HL Deb 14 May 1985 vol 463 cc1115-46

9.8 p.m.

House again in Committee.

[Amendment No. 132KC not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 132L to 132X not moved.]

Clause 42 agreed to.

Clause 43 [Historic House Museums]:

Lord Cottesloe moved Amendment No. 132Y: Page 27, line 25, at beginning insert— ("Save as provided in section (Hampstead Heath) below,").

The noble Lord said: It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I speak also to Amendments Nos. 132ZZ, 132ZZA and 132ZZF. Amendment No. 132ZZ: Page 27, line 27, leave out from beginning to ("adjacent") in line 28 and insert ("the terrace next to Kenwood House and such other property of the Greater London Council"). Amendment No. I32ZZA: Page 27, line 29, after ("State") insert ("except such lands mentioned in section (fHampstead Heath) below,"). Amendment No. I32ZZF: After Clause 43, insert the following new clause:

("Hampstead Heath.

.—(1) Hampstead Heath and land held therewith by the Greater London Council immediately prior to the abolition date, that is to say the land known as Golders Hill, Sandy Heath, The Hill, West Heath, Parliament Hill, Kenwood and Hampstead Heath Extension, shall be transferred to the Secretary of State to manage and maintain or to transfer in their entirety to the National Trust to manage and maintain.

(2) No part of the lands referred to in subsection (1) above shall be alienated by the Secretary of State or the body to whom he transfers the lands.

(3) The Secretary of State shall ensure that sufficient financial and legal, ecological and countryside management resources are provided to maintain at least the present levels of management and maintenance with regard to Hampstead Heath and all land held therewith.

(4) The Secretary of State or the body to whom the lands are transferred in virtue of subsection (1) above shall consult with amenity groups and other interested bodies or individuals on any proposals for change in the management and maintenance of Hampstead Heath and the land held therewith or any other proposals relevant thereto.").

I hope that this group of amendments will commend itself to your Lordships, and particularly to my noble friend on the Front Bench. The amendments are designed to ensure that the management of Hampstead Heath, together with the contiguous meadows and woodlands that surround Kenwood House (a total area of more than 800 acres of countryside in the middle of London), is not fragmented but unitary.

In recent years it has been quite admirably managed by the GLC, who have been in close consultation with those members of the public and amenity societies who are interested. It is on every ground desirable that this unitary management should be continued after the GLC has ceased to exist. I will not repeat what I said on Second Reading, but I believe this is common ground among all who concern themselves with the well-being of this large and unique area of countryside and wildlife—more than 800 acres of it in the middle of London. It is an amenity that is enjoyed by many hundreds of thousands of people.

These amendments do not tie the Government's hands in any way. They enable the Minister to ensure that the heath is in the hands of a body that can look after it, whether it be the management that so admirably looks after the royal parks (Richmond Park being the closest analogy in London to Hampstead Heath); the National Trust, if they are willing to take it on; or some other public body that can be trusted to do the job well—as well as it has been done in recent years.

The alternative of fragmented management, such as has been suggested in some quarters, would be disastrous. That is agreed by all who have fully considered this matter. I beg to move.

Lord Strabolgi

I should like to support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe. I am very glad that the noble Lord has tabled this amendment because it will give the Government an opportunity to say what they really mean to do about this heath. It was probably forgotten, like some of the houses. There is very great concern about it. Indeed, such was the concern that on Second Reading the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw, said that he was going to look into the whole question. Certainly, as the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, said, it cannot be fragmented between three boroughs. Do the Government think that Camden is really capable of running it when it is in this rate-capped situation? I am sorry to have to say this, but also I think they have floated ideas which are not acceptable for tented camps and that kind of thing.

It is, of course, a unique part of London: it is wild countryside. It needs very special attention. I do not think the future of Hampstead Heath should be allowed to go by default just because it fits into some kind of theoretical pattern that the Government are trying to bring about for London. I agree with the noble Lord that I should like to see it administered by the National Trust, or some other body of that nature. The City of London, as the noble Lord, Lord Molson, said earlier, is far too remote. Therefore, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, is now going to tell the Committee precisely what the Government intend to do about this unique heath.

9.15 p.m.

Lord Molson

I rise to support this amendment in very few words. I am interested in it for three reasons. For about 10 years I was the treasurer of the Commons Preservation Society, as it then was. It is now called the Open Spaces Society. It is the senior amenity society of England. It was founded by a number of eminent Parliamentarians and public personalities tri, I think, 1874 or 1875.

The Lord of the Manor intended then to avail himself of what he thought were his legal rights and to develop Hampstead Heath as a building estate. Public figures of all parties united to form, spontaneously, the Commons Preservation Society. Anyone who has any interest in legal history and the long fight to establish what were commoners' rights and the rights of the Lord of the Manor can read, if he has the patience to do so, the long litigation which was carried on in order to preserve Hampstead Heath and Wimbledon Common from being developed as building sites. That very great judge, Sir George Jessel, then Master of the Rolls, took a long time to arrive at a conclusion but finally he did so, which has meant that these great open spaces of remarkable beauty have been preserved for the benefii not only of the inhabitants of London but many other people as well.

I am, therefore, particularly concerned about the future of Hampstead Heath. I take an interest in it, as I mentioned previously, because when I was Minister of Works I was concerned with the royal parks. All of this is part of our great heritage; some of it coming from the Monarchy and some coming from the enterprise of public spirited Parliamentarians of the middle of the 19th century.

I do not want to be in any way dogmatic about how this problem is to be settled. I take a pragmatic view, as I indicated in a few observations that I made earlier today, but with these great changes being made and with the abolition of the Greater London Council it is incumbent upon the Government to consider how these important parts of the heritage of the nation are to be preserved. Therefore, I hope that the Government will be prepared now to go a little further than they have before and to make it quite plain that Hampstead Heath will be preserved under the management of a single body as a public possession and a great amenity to London.

Naturally I am a little prejudiced in favour of the Department of the Environment. Although it now has a rather uninviting name, it embodies the responsibilities of the first Commissioner of Works in historical times and I know that it is carrying on a very distinguished tradition in such a way that I feel sure that if it undertakes responsibility for Hampstead Heath it will do as well for that heath as it has in the case of Richmond Park. Therefore, I support the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Cottesloe.

Lord Kilmarnock

We should like to have seen the matter handled within the slightly wider context of the amendment which I moved before dinner, but in view of the fact that that amendment fell we certainly wish this one well.

One of my concerns would be with the stipulation in subsection (3) of Amendment No. 132ZZE concerning, sufficient financial and legal, ecological and countryside management resources". It seems to me that those resources would have been available within the framework of the amendment that I moved. I should certainly very much like to hear from the Government how they think that these resources can be made available within the more limited context of the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe.

Lord Elton

My noble friend Lord Cottesloe and other noble Lords have brought a distinguished weight of experience and sympathy to a question which is of great interest to many Londoners and to some people who live outside, and they have spoken to it from the heart. My noble friend has explained his interest—and if he has not I do it for him—as president of the Heath and Old Hampstead Society. He has perhaps as close a link as anybody with the problem.

We in the Government are well seized of my noble friend's anxieties and those of the society of which he is the distinguished and, I can tell your Lordships from personal experience, the conscientious and effective president. My noble friend and his friends wish the heath to continue as it is. They want its ecology to flourish, its beauty to be preserved, and for countless people to enjoy it as members of the public can enjoy the country even in London. They wish that to flourish unabated as it does today. We share my noble friend's ambitions, and what we are now discussing is not whether they should be pursued but who should be chosen to pursue them.

At present the management of the heath is in the hands of the GLC. Successor bodies have to be found. My noble friend's amendment suggests either the Secretary of State or, through him, the National Trust. If I may for a moment remind your Lordships of the general framework of the Bill, it intends to devolve functions at present discharged by the GLC to the borough councils. There are in this case three boroughs involved. There is Camden which has, I believe, 154.6 hectares as its interest in the heath; Barnet with 63.2 hectares and Haringey with 4.2 hectares.

The pure logic of the case would suggest, would it not, either that all three should manage it in concert or that one should manage it on behalf of all three? My noble friend fears that that would lead to dissension and neglect or more particularly partition. If I may start with the latter point, my noble friend Lord Whitelaw, as the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, rightly reminded us, gave an assurance at Second Reading that the heath would be managed as an entity, and that assurance I now repeat. Another means of devolution to local government in the event of either a tripartite or an agency arrangement among the three boroughs not being available as a working success would be to the City of London. Noble Lords will have seen the City of London discussion if they have been reading the correspondence section of The Times. The chairman of my noble friend's society gave it a pretty dusty answer.

