; the appointment of staff; the time available for members of the curatorial staff to make contributions to learning, and to keep catalogues up to date; and, above all, the obligation of museums and galleries—and this often conflicts with other objectives—to the public, and their relations with the public.
These are matters which call for a multitude of skills and which, at any rate so it seems to me, need the active participation in management of trustees, some of whom will undoubtedly have been chosen by the Prime Minister for their special skills. By special skills I do not mean the skills which the curatorial staff already have. I do not mean, for instance, art historians for collections of paintings. I mean the skills that the curatorial staff cannot be expected necessarily to have. It does not seem to me that you will get good management unless you also take the skills of the leading members of the staff themselves into consultation with the trustees. They should sit on the same body.
At present—and I know that this varies from gallery to gallery—certainly in museums and galleries of which I have had experience, it is usually the custom for the director and his deputy alone to be present at 1009 trustee meetings. It seems to me that here again some, at least, of the senior lieutenants of the various departments—and I do not mean here all the curatorial departments necessarily—should be members of the board, so that they feel themselves to be part of the decision-taking process and not merely confronted by the decisions of what they may regard as rather a remote body of trustees.
Let no one deduce from this and from these remarks that I am dissatisfied with affairs at the National Gallery. I knew Sir Michael Levey long before I became a trustee there and was one of his many admirers. I am all the more his admirer since I became chairman of the trustees. His sagacity is vast, and he is a fine example of a director who has won the loyalty and the devotion of his staff in a way which I have rarely, if ever, seen equalled. Or again, I think again of Sir John Pope-Hennessy at the British Museum; a remarkable director who transformed quite a number of things that needed transforming. Or again his exceedingly able successor, Dr. David Wilson. So nothing I am saying is reflecting on the experience of those directors of whom I have had particularly personal experience. However, I think that the present system places an enormous weight upon the relationship of the chairman of the trustee body and the director. I happen to have had good fortune, but there have been quite a number of cases in the past where the chairman of trustees and his director have not seen eye to eye, or where the staff have been out of sympathy with their director and either they feel that they have no means of airing their grievances or they resort to intrigue with individual trustees.
My Lords, no system is foolproof. A board of directors in business can be rent with faction and seething with intrigue just as much as an unhappy university or a museum can be. But in every walk of public life we are at last being urged to improve our managerial expertise. Certainly the universities need to do so. The councils in our universities, which are their governing bodies, have atrophied—or perhaps I should use the word have been "vulcanised" into being rubber stamps. That is not the kind of thing that a governing body should be. All I want to urge is this point. If the Victoria and Albert and the Science Museum are to change their constitutions, I wonder whether the Government could give reasons why they prefer to follow the trustee museum and gallery pattern rather than the pattern of the board of the British Library.
May I turn to the proposed Commission for Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings? I will not long delay your Lordships, because most of the points I wanted to make have been made admirably already today. The desiderata, of course, as has been mentioned, are that the commission should receive at the outset a dowry as the National Heritage Fund did; that the annual grant, as with the purchase grant of trustee galleries and museums, should be rolled on from one financial year to the next; that any donations and earnings through charitable subsidiaries should not be forfeited to the Exchequer; that donations should be allocated for specific purposes, because we cannot expect benefactors merely to subsidise the recurrent grant direct; and fifthly, and this is important, that all commercial undertakings should 1010 keep accounts which are of use to management and which identify, for example, cash flow and monthly outgoings. Otherwise some undertakings can easily fall into large deficit quickly and it is difficult then to turn that round. Lastly, the commission should be able, within its financial powers, to acquire further buildings and further monuments. It needs to be able to acquire and dispose of property, and to initiate conservation schemes with local authorities and other local bodies.
May I apologise to your Lordships, and to the noble Earl in particular, that I too, like the noble Lord, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, have an engagement out of London this evening which I must keep—I do not believe that it is the same engagement—and I cannot therefore be here at the end of your Lordships' debate.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Viscount Eccles
My Lords, I, too, should like to congratulate my old and noble friend Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd. We have waited a long time, eight or nine years, to hear a man with a very distinguished political record. I first knew him as a Minister 41 years ago. It is a long time. He has held many offices, but I do not believe that when the story of his life comes to be written he will have done many things of greater advantage to this country than to have looked after Leeds Castle and made it the most glorious place in the South of England. We hope very much that the noble Lord will talk to us again on these subjects.
Mr. Paul Channon, as noble Lords have said, has done a great service in wresting from the clutches of Whitehall the national institutions that are named in the Bill. I congratulate him on doing something which I tried to do but which at that time was not agreeable to some of the institutions concerned. The question arises, however, as to what sort of management structure we should give to, say, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the most famous museum of the decorative arts in the whole world. I shall concentrate on that and follow what the noble Lord, Lord Annan, said. Nobody will criticise the splendid record of the Victoria and Albert or the Science Museum. In fact, it is that record which should make us take the most careful look at the form of management that is most likely to further their success for the rest of this century and beyond.
The Bill provides for a repeat of the well-worn system of trustees which has been a feature of British museums for over 200 years. It would be astonishing if that system did not require some improvement in the light of our changing society. In fact, the trustee model is out of date. It has been out of date at least since the passing of the Education Act 1944, and I say that not as an outside observer; I was for six years the Minister responsible for the Victoria and Albert, after which I was chairman of the British Museum, then chairman of the British Library, so I have seen these institutions from the inside.
These great national collections are centre-pieces in the development of our culture. How they are managed shapes the contribution they can make to those shared values which hold our society together. The trustee system, when it started, reflected the view that aesthetic and intellectual values were restricted to a limited élite. It was a gentlemanly form of control exercised by a body of distinguished amateurs, 1011 meeting perhaps 10 times a year to hear a short report from the director. Often collectors themselves, often keen rivals in scholarship, the trustees felt it was distasteful for them to think of anything except the collections and the care and increase of what was in the museum.
One learns something about them by recalling that the first trustees of the British Museum instructed their director not to admit more than six visitors a day. Time passed and the departments and staff grew and grew, but the directors saw no need for a lengthy or complicated agenda for trustees' meetings. They knew very well that the trustees were so fascinated with new acquisitions that that item, placed at the end of the agenda, ensured that all the business before it had a rapid passage, and everything ended happily with a glass of sherry or even a buffet lunch.
The director ran the museum. He was more powerful than the headmaster of a public school, and often, as I remember, there was no time to discuss important areas of the museum or important projects for the future. One reason for that hit-and-miss form of control—a reason we must put right in this Bill—is that the staff had no official channel of communication with the board except through the director. Their ideas were not always given a chance, and that is a deliberate under-statement. It may not have mattered much when the museum was small and homogeneous and had comparatively few patrons, but it will not do today, when national museums are big business, with big, eight-figure budgets and very big responsibilities to a wide public.
Another defect in the Bill is that it maintains the old rule that the director shall not be a member of the board. On paper, of course, the trustees considered the director to be their servant, but if he was cunning, and he usually was, he became their master. That can be very dangerous, because directors, like schoolmasters, can have their favourites; it may be one area of the museum in which they served themselves, it may be the work of one artist for whom they have a passion, or it may be one period in history. Such preferences and special knowledge have resulted in brilliant additions to the collections (I think of Antonio Panizzi, for instance, and many others whom your Lordships know) but today there is much more to do than collect, so that the responsibilities—varied and conflicting, as I shall show they are bound to be—require to be carried on broader shoulders than the old trustee system.
What, then, is the alternative? It is, as the noble Lord, Lord Annan, said, a board of management, because that brings the knowledge and experience of part-time members together with the operations of the museum as represented by the director and two or three of his colleagues sitting on the board as full-time members. I must make two observations in passing. The first is that the Bill does not even say what sort of people the Prime Minister should look for to become the trustees, and that is a very serious omission. The second is that it does not provide for the part-time directors to have any form of remuneration except their travelling expenses. The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, said that that did not matter because there were so many volunteers who would come forward. I regret 1012 to say I do not think that is true. Nowadays we are not all rich amateurs, and there are many men and women with special experience, perhaps of the maintained schools or adult education—
§ Baroness Birk
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Viscount to tell him that I was talking about the committees attached to the commission? I was not talking about the commission or the trustees but about people who probably had less onus on them.
§ Viscount Eccles
I am grateful for that intervention, my Lords, because I had not realised that the noble Lady was talking only about committee members, and I shall comment on committees shortly. The people I have been describing are not always in a position to serve and do the amount of work which is now required without some modest remuneration, and I think that power should be taken.
The point of having the director and some of his senior colleagues on the board is to be in a position to settle financial and policy questions against a discussion which involves the whole of the operations of the museum and to be in a position to assure the staff that their departmental claims have been fairly represented. I was up against that problem time and again. Your Lordships might care to consider some of these claims, which could be divided into the internal and external services. The internal services comprise everything connected with the collections—all of those services for which the museum was originally founded—and they must come first. I think everybody would agree with that.
Since the war the external services have grown, and they should grow considerably more. In what direction the external services should grow is today a crucial aspect. Remembering that now the museums have not the department at their back, all this must be settled by the trustees. For instance, there would be the question of how many books and journals ought the library to buy—today they are tremendously expensive—and who should have access to them, either on the spot or on loan? How many scholarly and popular publications should the board commission and with what degree of subsidy? How many travelling exhibitions, broadcasts, lectures, seminars and so on should find a place in the budget? What should be the relations with the tourist industry; and, most important of all, what should be the relations with the whole range of the education system?
That brings up this kind of question: should the museum shut one day of the week to provide funds for any of the new external services? That is a dreadfully difficult question to decide, and I cannot believe that a board of unpaid trustees, advised just by the director, could discharge those responsibilities as well as could a board of management such as I have described. Here I should add a word about committees. The kind of problems that I have been talking about can be investigated, but not settled, by committees. Since they all require money, they must all be brought together, to be dealt with by a strong board.
I wish to make one more point. The form of management which we should establish must be influenced by how far we think culture, in particular the intellectual and aesthetic values that stem from a 1013 museum, can be spread across the whole population. Some of the most distinguished lovers of art do not think that museum culture can be shared much beyond the museum itself. Here is a sentence from the recent book of the noble Lord, Lord Clark, entitled Moments of Vision. The noble Lord, Lord Clark, was once director of the National Gallery, and he is a great authority, to whom I am sure we all listen with respect. But what can we make of the following quotation?I am not sure that museum art and a museological approach, however extended and well contrived, will bring art and society into a healthy relationship. It is too deeply rooted in cultural values which only a small minority can acquire".If your Lordships agree with that, then stick to the old-fashioned trustees. There they are, in the Bill, a charming group of amateurs, well suited to the lucky few who can appreciate Lord Clark's cultural values.
But there is another aspect of culture, one in which I passionately believe and which I commend to your Lordships. When the National Health Service was introduced we uncovered what Nye Bevan called the inarticulate demand for teeth and spectacles. As soon as the supply was assured, the demand exceeded all forecasts, and we had to have large supplementary estimates. Today there is an inarticulate demand for adult education. The vast extent of the demand will be uncovered only as the supply is created. Are we going to multiply the opportunities for the enjoyment and study of history, art, and science? In that field the national museums are central distributors of the achievements of man, so essential to the understanding of the present and the future.
Finally, my Lords, you will have seen that I am in no way criticising the record of the museums. I want Parliament to offer them the best means for future development, now that the hand of Whitehall is to be removed. I want to see outside experience, and the administrative experience of the executives in the museum, brought together in a strong managing board. Therefore at the Committee stage I shall ask your Lordships to insert in the Bill a management structure which matches the breadth and the importance of the responsibilities which we expect the museums themselves will want to discharge. I hope that your Lordships will support the amendments and that the Government will accept them. To refuse them, to stick to the old trustee system, would, in my judgment, show a lack of knowledge of modern administrative requirements and a lack of faith in the spread of culture across the whole population.
§ 5.45 p.m.
The Duke of Grafton
My Lords, I take it as a good omen—if my memory serves me aright—that the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, when he was Minister of Works, launched the Historic Buildings Council, about which, if I may, I shall say a few words. I must begin my speech by apologising to your Lordships for having to start with a brief historical reminder of the reasons for this important Bill which we are discussing today and the various steps over nearly 30 years which I believe have led to the necessity for it. I must also apologise for having to quote myself so constantly, but I am the only remaining member of the original Historic Buildings Council for England. I am speaking entirely on the Bill as it affects the responsibilities 1014 hitherto carried out by the Historic Buildings Council for England, founded in 1953 as a result of Sir Ernest Gowers' excellent report on the state of the country houses, the condition of which was then causing everybody so much anxiety.
