HL Deb 26 February 1985 vol 460 cc841-54

3.15 p.m.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Gray of Contin)

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

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Gray of Contin.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Establishment of Board of Trustees]:

Lord Ross of Marnock moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 8, leave out ("National Museums of Scotland") and insert ("Scottish National Museums").

The noble Lord said: I think we can take with the first amendment Amendments Nos. 2 to 5, 16, 17, 43, 45, 50, 51, 63 to 68, 70, 71, 73 and 76.

Amendment No. 2: Page 2, line 1, leave out ("National Museums of Scotland") and insert ("Scottish National Museums").

Amendment No. 3: Page 2, line 1, leave out from ("are") to first ("the") in line 2 and insert ("(a)").

Amendment No. 4: Page 2, line 2, after ("and") insert ("(b)").

Amendment No. 5: Page 2, line 3, after ("Scotland") insert ("hereafter to be known as the Museum of Scotland").

Amendment No. 16: Clause 3, page 3, line 21, after the second ("the") insert ("Scottish").

Amendment No. 17: Clause 6, page 4, line 36, after ("institutions") insert ("presently").

Amendment No. 43: Clause 19, page 21, line 2, leave out ("National Museums of Scotland") and insert ("Scottish National Museums").

Amendment No. 45: Clause 20, page 21, line 14, leave out ("National Museums of Scotland") and insert ("Scottish National Museums").

Amendment No. 50: Schedule 1, page 22, line 7, leave out ("National Museums of Scotland") and insert ("Scottish National Museums").

Amendment No. 51: Page 22, line 7, at end insert ("or of the Museum of Scotland").

Amendment No. 63: Page 23, line 4, leave out ("National Museums of Scotland") and insert ("Scottish National Museums").

Amendment No. 64: Page 23, line 5, after ("Scotland") insert ("or of the Museum of Scotland").

Amendment No. 65: Page 23, line 18, leave out ("National Museums of Scotland") and insert ("Scottish National Museums").

Amendment No. 66: Page 23, line 19, after ("Scotland") insert ("or Museum of Scotland" ").

Amendment No. 67: Page 23, line 24, leave out ("National Museums of Scotland") and insert ("Scottish National Museums").

Amendment No. 68: Page 23, line 25, at end insert ("or the Museum of Scotland").

Amendment No. 70: Schedule 2, page 31, line 29, after ("Scotland") insert ("or the Museum of Scotland" ").

Amendment No. 71: Page 31, line 36, at end insert ("or the Museum of Scotland".").

Amendment No. 73: Page 31, leave out lines 37 to 40 and insert—

("The Capital Transfer Tax Act 1984 (c. 51)

4. In Schedule 3 for the words "The Royal Scottish Museum" there shall be substituted the words "The Scottish National Museums".").

Amendment No. 76: In the Title, line 4, after ("Scotland") insert ("or the Museum of Scotland").

The Committee will appreciate how helpful I intend to be in respect of this Bill, and nowhere more helpful than with the first five amendments. Clause 1 creates for the first time a board of trustees to deal with two important national institutions in Scotland, two museums, the Royal Scottish Museum and the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland. Their present structure of administration goes and one board of trustees take over. We are dealing with a new name, the National Museums of Scotland. My first amendment is to change that title to the Scottish National Museums. I shall explain why later. Secondly, in Amendment No. 5 after the word "Scotland" (that is, the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland) I say insert: hereafter to be known as the Museum of Scotland".

The whole spur and basis of this Bill is this report. This committee was chaired by Dr. Alwyn Williams, the Principal of Glasgow University. My noble friend Lord Perth was a member of that committee, as were other distinguished Scots and people concerned with the heritage of Scotland. They produced a report which was debated in this House just about two years ago. I shall read the most important of their recommendations. It is at Chapter 9.5: The Government should quickly introduce legislation to establish a new museum, called The Museum of Scotland, based on the existing collections of the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland. The new Museum should be the prime repository for artifacts, other than books, paintings and industrial and technological objects, representing the cultural heritage of Scotland".

