§ 3.6 p.m.
§ Lord Annan rose to call attention to the reports by the reviewing committee dated September and October 1991 on the export of works of art; and to move for Papers.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I tabled this Motion because the reports of the reviewing committee on the export of works of art are the most ironical and exasperated official documents that I have ever read. The committee say that the Waverley rules governing the export of works of art have totally broken down. If the Government would not contribute to keep the statue of the Three Graces in this country, it was hard to know what would stir the Government to save a work of art. The heritage, the committee says:
seems to come at the very bottom of the back page of the Government's list of priorities and indeed that page may have been mislaid altogether".
The committee went on to say that when a major item came before it the procedure to save it resembled:
one of those quaint British rituals like Morris dancing on the green, a harmless custom, the original purpose of which is almost forgotten".
§ What was the point of the committee meeting and making a recommendation, since item after item went 1268 abroad because our museums and galleries could not afford to buy them and the Government refused to intervene?
§ Why has the Waverley system broken down? The answer is very simple. Today there are numbers of very rich individuals and institutions who want to buy works of art, and Britain is one of the very few countries which possess great masterpieces and allow them to be exported. The purchase grants of our museums and galleries cannot begin to compete with American, Japanese or German competitors. Mr. John Welsh, Director of the Getty Foundation in Santa Monica, is a scrupulous and honourable man. He behaves impeccably when a work that he covets appears in the market. But his trustees are compelled under American law to spend each year £30 million to £40 million of their income on the purchase of works of art. In the recent Mantegna exhibition at the Royal Academy there hung a painting put up for sale by the noble Marquess, Lord Northampton. Mr. Clifford of the National Galleries of Scotland raised £4 million to keep it here. The Scottish Office refused to find a matching sum. That painting now hangs in the Getty Museum.
§ I do not criticise those who sell their treasures. In 1984 the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, most reasonably decided to build up an endowment fund to preserve Chatsworth and the estate. He therefore decided to sell 74 drawings from his renowned collection. He made a public spirited offer to the British Museum asking for £5½ million. The British Museum replied that it could raise only £5¼ million. The trustees of the noble Duke's estate felt obliged to put the drawings on the market. They fetched, so I understand, £23 million.
§ Consider the case of the sensational collection of the noble Duke, the Duke of Sutherland, which consists of 22 paintings. Among them are five Titians, two Raphaels and seven Poussins. With great generosity the noble Duke has lent them to the National Galleries of Scotland. What will happen when eventually his estate has to pay inheritance tax? Almost inevitably, to protect his landed estate, one or more of those paintings will come on the open market.
§ Faced with that situation, the last Minister for the Arts said to the reviewing committee, "What do you recommend?" The committee concluded that the Waverley rules should continue to be observed for most objects. But with great reluctance it said that the only way of ensuring that certain supreme works of art —about 2,000 in number—would be saved was to list them and tell their owners that they could not be sold for export. They could of course be sold to anyone who kept them in this country.
§ The committee did not recommend that scheme. It is perfectly clear that it disliked it. It is unfair to the individual owner. It breaks the Waverley rules that have made Britain the centre of the world's art market. The criterion is that the vendor should receive the full market value for the work of art that he possesses.
§ As we all know, the Minister has decided that a scheme of listing is unacceptable to the Government. He is to be congratulated on making that decision 1269 quickly; otherwise the auction houses might have had a sensational number of items for sale. That is one issue on which we do not have to waste a great deal of time today. As St. Augustine said: Roma locuta est: causa finita est. The Minister has spoken and that is the end of the matter.
§ What then can be done? There is one defect in the Waverley rules that the Government could amend at once. I shall not weary the House with the tangled story of the Three Graces. However, the upshot is this. Fine Arts Investment, a company based—need I say? —in the Cayman Islands, refused an offer by the brothers Barclay of £7.6 million for the statue. By so doing it forfeited its chance of an export licence. But by a decision of the courts, the Minister does not have the power to compel Fine Arts Investment to forfeit that work of art. The sharks who skulk behind the anonymity of this corporation and who intend by hook or by crook to sell the statue abroad have stored the statue in this country. Presumably they are waiting for the art market to recover somewhat and to sell the statue at a higher price to a willing purchaser who will then be entitled to apply for an export licence.