Without—and I must emphasise this—in any way committing Her Majesty's Government to that particular solution of the problem, I should like to advance just one or two points in defence of the City of London simply for the sake of being fair. If your Lordships have been to Epping Forest or indeed to Burnham Beeches you will have seen that the City of London is able to manage and has experience of managing open spaces which have something in common, I think, with Hampstead Heath. They are not the same, but many of the problems and the opportunities are.

The City would moreover be able to draw on the expertise of those already involved in the day-to-day management of the heath—expertise which of course would be needed by whoever took on the heath and which need not be disbanded because of a change of ownership. The City therefore could not or should not be ruled out on grounds of inexperience or incapability.

There remains the fear that the City might take decisions which might adversely affect the heath. I am sure the noble Lord is aware that whoever takes on the responsibility for the heath will be bound by the Hampstead Heath Act 1871. They will be bound to keep it open forever, unenclosed and unbuilt on. That is the result of the really rather dramatic beginnings of the society to which my noble friend Lord Molson referred. That protection is now entrenched in statute.

Moreover, it would be unlawful for any successor body to sell, lease or in any way dispose of any part of the heath. I think it is important to emphasise this because there are some fears which are groundless. I quite understand that there are sensitivities about the way in which the heath is managed and the interest which local people have in it. However, there are certain excesses which it is not open to a successor body to indulge in.

Other solutions remain. For instance, there remains the possibility, which has been discussed, of the Department of the Environment or the bailiff of the royal parks taking on the heath. My noble friend referred to the antiquity of that post and gave it a certain distinction, which I readily accept, from his earlier position in the Ministry of Works. Then, again, there is the possibility of the National Trust, which has also been canvassed. This is the principal reassurance that I am able to give at the moment. I should like to reassure my noble friend that neither of these possibilities has yet been rejected. The matter is under close consideration. The noble Lord will know the extent to which we are listening to the arguments and considering the options. It is not a decision that either needs to, or should, or probably can be entrenched on the face of the Bill. As has been the practice in the past, the decision will be dealt with by a property transfer order. That is provided for under Clause 97 of the Bill.

What I wanted to tell the Committee is that none of these options is, as yet, closed. We are closely interested in this case. In addition to the other considerations we have, we shall take into careful consideration what the Committee has said this evening.

Lord Strabolgi

Before the noble Lord sits down, in relation to the different options I wonder whether he can say whether any options are excluded. Is the option that it should be divided among the three local authorities, Camden, Barnet and Haringey, an option that they are considering, or is that one that is excluded?

Lord Elton

I am trying to remember the word that my noble friend used. It will be managed as an entity; there is no question of partition.

Lord Cottesloe

I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Strabolgi moved Amendment No. 132Z: Page 27, line 26, after second ("House") insert (", Linley Sambourne House, 18 Stafford Terrace, Kensington,").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 132Z. I have put this down as a probing amendment because I should be interested to know why Linley Sambourne House has been left out of the Bill. Has it been left out purposely or was it forgotten, like Marble Hill and Ranger's House, as I said earlier? Linley Sambourne House is of course a most remarkable house. It is a survivor of a late Victorian town house, which was lived in by Edward Linley Sambourne, who as the Committee knows was a leading Punch cartoonist in the late Victorian and Edwardian period.

Thanks to his granddaughter, the Countess of Rosse, it has been presented to the GLC. What is interesting about it is that rather like Uppark it has survived absolutely intact with all its furniture, ornaments and decorations, and it is an astonishing example of a survival of a late Victorian house. I hope the noble Earl has been to see it, as I have. I think he will agree that it is a most memorable building and contents. The Victorian Society has a lease on the building and provides a curator and volunteer custodians. The GLC gives it a grant to do this. The custodian side is really very important because there are so many ornaments, etc. in all the rooms that it is necessary to have a custodian there on guard against souvenir hunters.

We need to know what the future of this house is going to be and also who it is to pass to. We need to know whether the body concerned will have sufficient funds to look after it. I am not quite sure which Minister will answer this amendment, whether it will be the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, or the noble Lord, Lord Elton. If it is to be the noble Lord, Lord Elton, perhaps he will give me his attention because I am now going to raise a rather important question, that of hybridity.

As I said initially, Linley Sambourne House has been left out of this clause. I should like to know why. If it has just been forgotten I would ask the noble Lord if he thinks this amendment would introduce hybridity into the Bill. I gave him notice of this. More to the point, if Linley Sambourne House has been left out of this clause, does that not make the Bill hybrid as drafted? I hope the noble Lord the Minister will be able to deal with this point when he answers on the subject of Linley Sambourne House. I hope he will give the Committee some reassurance about the future of this house, to ensure that this generous gift by the Countess of Rosse is going to be looked after in the way it deserves. I should like an explanation as to why it was left out of the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Elton

The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, rightly reminds us that Linley Sambourne House is an extremely fine place and one which we owe, as it were, as a community to Lady Rosse, the mother of the noble Earl, Lord Swindon, because thanks to her the house has been preserved for posterity.

The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, has asked me two questions to which I did pay attention; and I think he will find that I got the questions right. I hope he will agree with the answers. One question was: why is the house not specifically mentioned in the Bill? The other question was: is not its exclusion from the Bill something which renders the Bill hybrid? Hybridity is the condition in a Bill where the Bill takes a class and treats the members of that class differently. The class to which I think the noble Lord refers is the class in the clause, and that is the class of historic house museums; that is to say, Kenwood House, Marble Hill House and Ranger's House.

The noble Lord has said that here is another fine house with a fine historical background, with another fine contribution to make to the education of young people and the public generally, and surely it is a member of the same class. But I think he is wrong on the conventional basis that when one talks about the historic house museums of London, conventionally one is referring to Kenwood, Marble Hill and Ranger's House; and also it is the case that those three houses are all the subjects of previous legislation.

It is the functions of the GLC under that legislation which are being transferred by the clause to the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. They are in the basket being handed over, and Linley Sambourne House is not. Indeed, if Linley Sambourne House was put into the basket, then we would not be treating like with like. We would be adding an extra one to the class that was not of the class, and the Bill might well become hybrid. The Table is listening with close attention and has not yet kicked my ankles, so I believe that I have this right.

It is in fact arguable that it may not be proper to call it a museum at all. But fine as it is it does not rate as an item of national significance, as do the other three. Fine as it is, it does not rate as a member of the class. The noble Lord thinks that we should, no doubt by some other legerdemain, transfer it to another prospective owner than the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. However, I believe that that is a responsible body with a right view of the educative value of Linley Sambourne House, and I have every confidence that it is in safe hands.

Lord Strabolgi

I am still not quite sure what is to happen to Linley Sambourne House. I cannot see that it is any different from historic houses. I do not think that it matters what it is called—whether it is called a museum, as the noble Lord described it, or a historic house like Kenwood or Marble Hill. It is a very important house—

Lord Elton

Will the noble Lord forgive me for interrupting him? This is really of the essence. If I have not explained that to the noble Lord, I have failed entirely. It does matter if it is called a historic house museum. If it is a historic house museum within the meaning of the Act, as it will be, then it is of the same class and would have to be transferred in the same way because it would be the subject of the existing legislation that is being altered under the Bill to transfer it in the way that these houses are transferred. But it is not. Therefore, it does matter that it is not a historic house museum. It is not of the same class. It is not subject to the same legislation. It cannot be treated the same. If it was, the Bill would by hybrid.

Lord Strabolgi

That takes care of the hybridity but it does not take care of the future of Linley Sambourne House, which at the moment belongs to the GLC. Whether it is called a historic museum, a historic house or anything else, what is important is the future of this beautiful house. The noble Lord, Lord Elton (I am sorry if I have been saying the noble Earl all afternoon, but I have got into the habit of it), explained this, but I am not clear as to what is to happen to it. I thought that he rather deprecated the house—

Lord Elton


Lord Strabolgi

It is a very important and unique house. It may not be big. It is not a large stately house. It is a small terraced house, but a unique example of this sort of house that has survived intact. I know of hardly any others anywhere. There is Uppark in the country, which is much bigger, and one or two houses of that kind in Paris, but I do not know of any other house that has survived intact with all its wallpapers, furnishings and ornaments, furniture and everything else. It merits the utmost consideration by the Government. What are they going to do? This is what I am not clear about.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

It is my understanding that this house is not open in the ordinary sense as a museum, unless conditions have changed since it was first converted into a historic monument or historic museum for the public. you had to telephone and arrange to go and see it; you could not just arrive there. Has that changed? Perhaps the noble Lord can tell me. It was also my understanding that because of the intact nature of the property and the very original furniture and furnishings within it, extreme care had to be taken about allowing in light and special precautions had to be taken to avoid pilfering, as already mentioned. However, the very fact that the Victorian Society presently holds a lease on the property would mean that it would continue to do so when the property transfers to the borough. I would think that that would be the appropriate thing to happen.