Therefore I have sat on the council—which had the great good fortune to start under the exceptionally able chairmanship of Sir Alan Lascelles—for nearly 30 years. So during that period I have been in a unique position to see the truly extraordinary progress made in the whole field of the care of our historic buildings. In grants alone we have expanded from being allowed to recommend grants of a quarter of a million pounds a year to £ 12½ million a year. We have developed from a body originally concerned with the rescue of individual houses, such as Blenheim and Castle Howard, to dealing with whole towns and areas of towns, such as Bath, on which we have been working since about 1956. It might be worth mentioning that the council is now dealing with some 150 town schemes, under which we contribute 25 per cent, towards a fixed figure, provided that the town in question provides an equal amount.
I hope that perhaps some of your Lordships may have seen work carried out on the town schemes, on the rehabilitation of towns as diverse as York, Ludlow, and, for instance, Liverpool. As well as the town schemes, we have recommended grants for literally every type of building, from a tide mill on the Suffolk coast to buildings at the Ironbridge Museum at Telford—vital buildings, which were built at the time of the birth of the Industrial Revolution.
I believe that all of that has come about through a complete change in public opinion over the 30 years. I think that people have simply become not prepared to lose their heritage of well-loved buildings, which before 1953 were disappearing at a most alarming rate. For almost 30 years I have been chairman of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, now 105 years old, and founded by that great man William Morris, who I am sure would have been delighted by the most recent of our activities, which is that of being enabled to recommend grants for the repair of all buildings in ecclesiastical use which qualify architecturally and historically. I happen to be chairman of the sub-committee administering grants for these churches. Cathedrals are now the only buildings which do not qualify for grant aid. As a matter of interest, the total number of grants which we have recommended is 15,548 and total expenditure is £41.5 million.
That briefly is the background of the Bill we are now discussing. I believe, however, with the present Government that the time has now been reached when conservation interests could be more effectively developed by an agency operating independently of Whitehall departments. I see an agency, properly financed and constituted, as being able to adopt a more authoritative and independent stance on conservation issues; with a more creative and flexible approach to the expenditure required to preserve buildings and areas, and, indeed, making more efficient use of financial and professional resources.
The Historic Buildings Council has welcomed in principle the creation of a new agency, but only on condition that the administrative and financial arrangements for it will genuinely create an indepen- 1015 dent and viable organisation. I feel bound to say that the Bill, as now printed, leaves grave doubt as to whether this will be so. I should, therefore, be grateful for clarification on a few fundamental questions.
As my noble friend Lady Birk said, the financial arrangements will be crucial. The silence of the Bill on most of these important questions seems ominous. Will the budget of the new agency draw a clear distinction between operating costs and the grants available for actual preservation of monuments, historic buildings and conservation areas? Unless this distinction and true overhead costs are properly established at the beginning there is a real danger that the funds available for conservation work will become less rather than more.
'What provision will there be for the commission to carry forward unspent funds from one financial year to the next? This was promised in the Government's White Paper published last summer. There is a precedent in the purchase grants for the trustee galleries and museums. Without some such arrangement there will be difficulties in effective management of the long-term grant and repair programmes which are by far the most effective way of conserving whole historic areas and the more important of our historic buildings.
What arrangements will be made to give private donors confidence that gifts will be treated as income additional to the annual grant in aid from the Government? Without these, the chances of the agency attracting private support—one of the Government's main objectives—seem to me non-existent. Again, there is a precedent in the British Museum's trust funds which are, I believe, subject to Charity Commission but not Treasury control.
What arrangements will be made for receipts from retailing and opening of monuments owned by the Government to be reinvested in repairs and better facilities for the public? An incentive of this sort is surely essential both for efficient management, as the Rayner Committee on Museums pointed out, and for the generation of additional funds. The White Paper I have already referred to recognised that longer-term planning will be of particular importance if the commission is to keep the benefits of its success in increasing the overall level of receipts. I understand that again there is a precedent in the disposal of funds from retail sales by the trustee galleries. What provision is to be made for the commission to invest any surpluses?
Will the Government consider making available to the commission—this has been mentioned previously by noble Lords—an initial capital sum which would provide essential long-term resources and above all flexibility similar to the capital sum which inaugurated the National Heritage Memorial Fund? This, I am sure, is one of the reasons for the immediate and startling success of this fund.
The advisory role of the agency in relation to those functions which remain with the Secretary of State are also important. The Bill as presently drafted does not cover the range of advice which the Historic Buildings Council currently gives to the Secretary of State. Can we be reassured that it is intended that the agency will continue to advise on all matters which are currently 1016 the responsibility of the HBC—in particular on the eligibility of listed buildings and associated land and contents for relief from capital taxes? This is a new but important aspect of our work? Also, can we be reassured that it will have the power to advise the Secretary of State on the treatment of historic buildings which remain in the Government's care, such as groups of buildings at Woolwich and Chatham? In this context, I would also like to see the possibility left open in the Bill for eventual transfer to the agency of responsibility for the fabric of the Royal palaces no longer lived in by the Royal Family. The proposed split of responsibility between the maintenance of the fabric of a palace such as Hampton Court and commercial activities operating in it does not appear likely to be efficient. As a matter of interest the income from the Tower of London and Hampton Court is more than twice that of all the other monuments held by the department.
Duplication of staff resources between the agency and department is a real danger which must be avoided if the limited resources available for conservation are not to be consumed in unnecessary staff costs. The conditions laid down in relation to the annual payment of grant will be critical in this context and are not defined in Clause 31. A major effort is also required on the part of the Government to jettison detailed controls which seem likely to cover the day-today activities of the agency. There can be no advantage in setting up a separate body unless it is really free of the red tape which now inhibits conservation work within Government. Is it really necessary, for instance, for the Secretary of State to consent to the acquisition of property by the agency, particularly where this is only a temporary or holding operation such as at Heveningham Hall, in Suffolk? In this context, the transfer to the agency of full power to approve conservation areas might also be usefully considered.
There is one further important matter which has also been touched on. There is no mention in the Bill of the word "research", although this was mentioned in The Way Forward, the second of the consultative documents published this summer. I see the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments as being an essential component of this new commission. I cannot see that the Royal Commission need lose its identity as part of the new body. I should have thought it would be an essential part of it.
In conclusion, I feel that the Bill gives an opportunity for a great step forward in the care of our heritage, but I cannot help feeling that it leaves a great many questions unanswered, in particular on the financial aspect. I very much hope that the noble Lord will be able to give satisfactory assurances on some of the questions I have raised.
§ 6 p.m.
§ Lord Hutchinson of Lullington
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl for introducing this Bill, as he did, with such clarity and to say that on this Bench we wholeheartedly welcome it. I should like, if I may, to congratulate the Minister for the Arts on yet another fine achievement. May I also make an apology on behalf of my noble friend Lord Donaldson, who, of course, should be taking this Bill for my party. He is overseas at the moment. And also for my noble friend 1017 Lord Kennet, who also is abroad, and who knows so much about the subject matter of this Bill. My only justification for being second substitute, or 13th man, is that as chairman of the trustees of the Tate Gallery, and recently vice-chairman of the Arts Council, I am familiar with some of the problems which are dealt with in this Bill.
It is a great personal pleasure to me to welcome into the fold of the "great devolved" the V & A and its outstanding director, who give the greatest satisfaction also to my noble friend Lord Donaldson, because, as I know, when he was in office he pressed very hard that the V & A should attain this status, and at the time the staff were very concerned that they would lose out on such a change. But I think that all noble Lords would agree when studying this Bill that their interests are really guaranteed under the schedule.
In the Arts freedom and independence is everything and political control of aesthetic judgment and applied scholarship is usually a disaster. The intensely professional expertise of the director and the curatorial staff of a national museum must be allowed the maximum degree of non-interference by Government departments. That is why, in my humble opinion, the buffer of a board of independent, disinterested, non-expert trustees representing the public is as healthy a way of guaranteeing accountability and independence in a democracy as can be devised.
The noble Lord, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, referred to the commission and to the qualifications which are set out for the commissioners. The commission has a completely different job to do from the role of the trustees in a museum. Of course, they have specific expertise and an active managerial role in the job they have to do—indeed, it is indicated that provision has been made for their removal if they are unable to attend for more than a certain amount of time. That is a very different situation from the trustees of the museum; and might I say, with the greatest of respect to the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, that it is a very different situation from the trustees of the British Library, who have a much more managerial role to fulfil in that situation.
The noble Lord, Lord Annan, has said—and I totally agree with him—that the board of trustees must utilise the skills of the different trustees and, as far as the Tate Gallery is concerned (unlike, as I understand it, some of the other museums), the individual keepers and the director always sit in on the meetings of the board of trustees.
I must say that I am a little nervous about the proposals which were being put forward by the noble Viscount. He speaks of a board of management rather than a board of trustees. I must say that I should like to know from him what is the constitutional position which he envisages for this board of management. I rather suspect that it has a commercial background, a commercial pattern, and the transformation of the board of trustees into a board of directors with a managing director managing the museums. If that is the situation, I must say that I look upon it with a good deal of alarm; because, surely, the whole purpose of a board of trustees is that they do not fulfil a role similar to that of a board of directors; they do not involve 1018 themselves in the day-to-day management of the museum.
The whole joy, I should have thought, of a board of independent trustees with no axe to grind whatever is that they fulfil this role of a buffer between the running of the museum—with the enormous amount of expertise, and specialist expertise, which is necessary for that job—and those who provide most of the finance for it. The thought that the trustees should turn into directors and that their relationship with the director should be that of the directors of a business and managing director, as I say, is one which fills me with alarm and I do not think it is the solution to bringing boards of trustees up into the latter part of the 20th century. The matters which were raised by the noble Lord, Lord Annan, and by the noble Viscount, can be solved by appointing the right type of person, by making the trawl for trustees of these great museums far broader and far deeper than it is, and the chairman of the trustees ensuring that the matters which were raised by the noble Lord, Lord Annan, are in fact dealt with. It does not seem to me that there is any problem at all in a board of independent, reasonably intelligent people being able to survey the work of a highly skilled director and a highly skilled staff of curators—a bookshop, a library and all the other things that now go to make a national museum—to keep an eye on the general policy being pursued, to keep an eye on the financial arrangements, to keep an eye on the general way that the museum is being run, and to let it be run day to day by those who have the expertise to do it.
This Bill spells out at remarkable length the functions of the board of trustees—four pages of Schedule 1 in relation to the V & A alone. The only mention of the person who really matters in the running of a great museum, the director, is in one and a half lines in paragraph 4(2) of Schedule 1:The Director shall be responsible to the Board for the general exercise of the Board's functions".Nowhere else in the Bill is that person mentioned. It is important (is it not?) that the separate roles of the director and of the trustees should be clear at the inception of independence. Certainly I am not quite sure that this is made clear in the Bill as drafted. I imagine, although there is no mention of it, that the director will succeed the permanent secretary as the accounting officer. I imagine that the director will run the museum, free from any interference by the trustees, although ultimately responsible, of course, to them; but that he it is who will be answerable to the Public Accounts Committee for the proper accounting of the money voted by Parliament. I should be grateful if the Minister will confirm in due course whether that will be the position. I presume also that the museum will receive an annual purchase grant, or will it receive only one grant? If it receives a purchase grant, that of course will be the direct responsibility of the trustees, for it is in them under Clause 3 that the property and the museum objects will vest.
I should like to ask the Minister—and this has been referred to by other speakers—whether any surplus, whether any underspend, at the end of the year from the grant will be retainable, and whether any surplus on the vote will also be retainable, or whether there will be a difference between the two.
1019 The only other points that I should like to make on the museum part of the Bill are these. I wonder whether the 5 years referred to in paragraph 3(3) of Schedule 1 is long enough for a trustee of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The scope and breadth of its activities are enormous. Its out-stations are many and scattered. The extent of its research, its scholarship, its direct service to the public on identification and advice, its crucial conservation departments, the mounting of special exhibitions and the search for private and commercial sponsorship, all require considerable time for a busy trustee to absorb and understand. I should have thought that seven years, as is the position at the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery, would be of greater value to that museum.
§ Lord Annan
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord a question? Is it not a fact that at the Tate and National Galleries the seven-year period terminates a trustee's career, whereas in the Bill there is provision for extension for a further five years? That is the reason why this term may be different.
§ Lord Hutchinson of Lullington
My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right, if I may say so. As he has raised this subject, I should like to say a word about reappointment. I should have thought that there was great advantage in not having the power to re-appoint trustees immediately. If you have the power to reappoint trustees immediately, it arouses expectation in the trustees and it attracts a certain amount of pressure upon the chairman, and indeed, upon the staff and the director, to re-appoint this trustee or that trustee. It is very much easier and healthier for the term of the trustee's period to come to an end without any question and for that trustee to be able to be reappointed after a certain period has elapsed.
I notice also that under the appointments of the trustees in paragraph 3(2), it is proposed that the chairman should be appointed by the Prime Minister. I should have thought, with the greatest of respect, that the Prime Minister might be relieved of another chore, and for the trustees themselves to appoint their own chairman. The trustees know their colleagues; they know which of their colleagues would make a chairman. I should have thought that it was quite unnecessary for yet another duty to be put upon the Prime Minister of choosing a chairman. Indeed, it is a great mistake that a chairman of a great national museum should ever be appointed as a matter of prestige.