You see at once the difficulty. If we are going to have a museum at some time to be called the Museum of Scotland how does that fit in with what the Government have already said that these two museums presently existing are to be called the Museums of Scotland? I cannot think of any better recipe for confusion than this: the Museums of Scotland, and then one of them, according to this recommendation, is to be called the Museum of Scotland. What is the other one to be called? We do not know.

I ask the Committee to consider the wording of Clause 1. There is reference to the two museums we now know, and they are referred to as "presently known as". Does that mean that they are going to be known as something else in the future? Are they going to be Museums of Scotland A and B, or Museums of Scotland 1 and 2? There is confusion on this point. Where did it come from, this name Museums of Scotland? It came from a committee set up to advise the Government on how to achieve a Scottish museum, the Museum of Scotland. This was the concept that the Secretary of State got excited about—so he said, anyway. He wanted to further it and get the whole thing developed. If one wishes to create a Museum of Scotland, one does not start by ruling it out of order by creating an overall body called the Museums (plural) of Scotland. That is my first point.

My second point is that there is no mention anywhere in the Bill of the Museum of Scotland, which was the central theme of the Williams Committee Report. The Committee said that it would be based on the existing artefacts and collections of the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, which was founded in the year 1780 with £20 given by the Earl of Buchan. Indeed, he gave his house over for the first museum. Eventually, the whole of that was handed over to the nation. It was later housed in what is now the Royal Scottish Academy in Princes Street. When that became too small, a new building was provided by the proprietor of The Scotsman in Queen Street in Edinburgh. But there are over one million pieces in the collection, the great majority of which are never seen because the museum has been overcrowded. They cannot display them all, and those that they do display they cannot display properly. They cannot fulfil their proper functions of a modern museum because of accommodation difficulties.

This was the basis for the creation of a new Museum of Scotland, not a Scottish Museum. The British Museum is not a Museum of Britain. If it were, the Elgin Marbles would not be there and a lot of other things would not be there. The Museum of Scotland is to be the repository of all those artefacts through which people can trace and understand the whole history and development of Scotland. It is of Scotland: that is why the word "of" is important.

This is confusing and wrong. I do not think for one minute that it came spontaneously from the Bute Committee. If one wants to muddle anything in Scotland, get the education department into it! They were the people who ran the Royal Scottish Museum. It is a department of the Scottish Office, or the Department of Education. The Minister of State probably comes new to this field. I do not know whether he appreciates just what it pre-empts. If one is to call the new board that governs the two bodies the National Museums of Scotland, one virtually rules out the creation of a museum to be called the Museum of Scotland. So I am being helpful in suggesting that we get rid of this ill-chosen title of the Museums of Scotland and make them the Scottish National Museums.

What we have suggested in Amendment No. 5, which was accepted by your Lordships when we debated it, is to change the name "National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland" to "The Museum of Scotland". We can then go on from there. I am not interfering with the role of the new board of trustees, but I am setting things right for the future.

It has been said—and one gleans this information by going through the debates in the other place—that titles and names can come later. In this context, titles and names cannot come later unless we have another Bill—and we do not want another Bill. I am being helpful to the Government and to the Secretary of State, feeding his ambitions, to create in Scotland what we need—a new Museum of Scotland. I fear that if this concept is turned down we shall be left with what we have had for a long time, because the new building to house the Scottish National Museum of Antiquities was started about 50 years ago, and it is not there yet. It is about time that we took seriously our heritage in Scotland. Let us have a Museum of Scotland written into the Bill, and the development and build-up of it will come later. I beg to move.

The Earl of Perth

On Amendments Nos. 1 and 2, I go along with the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock. On the other amendments, I am in some difficulty because I have an amendment following, Amendment No. 6, which, owing to a typographical error, does not make very good sense as it stands. I wonder whether the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees would like to make the point on my Amendment No. 6 before I speak further. For the purposes of your Lordships' Committee, it is difficult to understand what I am proposing, which has a relationship to what the noble Lord, Lord Ross, has been saying about a Museum of Scotland. Having said that, I support Amendments Nos. 1 and 2.