Lord Elton

I am sorry. I should perhaps have gone into more detail in my reply. I did say that I thought that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea would be a perfectly proper owner. What I did not say is that the house is in fact leased by the Victorian Society, and that it will be simply a change of owner of the head lease. The noble Lord has nothing at all to fear for the future.

Lord Montagu of Beaulieu

It might be helpful to the Committee if I explain that the commission, although appreciating the value of the house, thinks that to transfer to the new landlords, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, would be a very satisfactory solution. The Victorian Society has a lease on the house and looks after it very well, but opens it only one day a week. We have assured the society that all the expertise of the commission will be available to it if it has any problems in maintaining the house in good order. We are satisfied that the change of landlords from the GLC to Kensington and Chelsea will be perfectly sensible and, as far as the Victorian Society is concerned, will have no effect whatever.

Lord Strabolgi

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Montagu, for his assurance. This was a probing amendment. The house was left out of the Bill, so it was in limbo and we did not have the slightest idea what would happen to it, and nor I suspect had the Government, until we tabled the amendment. I am quite happy that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea should take possession of the house while it is still being run by the Victorian Society. I believe that they run Leighton House very well and, as far as I know, have done so all my life, and I have every confidence that, as the ground landlords, they will look after Linley Sambourne House. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 132ZZ, 132ZZA 132ZZB and 132ZZC not moved.]

Lord Strabolgi moved Amendment No. 132ZZD: Page 27, line 41, at end insert— ("(2) The Secretary of State shall each year make available to the Commission—

  1. (a) an amount for revenue expenditure on the management and maintenance of those Museums equivalent in real terms to the average amount spent thereon by the Greater London Council per year in the four years immediately before the abolition date;
  2. (b) a sufficient amount to complete capital projects in progress on the abolition date in connection with those Museums; and
  3. (c) a sufficient amount to carry out any major repair work necessary in respect of those Museums.
(3) The amounts paid pursuant to subsection (2) above shall be used by the Commission exclusively in connection with those Museums.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 132ZZD. This amendment concerns the Historic House Museums. During the discussion under the composite resolution we heard how the GLC came to have custody of Kenwood, Marble Hill House and Ranger's House. We also know that without the LCC, who prevented its demolition, and the GLC, who restored and furnished it, London would not now have Marble Hill, which is a splendid example of a Palladian villa.

We have also heard how the GLC has carefully built up the collections in each house, conducting research to seek out original furnishings and paintings. I am sure that if these houses pass to the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, the commission will do its best to try to continue the high standards which the Greater London Council has set. I am very glad to see the noble Lord, Lord Montagu, the chairman of the commission, in his place. However, will the commission be able to do so? The GLC has only three houses. They are very well known and the council has taken pride in them and ensured that they receive adequate resources. However, once in the custody of the commission, they will have to compete for resources with many other buildings throughout the length and breadth of England.

I would submit that, unless the commission can guarantee that it will devote similar resources to the historic houses, as the GLC is doing—and they are very considerable resources—it should not be taking them over. That is why this amendment seeks to make it mandatory for the commission to do precisely that. I beg to move.

Lord Elton

This amendment seeks to ensure that the Secretary of State shall provide to the Historic Monuments and Buildings Commission sums equivalent to those which the GLC has chosen to provide and that sufficient sums are available for capital projects and necessary repair works. The amendment also seeks to earmark those sums exclusively for the Historic House Museums. I believe that this is yet another case where the anxieties expressed by noble Lords are not well founded.

During debate on earlier clauses in this Bill I assured noble Lords that the commission's increased responsibilities would be taken into account in its annual grant-in-aid for 1986–87 onwards. The commission will receive the financial resources necessary for it to do its job. As I explained the other day, the commission's annual grant-in-aid is considered each year on the basis of a corporate plan, setting out in detail how much it believes it needs to spend and what it wants to spend it on. The Government then decide the appropriate level of resources.

9.45 p.m.

I cannot accept that it would be proper financial management to commit either the Secretary of State or the commission to a given level of funding for one particular aspect of its expenditure. It would tie the management, with no control over cash flow, no ability to decide in which year emphasis should be switched from one thing to another. The GLC itself has never been committed in this way, and it is a GLC function the noble Lord is looking at. The commission is a responsible and respected body, as I am sure the noble Lord readily accepts, and is fully capable of managing and maintaining its new acquisitions without this sort of restriction.

Baroness Birk

Will the Minister allow me to interpose on this? I think I raised some of these points when we discussed Clause 5 earlier in the Committee stage. I am still concerned about the question of adequate funds for the commission. It will be undertaking a great deal of extra work and responsibility. At least when the commission started—and I was involved in the legislation which led to setting it up—it had a certain amount of money behind it in order to get going and so that it had some resources and reserves to fall back on.

Now the commission is taking over a great many extra responsibilities. Even if the Minister were to accept—which he will not—the amendment moved by my noble friend, involving taking the average amount spent by the GLC in the four years immediately before the abolition date, which seems to be sensible and fairly wide, not specifically tying it down in too detailed a way, nevertheless I would be worried about his answer to me on a somewhat similar amendment. It was not quite the same kind of amendment. On 2nd May, at col. 441, the Minister said: Ultimately, the resources which the commission will have made available to it must depend upon its assessment of needs"— fair enough— and it will be for it to consider the extent to which it wishes to meet the demand in any one year, having regard to all its other commitments and responsibilities". What worries me is not the goodwill about this sort of thing, nor the willingness of the noble Lord, Lord Montagu, to undertake it. He is extremely good at management and has many entrepreneurial skills, and he will make it as cost effective as possible. But to meet the demand in any one year, having regard to all its other commitments and responsibilities", seems to me to be hard to start with.

There is the great problem of government financing, of being forced to work out what is needed in a year, when it is often much more important and the money can be used much more economically, if one has it spread over a few years. There is a real point of concern here at the beginning of this operation. I can foresee a situation where the commission could be squeezed pretty tightly, certainly at the beginning, and would have to scrape and save on certain things.

If things are let go, as the Minister knows very well, in any form of the built-up heritage, it will be difficult to catch up and recover because we are dealing with old buildings which need careful repair and restora-tion. Perhaps the Minister will say something more and be a little more open on this question of funding.

Lord Elton

The noble Baroness has moved away from the amendment, because it requires that there should be an amount of revenue expenditure in each year; not just for the interim, or for the changeover, but for ever. Now we are talking of the wider principle. The noble Baroness has been in Government—no, she has not.

Baroness Birk

I was.

Lord Elton

The noble Baroness is familiar with the way in which we have to plot our expenditure ahead. We have a programme in Government when we review a budget which extends beyond the budget year; and the same is true with the Historic Monuments and Building Commission. I hope that I did not appear to be discourteous to the noble Baroness. I did not intend that. It was a slip.

Baroness Birk

Just a slight ignorance of history. Of course the Minister was not discourteous. What I was really trying to do was to avoid, as the time is late, having another debate on Clause stand part, so I rather enlarged this as we were in this area. Of course I am aware; and in Government I was responsible for the very area we are discussing tonight. But I was never faced with this sort of takeover, if you like, of a great deal of extra responsibility and extra matters to be dealt with without extra money in order to cope with them.

This is a very special occasion we are discussing now where one body is taking over a great deal from another body which is about to be abolished. It is for this reason—and it is an extraordinary situation financially as well as as concerns the heritage—that I am arguing that there is a case to be made for special financial arrangements in this particular case. I said very carefully that it should be given at the beginning. I agree that I should have explained to the Minister that I had departed from the amendment and why I was doing so. It was in order to save time, but I do not know that it has done so.

Lord Montagu of Beaulieu

Perhaps it would be helpful if I were to say a few words. May I make it quite plain that the commission is in no way politically involved in this Bill? Therefore, I should like to say that, when we were approached by Her Majesty's Government to take over these buildings, we said that we would only do so on the assurance that we would get proper funding. We have received that assurance. May I also remind the noble Baroness, who will remember this from the debate about the national heritage, that the commission is in a unique position in that we are able to roll forward our grant-aid and also to keep excess profits, which we intend to do?