Under Clause 2(2), I notice that the board is given power to enter into contracts. This would appear to be a most welcome provision. May I ask whether this means that the board may employ outside contractors to do building maintenance, electrical work, and such things, rather than having to rely on the PSA? Under Clause 2(3) the board may,do such things (including requiring payment for admission) as they think necessary or expedient".I do not know why that particular matter is spelt out in the Bill unless it is a marker to encourage the reactivation of the controversy over admission charges. The Minister for the Arts is on record as saying that this Government had no intention whatever of imposing admission charges on the 1020 national museums. It would surely be a fatal mistake for the main national museums and galleries to have different policies on admission charges to their permanent collections? The public would be confused and it would give rise to endless pressure and controversy on directors, trustees and curatorial staff to charge or not to charge. I should like to know from the noble Earl whether the Minister, having expressed this view, really wishes each institution to "go it alone" on this particular matter.
The last point on finance: when you remove after 130 years a great museum from under the umbrella of the department, there are bound to be substantial additional expenses. Running expenses of all sorts have to be taken on and presumably there will have to be additional administrative capacity. The museum one knows is about to open the Henry Cole Wing. There is a backlog of conservation about which the Rayner Report expressed the view that it should have priority over virtually all of its other activities. This museum, I would suggest, will most certainly require some substantial extra sum of money for its launching. I hope that the Minister will be able to give some assurance under that head.
Turning very shortly to the commission, I should like to congratulate the Minister on his conversion to the view that the quango is an essential element in our democratic system. On these Benches we are particularly encouraged in our welcome to the creation of the commission by the knowledge that our friend and colleague Mrs. Jennifer Jenkins, the present chairman of the Historic Buildings Council, is in general agreement with the new arrangements.
My only comment is one which has already been made before on Clause 30: it is extremely difficult for any ordinary person to discover what are the functions of this new body. It says in the clause:The commission shall have the functions conferred on them by any enactment.To find out what that means we go to Schedule 4 and there we find 20 pages of incomprehensible cat's cradle of amendments to existing legislation. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, that for any ordinary person to discover what the functions of this commission are is a task quite beyond even an expert. On behalf of my colleagues here I should like to ask some of the questions which have already been asked: What is the division between the commission and the Secretary of State under the planning law? Have the commission a part in the exercise of any of the Secretary of State's powers? What is the relation between the commission and local planning authorities? Do the commission have any privileged right to advise local authorities? Is the commission to own or administer any of the royal palaces—in particular the Tower of London?
I have not been able to discover that. Quite obviously, we shall have to examine these 20 pages in extenso between now and the Committee stage. It would be very difficult for the commission to work efficiently on a system of annual votes. It will be entering into all sorts of important contracts and undertakings, as has already been pointed out. It will suffer, as has the Arts Council of Great Britain and its clients, not only from frustration but from the results of an unwanted, unthought of, unsought and 1021 undeserved inefficiency and waste by trying to run any arts organisation on the basis of an annual vote. It is really on the grounds of inefficiency that one once again implores the Government and the Ministry somehow either to let the arts organisations know at a much earlier stage what amount of money they will receive in the following year or in some way to make arrangements to go back to the system of the rolling triennial grant. Those are all the observations I wish to make upon the Bill at this stage and, apart from the few comments and reservations I have made, we on these Benches warmly welcome the Bill and wish it well on its way.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ Lord Gibson
My Lords, I should like to add my own welcome to this Bill in principle and to the idea behind it, namely, that conservation and related matters is a field in which the direct responsibility of Government can sensibly be reduced. I think in this field the job can probably be done better by independent boards, whether of trustees or of managements, leaving aside their controversy for the moment, because they can be given a degree of flexibility which is greater than that which is feasible for any integral part of Government service. One has only to recall the straitjacket in which the Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum found himself not long ago when there were cuts in Civil Service manpower imposed by the Treasury. If he had had the authority to impose equivalent cuts in general expenditure at his own discretion he would have secured much better results, in terms of the museum's capacity to serve the public, and at no greater expense to the public purse. So the question to ask about this or any other exercise in dis-establishment is whether we shall get greater flexibility without greater cost.
I should like to say something about two parts of the Bill which cover matters of which I have had some acquaintance. One is the dis-establishment of the V & A, of whose advisory council I was chairman for several years up to about 10 years ago; the other part concerns the proposed commission, which will of course directly affect the National Trust, of which I am currently the chairman.
May I take the commission first. The need for greater flexibility applies to the commission exactly as it does in the case of museums, but in the case of the commission there is an additional reason for welcoming the Bill, namely, that those who work for conservation in the arts now covered by the Department of the Environment will be given an opportunity to devote the whole of their careers to this work if they wish, instead of having to be available for posting anywhere in the Civil Service. However efficiently and sympathetically the staff of the Department of the Environment carry out their duties in conservation at the present time—and I should like to pay tribute to their high quality and dedication in all the matters with which the National Trust has had to deal—the fact remains that this is a sector which ought to be served by people who make their whole career dealing with matters of conservation. It requires a sympathy with the subject which is indeed not seldom found in the Civil Service, but I believe we shall develop a service still more effectively if we set up a 1022 devolved commission, because it will become specialised, and those who become specialised will remain in it permanently.
What the Service does now and what the commission will have to do is to record our architectural heritage, to inspect, maintain, manage and present them—that is the parts of it that are not covered by other bodies—and to use the formidable authority (I was very glad to see this in the Bill) that it should develop to encourage greater understanding of our heritage among the public, and particularly, I hope, to develop a love of architecture and an understanding of it among children in schools. It is worth mentioning that the Heritage Education Trust and the Heritage Education Group are already active in this field. I hope the opportunity will be taken to make the maximum use of them within the commission.
In addition to all this, of course, as has been said by a number of noble Lords, there is the need to exploit for the public benefit the commercial opportunities which the management and presentation of our architectural heritage provide. Here, too, if it is set up properly to do so, the commission will benefit from the flexibility and the freedom from normal civil service controls which is going to be needed if the opportunity is to be made the most of.
So I would put the advantages of flexibility and the power to operate an appropriate and attractive career structure as the principal reasons for supporting this Bill. But if these objectives are to be achieved, then the quasi-independent bodies which are to be established must have sufficient authority, which means sufficient independence, which in turn means sufficient control of their own staff and their own budget. To set them free with one hand and claw back control with the other would be to negate the whole purpose of the Bill.
I must say—and it has been the tune which nearly all noble Lords have sung this afternoon—that I think in its present form the Bill will fall short of what is needed to achieve its own objectives. It has been said, and I can only emphasise this once more, that there is nothing in the financial provisions enabling the Commission to carry forward money unspent at the end of the year, and in the context of the commission, particularly, this is really not sensible. It makes no sense in terms of planning.
Some years ago, when I was chairman of the Arts Council, we had a small allowance which we were allowed to roll over, though the rolling triennium, which it once had and which was negotiated by my predecessor, some people believe is the minimum basic necessity, But it was terminated in the financial crisis of 1972–73 and has never been revived. Fortunately, this financial guillotine, if I might call it that, is not applied to the recently established and very successful National Heritage Memorial Fund, and I think that is part of the reason for its success. The commission proposed by this Bill certainly ought not to be any more tightly controlled than that of the Heritage Fund.
I would not myself think it unreasonable if money voted to defray administrative costs was subject to this annual clawback; but much more flexibility for the grant-making side of the commission and for all its expenditure on its own historic properties is essential for its success. The changeability of the weather, the 1023 availability of building supplies and other such factors mean that maintenance and restoration projects cannot always be phased to suit the annual cut-off date. Some restoration schemes are planned to take place over years, and the commission must be able to undertake forward commitments which must not be liable to interruption by the removal of money, simply because it has not been spent. It has also been pointed out that there is nothing in the Bill at the moment enabling the commission to retain receipts from trading or from admissions to its properties, and it is hard to see what incentive there is to induce an entrepreneurial spirit. I am sure it must be intended for the commission to be able to keep monies of that kind. I think we shall hear that from the Government and I very much look forward to that assurance.
Since the Commissison is to assume the Historic Buildings Council's functions, I welcome its power to endow properties acquired for the National Trust. The only difficulties the trust has ever had in connection with the Historic Buildings Council relate to the funding of deficits on certain properties which the trust agreed to take over through the Government, on the basis that the annual deficit would be funded by the Department of the Environment on the advice of the council. The power to endow provides a potential solution to an unsatisfactory situation, which currently requires an annual argument with the HBC and the department, which I am sure both sides wish to avoid. This Bill abolishes the HBC, and I should like to pay tribute to them for the way they have done their work all these years. Their understanding and helpfulness to the National Trust has been outstanding, and in latter years their administration has been impeccable as well. I hope that their function will be similarly performed by the commission, and that the commission will prevail on as many of the present members of the council as possible to advise them on their grant-making functions.
I regard the financial provisions as fundamental to the success of the commission. If they are to be weakened by an undue measure of Treasury control, we had much better leave it to the DoE to carry on the work as they do now. They do it very well and the only point of removing it from them is to give the commission greater flexibility than can be given to a Government department.
A similar point arises in the matter of staff, and I feel very strongly about this. Naturally and properly, the intention is to secure for those civil servants who move to the commission the same terms now, and in the future, as they enjoy at present. The Bill envisages that the commission should take on whomsoever of his present staff the Secretary of State shall tell them to. I think that that is the best and probably, in any case, the only way to start. But what alarms me is that the Treasury are to control all appointments and remuneration of the commission.
In my time as chairman of the Arts Council, I recall what acute frustration this control caused and what bad results it had. Below a certain grade, we were allowed to establish posts and make our own appointments without consent. In the upper grades, consent had to be obtained and was usually a very long time coming, and sometimes never came at all. The 1024 result was an in-built incentive to get the work done by creating two jobs at the lower end of the scale, when often what was really needed was one job at the upper end. It is a pernicious practice and it derives from the refusal, when a quasi-autonomous body has been created, to face the proper consequences and trust it to be the best judge of how to manage its own affairs. Call it to public account, of course; even prescribe, if you like, what percentage of its resources can be devoted to administrative costs. But give it the freedom to manage its own affairs with efficiency, give it responsibility, monitor its performance and call it to account, if and when it fails.
With regard to the part of the Bill affecting the Victoria and Albert Museum, I have already emphasised the need for flexibility so as to get the best results at the least cost. But here there is a special need to consider the cost of giving the museum the greater independence envisaged for it. This Bill lays upon the museum in its devolved state the function of administration, establishment matters and so on, which have for over a century been carried out by the department. The museum will need the money to do these things themselves. They are certainly going to need a better launch than the 4.7 per cent, increase, which is currently spoken of as likely for the arts next year. Of course, degrees of financial provision are a matter for another place, but the importance of a proper initial funding for a museum starting out on its own independent life ought to be enunciated clearly in your Lordships' House, and I hope that it will be accepted by Ministers.
I should like to suggest that there should be some provision on the new board of trustees—or of management, if that is the way the Bill ultimately goes—for a few persons nominated from outside, and nominated from other bodies with which the museum has strong links. I know that my own council of the National Trust has been greatly strengthened by the presence of such nominated persons and by the formal links which they represent. I believe that there may be value in such official links for the V & A—links with such bodies as the Royal College of Art and, indeed, the National Trust, on whose council the V & A itself is now to be represented.
Finally, I note the reference in the Bill to the director's responsibility to the board for the general exercise of their functions. I find myself sympathetic to, but not wholly convinced by, the views of the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, about a board of management. What I think is important is, as the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, said, that it should be made clear what are the functions of the director, and what are the functions of the trustees, or of whatever board it is that guides him. I say this with special feeling, because I think that for him to get buried in committee work would be the worst result of all.
I have noticed with admiration, as a member of the executive of the National Arts Collection Fund, the speed with which the director of the V & A can work, when, for example, something is to be acquired by a provincial gallery, and it would be a great pity if decisions of that sort had to be submitted to committees of boards of management or of trustees. I hope that that system will operate very much as it does now. I have heard it suggested that the grant-making to 1025 provincial galleries might be removed from the V & A. I hope that this will not be done. I believe that the curatorial expertise of the V & A is essential in the exercise of this function. I also believe, from what I have seen, that local authorities, who often contribute part of the balance of the purchase price for a work of art, have a deep respect for that expertise, and I am sure that that influences very greatly their readiness to contribute.