Lord Gray of Contin

I have studied the noble Earl's amendment and there is no reason, as far as I can see, why, while answering the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, with his grouping of amendments, I could not deal, as the amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, relates to the same principle, with Amendment No. 6 as well. On behalf of the Government, I would have no objection to the noble Earl speaking to his amendment at this time.

The Earl of Perth

Would that be agreeable to the noble Lord, Lord Ross, and others?

Lord Ross of Marnock

It would be agreeable to me, but it will mean another speech!

The Earl of Perth

If I may, I will speak to Amendment No. 6, but I wish to speak to it in an amended form.

Amendment No. 6: Page 2, Line 4, at end insert— ("( ) If the Board so decide thay may with the consent of the Secretary of State form the "National Museum of Scotland" of which the National Museums of Scotland shall be an integral part and with which other museums or institutions may become part or may be associated.").

The amended form is to delete the word "National" from the second line. It should read: If the Board so decide they may with the consent of the Secretary of State form the 'Museum of Scotland' of which the National Museums of Scotland shall be an integral part"; or, if we were to accept the first two amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Ross, it would read: of which the Scottish National Museums shall be an integral part". If my amendment were accepted, with the amendment go the consequential Amendments Nos. 51, 64, 68, 70, 71 and 76. In all those the wording is correct. They speak of the Museum of Scotland, and not of the National Museums of Scotland.

I much regretted that I could not be present at the Second Reading debate, but in reading the speeches through most carefully I was struck by three things in the general run of what everybody thought in your Lordships' House. The first was that your Lordships wanted a Museum of Scotland now, not the concept of a museum to come later. The second was the need to bring new and other museums into the concept. I have in mind when I say that such museums as a Museum of Industry or a Museum of the Sea or what you will, all within the complex of a Museum of Scotland.

3.30 p.m.

The third matter which attracted a great deal of attention at Second Reading was the call for more housing now, for more building now, for new building at once. I did not see how to introduce that into any amendment but, so far as the other two are concerned, I think they are covered by the amendment which I propose. I am asking that we do not await the advice of Lord Bute's advisory board but go for the Museum of Scotland now. Let us have it established, as the noble Lord, Lord Ross, has said, that there is to be such a body and that it is to be now. Otherwise, as I read this Bill, it will mean new legislation and more delay before we can have a Museum of Scotland if the board of trustees or Lord Bute's advisory board wish it. That surely is both unwise and wrong.

My key recommendation—and it was the key recommendation, as the noble Lord, Lord Ross, pointed out, of the Williams Committee—is that we should have a Museum of Scotland. At that time, we said it should be the Museum of Antiquities reborn, rehoused and with a new set-up. But when, with the now Sir Alwyn Williams, I went first to see the Secretary of State to put forward this proposal on behalf of our committee, I remember his enthusiasm. He thought that it was something really exciting that we should have a Museum of Scotland, and we were much encouraged; hence our recommendation. Now we have some weasel words: the concept of a Museum of Scotland.

It is true that our recommendation was that it should be a Museum of Scotland based on the National Museum of Antiquities. But what changed my view—and I know that I am also speaking for Sir Alwyn Williams in this—was, if I may put it in this way, the courage of the Secretary of State when he said, "No, we will have a board of trustees to cover not only the National Museum of Antiquities but also the Royal Scottish Museum. We will have also one director for the two museums". Frankly, when we considered this in committee, we funked it. We funked—I was about to say "attacking" but that is the wrong word—tackling the Royal Scottish Museum because it was something that we felt would probably put at risk our getting anything because of the opposition it might arouse.

But, in practice, the Secretary of State for Scotland has grasped the nettle and, that being the case, I think it is a good thing that it should happen, provided—and this is my point—that both the museums (that is, the Royal Scottish Museum and the National Museum of Antiquities) are known in the future as, and are part of, the Museum of Scotland. They have one board of trustees, one director. Let us call it from the start the Museum of Scotland.