§ Surely the Government should legislate to stop such chicanery? If a genuine offer is made that is above the price paid by the original purchaser, the original purchaser should be compelled to accept that offer whether the new purchaser is the Victoria and Albert Museum or some benefactor such as the Barclay brothers who intend to keep the object in this country. Surely that is one case where the right of the property owner to do what he will with his own should not govern the matter.
§ What alternative to the Waverley rules, other than listing, exists? On that issue Mr. Mellor was deafeningly silent. Some museum directors favour the creation of a contingency fund into which will be paid, say, £20 million a year for disposal by the National Heritage Memorial Fund. In 1946 Hugh Dalton put forward his land fund scheme for just such contingencies. The Treasury scuppered it. The Treasury allows no official body to create nest eggs or to hypothecate general taxation towards a specific purpose.
§ I am sceptical about pinning hopes on the national lottery. The claimants on that treasure trove will be too numerous to mention: Norman churches, opera houses and third division football clubs unable to finance the stands in which their fans must now, by law, be seated. My guess is that probably the first proceeds will go to boost Manchester's bid for the Olympics. Clearly the Minister will have to devise a notional carve up of the proceeds of the lottery: a percentage of so much for sport, so much for buildings old and new, so much for works of art, and so on. But we do not need a new quango to do that. The old hands-off principle of the Arts Council is almost as dead as the Waverley rules. The Minister should make the decisions. But perhaps he might consent to have an advisory committee to indicate just how important are the various claims made upon the proceeds of the lottery.1270
§ Some I am sure will urge that the purchase grants to the national museums and galleries—which have not been raised since 1985—should be increased; and I imagine that there are few who would grudge them an increase. But that is not the way to save the 2,000 masterpieces. I hope that the lottery will enormously augment the income of the National Heritage Memorial Fund in time to come so that when a supreme work of art comes on the market the fund does not have to beg for an exceptionally large sum. Incidentally, at present it is overwhelmed with applications.
§ What can be done in the interim? I believe that the best hope is not to urge the Treasury to adopt the American model where gifts to museums can be offset against tax. The best hope is to beef up the acceptance in lieu procedures which are not at present very effective. Could not the 25 per cent. douceur be raised to 50 per cent.; and cannot the procedures for the in lieu provisions be made the same as those for private treaty sales? At present, acceptance in lieu negotiations are between the family, the Treasury and the Museums and Galleries Commission. Some people murmur that the commission is not always that helpful. A work is allotted to a museum only after it has been accepted. But in a private treaty sale the vendor bargains directly with the museum, and the Office of Arts and Libraries (as it was) merely has to give final approval.
§ There is also the question of the relation between the auction houses and the museums and galleries. Do not the auctioneers sometimes so inflate the estimates of a prospective sale that the client is dissuaded from approaching a museum? Perhaps the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, will consider laying down some ground rules on that matter. I do not expect the noble Viscount to deliver a solution to these problems off the top of his head like Zeus giving birth to Athena. But I do ask him to tell his right honourable friend how urgent it is to wrestle with the Treasury and in the interim to give the National Heritage Memorial Fund a hefty increase in grant. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.18 p.m.
§ Baroness Birk
My Lords, I am sure that we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Annan, for bringing this subject before us today. However, unlike him I believe that the export reviewing committee did us a great service by bringing a scheme forward that was then able to be knocked down. In so doing the committee said:If we are between the devil of a continued freeze on the funding of our museums and galleries and the deep blue sea of losing key heritage objects because Government funding is not made available to acquire them, then with reluctance we would support a system of listing".The committee has certainly woken everyone up—including the Government, one hopes—to the parlous situation of the arts in this country.
The Waverley criteria have worked well, and still do, so long as the Government play fair and enable essential funds to be available. But now that listing is definitely out, we must be prepared to find funds to prevent such losses. The gap estimated by the export 1271 reviewing committee is between £15 million and £20 million a year. That is in addition to the annual £12 million to the National Heritage Memorial Fund. The noble Lord, Lord Annan, referred to the loss of the land fund scheme. I am sure that he remembers as well as I do that after the débâcle of Mentmore, the National Heritage Memorial Fund was set up. It has done and is continuing to do a wonderful job but on stretched funds, which should be increased.