To conclude, I believe in the objectives, as I understand them, which this Bill seeks to achieve. But I believe that it should spell out much more clearly than it does now the freedoms which these quasi-autonomous bodies will need, if those objectives are to be obtained. Otherwise, truly, it will turn out to be little more than an exercise in calling civil servants by another name. With that proviso, I greatly welcome the Bill and may I please apologise to your Lordships for the fact that I have an engagement which I feel I ought not to break, so I cannot remain to the end. I particularly apologise to the noble Earl, Lord Avon, but 1 shall read Hansard tomorrow with the greatest attention.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Lord Mowbray and Stourton
My Lords, I, too, should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Avon on the way in which he has introduced this admirable Bill to your Lordships today. Needless to say, I should also like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd on his admirable maiden speech. I should like to explain why I support this Bill's central issue, which is the preservation of our nation's heritage, whether the exhibits in our most famous museum institutions, or the ancient monuments which are all that remain of our most distant past, or the historic buildings with which our land is so richly endowed.
Because of my previous links with the Department of the Environment, I should like to welcome now the preservation work which lies before the new Commission for Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings for England. The heritage concerns us all and is an ever-present reminder of our past. We all want to feel in touch with the past, to learn how people lived, where they lived and what they did. Throughout history, people have wanted to explore their history in order to illuminate the present and give guidance for the future.
We in this country have a particularly rich inheritance of ancient and historic monuments that have come down to us in a more or less well preserved state throughout their life. I am sure that we have all visited a good cross-section of the great historic sites in the country, many of which are the responsibility of the Government. The more industrious and well-informed of us may well have gone in search of the less well-known field sites, which, nonetheless, have much to tell the discerning eye. These are usually scheduled monuments. Obviously, we should like to see our children having the same opportunities as we have to study their history on the ground.
Monuments which may have taken decades to build and which have lasted many centuries can only too easily be lost. Neglect can result in irretrievable decay. Insensitive alterations or repairs can totally alter the character and appearance of a building. Ploughing can 1026 remove all traces of prehistoric earthworks or burial sites. The very marks of progress, essential to our modern life—such as road building or house building—pose a threat to archeological sites, which may be destroyed before anyone has a chance to investigate what they might tell us. Developers, eager for profit, will sometimes demolish a building which stands on valuable land.
We cannot stand still and freeze the past unchangeably for our descendants. The heritage that we have is the result of all sorts of gradual, and not so gradual, changes and sensitive preservation takes account of that process. We are contributing now to the making of history when we build at all, or when we list 20th century buildings as of historical or architectural interest, alongside their older brothers. I want to ensure that we have a legacy which we shall be proud of.
It is because so many of us share this view—that preservation is too important a job to be left to chance—that there was apprehension when the proposals for a new heritage agency, now embodied in the Bill, were put forward for discussion by the Government. There was a lot of worry that this was Government's business and should not be delegated. I sympathise with the thinking behind these fears, which spring from a feeling that what has been achieved so far is too good to lose and nothing must be done to risk that.
We have achieved much. It is a century since the passing of the Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1882. In that time we in this country have built up a network of legislation and organisations for the protection of ancient monuments and historic buildings and a tradition which is envied throughout the world. The steady development of professionally staffed bodies, dedicated to particular aspects of the heritage, has produced the high standards of restoration and conservation that we see whenever we visit a major national monument, whether it be the Government's, the National Trust's, or whoever. It is easy to take high standards for granted, but there is no doubt that the approach we have in this country—of respect for the past—is not universal and has only been achieved by the concerted action of many interested people and organisations.
I am glad that the Government have successfully responded to the fears which were expressed. They are not going to abandon all that has been done, nor do they intend to stand aside. I am reassured by the pledge that both the Government's and the new commission's first priority will be preservation and protection. I am reassured by the flat statement that parliamentary answerability and accountability will still remain. I believe that assurances such as these have done much to allay fears.
Part of the reason for setting up the new commission is to produce a more coherent approach than we have at the moment. It is to be welcomed. Another part of the reason is to improve the management and presentation of the monuments. That also must be welcomed. The preservation of the heritage for the future does not and must not rule out its enjoyment and appreciation by the present generation. We need exhibitions, guide books, better labelling of monuments, souvenir shops. These ought to be well run, to the benefit of the monuments themselves.
1027 It is also clear that the Government do not intend the new commission to be a hidden means of cost cutting. The Secretary of State has amply demonstrated his commitment to the heritage—for example, through pressing ahead with revising the list of outstanding historic buildings as quickly as possible. He wants to see that it gets its share of resources. The commission must have this if it is to operate effectively in both the public and the private area of the heritage, including the vital giving of grants to those who own historic buildings.
The new commission will take over much of the work now done in the Department of the Environment, together with the work of the Historic Buildings Council and the Ancient Monuments Board. These organisations have earned a reputation for work of the highest quality. I believe that the idea of an independent body bringing together these organisations is in itself a tribute to what has been done and a sign of what can be done. Greater coherence is precisely what is needed to press this work forward.
I should now like to turn to some of the proposals relating to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Many of the points which I was going to make have already been made. The noble Lord, Lord Gibson, suggested that the National Trust and the Royal College of Art might well be allowed to nominate a trustee to the board of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Bearing in mind the very close links which the National Trust and the Royal College of Art have with the Victoria and Albert Museum, this is a very reasonable suggestion which might well be considered in Committee and at the Report stage. I do not see why there should not be a few nominations to the board. I can see every argument for the nomination of a few people by interested bodies. I believe it would be helpful.
The noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, referring to the first schedule, said that the role of the directors must be defined. The Victoria and Albert Museum is admired throughout the world for its activities and for its ability to organise exhibitions quickly, efficiently and speedily. It would be regrettable if the director were to be handicapped by the millstone of a management body around his neck. Therefore, I should like it to be understood that the director will still be responsible for the functions of the board. I suspect that this is the view of most of the people concerned with the work of that great museum.
The noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, also mentioned that while the Victoria and Albert Museum is to be allowed greater freedom it will also have to carry out some functions which previously it did not carry out. I do not think the noble Lord mentioned the Department of Education and Science. It is no use giving a museum devolved status without the modest extra finance and staff which are necessary to carry out their new administrative responsibilities. This is not a very big point, but it is one which we shall need to look at in order to make sure that the museum's operations will.not be handicapped.
I am grateful that the noble Earl confirmed that after devolution the conditions of service of the staff will be no different, either now or in the future. I think that this will help to allay the fears which have been expressed by both unions and management.
1028 The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, welcomed, as I do, the fact that the Armouries are to have greater national recognition. They are all too little known. We in this country have had armourers of the utmost distinction. The present Armourer is of as high a calibre as there has ever been. Wearing my hat as a trustee of the College of Arms Trust, I have a small interest, as has the noble Lord, Lord Charteris of Amisfield, in the success of the College of Arms museum which can be approached only through the eastern section of the Armouries. What is good for the Armouries must be good for the College of Arms museum and shop.
Both the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, and the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, complained about the schedules being difficult to understand. All of us in this House have complained in the past about schedules being difficult to understand. The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, suggested that, as has been previous practice, there should be a keeling over. But so many Acts are involved that it would jump up the price of this Bill, which now costs £4.65, to over £25. That would be the result if we put into the Bill the hundred and one schedules of previous Acts. This, therefore, may be an unrealistic suggestion.
I have spoken for long enough. I had some comments to make about the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Wakehurst Place. However, as my noble friend Lord Craigton is to speak, and as he is a far greater expert on that subject than I, I shall leave him to deal with it, and before sitting down will merely say that I welcome the Bill in its entirety.
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Avon, has been somewhat overworked today. When I saw his name on the annunciator I believed that he was winding up the previous Bill, only to discover that he had already launched on this one. Therefore I arrived in the Chamber having missed his first few sentences. I apologise for that, especially as I think that the Bill was introduced in an exceptionally competent fashion, leading me to believe that if the noble Earl had not been a victim of the curious hereditary principle he would probably be here under his own steam—if not in this place, at least in another.
It saves a great deal of research in politics to have a few infallible rules. One I have always found to be reliable in the past few years is the maxim, "Rayner is always wrong". The Government recognised the validity of this principle in relation to museum charges. When Rayner recommended the introduction of museum charges the Government quite rightly, acting upon my principle, rejected the proposal. I hope that the noble Earl will reinforce that decision and will assure the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, that he need have no fears; that this proposal is out of the window once and for all and has no chance of creeping back in again.
Since the first part of this Bill carries out a Rayner recommendation—that control of the Victoria and Albert and Science Museums be devolved from the Ministry of Arts and Libraries to boards of trustees—it follows that this proposal must be mistaken and should be resisted. This conclusion is reinforced from my ministerial days. The idea did surface at that time, but it was quickly put down on the grounds that the 1029 existing set-up worked very well. It offered a useful check on how the trustees and other boards were performing and it was handy in other ways; for example, in respect of the responsibility of these two museums to the provincial museums—and I am sorry to say that those responsibilities are no longer fulfilled in the full manner in which they used to be, simply because of lack of funds. And it was handy to have a couple of major institutions under the departmental eye.
Although strongly committed myself to the arm's length principle in relation to the arts, it did not seem to me that the same considerations applied to museums, where matters of artistic freedom and independence of information were not so much to the fore. Furthermore, the staff of the two museums at that time valued their Civil Service status and were for the most part opposed to the suggested change. I am told, however, that the situation has undergone a sea change under the present Government. I suppose one can well understand the feeling that no one who was not soft in the head or touched with masochism would see being a civil servant under Thatcherism as being la vie en rose. But Thatcherism will not last forever—or at least one trusts it will not—and in any event, one does not escape that dreaded blight by acquiring trustee status. The terrible thing about the disease of monetarism is that those suffering from it seem to delight in inflicting it upon others. Nevertheless, I am not entirely convinced and I hope to probe the matter by amendments at a later stage of the Bill.
There is no provision in the Bill for the introduction of accountability or democracy. Apparently, no member of the board of trustees is to be elected or nominated by any authority or any outside body, and there is scope for amendment there. I am encouraged in this thought by the fact that it is being echoed in different ways by the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, and the noble Lord, Lord Gibson. I shall look at the amendments they are going to put forward with the question in my mind, "To what extent do these amendments provide the possibility of introducing a long overdue element of accountability or democracy into the organisation and running of these two great institutions?" I hope, when the noble Viscount and noble Lord come to frame these amendments, that they will do so with this point in mind, and with the idea that there might be some spread of responsibility and control; that other organisations interested in this area—not excluding even trade unions representative of the staff—might have the right to put forward names for the consideration of the responsible body, be it the board or trustees.
Are the promises to preserve the future pay and status of the employees of the museums strong enough? There has not been the enormous flood of paper which came to us a couple of days ago in relation to cable television from employers in that area. I sometimes think that the trade unions and societies for employees are not in the same street when it comes to protecting their members' interests as employing organisations and firms. They do not shower us with the floods of advice which we receive from any employing organisation whenever the interests of their members are touched. Perhaps the employees' organisations might have something to learn in that 1030 respect from other organisations.
There is a chance that there may be scope for something to be done here. I see that in respect of the effects of the Bill on public service manpower, the Bill is expected to reduce the number of staff working in Government departments by about 3,000. I assume this does not mean that there will be 3,000 fewer people working in the area. I suppose it means that these 3,000 people will be transferred from the Civil Service to the employment of the trustees or boards, and that it is not suggested that there will be 3,000 fewer people employed. I hope that is the meaning; that it is not meant to suggest that 3,000 people will be on the dole as a result of this proposal, but only that the status of those people will be changed. In the museum area it is not a question of surplus manpower because there is a shortage of manpower. I have found this to be true wherever I have turned in this area. There is no question of over-staffing that I myself have come across.
The opportunity does not seem to have been taken in this Bill to remove doubts about the restitution of objects which belong to other countries. Perhaps there ought to be a clause making it clear, when the time comes for the Elgin Marbles to go back to Athens, or for other treasures to be returned to their countries of origin, that any existing legislation which would seek to prevent that happening is removed. The question of when it is appropriate for exchanges to be carried out, and for some objects which are of special historical interest to some countries to be returned, could then be determined by the trustees in discussion and association with international museum organisations. If there are legislative barriers to that happening, there might be an opportunity to introduce an amendment to this Bill to make it clear that those legislative barriers will no longer exist. There is no provision either for an elected museums council. If anyone says that it ill becomes an appointed Peer to talk about democracy, I would reply that this Chamber should be elected too, in my opinion.
I have another political rule: that the recommendations of those people who are actually engaged in any sphere of activity should be taken seriously. Why then is the Drew Report of 1978 not implemented in this Bill? That recommendation was made after close examination by authoritative and distinguished people, all of whom are engaged in museum work. The report's recommendations for the establishment of a commission and a museums council appear to have been forgotten in favour of the present recommendations. It seems to me that the Government are implementing the wrong report. They prefer the naivety of Rayner to the knowledge of Drew. Incidentally, the establishment of a museums council is also Labour Party policy and it is none the worse for that.
Appointments are still to be made by the Government. I believe, along with the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, that they ought to be made by the Minister for the Arts and not by the Prime Minister, or even by a Secretaiy of State. In my view an amendment devolving that responsibility upon the Minister for the Arts should be made to the Bill.