When I was in Washington last week, I took the opportunity of finding out something about the Smithsonian Institution, because I felt that perhaps we might learn something from its set-up. It has a board of regents. I like the word "regents". We might think about it some time instead of a board of trustees. That board of regents is variously appointed, partly by Congress, partly by right and so forth. All the funds are centred in the Smithsonian and these funds come from three sources. They come from Congress, they come from endowments and gifts and they come from the energy and enterprise of the Smithsonian itself in such things as the Smithsonian Magazine, which has continent-wide distribution and makes a great deal of money. Under the umbrella of this board are to be found the most important museums (with the possible exception of two) in Washington: the National Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of American History. And not only are they to be found at the Hirshhorn or the Smithsonian Institution itself or the Freer Gallery, nor are they to be found only in Washington: they also have other museums—for example, the Cooper Hewitt in New York—and they have outstations throughout the country. Not only that, but they help museums throughout the United States of America on questions of conservation, on questions of how best they can exhibit items and on general matters, and they not only send travelling exhibitions elsewhere but also on occasion even provide them with money.

As I have said, I have gone into this in detail because I think that the pattern of it may be of some value to us in what we are trying to create in Scotland—a top museum under which we have the Royal Scottish Museum, the Museum of Antiquities, new museums such as the Museum of Industry, and others. We need not, as I see it, have a top-heavy Museum of Scotland. I think that the Museum of Scotland itself—and I have this as my own personal vision; and I know that one or two other people, including, I think I can say, Sir Alwyn Williams, who would support me, have too—need have only one great showroom. And, dare I say it? the right showroom would be that splendid, soaring building now the entrance hall to the Royal Scottish Museum, which all your Lordships will know. That single building would be the sort of place where visitors would go to learn a little of Scotland and its people from the earliest times.

Having seen this, the visitors would then decide, "Oh well, we ought to go and look in more depth and detail at, for example, the things in the Royal Scottish Museum; at, for example, the things in the Museum of Antiquities; at, for example"—if it is to be established—"the things in the Museum of Industry and other museums all over the country". It will be the centre from which things will flow. Let us remember that it is already accepted by the Secretary of State that the two museums at present should have one board and one director. Let us get on with it and do it from the start.

I feel that, if this is an acceptable complex, those who came to Edinburgh would find that to visit it would be an absolute "must". They would have to go there to learn where they could see what Scotland is about. It seems to me that if by some extraordinary chance Sir Walter Scott, that great supporter of all things Scottish, were alive, this is the kind of thing he would have gone for. It may take time to achieve—I recognise that; but my amendment is permissive and not obligatory. I say that because it seems to me difficult to have it all done at one stroke. But to accept this amendment as it stands would show the advisory board, which is chaired by the noble Marquess, Lord Bute, and the trustees the direction in which I believe we should go. I hope that others of your Lordships will agree with me and help me with this amendment. Whether it is in exactly the right form is another question; but it seems to me that the guts of it, if I may use that expression, are immensely worthy of support.

Lord Gray of Contin

I am glad that we have had this early opportunity to consider one of the fundamental points in the Bill, which is the title that has been chosen for the new national museums' board. As I explained during my opening remarks on second reading, the title National Museums of Scotland, which we have adopted, was that which was specifically recommended to us by the Museums Advisory Board. The advisory board saw this as an extremely important point and therefore gave it thorough consideration very early in its deliberations. It took account of a wide variety of possible titles, including the retention of Royal Scottish Museum to be applied to the whole of the new structure and the use of the titles Scottish National Museums and National Museum of Scotland, which noble Lords have suggested here today. Another possible variant was Royal Museum of Scotland, an attractive compromise based on one of the existing names but with a change of emphasis to reflect the nature of the two bodies being brought together.