I am afraid that many of us will bank too much on the national lottery. I have previously asked the Minister whether it will be restricted to objectives which come within the National Heritage Department or wander further like the good causes which Mr. Kenneth Baker, when Home Secretary, mentioned in his press handout. Even if the lottery is restricted to the objectives of the National Heritage Department the claims upon it will be enormous, as the noble Lord, Lord Annan, pointed out.
The state still has a tremendous responsibility. It would be a great pity if it were thought that a national lottery when we have it—there is as yet no Bill—would let the state and therefore the Government off the hook. Recently the chairman of the Arts Council, the noble Lord, Lord Palumbo—unfortunately he is not in his place today—spoke to the Parliamentary Heritage Group. He said that he saw the national lottery as providing the capital funds for museums and galleries. That would be wrong; the responsibility for the buildings of museums and galleries must rest with the state and the Government. It is therefore right that money which comes from the lottery should be spent on acquisitions. Furthermore, an attractive proposition to put before the people who will be asked to buy the tickets will be not only that they have a chance to win an enormous amount of money, but that the money they made will be used to acquire objects that they will appreciate and enjoy.
As the noble Lord, Lord Annan, said, the purchase grants have been frozen for seven years. That is an absolute scandal. The new Secretary of State must be pressed hard on that issue. I realise that the noble Viscount cannot answer all my questions—I am not sure that even the Secretary of State has the answers. I do not suppose that the noble Viscount can go out on a limb alone, but I hope that on behalf of all noble Lords who are speaking he will press hard on that matter and will express our strength of feeling.
The situation is especially damaging to museums and galleries such as the Tate which have a statutory duty to collect contemporary art. Any acquisitions missed now can only be made at a later date at a much greater cost. Then stronger provision is needed, equivalent to Grade I listing on buildings, to prevent the removal of works designed for a particular location; for example, Canova's The Three Graces. The extension of the gift-aid and acceptance-in-lieu schemes, as mentioned by the noble Lord, would allow works of art to be given to museums rather than go on sale on the open market. The Government could extend those schemes without tremendous cost; the chairmen of the Museums and Galleries Commission and the National Art Collections Fund have recommended this as a cost-effective way of saving 1272 works of art. Today The Times has printed a letter from the chairman of the National Art Collections Fund in which he expresses the need for an increase in the amount of government money given to the arts.
Listing has diverted attention from many of the excellent recommendations in the ERC report: for instance, the replacement of current outdated legislation for export control; the inclusion of national heritage items such as fossils; and VAT remission on sales to national and university museums, which would bring them in line with local authority museums.
The Secretary of State's track record has wandered between the Treasury and the arts. I hope that he will remember that he is now permanently wearing his arts and heritage hat and that he must fight the Treasury rather than the arts Ministers as he has in the past. It is crucial that as we enter the year of the UK's presidency of the EC and seek to establish agreement among EC member states on harmonised policies on the movement of works of art we put a stop to the drain on our own works of art.
§ 3.26 p.m.
§ Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge
My Lords, it would be appropriate to begin my remarks by paying a tribute to Sir John Anderson, later the first Viscount Waverley. He was the perfect civil servant, even though for many years he was a Minister of the Crown. If one went to him with an awkward problem he would always find the cheapest and least damaging way round, whether as secretary to the Board of Inland Revenue, later in connection with air-raid shelters (when his name was immortalised), as the unexpected first chairman of the Royal Opera Board, or as the ingenious inventor of the Waverley rules, which we are discussing tonight. I never met him but I know, or knew, many who have consulted him to their benefit. We must be careful before we replace his solution with something else. In making that comment I follow my noble friend Lady Birk.
The Waverley rules were introduced in 1952, the export committee being formed at the same time. They constitute a notable example of reliance on the open market tempered with some very definite, voluntary but not compulsory encouragement to act otherwise than strictly on the best price available. That is a complicated statement but Lord Waverley was trying to deal with a complicated situation. As was explained by the noble Lord, Lord Annan, the seller agreed a maximum price with the museum or gallery interested and calculated the tax due on a sale at that price. If the review committee then said that the particular article was worth the price the Minister was advised. The gallery then had to pay the agreed price less the tax. The Treasury gave a receipt for the amount of the tax due as if it had been paid.