For the first time since I have had the honour of being a Member of your Lordships' House, I am proposing to leave before the end of a debate in which 1031 I have taken part. My reason for doing so is that some time before I knew that this debate was to be held tonight, I had arranged to celebrate Thanksgiving with some American friends. As next week I shall be somewhat critical of American nuclear weapons, I want to assure my American friends that it is their weapons that I am opposed to and not them personally. Therefore, I hope your Lordships will agree that it would be appropriate for me to be with them tonight to celebrate Thanksgiving, and I hope that you will forgive me for committing an offence which I have not committed previously and which I hope not to commit again.
Finally, in spite of the flaws to which I have referred and the others which have been pointed out by other noble Lords, I believe that the Bill deserves a Second Reading, but that it might need quite drastic improvements at later stages.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Lord Charteris of Amisfield
My Lords, first I should like to add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd, on his maiden speech in your Lordships' House. Now that his floodgates have been so joyously opened, I hope that we may hear from him on many other occasions. I have the privilege to sit under his chairmanship on the Leeds Castle Foundation and I know what an outstanding job he has done, not only for the preservation of that particular piece of Britain's heritage but also in making it profitable.
I am venturing to address your Lordships this evening in my capacity as chairman of the National Heritage Memorial Fund—a body which, as noble Lords will know, has now been in existence for two years and eight months and which looks forward to a close and, in so far as the heritage is concerned, effective relationship with the new boards of trustees and the new commission which the Bill proposes should be established. The trustees foresee that their relationships with the new boards of trustees will be no different from those which exist now with the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum, the Armouries and the Royal Botanic Gardens—that is to say, we shall be ready to assist them to acquire objects of outstanding importance to the heritage. We have, indeed, already been able to assist the Victoria and Albert and the Science Museums in this way. We made an effort to assist the Armouries to buy a marvellous peice of armour, but unfortunately the price proved too high. So far we have had no requests for help from the Royal Botanic Gardens and I find it difficult to see what they could possible ask us for, but I should be delighted if they would do so.
Our future relationship with the new commission may not be quite so simple and may require some clarification. At present we enjoy good relations of co-operation and consultation with the Historic Buildings Council. We have had fewer dealings with the Ancient Monuments Board but that is only because we are more concerned with histroic buildings than we are with ancient monuments. However, we would expect the same relationship to continue with the new commission. We would not expect the new commission to come to us for financial assistance, although there may, of course, be occasions when we shall co-operate with it on a specific project, as we have 1032 done already once with the Historic Buildings Council and are in the process of doing in another instance. I believe it is important to emphasise at this early stage that the commission must be given adequate resources to fulfil its responsibilities.
It is proposed in the Bill that the new boards of trustees should have the right only under certain very strict criteria to dispose of their property. The presumption is clearly against disposal. I should perhaps add that any assistance given by the National Heritage Memorial Fund is always given on the condition that the object acquired should never be disposed of.
I should be grateful if I may ask the Minister for clarification on one point. Will the commission actually own the properties it administers? If so, will it have any powers of disposal? I ask this because there is at least a hint of this possibility in the Bill as drafted, where the commission is permitted to borrow by way of overdrafts. This would presumably imply providing some security which, if it is of any value at all, must be capable of being realised. The trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund were very' fortunate in being given by Parliament great freedom to use the resources of the fund as they considered best. This has proved invaluable as it has enabled them to act with speed and flexibility when the need arose. I hope very much that the new boards of trustees and the new commission will be given the same real independence. The trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund support the purposes of the Bill and look forward to enjoying agreeable and fruitful relations with the new bodies.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Baroness Airey of Abingdon
My Lords, I welcome this Bill and I should like strongly to support the speech of my noble friend Lord Charteris, who is, as your Lordships know, chairman of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, of which I am also a trustee. He has mentioned many subjects upon which I would have spoken and I totally agree with what he has said. Therefore, I should like to associate myself very closely with what he said. I should also like very much to congratulate my noble friend Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd on his absolutely splendid maiden speech. There is no one who could have made a better speech on a more perfect subject. He is what one might call the guardian of that queen of castles, the castle of Leeds. It has I believe been called "the ladies' castle". I would very much agree with that, because anybody who has visited that beautiful castle, whether on business or pleasure, or both together, has an overwhelming feeling of enjoyment, whatever his occupation may be. The fact that the noble Lord was able to tell us that, added to this great pleasure, he has a very good record of profit, was a matter for great congratulations from all of us.
If we should call Leeds Castle a jewel, I should like to turn for a moment to more humble jewels, often in a beautiful setting but, alas! sometimes showing signs of dilapidation. I speak, of course, of the smaller manor houses, and particularly of those which have been cared for and in many cases lived in for generations by the same family. Together, the family and the houses make up the very fabric of this country. In many cases those families have lived in those houses, loved them and often fought for them over the 1033 generations. That is frequently shown by pictures or objects, sometimes not of the first quality but of importance to the house in which they are shown.
I am thinking of a different case, a much more important case. It is, in fact, the wooden Anglesey leg which I just happen to have seen. When I was thinking about this I thought particularly about the mention made by several of your Lordships of education, which comes into this Bill. Many children know about the famous story of the brave Marquess of Anglesey, riding beside the Duke of Wellington, who as his leg was struck off by a bullet is said to have mentioned to the Duke, "By God, Sir! I've lost my leg", to which the Duke said, "By God. Sir! So you have". Young people see something like this and it elucidates history for them. This is enormously important and also happens in the smaller manor houses as well as in the larger ones, such as the one I am speaking about and which happens to be in the care of the National Trust, although the family is still there.
When I thought about this leg I thought of my brother, who limps round his house (which is not in the hands of the National Trust) showing people round it with great pleasure. In fact, he lost his leg at Cassino, and I have never thought to ask him whether he actually has an Anglesey leg. I am told that they are still obtainable on special request. This illustration serves to link history and these houses, which is so very important.
Therefore, I hope that the new commission, which I very much welcome, may be able to take responsibility for some of these smaller houses and be as sympathetic as possible to owners of these manor houses where families may be facing financial difficulties—or very shortly may—and do not have the resources required by the National Trust to maintain the house in perpetuity, which is necessary if they are to give their house over into the care of the National Trust. In some cases I wonder whether some sort of agreement of guardianship with the family could be considered by the new commission, so that they could have some form of charge in these houses and there could be some arrangement for the future. From a purely practical point of view, while maintaining the attraction for which this country is famous, it could prove much cheaper than some other schemes where the family is indigenous to the house, particularly the smaller manor house. Therefore, I should like to put this forward for your Lordships' attention when you come to consider the Bill in greater detail.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ The Earl of Perth
My Lords, like every other speaker in the Second Reading debate today, I welcome the Government's introduction of this Bill in principle and the admirable way in which the noble Earl, Lord Avon, introduced it. There is no doubt in my mind that it is right that museums should be outwith the control of Government in the way that has been happening to date in the two with which we are particularly concerned tonight.
One of the most important points that have arisen this afternoon is the question of the role to be played, be it by the trustees or the board of management. We have heard this debated and I am inclined to think that 1034 we are worrying too much about a name. Is it to be a board of management or is it to be a board of trustees? I think it is important that, whichever name is adopted, the functions to be carried out are made quite clear. For example, the trustees or the management must determine policy. They must determine policy clearly together with the executive of the museum. Therefore, I think it follows that members of the executive must not only be present but probably, as in the case of the director, actually be ex officio members of the board or the trustees.
Thirdly, their function is to ensure that what has been decided as policy is, in fact, carried out. If those functions are clearly defined, I do not think that the question whether it is a board of management or a board of trustees is too important. What is important is the way in which the members are appointed. Under the Bill the 12 up to 20—and I am talking particularly of the Victoria and Albert Museum—are to be appointed by the Prime Minister. That may be the correct procedure at the start, because one has to start somewhere, but after that is it essential, not necessarily when people come up for re-election but when new members are needed, for the Prime Minister to be consulted? It may be that the answer is that the Prime Minister has to decide who is to be appointed. Is this really right? If that is right, then a practice should be followed which was our experience in the Crown Estates.
the commissioners are appointed by the Prime Minister through the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Certainly in the 15 years when I was First Crown Estates Commissioner whenever there was question of any new appointment to the commissioners I used to put forward one, two or three names to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he and I would discuss which ones were best. Then to all intents and purposes it would go forward as a formality, and the Prime Minister would approve. I think that something like that is a very necessary part of the operation. I see no reason why something like that could not be provided in the Bill.
Apart from the question of appointment by the Prime Minister, a very important point is that there should be one or two ex officio members. I find it very difficult to imagine that you should have members without the National Trust being by right one of them. The relationship between them and the new Victoria and Albert has always been very close and I think that the same should probably happen with the Royal College of Arts, as others have said.
The other question in relation to these boards of management or trustees is whether or not they should be paid. It is admitted that they should be allowed expenses, but in this day and age I think that one has to give them some degree of remuneration over and above that purely of expense. Again, if I may quote the case of the Crown Estates, what happens there is that the first commissioner gets something; it is not very much and it is certainly not what he would get in the market place. The same is true of the other commissioners. They are also allowed their expenses. It is a pity if one does not allow these people to receive pay because it narrows the choice of people you may get as members of the board or as trustees.
For a moment I just want to touch on the question of the commission which is being set up. Its exact title 1035 is the Commission for Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings for England. Here I feel, very much with other noble Lords, that the financial case is a worrying one. It is not sufficiently clear what are to be the moneys devoted to this commission. It must be spelt out and not just left in the vague form it is at the present time.
As many of your Lordships have asked, are they going to be allowed to roll over money from one year to another? I do not see how they can operate efficiently without that facility. Again in their case I feel some degree of certainty in saying that planning three years ahead, or five years ahead, must be allowed. You could have some minimal perhaps triennial grant, or quinquennial grant, and then you could add to it, but to give no certainty about what they are to do when they are dealing with this sort of thing seems to me to be a mistake.
Now one small point about Scotland. I know that this is a Bill for England, but when I look at Schedule 4, paragraph 2(5) I see that regarding the Historic Buildings Council for Scotland it says:The Secretary of State may out of moneys provided by Parliament pay to the chairman of the said Council such remuneration and allowances as the Secretary of State may . . . determine.But so far as the other members of the council are concerned, all they are to be allowed is an expense account. Why is Scotland to be different from England? If we are going to be allowed to pay the English members some money, other than the chairman, the same should be true for Scotland.
I assume, as the noble Duke, the Duke of Grafton, said that the commission will have a real role to play in advising on what I call private historic houses; advising which ones should be chosen and what should be the policy in relation to them. That is to me a role which has been well carried out up to the moment, and clearly they are the suitable body to do it. I must finish by saying that I, too, must apologise for not staying to the end of the debate. I have to "sing for my supper" shortly. I am sorry for those concerned, but I am also sorry not to hear the noble Earl wind up this evening.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ Lord Sandford
My Lords, I must start by apologising for not having been here at the beginning, but to assure my noble friend that I shall be here at the end, and to thank him for letting me see the speech he made so that I can follow his remarks reasonably well. I want to confine myself to the new commission and to the range of functions which are comprised in the overall care of our heritage. Some of these functions will fall to be carried out by the new commission. Other functions are being carried out by other bodies. It is inevitable that when the new commission takes over the role from two existing bodies, the Ancient Monuments Board and the Historic Buildings Council, we are landed with the cat's cradle, to use Lord Hutchinson's phrase, which we find in Schedules 3 and 4. But that is no reason for not clearly setting out care of the heritage on the front of the Bill, the functions involved in Clauses 29 and 30. The general tenor of this debate is that this is something which is not adequately done at the moment and that we ought to try to put it right.
1036 In that context I turn to the business of recording the heritage because this, after all, is the fundamental thing lying behind the overall care of it. We must start by knowing of what the heritage consists, and the most important characteristics of the buildings that comprise it. As the noble Lord, Lord Adeane, was saying at the beginning of the debate, what happens in this field goes on under the auspices of the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments, and it was very useful for us to hear from him how that goes on at the moment. But the Bill is entirely silent on how these two commissions are to co-operate.
It may be right not to incorporate the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments in the Heritage Commission at this stage, but we really do not know for what reason it has not been incorporated so far. I should like to put it to your Lordships that it cannot possibly be right for the Bill to say nothing at all about the relationships between the two bodies, or to make no provision either for incorporation or for a working relationship either now or at any time in the future. That is something which we really must look into a little later.
I turn to a second essential function, which I think has not been mentioned so far in the debate, that must be conferred on any heritage commission worthy of the name, or at least a power to get this function discharged. I refer to inspection. There must be a proper, comprehensive system whereby at least a selection of the best elements of our heritage are inspected on a regular basis. I speak in this debate as a Church Commissioner, a member of the board of governors, and responsible to them for their redundant churches. I speak as a clergyman, and I speak as a member of the board of the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office which insures the greater bulk of the ecclesiastical buildings, and not a few of the other buildings, that make up the heritage.