We certainly intend to run the three houses for the benefit of people in London and for overseas visitors and intend to keep going the concerts which were so popular at Kenwood. We are satisfied with the assurances we have received from Government that we shall have the resources to run the houses correctly and have the funds to keep them in good order. I hope that I can give the assurance to the noble Baroness that that is the intention of the commission and that we are satisfied with the assurances that we have had.

Lord Elton

The result of my gaffe is that my question has been answered for me most ably by the noble Lord. What I was about to talk about was the three-year rolling programme. The point of that is anticipating events like this so that one can build the resources necessary into the programme. That is indeed the process in which we are engaged. I hope that this has reassured the noble Baroness that my mathematics are better than my history.

Baroness Birk

That is much better. I am reassured now, especially if the chairman of the commission is happy about it. I wanted to make sure that it had a good enough financial start. I was aware of the rolling programme but you need to have enough to start rolling.

Lord Strabolgi

I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 132ZZE not moved.]

Clause 43 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 132ZZF not moved.]

Clause 44 [Horniman and Geffrye museums]:

Lord Strabolgi moved Amendment No. 132ZZG: Page 28, line 10, at end insert— ("(2) The Secretary of State shall each year make available to the Authority—

  1. (a) an amount for revenue expenditure on the management and maintenance of those Museums equivalent in real terms to the average amount spent thereon by the Greater London Council per year in the four years immediately before the abolition date:
  2. (b) a sufficient amount to complete capital projects in progress on the abolition date in connection with those Museums; and
  3. (c) a sufficient amount to carry out any major repair work necessary in respect of those Museums.
(3) The amounts paid pursuant to subsection (2) above shall be used by the Authority exclusively in connection with those Museums.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 132ZZG. We heard during the discussion on the proposed new composite clause how the Geffrye and Horniman museums had been developed over the years and how at the Horniman the GLC has a number of further developments planned, which because of abolition it will not now, regrettably, be able to carry out. We have also heard what valuable educational work the museums do and how their collections and professional skills have an international reputation.

Since 1965 the ILEA has managed the museums on behalf of the GLC—an arrangement which has, I think, worked very well—but it is the GLC which has provided the funds. In 1984–85 the running costs of the two museums was £1,319,000. On top of that comes the capital funds needed to carry out refurbishments and new developments, the costs of which vary from year to year. In addition to this the museums have been able to rely on the assistance of other GLC departments for architectural and building services, insurance, photographic services and the maintenance of the ground that they stand in. In future, ILEA will have to make other arrangements for these services and inevitably that will give rise to additional costs.

It is, I submit, not reasonable, with all the other problems they have to face, for the Government to expect ILEA to take full responsibility for the museums without additional funding. For this reason the amendment proposes that the Government should make an annual grant to ILEA to meet the running costs for that year and the capital cost of any planned new developments. This seems to us on this side of the Chamber to be a perfectly reasonable proposal if, as I hope we all do, we wish to see the museums continue to be run properly and if ILEA is not to have a quite unfair additional burden placed upon it. I beg to move.

The Earl of Gowrie

Clause 44 effects the transfer of the Horniman and Geffrye museums to the new Inner London Education Authority. Many representations were made to me about the future of these two museums, all of which stressed their very strong educational links; and therefore the proposed transfer to the ILEA has, I am glad to say, been very warmly welcomed by all concerned.

The first amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi—and I hope I am correct in imagining that he is speaking to Amendment No.132ZZH as well—seeks to ensure that sufficient sums will be available for the management of the museums and for capital development and repairs, and that these sums should in effect be earmarked. Amendment No. 132ZZH: page 28, line 10, at end insert— ("( ) No order shall be made under this section until the Secretary of State has laid a report before Parliament detailing such lands and properties at least six months before the abolition date."). This question of funding, of course, has been raised on several occasions. The museums, which are presently funded by the GLC, are already in fact administered on a day-to-day basis by the ILEA. They are to be transferred to the new ILEA and it will be for that body to fund them.

As I have said, this transfer is wholly in line with the response to our consultations from interested parties and it does reflect the educational role of both museums. I do not consider therefore that direct central funding would be appropriate for these two museums. They are local authority institutions and it is only right for them to remain so after the abolition of the GLC. The money for the museums, as for the rest of ILEA's expenditure, will be raised through the precept levied by ILEA. I can, however, assure the Committee that the transfer of financial responsibility for these two museums will be taken into account in the calculation of ILEA's grant-related expenditure and in setting its expenditure level and precept maximum for each year.

The second amendment stipulates that no property should be transferred by order under this clause until a report has been laid before Parliament at least six months before the abolition date. I really do not see that this is necessary. Precise details of the land to be transferred with the Horniman and Geffrye museums will be set out in the order, and I can now assure the noble Lord that we intend that the gardens and grounds immediately adjoining the Horniman Museum and the gardens and grounds adjacent to the Geffrye Museum will be transferred also to the new ILEA.

10 p.m.

I should like to make three other quick points in respect of this clause. The first concerns the future of the exceptional Dolmetsch collection of musical instruments. This will be a matter for the new ILEA, but I cannot imagine that it would wish to do other than ensure that the future of this very fine collection of instruments is secure. It is, after all, the centrepiece of the Horniman Museum and it would be hard to imagine the Horniman Museum without it. I am aware that part of this collection is on display in Ranger's House. If the ILEA wanted this arrangement to continue, it would have to come to an agreement to this effect with the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission when it owns and manages Ranger's after abolition. I cannot see that there would be much difficulty or impediment to that.

The second matter concerns future development at the Horniman. I understand that the Horniman has plans to develop the music gallery alongside the museum, in association with the reconstructed conservatory known as the Coombe Cliffe Conservatory. The museum hopes that the three-quarters of the Dolmetsch collection which cannot be exhibited in Ranger's House will be housed in these extensions. Again, these will be matters for decision by the successor ILEA as part of the annual discussion of the budget and future development of the museum.

Thirdly, the powers required by the ILEA to run these museums will be embodied also in a property order. As I have explained, the arrangements set out in the clause, together with the provisions for property transfer in Part IX of the Bill, contain all that is necessary to implement the proposed transfer which has been so widely welcomed. I therefore hope that the noble Lord will be satisfied and will not seek to press his amendment.

Lord Strabolgi

I am grateful to the noble Earl. This was a probing amendment. There was much concern about the Dolmetsch collection, but I am very glad to have the reassurances from the noble Earl. There was also some concern about the Coombe Cliffe Conservatory and what he told us will, I think, give us some reassurance. I am grateful to the noble Earl and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 132ZZH not moved.]

Clause 44 agreed to.

Clause 45 [Metropolitan county museums]:

[Amendment No. 133 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 133A: Page 28, line 13, after ("council") insert— ("or to a body to whose funds a metropolitan county council contributes for the preservation or maintenance of that collection.")

The noble Lord said: This amendment relates to museums and art galleries and its purpose is to broaden the scope of Clause 45. At present, this clause refers only to part of the services provided where the museums and collections are owned by the council. In order to protect any heritage, it is important that this clause be amended to include, first, collections on long or permanent loan to a museum, which in many cases form the nucleus of a collection; and, secondly, museums and collections which are administered by bodies other than a county council and which receive the council's financial support.

These include university museums, such as the Manchester Museum, private trust museums, such as the Cooper Art Gallery at Barnsley, and other local authority museums. They also include stately homes, such as Speke and Lyme Hall, provision for which is totally lacking in the Bill. If the Minister can satisfy us as to the reason why they are excluded, or can say that he has sympathy with what we are seeking to do, which is to strengthen and widen the purposes of the Bill, then we shall be very happy not to press the amendment. I beg to move.

The Earl of Gowrie

I pay tribute, albeit with some reservations, to the intention of the noble Lord opposite who moved the amendments to Clause 45. I assume that he was moving them en bloc, as it were.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I was not, actually. I wonder whether the noble Earl will help me. Is there a pre-commitment that they form part of one debate?

The Earl of Gowrie

My understanding is that they do because this is about making trustee bodies. Was that not the noble Lord's understanding?

Lord Graham of Edmonton

No; but if so, I shall be very happy to speak to the various amendments to Clause 45.

The Earl of Gowrie

I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if the noble Lord would be kind enough to do so.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

That is fine. I apologise for any misunderstanding on my part. The other amendments on which I think it would be worth taking the time of the Committee and to which I should like a ministerial response are Amendments Nos. 134A, 134B, 134C and 134D.