Then came the douceur by which, though it is hard to believe, the Treasury refunded 25 per cent. of the tax which had not been paid. It was a really breathtaking arrangement and it worked for many years. Throughout the time that I was connected with the scheme—during the last quarter of its life—there were few failures. There had to be a few as people can 1273 never be content with anything but the last penny. However, there were not many failures and not enough to threaten the voluntary status of the scheme. I wanted your Lordships to realise what an extremely ingenious and unlikely scheme it was to have worked so well for so long.
However, it went wrong because three things have changed. First, the levels of taxation have been somewhat reduced. Therefore, the tax concession is less valuable and the douceur is equally less valuable. Secondly, the purchase grants to the museums and galleries—and here I follow the noble Baroness, Lady Birk—have been allowed to fall seriously below the level of inflation.
I should like to explain just how far they have fallen behind. The purchase grant of the National Gallery in my time—1979–80—was £2,612,000. After some ups and downs over the years it settled at £2,750,000 in 1985–86 and as the noble Baroness indignantly announced, it has not moved since. Similarly, the British Museum purchase grant was £1,023,000. In 1986–87 it was £1,400,000 and it has not moved since. In today's values that amounts to a reduction, in the case of the National Gallery, of 56 per cent. and in the case of the British Museum, a reduction of 43 per cent. on the figure which we were giving in 1979. Can we expect the system to work as well? The only way forward is to address that problem. If people are not prepared to pay that money, or an increase on the present figure, there is no hope of doing anything.
Those steep falls would put the museums and galleries in a poor position even if art prices had kept within inflation, but we all know that they have not done so. The explosion in art prices has reached absurd levels, but it has fallen back now to something like 10 times that which it was in the 1980s. That is the figure we are stuck with. I am sure that your Lordships understand that if you get back the tax agreed, plus the 25 per cent., that means you are as well off as if you sell something for considerably more to somebody else. That is the point of the issue.
What can be done to correct the shortfall in those purchase grants? It seems to me that there can be no other way of tackling the problem than by bringing the grants up to 1979 levels, plus inflation. That should be done not just as soon as possible but at once. Consideration could perhaps be given to increasing the douceur, as the noble Lord, Lord Annan, suggested, to 50 per cent., but I doubt whether the Treasury will agree to any of those proposals. I am surprised that it ever agreed to Sir John Anderson's proposals in the first place; and that was a triumph for him. However, I see no other answer to the problem and the cost would not be enormous. The noble Baroness quoted a figure of £15 million to £20 million. I believe that that figure comes from the export committee's report and will be the kind of figure at which one might arrive if one took a list of those people who have sold not through the Waverley rules and estimated what it would have cost had the sale been carried out in the other way.
That brings me to the question of how much the nation is prepared to pay to keep its treasures within 1274 those voluntary limits—liberal and not fascist or dictatorship limits. That should be discussed openly and fully and we should realise the kind of figure we are talking about. If it is really £10 million or £15 million, we should not hesitate to insist that the Government do something about it.
Finally, as regards listing I agree that that is over, at any rate for the moment.
I conclude on a note of grave warning. By far the worst thing that could happen to our heritage would be the application of VAT to works of art. I understand that the EC is threatening that. Although I am a good European, I offer the Minister total support to the death in opposing any such innovation.
§ 3.34 p.m.
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, your Lordships are no doubt grateful, as I am, to the noble Lord, Lord Annan, for raising this extremely important matter.
Before I deal with the issues raised so far in the debate, perhaps I may say how glad I am that my right honourable friend Mr. David Mellor has been appointed to this enlarged department. Of course, its responsibilities are very wide and go far beyond the arts and heritage; but each of its responsibilities are matters in which your Lordships have always shown great interest and indeed have great expertise. I am glad that, as a first step, Mr. David Mellor has been realistic enough to abolish the listing system. I believe that that will be generally approved. Of course, he is a former Chief Secretary to the Treasury and his success will depend to a great extent upon how he can use his expertise in getting money out of the Treasury.