Anybody who has had anything to do with the Churches knows that the scheme of quinquennial architects' inspections which have now been in force for 37 years has conferred enormous benefits on the Church of England. Incidentally, the Church of England has had demolition control since 1252 and Archdeacons' inspections since 1604. This is surely the moment to make provision in the Bill for the progressive and selective introduction of regular professional inspection of a selection of our secular heritage buildings. I hope that we shall have that function added somewhere appropriate at the Committee stage.
I turn now to the advisory functions of the new commission. This is not specifically mentioned, as it were, on the front of the Bill in Clause 30; and only by reference to schedules, at Schedule 4, paragraph 4, there is an advisory function to advise the Secretary of State in general matters and to advise anybody in relation to ancient monuments. But I think that that needs to be stated on the front of the Bill and made more comprehensive. I should have thought, for instance, that it was important for the new commission to have the power to advise much more broadly and comprehensively; to give advice to applicants when they come to them for grant for historical buildings in private hands. It is not satisfactory just to give advice on the repairs that ought to be carried out, or on the conditions of access for the public. It would 1037 be far better for the advisory function to be stated in broad terms so that advice over a full range of matters could be given to private owners on the overall management of their historic properties.
I turn now to promotion and marketing. I need not say much because all I want to say reinforces what has already been said by the noble Lord, Lord Montagu. There was, rightly, criticism in the consultation papers of the ineffective marketing and promotion of our ancient monuments. That is not surpirsing when one considers that up to now less has been spent on promoting all the properties, all the ancient monuments in the hands of the Department of the Environment, than the city of Bristol spends on promoting its zoo. The Bill is quite silent on this important point, and that cannot be right. I do not think that those who fear hoards of trippers and hundreds of children scampering round these precious buildings need be alarmed, because good promotion, good management of visitors, good behaviour by visitors, higher income from takings and a deeper appreciation of the heritage, all go hand in hand. There is no reason to suppose that better promotion will not lead to better behaviour.
I come to the educational function, and I speak now as a member of the Heritage Education Trust, with the noble Lord, Lord Gibson, and others, and president of the Society for the Interpretation of the British Heritage. The consultation papers used the entirely satisfactory word "presentation", and I should like to see that reappear among the functions of the new commission on the front of the Bill, being understood to include the technique of interpretation, which is now used to such good effect on so many sites. We should not want to see the commission necessarily exercising this function itself, but to have a responsibility for seeing that it is done by others.
It is not appropriate to confer on the commission the function of providing education itself, as is stated in Clause 30(2). The provision of education is the function of teachers, headmasters and education authorities. The commission's role is that of providing, or causing to be provided, at historic properties and ancient monuments services and facilities for educational purposes, and that is quite a different thing. The distinction is more significant than at first appears. There is, indeed, a need for the Department of Education to undertake more research in this important field of education, but that is not something we need have in the Bill.
I come, finally, to the value of the voluntary services, a point also mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Montagu. One need only think of the contribution of NADFAS, the National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies, of the National Trust and their Acorn camps, of the local amenity societies and conservation areas, of voluntary guides in many private historic houses, of the local history societies, of cathedral camps, the friends of various distinguished buildings, and the local voluntary care and affection that people put into the care of chapels, churches and cathedrals, to realise what a huge dimension is missing in the care of the state-run ancient monuments. All this can be changed, but there must be a clear reference to this dimension on the face of the Bill. I join with others in welcoming the Bill. It 1038 is a good measure, but it needs a number of amendments before we can say that we really look forward to its being on the statute book.
§ 7.33 p.m.
§ Lord Craigton
My Lords, I wish to add my congratulations to those of other noble Lords to my noble friend Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd for a sparkling and instructive speech. This is quite an unusual occasion, because when I became a Member of Parliament in 1950, he was already an old hand of 20 years' standing. He had made his first speech, his maiden speech, in moving the Address on the first day of the 1931 Parliament. Your Lordships are used to occasions, but that really is quite something to record in Hansard.
I have been asked, as chairman of CoEnCo, by the Council for British Archaeology to tell your Lordships that they support the provisions in the Bill. However, they feel that the title, the Commission for Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings for England, is rather a mouthful. Indeed, they do not like the name at all and would prefer the Heritage Conservancy Council, in parallel with the Nature Conservancy Council, which has a more or less parallel function.
I rise really to welcome the Bill on behalf of the Royal Botanic Gardens, about which nobody has spoken at any length. There are five good reasons for this welcome. The change ends a long-standing anomaly in which MAAF is primarily responsible for United Kingdom agriculture, whereas Kew is responsible on a worldwide basis for botany, with particular interest in the tropics. Furthermore, the new board will provide knowledgeable trustees and, as my noble friend said in moving the measure, they will support and guide the director and provide him with specialist expertise and experience in administration. It will bring him in closer contact with related bodies such as the British Museum (Natural History) and the Agricultural Research Council.
The new, slightly more independent, status will also give the Gardens greater freedom in their relations with world institutions with similar interests than is possible for them as part of a Government department. It will enable them to respond more freely to the present-day need to provide a quick-reacting centre of information on the world's plants and their economic uses. Finally, it will enable Kew Gardens to extend its role as an international co-ordinating centre for the conservation of plant life. It is that last point that gives me a reason, which I will disclose at the end of my short speech, to tell your Lordships something more about Kew's conservation activities.
Some noble Lords will have attended on Wednesday a week ago a meeting of the All-Party Conservation Committee of both Houses of Parliament. It was addressed on the subject of Kew's conservation activities by Professor Arthur Bell, the director, and Mr. Glen Lucas, deputy keeper of the herbarium, chairman of the Threatened Plants Committee of IUCN—the International Union for the Conservation of Nature—and head of the conservation unit at Kew, which co-ordinates its conservation activities. Based on the herbarium, and acting alongside the conservation unit, is the IUCN's Threatened Plant Committee with its secretariat and very expensive Wang 1039 computer, all funded largely by the World Wildlife Fund.
It is here that the known flowering plants are recorded. One-quarter of a million are recorded, and if only we could prevent the rain forests from being pulled down, the figure might be nearer half a million, but that may be past praying for. Of those quarter of a million known plants, about 10 per cent., 25,000, are threatened with extinction. This information is, from here, made available to the world through the Red Data Books, of which a second volume is in preparation. Here also is the source of scientific advice and information on the plants that are, or ought to be, in the appendices of CITES, the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species. Kew has the statutory obligation here to act as the scientific authority for CITES under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976.
This world leadership and world participation is further enhanced by two factors. The Threatened Plants Committee acts as secretariat for the coordinating body of the World's Botanic Gardens, a body formed at Kew's second conservation conference. The major incentive is, as with the world's zoos, to make up collections by purchase and exchange from other gardens, rather than to rob specimens from the wild. But also there is a constant interchange of information, not only with the world's zoos but also with a network of some 500 corresponding botanists, and the two networks are welded together by the Threatened Plants Committee's Newsletter.
Finally, a comment on what Kew is doing about conservation here at home, conservation about which they can provide information from a fabulous source; that is, the largest herbarium in the world, with over 5 million specimens.
Furthermore, Kew maintains its own nature reserve at the Loder Valley, attached to its country estate—its "Whipsnade"—at Wakenhurst Place. It is at Wakenhurst Place that is established its perhaps least spectacular and most vitally important operation—the seed bank. Mankind's food production depends more and more on strains developed from naturally evolved plants. If the seeds and the genes of these original wild plants are not preserved, the risk is one of total loss, or slower development. But the seed bank has more "bank accounts" than those for food. Everything is preserved that, now or in the future, can have possible use for the well being and adequate standard of living of mankind. So to food must be added the seeds of natural plants with such qualities as those of soil conservation and medicine, and, as I said, even unknown qualities that may one day be needed by mankind. So the long-term storage at Kew of genetic resources is a heavy responsibility of vital importance to the whole world.
I wanted to tell your Lordships something about the work of Kew Gardens, as it will now become the responsibility of the Board of Trustees. Your Lordships will, I hope, now better appreciate how essential it is that this board should represent the whole wide range of knowledge in this field. As drafted, the Bill puts the appointment of 11 of the 12 trustees in the hands of the Minister of Agriculture. That is satisfactory. His Ministry has done a good job over the years. But not all the knowledge, not all the 1040 contacts, can reside in one Ministry, and in Committee I shall seek to add on the Minister an obligation to consult others, not necessarily named, before making appointments. I shall move my amendment on the lines laid down in Schedule 3 of the Bill, relating to appointments to the Commission for Ancient Monuments. It is a modest request that I am sure will create confidence. As a second point I should like to ensure that Kew's statutory reports cover not only its own operations but also something that it can give better than can anyone else—that is the latest information and advice on the world plant situation.
§ 7.43 p.m.
§ Viscount Hampden
My Lords, when I arrived in your noble Lordships' House earlier this afternoon and saw my name at the bottom of the list of speakers, I was rather reminded of being back at school, because then my name always appeared at the bottom of every list, usually with the words "twelfth man", and the word "scorer" in brackets afterwards. In the same way as a scorer is always enabled to watch every ball of a particular innings of his more illustrious colleagues, as the last speaker I have been able to listen to the excellent and most interesting speeches of your Lordships who know far more than I do about the heritage. My own interest in the heritage is based on the fact that I live in a grade I listed historic house, which is situated at the edge of a SSSI, in an area of outstanding natural beauty, and sometimes I feel that if I sneeze too suddenly, I shall do irreparable damage to the heritage.
I was most interested to listen to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd, about the success story of Leeds Castle. I should like to draw his attention, and that of the rest of your Lordships, to another castle which does not really fall within the scope of the Bill, since it is situated in Wales rather than in England. But I feel that if the Bill is a success for England, it might be possible to persuade Wales to go a similar way. I was lucky enough to be brought up in one of the most beautiful valleys in South West Wales, the Towy Valley, in what I call Carmarthenshire, but which I believe is now called Dyfed. In that valley is a twelfth century castle.
As a boy I was able to walk around the ramparts and the battlements, throw stones into the dungeons, and really enjoy myself. Now, unfortunately, no one can do that because the entrance is barred up with an iron gate, preventing anybody from getting in, since the fabric is in such a dangerous, dilapidated state. From the castle one gets one of the most tremendous views in Wales, down the valley towards Carmarthen and the sea, and up the valley towards the Black Mountains and the wild country—at least it was wild, but I am not sure whether the Forestry Commission has not tamed it a little—where, as a boy, I used to roam looking for Twm Shwm Catti's cave.
Not only is it an area of great beauty; it is one of the most important castles in Wales. It is one of the few castles where one can go round and—assuming that it is not an unparliamentary expression—put up two fingers to the English. It was the seat of the great Lord Rhys, who fought the Normans so very successfully in the twelfth century, and where, some 300 years later, his descendant marched with Henry Tudor to the 1041 battle of Bosworth Field. The noble Baroness, Lady Airey of Abingdon, mentioned the Anglesey leg. When I was a boy my grandfather had in his hall the stirrups that Rhys ap Thomas wore at the Battle of Bosworth Field. I am not quite sure where they now are.
Recently there was an article in one of the Welsh papers about the castle and the very sad state that it is in. The person who wrote the article blamed the Welsh Office for neglect. This is not the time to talk about the Welsh Office, and I have not sufficient information to accuse it of anything. However I should like to draw the attention of your Lordships to Castle Dynevor, because I think that it is a wonderful place; and what the noble Lord has done so successfully for Leeds, perhaps someone can do equally successfully at Dynevor, in the Towy Valley. That is why I support the Bill, and welcome it.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Lord Strabolgi
My Lords, we have come to the end of what I think has been a most notable and outstanding debate and I should like to join with other noble Lords in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd, on his outstanding maiden speech. As we know, he has proved an admirable chairman of the trustees of Leeds Castle, which has already been described so well by the noble Baroness, Lady Airey of Abingdon, as a jewel of southern England. As the noble Lord has said, it is an example of what I believe can be done for the future of our heritage.
I should like in my speech—and I hope not to take long—to concentrate on that part of the Bill that relates to the museums, since I think that most of the other parts have been dealt with by my noble friend Lady Birk. In company with other noble Lords, I should like to give a general welcome to the Bill. I shall not deal with the commission. As I said, my noble friend has dealt with that, but I should like to say how much I agree with the last two speeches, including the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Hampden, who spoke about the smaller castles such as Dynevor, and the noble Baroness, Lady Airey, who spoke about the preservation of smaller manor houses. I know particularly one that she had in mind which has been in the possession of the same family since the 14th century and where, as the noble Baroness knows, I had the privilege sometimes to stay as a young man, and of which I retain very happy memories.
I think it is important that the smaller manor houses should be preserved because they are bound up with our history and tradition and they have always had a special place in my heart, speaking in particular as one who—if I may give a similar example from France—prefers the small manor houses of the Dordogne to the châteaux of the Loire.