Amendment No. 134A: Page 28, line 13, at end insert ("or regional")

Amendment No. 134B: Page 28, line 22, at end insert— ("( ) The following provisions of this section shall apply to any collection which is not on or after the abolition date supported by moneys provided by Parliament pursuant to subsection (1) above. ( ) Where it appears to the Minister that any relevant collection of works of art or of objects of historical or scientific interest is of national or regional importance, he shall, out of money provided by Parliament, defray or contribute towards the cost of preserving or maintaining that collection during the period of five years beginning with the abolition date, to such extent that such costs are not defrayed from other sources. ( ) In exercising his functions under this section the Minister shall consult and have regard to the advice of the Museums and Galleries Commission. ( ) In this section "a relevant collection" means a collection which at the abolition date is vested in a metropolitan county council or in a body to whose funds a metropolitan county council contributes for the preservation or maintenance of that collection.")

Amendment No. 134C: Page 28, line 22, at end insert— ("( ) Subsection (1) above shall have effect with the proviso that a body of trustees constituted pursuant to this section shall comprise, as to at least half its number, persons resident in the county to whose Council the collection belongs immediately before the abolition date, being persons suitably qualified and competent to preserve and maintain the collection.")

Amendment No. 134D: Page 28, line 22, at end, insert— ("( ) Any museum or gallery and any collection of works of art or objects of historical or scientific interest belonging to a metropolitan county council and not vested on the abolition date in accordance with subsection (1) above shall on that date vest in the appropriate residuary body. ( ) Advisory or other services which are provided by a metropolitan county council for or in connection with any museum or gallery or for any such collection immediately before the abolition date shall on and after that date continue to be provided in respect of that county by the appropriate residuary body.") Amendment No. 134A deals with metropolitan county museums. We hold the view that Clause 45 is too narrow in limiting its powers to collections of national importance. Regionally significant collections require similar protection. Clause 45 at present applies only to Merseyside county museums and the Walker Art Gallery, although the Laing Art Gallery, part of the Tyne and Wear county museum service, was recognised in the original consultation paper. It should also be said that the Minister for the Arts has announced that provision has been made for one central funding for the three museums currently funded by Greater Manchester council, clearly recognising their significance, and, secondly, some central funding to maintain the integrated museum service in Tyne and Wear on condition that the district councils co-operate and guarantee funding.

If county-wide authorities administering museums and art galleries are not to exist, we believe it is essential that in order to protect collections in all of the metropolitan counties trusts should be formed to maintain the integrity of the service and central funding should be made available. This is particularly important in Tyne and Wear and South Yorkshire where it is the sum of the parts of their integrated provision which makes the service of undoubtedly regional significance.

"Regional", which is the word we seek to insert, would also allow for consideration of properties such as Lyme Hall and Speke Hall, both National Trust properties and both managed by the relevant county council. This amendment would make the clause apply to more of the museum services provided by the metropolitan county councils and therefore help to maintain their continuation.

Amendment No. 134B places a duty on the appropriate Minister to ensure that the present level of funding art collections of the metropolitan county councils and bodies—for example, trusts—which they support financially is maintained for at least five years after the abolition date and gives a statutory role to the Museums and Galleries Commission in ensuring such Government funding or supervision of funding.

As drafted, Clause 45 makes no provision for the future integrity of metropolitan county collections or for the continued support of the metropolitan county funded collections of outside bodies unless they are of national importance. The amendment rectifies this and also extends the clause to collections of regional importance. The amendment is dependent upon the principle being accepted that a county-wide structure should be retained to administer and protect existing county museums.

Amendment No. 134C deals with the development of museums which are closely related to their region and frequently based on a local benefactor's gift. However large or significant a museum, it is still an integral part of its immediate community. This is particularly true of many of the collections in the metropolitan counties. Its management should therefore reflect its regional base, thereby retaining the important local links. There is concern that if central money funds a museum, central control will follow. This amendment would go some way to counteract any excessive centralist pull and any over-politicisation of the management.

Finally, I shall deal with Amendment No. 134D. This seeks to create security and continuation of all museum provisions and services which are not covered by Clause 45. By transferring any remaining museum services to the residuary body there will be continuity for those services. This particularly affects South Yorkshire and Tyne and Wear museum services, which could become fragmented without such a provision.

Amendment No. 134D allows for continuation of support services. There are several cases, one example being the Greater Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, where legal advice and the servicing of trusts, financial advice and management and other services are provided by the county council, usually on a rate charge basis It is essential that these functions continue efficiently.

10.15 p.m.

The Earl of Gowrie

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, for speaking to these amendments en bloc. This is logical and makes the amendments and the Government's response to them a little clearer to understand.

I have to say in passing that I was rather fascinated by the noble Lord's view or anxiety that in some way centralised funding might lead to centralised direction or control in some form. When I think of the rather few bodies I happen to fund directly, such as the British Museum, I imagine that I would get pretty dusty answers if I told the British Museum what to do with the money I give it, or what to buy. I do not believe that they would take at all kindly to any such suggestion. As I am sure the noble Lord is aware, it is not part of our intention in any way to alter that.

I have, as I said at the beginning, sympathy, albeit with some reservations, with the intentions of the noble Lord. Unlike some other amendments we have discussed today, these aim at arrangements which would apparently not do any harm, in my judgment, to the institutions concerned. I say "apparently" on purpose because the noble Lord is attempting in these amendments to write a blank cheque on behalf of the Exchequer made out to virtually all museums and art galleries in the metropolitan county areas. We would all like to be recipients of such a cheque, and no one more than myself. But I am, alas!, in the position of having to write such a cheque rather than receive it. I have already written a fairly large cheque—over 12 months ago. When I announced in April last year that £17 million would be added to my museum and gallery budget on a permanent basis from 1986–87, I had of course taken account of the spending by the metropolitan authorities and the GLC on those services.

I indicated that that £17 million would be disbursed in various ways: some of it directly from my department and some of it indirectly—through the University Grants Commission in the case of the Manchester University-owned museum and Whitworth Art Gallery; through ILEA for the Horniman and Geffrye Museums, as we have just discussed; and through the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission and my noble friend Lord Montagu for the London Historic House Museums, and also through the Museums and Galleries Commission in due course.

This is not a series of bureaucratic or ad hoc solutions. They reflect the very different and varied support given to very different and varied museums and art galleries by different metropolitan authorities. I must emphasise to the Committee that £17 million will not only go a very long way towards continuing the excellent museum facilities in these areas, but it will also reinforce the individual character and local connections of each institution.

As I understood the noble Lord, he wished to see trustee bodies established to cover regionally important collections, whether or not owned by a metropolitan county. He also wished to see central Government funds directed to other institutions currently in receipt of metropolitan county funding to the extent that they do not have their costs met from other sources. I think that that is a blank cheque and it could be an encouragement to financially irresponsible behaviour.

The noble Lord also wishes me to be directed in some measure by the Museums and Galleries Commission. I am reluctant, as the Committee may imagine, to follow the noble Lord's wishes. I must say plainly that to accept these amendments would be the beginning of a funding arrangement for museums and galleries which would centralise and distance these institutions from their origins and local associations. Ultimately, it would also impoverish them because they would come to rely more and more on inevitably meagre central resources as more and more demands came to be made and the money came to be spread ever more thinly.

No one more than I would like to see more resources released for museums and paintings, and I do my best on this score, but I have to live within my budget and have regard to the taxpayers' wishes as well as the taxpayers' pockets. I could not promise an automatic entitlement to whatever sums of money a museum demanded, and neither could the noble Lord, Lord Graham.

When we decided to make provision to establish a trustee body—uniquely—to own and maintain the nationally important collections on Merseyside, we did so after much careful thought. In England we have nine national museums and art galleries, all of which are based in London. Their collections are internationally renowned and the scale of their operations is significantly greater than that of most other institutions outside London. But when I realised that these qualities were also to be found in the aggregate of the collections in Liverpool I had no hesitation in wanting to dignify them with national trustee status.

This, surely, is to the honour and glory of Liverpool and a compliment to the many great benefactors who, from the time when the gifts of the 14th Earl of Derby began the museum collection in the 1850s, have so generously and pre-eminently given to the citizens of the North-West. It is also a tribute to successive city councillors who have cared for the collections and built the magnificent neo-classical buildings that house them. It is also a real tribute to Merseyside County Council and the Development Corporation which I have no hesitation in paying. Together over the past few years they have seized the chance to bring extra life to Liverpool with the dynamic expansion of the Maritime Museum and the Albert Dock.