I am also delighted by the appointment of my noble friend Lord Astor as Under-Secretary to the department because he is well qualified to advise and answer your Lordships' questions. The noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, seems to be disagreeing with me and perhaps she will correct me at a later stage.
Let us realise that, over the past 300 or 400 years, this country has acquired far more of the works of art of the countries of Europe and Asia than any of those countries have acquired from us. As a result, we have great public and private collections of Italian painting and sculpture and French, Dutch and Flemish paintings. It is wonderful that we have so many magnificent art galleries full of those treasures. However, you will not find many British pictures in the Louvre, the Tuileries, the Pinakothek, the Pitti Gallery or any of the palaces of Asia. Therefore, it seems to me that we can afford to have London as the principal art market of the world, which it undoubtedly is. It is to our economic advantage that we should do so and it is part of the life of a free society.
Your Lordships may wonder how it was that last Session I was responsible for raising questions in your Lordships' House about the disposal of the Badminton cabinet. I was persuaded to do so by the chairman of the National Art Collections Fund, of which I happen to be a member. I thought that there were good reasons for trying to keep it in this country. First it was simply a matter of finance but then it went 1275 beyond that. The Government and the splendid committee on export of works of art, of which the noble Lord, Lord Annan, was rather disparaging, gave a licence eventually when the money could not be found. I wanted the cabinet to go to the Fitzwilliam Museum because I live less than 20 miles away from that museum but between us we were not successful in that.
Let us face it, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, which has made extremely good use of the limited funds at its disposal, could use unlimited sums of public money to public advantage. It will not get those funds although we hope that it will receive more money than it has so far.
Therefore, let us consider the other possibilities. The National Art Collections Fund does marvellous work within its limitations. I am in favour of a national lottery; but let us not raise our hopes too high. I do not see any money coming from the national lottery, for the purposes to which this debate relates, for at least two financial years and it is more likely to be three. When the money is available, there will be many competing claims upon it; for example, sport and so on. I do not know whether a quango or the Government will decide which of those good causes shall have the money, but there will be many competing claims and the amount available for keeping works of art in this country will be somewhat limited. We must go on living in hope, doing our best.
The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson—no doubt accurately—gave us figures to show that less money was spent by the British Museum. We can rejoice in a wonderful paradise. The British Museum and all our other museums have improved year by year whatever funds have been available to them. Let it continue to be so. Preserving the national heritage gives rise to a confused situation. I feel that the Waverley rules, which have stood the test of time, are simple, direct and workable. They should continue to give the guidance that is needed. Meanwhile, a debate of this kind in your Lordships' House can offer a great deal of valuable advice.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Lord Charteris of Amisfield
My Lords, I am grateful to and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Annan, for instituting the debate. I agree with everything that he said, particularly regarding added resources for the National Heritage Memorial Fund. I should like to congratulate also the Secretary of State for the National Heritage on abandoning the idea of listing works of art. I see the temptation to do so. I am glad that it has been resisted and hope that the idea will not be reverted to.
During the past 12 years it has been my great privilege and joy to be the chairman of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, a job which has now been taken over by the noble Lord, Lord Rothschild. During that time I was intimately concerned with the preservation of two parts of our heritage. The first part is what I call real estate—houses, woods, bogs, fens, flats, mountains and meadows. The second part 1276 is what I call the moveable heritage—pictures, sculpture, drawings, books and manuscripts. It is with the second category that any list would be concerned.
Having been able to observe the present system at close quarters, I shall defend it. I concede that the position I held makes me more conscious of what has been saved than of what has been lost. However, the system of which the National Heritage Memorial Fund is an essential part is perfectly good, with one obvious proviso; that is, that it must be properly funded. It is a good system because it allows adequate movement of works of art; because, with it, London remains the art centre of the world; because it allows the owners of heritage property who sometimes need to sell to obtain a proper price for their assets and it is good because it allows museums and galleries to acquire treasures for the nation.
The provisions of the private treaty sales involving the douceur and acceptances in lieu are of help both to the vendor and to the buyer. The system is extremely British—it is civilised; it is not too loaded down with logic; there is room in it for negotiation; it is absolute in nothing; it is foggy and uncertain and beneficent, like our climate. But everything depends on adequate funding.