Eventually, however, the advisory board settled upon National Museums of Scotland as a title which was both seen to be all-embracing (in much the same way as that of the National Galleries of Scotland covers all the separate galleries in that structure) and as one which was not in any way associated with either of the present institutions. It also had the advantage that it could be employed where the new board of trustees wished to retain, within the new structure, two, or more, relatively separate institutions which might retain separate titles of their own, or provide for a much greater degree of co-ordination and indeed integration of the existing museums. The new trustees' decision will be based on very thorough consideration of the alternatives by the Museums Advisory Board, whose report, as I have said, is due in May. Clearly, however, nothing is going to be done in unnecessary haste. With two such long-established institutions as these two museums, the process of change, however it is eventually directed, will be a gradual one; of that there is no doubt. In these circumstances it makes even more sense to adopt a title such as National Museums of Scotland, which will give the new board of trustees the maximum flexibility to decide how it wishes to operate, consistent with the needs of the collections and the requirements of the museums' users.

Although we have indicated our broad agreement to the concept of a Museum of Scotland being based on the collections of the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, what I have said will, I hope, indicate why we do not believe that it would be appropriate to make a specific reference in the Bill to that title as applying to the existing National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland in the way proposed in Amendment No. 5, put down by the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock. Such a reference would tend to give too strong an impression that the Museum of Scotland will be simply the present National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland under another name, whereas in fact it is likely that in furthering the Museum of Scotland concept the new board will want to draw more widely than simply on the collections of the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland or the Royal Scottish Museum.

3.45 p.m.

That brings us to the point which the noble earl, Lord Perth, made about other museums or institutions becoming part of, or being associated with, the national museums. I can assure the noble Earl that as the Bill is drafted there will be absolutely no bar to that taking place. Clause 1 of the Bill, which establishes the new trustee board, defines the National Museums of Scotland as, the institutions presently known as the Royal Scottish Museum and the National Museum of Antiquities, together with any establishment owned, controlled or occupied by either of them". It is necessary to have in the Bill that definition of the status quo, as it were—the situation as it will be on vesting day, when responsibility will pass to the new trustee board. But that does not mean that the situation will then be frozen and that no further change will be possible. The functions and powers given to the new board in Clauses 2 and 3 make it plain that the board will be able to do whatever they think necessary or expedient to discharge their functions, subject of course to the provisions of the Act and the usual necessary checks and balances on such an organisation. In another place, in response to the discussion there was of the role of the national museums in relation to the non-national museums and similar organisations in Scotland, we wrote in an amendment which made specific reference to the board's power to collaborate with other institutions in promoting. the public's awareness, appreciation and understanding of the matters within its general functions. I hope that gives sufficient recognition of the importance which we see for this role in the future of the national museums. We will expect the new trustees to ensure that the Museum of Scotland concept acquires a truly national dimension by recognising the riches which lie outwith the ambit of the national museums themselves and in continuing the pastoral role which the national museums have traditionally played in relation to other institutions in Scotland.

I hope that, with that explanation, noble Lords will be better placed to see how, in a general way, we foresee the development of the national museums in the future. It is fundamental to the Government's approach that we regard matters of organisation as the responsibility of the new trustee board itself. This is why we favour the title which the Bill provides for the new board. I hope that noble Lords will agree to withdraw their amendments.

Before I sit down, perhaps I may say, since mention was made by both noble Lords of the Williams Committee, that there is no question of the Williams Committee's report being ignored. The concept of a Museum of Scotland is being pursued. It is one of the aspects to which my right honourable friend has asked the advisory board to pay particular attention. But, to some degree, matters have moved on since Williams, which recommended that the existing status of the Royal Scottish Museum should remain broadly unchanged; in other words, as part of a Government department. In that respect, it is true, we have not followed Williams, and there seems to be a broad measure of agreement that we were right to follow that course. The decision to have one trustee board followed from that, and here, too, we have had to make difficult choices, but the basic recommendation which the Williams Committee made about the need for an increased profile for the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland collections is not being ignored. It will undoubtedly form a major plank of the new board's work. I trust that that clarifies the position, which may have been in some doubt—

Lord Grimond

Will the noble Lord give way? I am greatly obliged to him. I have been listening with great care to his explanation of why the present title has been chosen. I fully follow his reasoning against talking of the Museum of Scotland at the present; but, as I understand it, the amendment moved by the noble Earl is permissive. It does not write this into the Bill now, but merely gives power to the board, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, to assume this title or to set up a Museum of Scotland, if in the future the Secretary of State should wish to do so. If I may say so, ably as he has dealt with the present situation, I do not feel that the Minister has convinced me that this permissive power should not be written into the Bill now, so that if the trustees and the Secretary of State feel, as recommended by the Williams Committee, that a Museum of Scotland should be established, they can get on with it at once.