All this, as anyone who knows the area will know—and I have the good fortune to live fairly near it, so as a consumer I am acquainted with it—puts these collections into a category altogether different from any others in the metropolitan counties. The noble Lord wishes me to establish similar bodies for regionally important collections. Not only would this detract, I think, from the special glory of Liverpool's achievement but it would interfere in a real and practical way with the individual character of other fine collections.

Let me be specific. If accepted, these amendments would make the Greater Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, which receives over £1 million per annum from the Greater Manchester Council, a clear candidate for becoming a centrally appointed trustee body. Surely there is no need for this. I have undertaken to fund the Greater Manchester Museum of Science and Industry through a grant-in-aid from my department. It is already run by an independent charitable trust and is a fast developing museum with strong local and regional roots and with an able and dedicated body of trustees. I was able to assure the two chairmen that I have no intention of changing this. My central support does not mean interference in the affairs of the museum. I am satisfied that this is a solution which has been welcomed by the existing trustees and the director.

Your Lordships can see that far from needing a provision to ensure that at least half the trustees should be local residents, I am willingly looking to more than that number to continue to run this particular museum. Why should we centralise when a perfectly satisfactory independent trust exists and, indeed, is very proud of its contribution to the cultural education and economic life of Manchester and its region?

The amendments also see a role for the Museums and Galleries Commission in advising me on how central funds should be allocated. This is not necessary since I am always ready to be advised by such an excellent and knowledgeable body. Moreover, I have already made it clear that I shall be enhancing its independent role following abolition. Once it has a charter which will empower it to allocate revenue funding, as is the intention, it will be able to assist those smaller museums which might experience transitional difficulties after abolition.

The commission will thus operate in much the same way as the Arts Council operates. Its assistance will not preclude local authority support. On the contrary, it will expect local authorities to be contributors alongside the various private resources of funding of many of the museums receiving the smaller metropolitan grants.

Lastly, I should like to turn to Amendment No. 134D, which seeks to transfer all functions and property not vested in a new trustee body to the relevant residuary bodies. This amendment, if accepted, would have the unfortunate result of disturbing the existing arrangements for the Greater Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. I have already explained why we would not wish to do this. It is also unnecessary as Clause 60 already enables the Secretary of State to transfer buildings or objects on abolition if there is no clear successor or if other circumstances suggest this to be an appropriate interim solution.

In the case of museums and art galleries, there may be good reason to do just this. I have offered, for example, to contribute to the maintenance of the admirable Tyne and Wear integrated museum service. Indeed, my department has invited the districts to discuss a permanent arrangement. To date they have been silent. If it becomes necessary to break up this service, which I hope it does not, I see a role here for the residuary body. In the case of Croxteth Hall and park, and Speke Hall in Liverpool, which were mentioned by the noble Lord, we may wish also to allow a rather longer time to settle successor arrangements. But this is not the same as requiring the transfer of all such property to the residuary body as if that were the only option when there are others available before abolition.

On the transfer of advisory or other central services, again there are many solutions to continuing such support, the choice of which is surely best left to those concerned. I do not want to dictate a solution, and I do not really see any possibility (to be a little irreverent) of transferring half a lawyer, a tenth of a county treasurer, or whatever, to the residuary body. This amendment, in my view, does not make sense in practical terms.

I hope I have made it clear that museums and galleries in the metropolitan areas will not suffer because of abolition. The arrangements I have made for distribution of the £17 million will reflect the individual circumstances of each institution and preserve their identities. In spite of the moderate way in which they were moved, to me these amendments smack of centralisation, and interference, and assume that any future Minister for the Arts has unlimited funds to take on commitments which properly belong either to local authoritites or to independent bodies running museums. Both outside and in the metropolitan areas such commitments are willingly and successfully undertaken. Just look at the support given by the city councils in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Stoke-on-Trent and Leicester, to name but a few?

We do not need these amendments to ensure my support for national or regional collections in the metropolitan counties. I have already committed myself in a variety of ways appropriate to the institutions concerned. I hope that the noble Lord was seeking clarification rather than seeking to press his amendment, but if he should press his amendment I hope that the Committee will pay heed to what I have said and reject it.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

I think the Committee is indebted for the care which the Minister and his advisers quite obviously have taken to use this opportunity to restate the basis of the philosophy of the Government in regard to the future of these very important regional and national assets. I am personally convinced that the Minister is perfectly satisfied that the future arrangements will seek to maintain them: that is, within the financial parameters; I acknowledge this. He cannot guarantee the future economic health of the country.

I should hope very much that those who have sought our aid in making their case, after reading copies of his speech, will tell us that they are satisfied with what I am certain is not the first reading of this particular set of arguments. They must have been made in another place. The Minister will understand that it is because of the Government's political action in disturbing what had hitherto been an acceptable raison d'être for the whole of the museum world that concerns have been raised and expressed.

I certainly accept that there can be no guarantee that a cosy arrangement, a satisfactory arrangement, has the right to continue undisturbed. However, looking the Minister straight in the eye, I simply say to him that listening to what he has said tonight convinces me that not only does he believe that the past fine aspects of the museum world will not deteriorate in any way in the future but that he would be very concerned if they did. The Minister will understand that, in withdrawing the amendments, we shall take advice from those who have asked us to table them. Maybe at a later stage we shall seek to bring forward these or comparable amendments. However, I am very grateful to the Minister for what obviously he has seen as a major opportunity to restate his case. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 134 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

[Amendments Nos. 134A, 134B, 134C and 134D not moved.]

Clause 45 agreed to.

Clause 46 [The South Bank]:

[Amendment No. 134E not moved.]

Lord Strabolgi moved Amendment No. 134F: Page 28, line 28, at end insert ("which shall continue the open foyer policy initiated by the Greater London Council with regard to the Festival Hall.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 134F. This concerns the open foyer policy at the Royal Festival Hall, to which I referred earlier in my speech at the beginning of this Committee stage. Perhaps I may give a rather fuller description of this policy and its effects, because I think it is important; and it is important that it should be allowed to continue under the new management. The new policy started in April 1983. Since then, instead of being open only for evening concerts, the Royal Festival Hall is now open all day from 10 a.m. and provides a range of arts activities, including a year-round programme of exhibitions and foyer music as well as a variety of catering facilities and three shops.

This is most important because it has attracted a new, younger and wider cross-section of society. It has also had a number of other important effects. A decade of decline in concert attendances has been halted and first-time orchestral concert goers from the GLC area and the home counties have been nearly doubled. I think that is very commendable. The average number of tickets sold per performance, as a percentage of the capacity, has risen by 4 per cent. in the Royal Festival Hall, from 61 per cent. of capacity to 65 per cent. of capacity. This is the largest single increase in 12 years. Seat sales have also shown a substantial increase: by 8 per cent. in the Royal Festival Hall; by a similar number in the Queen Elizabeth Hall; and by as much as 17 per cent. in the Purcell Room.

10.30 p.m.

In the first year there were over 1 million foyer visits, in addition to the 1 million concert attendances. I think this is important because very often, if people go into the foyer to see an exhibition, they may go on to attend the concert or to get tickets, and then they may become constant concert-goers.

One of the aims of the policy is to break down the formal barriers to enjoyment and participation which exist in many arts institutions. Nearly 500,000 concert attendances and foyer visits have been made by people who came to the Royal Festival Hall for the first time in 1983–84.

There has also been a 64 per cent. increase in concessionary ticket sales, with the two biggest areas of increase in the senior citizens standby and group bookings. A profile of those who have become concert-goers as a result of an initial dozen visits shows them to be much younger and from a broader cross-section of society. I am sure that that is to be commended.

The direct cost of the policy currently totals some £150,000, offset by income from rental, commission on catering, commission on exhibitions and so on. The opening up of the Royal Festival Hall foyer has certainly generated far more activity on the South Bank. Other things which have contributed to this are annual events such as Thamesday and the South Bank weekends, exploiting the full potential of the riverside setting, both outside and inside all the venues on the South Bank. These events raise public awareness of and interest in the wide range of facilities on the South Bank, which are there to be enjoyed by everyone all the year round. The new Festival Pier is another example of how the GLC have promoted the South Bank as a place to visit and enjoy, not merely a collection of arts venues to which people come for a few hours in the evening.