As has been said, this is really two Bills. I cannot help regretting that the Government decided to run the two Bills together, particularly as they emanate from different departments. If I may say so, I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, did not get it quite right when he said that the Secretary of State for the Environment was producing too many Bills. The trouble with this Bill is that it is not yet another environment Bill; it is a Bill which comes from the Environment Department, the Education 1042 Department, the Ministry of Defence and many other departments, which I think has made it difficult to handle in debate. However, I should like to congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Avon, on the way in which he introduced it to your Lordships.
I warmly support the intention to detach the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum from what the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, called the clutches of the departments and to put them under separate trustees. The Government have wisely implemented this proposal from the Burrett Report and thankfully they have jettisoned much else from that largely ill-conceived document which was so widely criticised when it appeared last summer and which I think was mangled by the Select Committee of another place when it considered it.
I welcome, too, the proposals for the Armouries and the Royal Botanic Gardens and also the news, the very good news, announced today by the noble Earl, Lord Avon, that the National Army Museum, which is one of my favourite museums and I think one of the most interesting museums in London, is to be transferred from the Ministry of Defence to independent trustees.
Certainly, as the noble Lord, Lord Gibson, said, the devolved institutions will need extra finance and staff for their new administrative responsibilities. This is particularly important. They will no longer have the benefit of the many functions at present carried out by the departments. Some people estimate that an 11 per cent. increase in the grant may be needed for the Victoria and Albert and Science Museums to stay as they are. The museums will also probably need a float as a contingency after the handover. In view of what the noble Earl, Lord Avon, said, that we must expect certain austerities to continue in finance, I hope this extra money will be forthcoming from the Treasury so that the independent museums can get off to a good start.
I think the clauses allowing the trustees to charge for admission if they wish have a rather ominous ring. We have been through this course before and I hope we do not have to go through it again. Does this refer only to the charging for special exhibitions, about which there is no dispute, or do the Government plan to introduce admission charges of a more general nature? I hope not. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington. I hope the Treasury will not bring pressure to bear on the trustees to introduce charges when this may be against their wishes. If charges are introduced for entering the museum, what would be the position of the Victoria and Albert Library? This is probably the finest art library in the whole world. Would people have to pay an entrance charge to use it?
I welcome the part of Schedule 1 which guarantees the employment and pension conditions for the board's staff. Certainly the unions have been concerned about the loss of Civil Service status. I hope the Bill will reassure them in this respect. We are grateful to the Government for the trouble they have taken over this. But what is to be the position of the new staff who are not Civil Servants but who will be joining in the future? Further assurances will be needed here. I hope that when he replies the noble Earl will go some way to allay fears that have been rightly expressed on the staff side.
What is to be the position of the three out-stations 1043 for which the Victoria and Albert is responsible—the Wellington Museum at Apsley House, which was also a generous gift of the late Duke, Ham House and Osterly, which was also a generous gift of the late Lord Jersey? The Burrett Report said that the aim must be to make them self-supporting financially, otherwise every effort must be made to reduce the commitment. In the light of the Bill, will the Government tell the House, perhaps at a later stage of the Bill, what their policy is towards these three out-stations and, indeed, about the remaining recommendations of the Rayner scrutiny? Many of those recommendations were so insensitive and ill-conceived that it is not surprising that they had a very bad reception, particularly from the press. I do not blame the author of the report. He was given an impossible task. The trouble stems from the fact that departmental museums are not a suitable area for Rayner scrutiny. Fortunately, the Government seem to have accepted this. I congratulate them for allowing the Theatre Museum project, which is part of the Victoria and Albert, to go ahead, which was against Rayner who tried to stop it, and also in saving the enchanting Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, which Rayner wanted to close down.
I now wish to say a brief word about the proposals concerning trustees, detailed in Schedule 1 and which have been touched on before. I am sure the Government will take careful note of what the noble Lord, Lord Annan, said about trustees and their relationship with the director. I agree that the trustees should be appointed by the Prime Minister of the day. But is it right—here I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington—that the chairman should also be appointed by the Prime Minister? There is probably a case for the first chairman being so appointed, but after that it would be better, in my view, to follow the practice at the National Gallery and the Tate, whereby the board of trustees elect their own chairman. That would avoid the need for paragraph (5) of Schedule 1 which reads like a pure piece of Gertrude Stein:If a chairman ceases to be a trustee he shall also cease to be chairman; and if a chairman ceases to be chairman he shall also cease to be a trustee.".I have no particular quarrel with the proposal about reappointment, except to say that I hope the Government will try to cast the net a little wider so that it is not always the same people who seem to be appointed. This is a lazy way of appointing people. One thinks of those who have already done the job as trustees and then also gives them the job as trustee at another museum, and so we go on, endlessly. As has been said about the so-called list of the "great and the good", we want sometimes the "not so great and the better". There must also be a halfway house between the existing system which has its defects—here, I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles—and what the noble Viscount wants to have, which is something quite different, as has been said, and more akin to a board of management.
I think there is a case also, as the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, implied, for appointing a trustee to represent the interests of those working in the museum. This is very important. There is a strong feeling, too, as has been said today, that the Royal 1044 College of Art, with which the V & A has close links and which occupies part of the building, should have the right to nominate a trustee to the board. Moreover, the director and two or three other heads of key departments, like publications and so on, should be on the board. In this way one would have greater participation without having a structured board of management.
I am glad that the Government have not followed the Rayner recommendations about disposals. The idea was that these could be used to finance new purchases. That is a most dangerous policy. It has been carried out by one museum in America with disastrous consequences. The Burrett Report exhorts the V & A to live dangerously—its own rather naive words. But if museums had been encouraged to dispose of unfashionable objects between the wars I doubt whether there would have been many Victorian paintings, which are now so much admired, left in the national collections. The disposal clauses follow the lines of the British Museum Act 1963 and, I submit, are acceptable.
May I ask whether Clause 5 covers the V. & A. Library, since Burrett recommended the disposal of bibliographical material which the report thought, in its own words, to be of passing or minor interest? In fact, much of this so-called minor material is often of the greatest importance in art historical research. This is something the Burret Report seemed unable to grasp.
Finally, may I deal briefly with Clause 33 and Schedule 5 to which it is related. Schedule 5 is headed:Minor and Consequential Amendments".When one sees that in legislation, in my experience one will always find that it effects some fairly major changes. In this case I was not wrong. As a matter of fact, the amendments to the National Gallery and Tate Gallery Act 1954 are quite far-reaching. The first, which is Schedule 5(1)(a), seeks to delete Section 3(4) of that Act. This was originally inserted in the 1954 Act to allow the state to accept gifts and bequests where no destination is specified but are left to the nation.
A list of these, which comprise most of the national museums and galleries, is given in Schedule 1 to the 1954 Act. As your Lordships know, they comprise most of the national museums in the United Kingdom. If the Treasury want to add to the list, then they have to lay an order before Parliament at present explaining why they think a bequest to the nation should be diverted elsewhere. The present Bill seeks to delete that requirement. By doing this, the Government are taking open-ended powers and are apparently trying to short-circuit Parliament. If the Government have other institutions in mind which are not necessarily national institutions, why cannot these be specified in the present Bill?
Then, Section 4(2) of the National Gallery and Tate Gallery Act is also to be deleted. The Act stipulates that if the trustees agree to lend a painting painted before the year 1700, the permission of Parliament must be obtained by means of a Statutory Instrument. I remember the 1954 Act well when it was going through this House and played some part in getting this requirement written into the Bill. Indeed, I inflicted my maiden speech on your Lordships on that Bill.
1045 My Lords, it is not a 19th century legacy, as the noble Earl, Lord Avon. said. There was concern at the time—that is, in 1954—that pressure might be brought to bear on the trustees by Government to lend particularly important early paintings for diplomatic and other reasons. Many of these, particularly those from the early Renaissance period, are rather fragile and unsuitable to travel. Now, some 30 years later, I think that we can say that no single request has been turned down by Parliament and that the trustees of the National Gallery can be left to exercise their own judgment, particularly since nowadays, thank goodness! the fashion for lending supreme masterpieces around the world is ending due to security restrictions and other dangers.
I am not so happy about the third proposal which is contained in Paragraph 1(c) of Schedule 5. The subsection which we are being asked to delete was inserted as an impediment to any disproportionate increase in the number of paintings removed from ready public access by being lent to official buildings such as Government offices or embassies for furnishing purposes. I hope that some of those which have been abroad for some years will soon be coming back. The upper limits are fixed at 5 per cent, of the National Gallery's holdings and 10 per cent, of the Tate's—which is fairly modest. Any changes which the Treasury want to make to increase or decrease—but, presumably, to increase—these figures will have to be approved by Parliament, where, disproportionate increases can be challenged. Now, there is to be no parliamentary control at all. This, I suggest, is a proposal that we should examine in detail in Committee.
My Lords, may I say in conclusion with regard to the V & A that I hope that, like the other trustee museums, it will no longer have to close one day a week. I do not know why it is that the departmental museums always seem to be closed either on one day or never fully open at one time—and I have in mind, particularly the V & A, the Science Museum and the National Army Museum—while those under independent trustees seem to be open all the time.
I hope, too, that the splendid new wing which I had the privilege of seeing will be in use soon. At present, due to the departmental cuts, it is planned, I gather, to have a special, rather grand opening of the rooms next year and that on the following day, after the opening, they will be closed again. I hope that, with independence, the departmental museums therefore will be given in future the support and facilities that they deserve.
§ 8.4 p.m.
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, many noble Lords have mentioned that this is, in fact, two Bills in one. May I say, as the person who has to wind up, that I feel that it is two Bills in one, if not four in one? I should like to start by joining other noble Lords in paying a tribute to my noble friend Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd for his excellent maiden speech and for telling us of his success story. I hope that the fact that he has made his splendid speech today will augur equally well for this Bill and that all parts of it will have an equal success story.
The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, started her remarks, 1046 I think, about Schedule 4 of the Bill, and the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, and my noble friend Lord Mowbray all spoke to this particular schedule. I will look at the suggestions that the noble Baroness has made and tie them in with what the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, has said and see whether there is any possibility of helping in this way. The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, made some remarks about the Army Museum which were much appreciated. As to my noble friend Lord Montagu, I appreciated the generous welcome from this authoritative source to the Bill. We shall look into his points about staff recruitment in the future, and its grades—something which was also mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. We had excellent contributions from the noble Lord, Lord Adeane, my noble friend Lord Grafton, the noble Lord, Lord Gibson and the noble Lord, Lord Charteris, from their own specific points of view, all of which the Government welcome. Also, perhaps in the same breath, I can mention my noble friend Lady Airey, who also hung her hat slightly on the National Heritage Memorial Fund. The noble Lord, Lord Gibson, was particularly kind to make remarks about the Department of the Environment staff for which I should like to thank him.
The noble Lords, Lord Hutchinson and Lord Annan, representing their two galleries, I was glad to see crossed swords a little, which shows that we can have different points of view from all parts of the Chamber. We are particularly glad to see here my noble friend Lord Mowbray who, I gather, spent the morning in the Palace getting well awarded for having stood at this Dispatch Box doing this job some years previously. I am also grateful to my noble friend Lord Eccles for his stimulating remarks, which I shall come to later, and my noble friend Lord Sandford who made some very intriguing remarks about inspections, about functions and, in particular, about the advice on the functions of the commission and also the presentation of education. Latterly, my noble friend Lord Craigton spoke on the Royal Botanic Gardens. I had thought that they were going to be missed out and I was delighted to have such an erudite contribution from him. Then, just when I thought that we were going to get no mention of Wales, my noble friend Lord Hampden took us on a little tour of that country.
I think that we have covered almost everything, and in answering some of the questions I hope to give a degree of reassurance on some of the points which were raised. The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, and another noble Lord spoke about the principle of arm's length. Perhaps I can clarify that a little. The Government have been at pains to stress that they do not want, through these proposals, to distance themselves from heritage work. These proposals will not reduce in any way the Government's ultimate responsibility for the preservation of the nation's heritage. There is no intention of relinquishing these responsibilities. Ministers will remain very closely concerned with the overall direction of policy and will have control over the major part of the commission's overall financial resources. But within that strategic framework, the Government believe that delegation of day-to-day executive responsibility to the commission will improve the management of our heritage operations, without in any way affecting ministerial and parlia- 1047 mentary accountability. The commission will not be constrained by some of the restrictions which are, rightly, imposed on them by Government departments. They will be answerable for their activities to the Secretary of State and, through him, to Parliament.
The Government's first priority is to preserve and protect monuments for future generations. This will also be the commission's first priority. There is no question of neglecting sites where receipts are less than costs or of endangering popular sites by encouraging over visiting. Clearly, relatively few DoE sites can be financially viable; and simple financial viability is not a test that can be, or should be, applied to protection of the national heritage. But there are ways of improving the public's enjoyment of heritage sites and, at the same time, increasing the revenue to be obtained from them without in any way introducing any insensitive or undesirable element or detracting from the historical or cultural interest of the monuments themselves. Here again my noble friend Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd made an excellent example.