Lord Gray of Contin

I listened carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, said, but it would be a very unusual step if we did not write the name of the new board into the Bill which is creating them. I can accept the noble Lord's wish to have a certain flexibility and there are areas within the Bill in which this will be possible. But in this instance we have to decide now what is to be the name of the new body. I am glad that the noble Lord felt that I had made the case for accepting the recommendation of the advisory committee. That really was the principal reason for our choosing this name. There were a number of possibilities, as I explained, but if you set up an advisory committee and it strongly recommends a particular line, especially on an issue such as the name, we felt it right that we should take account of its recommendation. I trust that noble Lords might be prepared to withdraw their amendment.

Lord Home of the Hirsel

I am inclined to agree with the advice of the advisory committee and of the Minister. I think the anxiety here is that if we do not have some permissive form in the Bill, the name "Museum of Scotland" will gradually fall out of the picture and indeed, as I understand it, it will need legislation. Can my noble friend confirm whether or not the change of name will need legislation in the future?

Lord Gray of Contin

As I understand it, the name which we are adopting today will be the permanent name. The concept of the Museum of Scotland is certainly very much in the forefront of our thinking. But I would have to take advice before I could say whether that would need further legislation. I cannot answer that question without referring it.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I do not know whether it is clear to noble Lords who have not studied this matter very carefully or for very long, but it is certainly not clear to me as to what the Government are after. I am not being rude, but the Minister of State keeps talking about the concept of the Museum of Scotland and the concept has to have a national dimension. What we want is not a concept; we want a museum and that is the one thing we are just not going to get.

I know the Scottish Office very well and I also know what will happen. We shall get a board of trustees of the National Museums of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Museum and the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland will carry on. They presently are co-operating. Quite a lot of stuff has been given from one to the other. We may get some sort of hybrid development of something new. But the one thing we are not going to get is the Museum of Scotland.

I do not know whether the Minister of State has read all the reports of the debates in Committee in another place. One of the Under-Secretaries—I do not know which—made a very perspicacious remark. He said that the Museum of Scotland was people looking at Scotland and that the Royal Scottish Museum, which is just a museum, was Scotland looking at the world. There is a limit to the integration that you can get there, with a coherent concept and a national dimension and all the rest of it.

I do not know whether the Minister knows what he is talking about. We already have out-stations. We already have the agricultural museum at Ingleston, we already have the Museum of Costume at Dumfries coming under the umbrella and there is the Museum of Flight at East Fortune. I have been very kind to the Government so far, because one of the other recommendations of the Williams Committee was a Museum of Industry. It has become a concept, too. I have got off all the jargon. It will be a hard core of disciplines and then there will be museums all over Scotland, but we are not going to get a national one. I am not satisfied.

May I say to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, that his is not the same concept. His concept is going way beyond this. I do not think it is a concept that was properly discussed within the Williams Committee and I hope that it may be discussed within this advisory committee. Here is one of our troubles. We are talking about a board that are to make decisions, but the board have not yet been set up. We are talking about advice coming from an advisory committee, but it has not yet reported. I believe that the Houses of Parliament, both Chambers, should occasionally decide something and not leave it to unnamed boards of two advisory committees. We just cannot write blank cheques like that. But we know what the Williams Committee said and what it wanted and we know what we want in the discussions. Unfortunately, the other place did not have a debate on the report of the Williams Committee.