The open foyer policy is based on the premise that as many people as possible should be aware of and able to use the facilities on the South Bank, built with public money to offer the very best in music and entertainment. The concert halls will continue to play an active role in promoting the arts only if public interest continues to be generated and new audiences attracted. The policy is not a publicity stunt, nor a luxury that can be dispensed with; it is surely a cultural investment in the future. Therefore I think this an important amendment, and I beg to move.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

I find this a most interesting amendment, in that I have often been to the foyer and taken overseas visitors there. It is certainly very attractive, and I think it a great tourist asset. However, I do not really think it is right to write it into the Bill because, as I understand it, if this were part of the Bill it would perpetuate the situation for ever more. While the foyer is very attractive and I hope it will continue and we shall not see any change there, I think that to write it into the Bill might mean that it would go on for ever, whether it were successful or not. That seems rather restrictive. So I hope there will be some way whereby the noble Lord the Minister can indicate he thinks there might be some hope of it continuing without actually writing it into the Bill in these very words.

The Earl of Gowrie

I am delighted at this late hour and as the spirit of the Committee becomes ever more ecumenical to try to respond to the amendment in the spirit in which it has been put to me.

The practicality of the matter is that the Arts Council, or a special committee of the Arts Council, will own and manage the South Bank, and I am quite convinced that it is the best body to do so. Nevertheless, I do not think that everything the GLC has ever done is awful. I think this is one of the better things it has done, and it would seem to me to be a way of responding to the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, and to be in the spirit of the advice I have had from my noble friend behind me, to say why in no conventional sense will I draw this to the attention of the Arts Council. I am in fairly close discussion with them about the South Bank, and it is something I would like to take up in discussion. I would like to show them what my noble friend has said and what the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, has said. I am sure they will be aware of it in any case, but I will put red ink, as it were, under the passage. I hope, with that assurance and the confidence that I, too, am a believer in the open foyer policy, that the noble Lord will not seek to press his amendment.

Lord Strabolgi

I am very grateful to the noble Earl, who gave the sort of speech that one would expect of him. I am very grateful: I meant that as a compliment. The noble Earl and myself are at one on this; we are in agreement. Other noble Lords may think that it is very funny, but we happen to believe in an open foyer policy and the democratisation of the arts. We are at one on this. I was congratulating him on it. I am very glad that he intends to consult with the Arts Council, because it is important that this should go on.

Much is said nowadays about elitist art. I am afraid that the GLC has been indulging in this. I deprecate this new philosophy that the best art is elitist. What we want to ensure is that the best music continues to be played and that the best pictures continue to be shown on the South Bank, and that the facilities are made much more open to everyone. I am rather glad that they have done away with that very formal restaurant, which I used to enjoy. In fact, I have to be rather careful because I once had dinner there with my noble friend the Chief Whip when he was chairman of the GLC. However, good and delightful as it was, it is much better to make it into the sort of place where people can enjoy a glass of wine and a sandwich before going to a concert. We must make a distinction between democratising and making more popular the facilities while keeping the standard of the music that is performed there. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Strabolgi moved Amendment No. 134G: Page 28, line 28, at end insert— ("(1A) No order shall be made under this section until the Secretary of State has laid a report before Parliament detailing such lands and properties at least six months before the abolition date.")

The noble Lord said: This amendment calls for a report on the land and property to be transferred. I do not wish to repeat what has been stated previously. I believe that I should say, however, that this is perhaps a more critical situation than the others because dependent upon what is transferred to the Arts Council are a number of other matters. For example, will the Arts Council have to become a parks authority in order to run the Jubilee Gardens? Will it require the power to make by-laws? Will it take over the running of the new Festival Pier, and what would be the legal ramifications of that? Will it take over the organisation of the major South Bank entertainments, like Thames day? Indeed, has it the resources to do this? If not, what will happen to them? This is a probing amendment. I beg to move.

The Earl of Gowrie

I do not think that the noble Lord need worry too much. The Arts Council are to become the freeholders, as it were, of this property. I think that they will do an admirable job. Even those of your Lordships who have been critical of the abolition policy have not generally felt that the Arts Council were inappropriate figures for the South Bank.

The full and complete details of the property transfers and their mechanisms in formal terms will be given in the relevant property orders. I am advised that the immediate answers to the noble Lord's questions, in the order he put them, are yes, yes, yes, yes and no. If he would like to check those against his own brief, he can see that I have probably given him something like 80 per cent. satisfaction. I hope that, with that, he will not seek to press the amendment.

Lord Strabolgi

I am very grateful to the noble Earl. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 134H and 134J not moved.]

Lord Strabolgi moved Amendment No. 134K: Page 28, line 42, at end insert— (" (3A) The Secretary of State shall each year make available to the Arts Council—

  1. (a) an amount for revenue expenditure on the management and maintenance of the properties transferred under subsection (1) above equivalent in real terms to the average amount spent thereon by the Greater London Council per year in the four years immediately before the abolition date;
  2. (b) a sufficent amount to complete capital projects in progress on the abolition date in connection with those; and
  3. (c) a sufficient amount to carry out any major repair work necessary in respect of those properties.
(3B) The amounts paid pursuant to subsection (1) above shall be used by the Arts Council exclusively in connection with those properties.")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 134K. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that the South Bank concert halls—the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Room—continue to be adequately funded after they have been passed to the Arts Council. I am sure that everyone in this Committee would be anxious to see that this happens because the South Bank is the most important arts complex in the country.

There is, however, as we see it on this side of the Committee, a problem. Once the concert halls come under the Arts Council, they will have to compete for resources with other demands, not only from London, but throughout the country. After all, it is the Arts Council of Great Britain. Furthermore, the Arts Council's current policy as stated in its policy document The Glory of the Garden, proposes a shift of resources from the capital to the regions, a policy greatly encouraged by the noble Earl the Minister. At a time of very slender financial resources, in my submission, this does not bode very well for the South Bank.

The amendment calls for the Arts Council to be obliged to carry out a thoroughgoing investigation of the cost of running the concert halls soon after it has taken them over. Furthermore, it is essential that the capital as well as the revenue implications be properly assessed. The Government's proposals to give more money to the council to enable it to run the South Bank and take over some of the GLC's arts grants' functions only involves revenue, but over the years the GLC has had to spend substantial sums of capital money to maintain the buildings. The Government's proposals take no account of this. Clearly, therefore, a proper examination of the costs is essential. I wonder whether all this has been thought out at all.

Once the analysis has taken place and the figures agreed with the Government, the amendment would provide for the sum involved to be earmarked within the Arts Council's annual budget, thereby ensuring that there will be adequate funds to manage and maintain the halls. In moving this amendment I ask the Government to recognise—as I know the noble Earl recognises and as I hope all his colleagues recognise—that the South Bank complex is a centre of excellence and the premier arts complex in the United Kingdom and, as such, it is absolutely essential that it must be adequately funded. We do not want to see it running down and becoming rather shabby. It needs to be properly funded and properly looked after, as it has been up till now.

I also ask the Government to accept that the Arts Council's assessment of the costs of maintaining the South Bank complex may well reveal that it will be necessary to increase the overall value of the Government's grant to the council if other bodies are not to suffer a reduction in funding because the South Bank requires more. Therefore, I seek assurances from the noble Earl that the Arts Council's funding will be responsible for its many and new responsibilities on the South Bank and, indeed, its other responsibilities throughout the United Kingdom, and that the former will not be at the expense of the latter. I beg to move.

Lord Hutchinson of Lullington

I should like to support this amendment. I do not want in any way to upset the cosy atmosphere which has been established in the last couple of hours between the two Front Benches. The noble Earl the Minister has shown tremendous confidence in the ability of the Arts Council to run the whole of the complex of the South Bank, and no one has greater admiration than I, as an ex-vice chairman of the Arts Council, for that body. However, I think that one must face the fact that the Arts Council, as at present constituted, is hardly a body which is equipped in any shape or form to run a large commercial enterprise such as the South Bank, and at the moment this Bill is extraordinarily vague because all it says is that the whole of the freehold property of the South Bank shall be vested in the Arts Council and that it should be under an obligation to report on the discharge of its responsibilities. That is all that it says at the moment. One has no conception of how the Government view the body which is to run this enterprise. What sort of enterprise is it going to be?

10.45 p.m.

At the moment a distinguished ex-civil servant, a member of the staff of the Arts Council, has been sent down to the South Bank, along with one member of the council, as I understand it, to set up some form of committee, or management committee. One doubts whether many years in the Civil Service is a basic background for running an enterprise such as this. One wonders, for instance, what is going to happen to the London Orchestra Concert Board? That board's grant has been cut, with the result that the four orchestras on the South Bank have already changed their programmes, cut out all adventurous or modern music from most of their concerts, and are in a state of great concern about their future.