The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, asked particularly about the future of rescue archaeology. The establishment of a commission does not mean any decrease in the importance placed on rescue archaeology, or in the likely level of funding for it. The work carried out at present by the DoE through the Inspectorate, the Ancient Monuments Laboratory and the Central Excavation Unit, will continue within the commission, as will the important and complementary roles of local archaeological units and other expert local bodies. The commission will be better able, as the central focus of heritage work, to co-ordinate these activities.
I think virtually all noble Lords referred to the financial relationship, and particularly the noble Baroness. Lady Birk, and the noble Duke, the Duke of Grafton. There was a plea by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. The financial relationship between the Government and the new body is, of course, of crucial importance. Some of this relationship in terms of a power for the Secretary of State to pay grant and the arrangement for account audit and report are spelt out in the Bill. But a great deal is not usually included in legislation. Some of the specific questions raised by noble Lords fall in this latter category. They are questions which are very much in the Government's mind. Indeed, they are the subject of current discussions within Government. Until these discussions have been completed I cannot give noble Lords any categoric answers. But I can say that the arguments put forward to support separate treatment of private donations—that none will materialise if they are seen merely to reduce Government grant—are well taken. The similar incentive argument in respect of ploughing back into the heritage profits from trading generated by the new body is also fully understood.
The Government see the force in the aims of those who press these cases. I have noted, too, the view that the commission should be provided with an initial fund, and the analogy drawn with the National Heritage Memorial Fund. The fund and the commission have rather different roles to play, the commission being more concerned with executive 1048 management. On all these issues more will be said during the later stages of the Bill, and the comments made today have been most helpful. I am well aware that the House will want a positive assurance at the Committee stage.
Much was said about the carry forward. It has been stressed that the commission should have the ability to carry forward unspent money from one financial year to the next. Reference has been made to the passage in The Way Forward which mentions that appropriate arrangements should be made for some unspent money to be so carried forward. That passage did not mean that there should be a complete carry forward, as in the case of the museum purchase grants. Those grants are, in the Government's view, different from the executive operations of the commission. However, a degree of carry forward is normal to any grant-in-aid. How far can the Government go? We shall be guided by this debate. I have noted the pleas for both triennial and quinquennial grants.
The change to trustee status for the V & A and Science Museums should not of itself give rise to additional expenditure or alternatively lead to adverse financial consequences for the two museums. The Bill is neutral in this respect but the Government will continue to pay careful attention to the needs of the two museums, just as they do to existing trustee museums, within the framework of the overall financial resources. The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, made the point that the commission should have the benefit of advice from experts on high-powered committees. We fully agree. The provision in the Bill enabling the commission to appoint advisory committees recognises the need to have involved in their work the widest range of expertise, such as is currently offered by the Historic Buildings Council and the Ancient Monuments Board.
The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, the noble Lord, Lord Montagu and the noble Duke, the Duke of Grafton, spoke about Royal palaces and parks. May I describe the Government's thinking here? The Government have decided for the moment against giving the new commission a major executive role, either at the Royal palaces or in the Royal parks. These Royal properties are sensitive and highly important to the British people; Ministers must, in the Government's judgment, retain direct control. However, the commission will contain valuable expertise, both on archaeological and historic matters, and also on the development of tourist potential and educational issues for heritage properties generally. The commission's expertise in these areas will be available to the Department of the Environment in its maintenance of these vitally important properties and its appropriate management of those which are open to the public. The precise mechanics of their involvement remains to be worked out. I have noted the suggestion of the noble Baroness, Lady Birk.
I should like to say a word on the Royal Commission for Historical Monuments. Much thought has gone into the issue as to whether or not the Royal Commission in England should be brought within the new commission. The advantages of a single organisational grouping are balanced by the advantages on the other side of retaining a scholarly and independent body to record monuments and compile an inventory. The Government have not yet 1049 reached a conclusion on this matter but will reflect on the remarks made today, especially the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Adeane. I do not believe that we could have had a better introduction to the subject.
If I may now refer to trustee status and executive boards of management, a subject which exercised the House most after the financial particulars, the choice of system of government for institutions of the kind covered by this Bill is one which of course ought to be decided on the merits of each case. On one hand, the trustee system is prima facie well suited to the needs of national institutions, like the four covered by the first Part of the Bill. It is after all a system that has proved itself at the other national museums and galleries. It was interesting here that the noble Lord, Lord Annan, appeared to be saying one thing and the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, saying the other—both leading two of our more famous galleries.
There is much to be said at the outset for putting these four institutions on the same footing. Most particularly, however, the trustee system combines the wisdom and experience of a group of distinguished lay trustees with the professionally authoritative role of the instituion's director who acts within general lines of policy determined by the trustees upon whom rests the ultimate responsibility for the institution. The executive board model, on the other hand, we believe is better suited to institutions having extensive executive functions. The members of such bodies are usually salaried on a full-time or part-time basis, and possess particular management responsibilities which place them in a different relationship to the director or his equivalent. Executive boards therefore represent a more substantial executive and management structure at the head of an organisation. Having said that, I look forward very much to the proposals of my noble friend Lord Eccles, and to see what we shall be debating at the Committee stage. I enjoyed every word he said and agreed with virtually every word he said, particularly about the adult education of our heritage, and, with the exception of the method, I am entirely with him.
My noble friend the Duke of Grafton raised a number of points. He asked about administrative expenditure. The administrative and programme expenditure of the commission—as I term it—should be kept separate. This is a point on which I can reassure the noble Lord. As indicated in The Way Forward, it is likely that separately identified parts of the grant will include the grants themselves, the maintenance of ancient monuments and administration. I can assure noble Lords that the advisory role of the commission, to which the Government attach great importance, will be fully as wide as it is now in the present-day context. It is a central part of its role to be a strong and coherent focus for conservation.
So far as the capital transfer tax cases are concerned, the commission will continue the present role of the Historic Buildings Council in advising the Government on exemptions of historic buildings and associated land from capital transfer tax and capital gains tax. I can confirm, as annex C of The Way Forward made clear, that the Government will indeed in future look to the commission for this advice. Regarding research, I very much acknowledge the importance of well-directed research into conservation matters. This 1050 again was reflected in The Way Forward. The Government will consider how best to reflect this important function in the Bill.
The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, and the noble Lord, Lord Gibson, spoke about provincial museums. For some years the Victoria and Albert Museum have operated a fund to assist provincial museums and art galleries to purchase objects for their collections. Grant in aid provision (in a separate estimate subhead) for this fund amounted to £1 million last year and this year. A similar, though smaller, sum is operated by the Science Museum. Last year in connection with changes in the functions of the Museum and Galleries Commission, it was proposed that the commission should take over responsibility for the funds. This met with vocal opposition and the proposal was left in abeyance pending the outcome of the Rayner Scrutiny of the two museums. I hesitate to mention the Rayner Scrutiny in this House, especially with the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, sitting opposite me. The Rayner report briefly discussed this issue in the general context of the scope of the museums' responsibility towards provincial institutions and in the light of its main recommendations that they should cease to be departmental museums. It acknowledged the museums' own reluctance to disturb the existing arrangement and to give up responsibility for the funds, and made no firm recommendation on the matter.
The consultation following the report has so far yielded no clear consensus on this issue. The Office of Arts and Libraries is still considering the remaining Rayner recommendations which have not yet been the subject of announced decisions in the light of the views expressed in the consultations. The Minister for the Arts hopes to make a further announcement on this fairly soon.
The noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, asked specifically about the contracting-out of building work. The trustees will be able to use the services of the Property Services Agency, or outside contractors under PSA direction, where the buildings are owned by the Crown, as in the case of the Science and of the V & A Museums. Where the buildings are the property of the trustees, they will be free to do as they wish. including making use of the PSA.
He also asked about charging, as did the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. The provision in the Bill relating to the V & A and the Science Museum are intended to enable the trustees to charge for admission if they wish. The reference is made to put beyond doubt that the trustees will have that power at their disposal. The Government have no intention of imposing a charging policy for admission to the main collections, either on all national collections or on the two covered in the Bill. Existing trustee and galleries already have power to charge and this will now be extended to the V & A and Science Museums. In practice, the trustees would normally consult the Government before making charges and the Government would not wish to prejudge the outcome.
The noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, also commented on finance and accountability. It is envisaged that the Board of Trustees will be accountable to Parliament for their Votes, just as for existing national trustee museums. It is also envisaged that there will be a separate Vote for each institution, within which there 1051 will be a separate grant-in-aid for purchases. These are the arrangements operating at the other trustee museums and galleries, and I believe are well known to the noble Lord.
The noble Lord, Lord Charteris, asked specifically about the commission and borrowing against their money. The commission might need to use heritage property as security for their borrowing. That is not the intention. The temporary borrowing power is intended only to cover short-term cash-flow problems which would not need to be secured in that way; and I can confirm that the commission would be able to acquiring property with the Secretary of State's consent.
§ Baroness Birk
My Lords, before the noble Earl leaves that point—because he is going through this list extremely well, answering us all—may I say that I do not expect an answer immediately, but if he is talking about whether the commission may be short of money, would he take back the thought that it is going to be essential for this agency to be able to employ a director at a pretty high salary when it leaves the umbrella of the Civil Service? Would he take this into account when he is discussing the administrative cost as, for example, when he answered the points put by the noble Duke, the Duke of Grafton?
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords. I will make sure that the noble Baroness's suggestion, or indeed warning, is borne in mind. There was some discussion about the term of office of trustees. The length of term of office varies among existing national trustee museums and galleries, and the period of not more than five years in this Bill broadly reflects the average in other institutions and allows greater flexibility than a longer fixed term. There is, of course, provision for reappointment.
We had some discussion on the appointment of the chairman. The Bill's provision for the appointment of a chairman of trustees by the Prime Minister we believe should be specially helpful at the outset; and I think most people were of that mind. When the new trustees would not know one another well enough to find it easy to choose the most appropriate candidate among their number, the chairman will have a key role, so that it is important to choose the right person. But as time goes on and the new board members settle into their roles, the Prime Minister will no doubt pay particular regard to the trustees' own recommendation when new chairmen come to be appointed. It may well be that the Prime Minister would normally expect to appoint a person recommended by the trustees.
There was some comment about the Drew Report. It contained a number of wide-ranging comments and recommendations; by no means all of them addressed directly to central Government. Some of the recommendations have significant financial resource implications and, however desirable they might be on their own merits, progress on them must clearly be constrained by the availability of funds within the framework of the Government's overall policies. The Government will continue to bear in mind all the points referred to in the Drew Report with a view to proceeding wherever desirable and practical. Meanwhile, the present Bill is not intended to be a comprehensive framework for the future development 1052 of the museum services as a whole, local, provincial, national or even international.
The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, picked up in his usual way the point made in Schedule 5. First, may I say that by removing the requirement to seek an affirmative resolution of each House it simplifies the procedure for adding new institutions to the list of national museums and galleries in Schedule 1 of the Act. The list contains those institutions to which works of art may appropriately be transferred. An affirmative resolution will no longer be specified: nor will it be necessary for the Secretary of State to lay an order before Parliament. Secondly, it will now be possible for works of art executed by foreign artists before 1700 to be lent outside the United Kingdom, without recourse to Parliament for approval. Thirdly, there will no longer be a requirement for an affirmative resolution of each House before an alteration can be made to the proportion of works of art which may be on loan from galleries to public buildings and official residences. The repeals will place the boards of the National and Tate Galleries on an equal footing with those of other existing national museums and galleries, as well as with the boards envisaged in this Bill in this respect.
I did find out details of statutory instruments made under the sections of the Act which we propose to amend in the Bill. Under Section 3(3) there was only one order made in 1962. Under Section 4(2) there were 25 orders in total, and under Section 4(3) no orders appear to have been made.
I have now gone on for quite a long time and although I have one or two answers here I think I sense the will of the House that it might be better for me to answer the remaining points in writing. However, before closing I should like to pay tribute to the staffs of the V & A and the Science Museums, without whose dedicated contributions the museums would not have obtained their present standing. I believe that this Bill will offer them a renewed opportunity to devote their valued services to those institutions, and I express the Government's profound gratitude also to the members of the museums' advisory councils, which will be superseded when the new trustee bodies are appointed, for all they have done to assist the development of the museums.
I believe that the clear line which has come out through our Second Reading debate tonight has been the need for more freedom for the commission and I will take that suggestion back with me. Many particular points which I have not answered I shall hope, as I say, to answer in writing in the near future. May I end by thanking all noble Lords for their constructive contributions to this debate. I commend this Bill to the House and move that it be now read a second time.
§ On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ House adjourned at twenty-eight minutes past eight o'clock.