The amendments which I am suggesting are not world shattering, but they change that concept into an actual museum and the development of the Museum of Scotland will be a matter for the new board when it is set up. I cannot understand why the Government jib at this, because it is a mistake to call them the Museums of Scotland. If you are going to have the title "Museums of Scotland" you will get into confusion if ever you start to think of calling one of them the Museum of Scotland. It just does not fit in. It is what I would expect from the Scottish Education Department. They have enough on their plate just now, with school strikes, lack of pay reviews and the rest of it. I hope that between now and the next stage the Minister of State himself will give all his attention to this matter. It is far more important than it would seem to be, because it enshrines the concept of the heritage of Scotland.

It will be no news to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, that I do not like the words, If the board so decide they may with the consent of the Secretary of State form the 'National Museum of Scotland'.". It will be a very different Museum of Scotland, because the Museum of Scotland that he envisages will be a Smithsonian institution with all sorts of others under it. It is a very different concept, if I may use that word, from that which is in the Bill or towards which my amendments lead us. As a legislator, I do not like leaving a board whom we do not know to decide, even though they have the consent of the Secretary of State for Scotland. This is a matter which the House should decide and that is why I insist that we should get rid of the confusion by changing "National Museums of Scotland" into "Scottish National Museums" and then put into line 3, on page 2, the words, hereafter to be known as the Museum of Scotland", replacing the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland on which the new museum should be based. The changes will not take place within a week or a month, but if we leave matters as they are we shall never have them. That is what I feel.

4 p.m.

Viscount Eccles

As an Englishman, perhaps I may say just a few words. I went through this business of "national" or not "national" in the title when the British Museum library was split off from the British Museum. A great bulk of opinion said that we ought to set up a national library, which of course we need. But I would not have it called a "National Library" because I thought "British Library" was much better. One does not want to be confined to one national outlook now—one wants to get help from America and so on. One wants to call it "Museum of Scotland". If one calls it "National Museum of Scotland", it will appear a smaller thing. I do not quite know why, but it will. It would have appeared to be a smaller library if we had called it our National Library and not the British Library.

There appears to me to be nothing in the Bill which gives the new body the power to make grants to smaller museums in Scotland. That will be essential because, now that services are very expensive, you will want to have a central place to teach you how to conserve items. The smaller museums need grants to get their collections in order. It is far better to have the central museum in charge of that than to give it to a lot of civil servants at St. Andrew's House.

Lord Boothby

Perhaps I may add just a few words to what the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, has said. I agree with him entirely that the word "national" should be left out. It is not in accordance with the best Scottish traditions. We governed the world.

Lord Gray of Contin

I am grateful to my noble friends for their late interventions. I have listened very carefully to what they have had to say and I think I can give them some reassurance. I am glad that I did not try to answer my noble friend Lord Home without taking advice because I can now answer his query as well.

The situation regarding the Bill is that the name which has been given to the trustees of the National Museums of Scotland could only be changed by law after this Bill has passed, but the new board has the power to call an institution "The Museum of Scotland", and that would not require further legislation.

Lord Home of the Hirsel

Thank you very much.

Lord Gray of Contin

The point raised by my noble friend Lord Eccles is well taken. Indeed, later on in the Bill we shall be discussing some of the points which he raised. The question of the relationship between the national museums and the smaller museums within Scotland will be discussed, and indeed there are amendments down which cover that.

I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, for his contribution with his great experience of representing for so many years and with such distinction a Scottish constituency. I am sure that we are all delighted that he is here and participating in Scottish legislation. With those remarks, I trust that the noble Lords concerned may be prepared to withdraw their amendment.

The Earl of Perth

I am afraid that I am more confused than ever about the position. The noble Lord, Lord Home, asked a question. We are told that there is some possibility of having trustees who can set up a Museum of Scotland, but can they be the trustees of the Museum of Scotland and not the trustees of the other two bodies? Is it not clear to me. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Gray, to think again and, having listened to all our discussions here, to consider whether the Government cannot accept the permissive amendment which I have put down here.

I must say that I was rather distressed at his answer. It was clearly written without any knowledge of what I was going to say, and no thought was given to what I did say. I am not altogether blaming the noble Lord but I am saying that between now and Report stage it is essential that he and those who are concerned should give real thought to this, because it is not good enough as it stands. If we are told that it is within the legislative powers to introduce, if the board thinks fit, a Museum of Scotland, but we never can get rid of the other, the National Museums of Scotland, what confusion!