Whatever the noble Earl may say, the grant to the Arts Council in real terms has been substantially cut, and cut to the great concern of the Arts Council. The GLC, as I understand it, spent no less than £8½ million last year on the South Bank. What most people feel is that there is not the slightest likelihood of central Government giving the Arts Council anything like that amount of money to run the South Bank.

We need some assurance from the Minister that that sort of amount of money will be given to the Arts Council. I know that the noble Earl is against earmarking, but it is no good being against earmarking on principle, because we know perfectly well that the added money for the opera companies has in fact been earmarked this year. There can be nothing against earmarking because already the rule has been broken in the grant to the Arts Council.

We need to know a great deal more about how the Government view the running of the magnificent complex on the South Bank. One cannot help feeling that the Government have looked around and said, "What on earth are we going to do about the South Bank when the GLC is abolished?" and decided, "Oh, well, let us give it to the Arts Council". It is somewhat ironical because we all know that when the present chairman of the Arts Council arrived at 105 Piccadilly the first thing he wished to do was to hive off the Hayward Art Gallery since in his view the Arts Council had nothing to do with running organisations. All he wants it to be is a post office for giving out money which comes from central Government. Of course that had to go into reverse 100 per cent. because the Arts Panel of the Arts Council stuck their toes in and were determined to continue with the Hayward Gallery, thank goodness. Now it is somewhat ironical that this body is going to have the tremendous obligation of running the South Bank complex on commercial lines.

As my noble friend Lord Strabolgi has said—and I was encouraged by the number of "yesses" in the noble Earl's reply to him—all the foyer policies, the Jubilee Gardens, and so on are going to be continued in the same spirit in which the GLC has so magnificently carried them out hitherto. I ask the noble Earl to reply in a great more detail as to how he views the future running of the South Bank through the Arts Council, because this is giving everybody much concern.

The Earl of Gowrie

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, for putting in his remarks the phrase about how I view things, which gives me a slight loophole and allows me to do just that: to sketch what seems to me a reasonable scenario for the Arts Council rather than to give obiter dicta about what it precisely will or should do; because, in spite of the noble Lord's remarks, it is at a considerable arm's length from me. If I were chairman or deputy chairman of the Arts Council—and I think the Committee may reasonably be assured that this is not a post that is likely to become vacant in my favour very imminently—or if the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, casting his mind back, were now to be in his previous distinguished position in the Arts Council, I do not think he would feel that there was any great cause for panic or despondency about responding to what could be an immensely exciting challenge, the creation of a Lincoln Centre only better, in London.

He would find that a considerable degree of certainty was being introduced into the pattern of life on the South Bank, which is not necessarily the case at the moment. It is true that the GLC has given quite a lot of money to the South Bank institutions but it has also withdrawn money from others. It has been an easy bedfellow for some institutions on the South Bank and a very difficult one to others. The GLC, were abolition not to go through, would not always be in the same political hands. There are no certainties in political funding of this kind; nor perhaps should there be.

There have been, I think, rather too wide assumptions during these debates that the character-istics of the GLC are in some way immutable. In fact the GLC is run by able, ambitious and mainly young politicians and they have responded to arts issues in highly political ways. When they have thought that it might embarrass the Government to give a lot of money, they have done so; and when they have thought it might be more embarrassing to withdraw it, they have certainly, to my knowledge, contemplated doing that. I do not think the present GLC, even from the perspective of the South Bank, is the best of all possible worlds and some of the arguments and altercations about the Hayward Gallery I think are a fair and disinterested indication of that.

Going back, if I were the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, back in that position, I think I would say to myself something along these lines: "The council I work for is not inherently, I agree, a property-managing body but we can perfectly well be an owning body and we will look for and hire people to do this job; and we must be able to hire them and we must be able to fire them and they must be accountable to us and our council; and we will get the best people that we conceivably can to do it". I do not think that that will present any great difficulty.

The South Bank is not a monolith; it is a kind of Germany, so to say: it is a highly federal structure with important autonomous institutions and those institu- tions will be looking for good collective management, brightening the area and bringing in, as the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, said in his remarks about open foyer policies and the rest, new audiences and providing a great centre in a number of ways. So I do not think that that would pose the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, or me or anyone else in this Committee, if they had this job, with any great difficulties.

Of course, there would be difficulties about money. People would say, "We are not too keen to take on this set of responsibilities without some money". But some money has been provided and the Arts Council has not shown itself in any sense reluctant to take on this responsibility. I have budgeted for the costs of the South Bank in the £16 million which was provided as the new central Government baseline; and that will not be the end of the story in terms of central Government funding, or local government funding, or private funding, or sponsorship funding, or the funding of consumers. But that is a substantial increase to the baseline, to the basic salary. I have provided that with the South Bank, among other institutions, in mind. And the Arts Council understands that very well.

It is really no good for the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, constantly to reiterate that the Arts Council has been cut in real terms. This is not the case. This last year was, as I have freely admitted and as I regret, a tight settlement—"a mean settlement" I called it—but nevertheless it was over and above the real rate of inflation. Previous years, including my own first year as Minister, have had rather more generous settlements, and we must all hope for a better outturn in this coming financial year.

I think the Arts Council themselves have been resourced with the South Bank in mind under these proposals. There may well be some arguments between the Arts Council and myself, as the funding Minister, about whether or not more is needed or at what stage more is needed; and we shall just have to come to the most equitable and best agreement that we can. But I hope that we shall not fall into what perhaps, as an Irishman, I can say is the particular English vice of empirical gloom. There really is an enormous chance and set of possibilities for London in the South Bank. The Government are quite determined that this should be a jewel in the crown and that it should triumphantly succeed. The Arts Council have the men and at least some of the materiel to bring it off, and I think we should all wish them every good fortune in doing so.

Lord Hutchinson of Lullington

Before the Minister sits down, he has mentioned the sum of £16 million. What proportion of that sum does he envisage as going to the South Bank? Is it for the purpose simply of setting up a management committee, or is it in fact a proportion of the £16 million which is directed to actually running the South Bank in the year of abolition?

The Earl of Gowrie

The noble Lord will be aware that when, usually around this time of the year, my officials and I are doing our sums about what we think it is reasonable for arts bodies in the country to have from central taxpayers according to their needs and their responsibilities, we have to add up he costs, interests and possibilities of arts bodies all over the country, including the South Bank. We have to look at the National Theatre, the British Film Institute, the Hayward, the Festival Hall and so on—or we shall have to do so. That is a continuous, ongoing process. When we decided to try to increase the baseline of central Government funding as a response to the abolition proposals, we augmented this sum because we reckoned that in this case that would give the Arts Council additional costs and responsibilities.

I think that is probably as far as I can go in answer to the noble Lord. I failed—and I apologise to him—to answer a little earlier on the point he made to me about the London Orchestras Board. I believe the view of the Arts Council is that that board will not be needed after abolition; but that will be primarily a matter for them.

Lord Strabolgi

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Hutchinson for what he has said and for his support. If this all rested with the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie—the question of funding and finding sufficient funds for the arts—I would have no fears at all. But, as the noble Earl knows, although he is a Cabinet Minister and a distinguished one, this is a matter that the Treasury decides. I know he is a Treasury spokesman, but he is not the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and, indeed, over the years I have spent my time at this Dispatch Box complaining about cheeseparing cuts to the arts.

We have had the one million in lieu; and we have had the threat to the Theatre Museum. The noble Earl talks very bravely now about great exciting new complexes, such as the Lincoln Centre and so on; but the Theatre Museum, which is also a very exciting new project, was only saved by a whisker—and by the noble Earl himself. The Treasury wanted to close it down. At one time, the Government contemplated closing down the Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green—an unthinkable thing—to save £¼ million. This is the sort of thing that we are up against. I am sorry to say that it does not rest with the noble Earl. I wish that it did. We are very concerned that the South Bank should not be subject to this kind of cheeseparing in the future.

I am grateful to the noble Earl for his assurances and I hope that he will continue to fight the battle of the South Bank, just as I know he fights the battle of the arts in the Cabinet. With that, I beg leave to withdraw this, the last amendment to which I shall speak this evening.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 134L and 134M had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Clause 46 agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 134N, 134NA and 134NB not moved.]

[Amendment No. 135 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

[Amendment No. 135ZA not moved.]

Lord Skelmersdale

I beg to move that the House do now resume.

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

House resumed.