Let us come out straight and square. Let us have the permissive power. Think about it, please, before Report stage. Remember what the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, and the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, said—get rid of the word "national", and let us get on with it. If the noble Lord will accept that, I am prepared to withdraw, but not otherwise.

Baroness Gaitskell

May I ask the noble Lord the Minister this question? What possible objection is there to calling it "The Museum of Scotland"? What objection is there to that? What are the reasons for not doing this? It seems so simple. The Scots are very proud of themselves. Why should they not call it "The Museum of Scotland"?

Lord Gray of Contin

I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her intervention. There is no reason why it should not be called "The Museum of Scotland"; nor is there any reason why it should not be called one of half a dozen other suggestions, each and every one of which makes a lot of sense. But the advisory committee which was set up advised the Government that its choice of name was "National Museums of Scotland", and that is the name which has been given to the trustees; but in due course the trustees themselves can call the museum "The Museum of Scotland". However, it is not one museum that we are talking about; it is an umbrella which will take in two museums initially, and perhaps more museums. That is why.

I am sorry to come back to what the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has said, but I could not, even if I was minded to, accept his amendment, because he has changed his amendment and therefore we should be unsure of what we were actually accepting. But in any case I shall be perfectly frank with the noble Earl. I do not agree with the—

Lord Ross of Marnock


Lord Gray of Contin

—principle which he is suggesting in his amendment anyway. I believe that the recommendation of the advisory committee is the most satisfactory we have received. I feel that while there are other things within the Bill which we shall be discussing this afternoon which I may well be prepared to be persuaded to take away and look at again, on the issue of the name being given to the trustees, I have not heard anything this afternoon which convinces me that any of the other suggestions is better than what we are putting forward.

The Earl of Perth

Will the noble Lord please answer the question? Would it be possible for the trustees to become trustees of the Museum of Scotland, or not, under the Bill as it stands now?

Lord Gray of Contin

I did explain before that, under the Bill as it stands now, the trustees are being called "the trustees of the National Museums of Scotland". In due course, if they care to call the whole umbrella the "Museum of Scotland", then they will be able to do that. No legislation is required for that, so they would continue to be trustees of the new concept, as the noble Lord, Lord Ross—

Lord Ross of Marnock

That is not a concept, it is just a name.

The Earl of Perth

I am sorry but I really do not understand. Would the trustees then become "trustees of the Museum of Scotland", or not?

Lord Ross of Marnock

Perhaps I may say a few words here. The Minister of State has further confused us because he has given us two possibilities of what requires legislation. His answer to the direct question which was asked just now, according to the advice he gave us, should have been, "No". He said, "Yes, it could be". Now that is quite wrong. What we do require is time to think about this. Between now and the next stage I hope that the Minister of State will go into this question of legislation again, because we do not want to pass a Bill only to discover that we need to have another one, and wait for about five or six years and then have the Secretary of State say, "I can't devote resources to that because we have not even decided on names". So let us leave that point.

The other matter that worries me concerns the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, and the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles. I did not think I would find myself worrying about them and about what they were going to say on this matter. Will we see proper amendments to Clause 17 from the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, and the noble Lord, Lord Boothby? Clause 17 deals with the National Library of Scotland, and if we do not like the word "National"—and the noble Lord, Viscount Eccles, does not like it in relation to libraries—then we shall have to get rid of that word, if we are to have a happy House of Lords. That is by the way.

For the moment I am far from satisfied with the explanation that has been given. I shall certainly take another look at this matter to see whether I can meet the Government and ensure that we get the Museum of Scotland into this. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Perth

If noble Lords—

Noble Lords


The Earl of Caithness

Amendment No. 1 has been withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Nugent of Guildford)

I must tell the noble Earl, Lord Perth, that the only amendment before the Committee was Amendment No. 1.

The Earl of Caithness

I beg to move that the House do now resume.

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

House resumed.