It is my contention that over the past 12 years—since the National Heritage Memorial Fund came into existence—with the help of one or two massive private donations from rich people like Mr. Getty, the funding has not been too bad. Of course, there have been sad losses like the Badminton Cabinet but there have been many triumphs ending with the purchase by the National Gallery of Holbein's "Lady with the Squirrel and the Starling" from Houghton.
The elements of the system involved in that purchase were the National Gallery, private resources of the National Gallery given to it by Mr. Getty, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the National Art Collections Fund and the private treaty sale. Practically everyone in this country assumed that the picture would go abroad. It did not go abroad. The system worked and we kept it.
One can measure the effectiveness of the system by what I shall describe as the "rumpus quotient". I refer particularly to political rumpus. How much fuss and bother is there in Parliament about the loss of works of art? Over the past 12 years there has been nothing to compare with the row that occurred over Mentmore, which, we must not forget, brought the National Heritage Memorial Fund into existence. There was almost a row over Calke Abbey but the Chancellor of the Exchequer managed to stop that when he was making his Budget speech. There would certainly have been a row over Kedleston, Fyvie, Belton and Chastleton. They were all saved by the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
There has not been much in the way of rumpus quotient over moveable heritage; that is, nothing compared with Leonardo's Cartoon. I cannot remember who bought that. However, there might have been a similar sort of row if, through the workings of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, we had not acquired the painting by Altdorfer, "Christ 1277 taking leave of his Mother", the "Enchanted Castle" by Claude, the "Fabula" by El Greco and, lastly, the Bute Cuyp.
All that is because the National Heritage Memorial Fund kept the rumpus out of the political arena. But make no mistake about it. If we are not properly funded it will go right back into the political arena. It is all a matter of proper funding. It is an absolute disgrace that museums and galleries have not had their purchase grants increased since 1985. It is important that they should be properly funded. Not only does it help the nation to acquire works of art, but also, unless museums and galleries have funds which they can spend and thus increase their collections, they themselves become fossils.
We must put the situation right, and quickly. The noble Lord, Lord Annan, said that the National Heritage Memorial Fund was swamped. But the next period will be extremely difficult. Many people who suffered terrible losses at Lloyd's will put their houses and moveable works of art on the market. By all means let us have more in the National Heritage Memorial Fund, but remember one thing about the fund—particularly when one is thinking of museums and galleries. The National Heritage Memorial Fund can only assist with matters which are considered to be part of our heritage. Many items at museums and galleries such as icons and so forth are not part of our heritage and we and our successors cannot help them.
Purchase grants must be restored. Resources of the National Heritage Memorial Fund should be increased. We must remember the great maxim of war: reinforce success. The National Heritage Memorial Fund has been a success, so we must reinforce it.
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ Lord Strabolgi
My Lords, I am sure that we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Annan, for initiating this short debate. Perhaps in company with other noble Lords I may say also how warmly I welcome the announcement by the Secretary of State last Friday that he intends not to proceed with the idea of listing important heritage objects in private hands.
The case against listing was put forcefully and convincingly by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art in its special report. It is an infringement of the rights of owners to dispose of their property as they wish and also it would distort market values not only for outstanding works of art but, of course, all down the scale. Indeed, I have never met anybody in the art world who has been in favour of listing. The whole world seems to be unanimous in opposing it. The Labour Party was also against it, as confirmed in a letter from the Shadow Minister for the Arts to The Times just before the election. I congratulate the Government on that wise decision.
I only hope that it will not be reversed one day by a directive from Brussels. Britain has much the best system of flexible control over art exports—the Waverley system —and I hope that we shall be successful in persuading our European partners to adopt it when the matter is debated by the European 1278 Parliament next month. I am also delighted that the control of art exports has been transferred from the Department of Trade and Industry to the new national heritage department and that the arts have now at last a Secretary of State in the Cabinet. Therefore, the Government have started well but there will continue to be problems unless there is sufficient financial back-up, as has been said.
There are signs that the threat of listing had increased the flow of important works on to the market. There was the Holbein from Houghton—a pre-eminent heritage painting if ever there was one —which was secured recently by the National Gallery only after considerable trouble and concern, as the noble Lord, Lord Charteris, said. The gallery's annual grant has had to be foregone for the next three years in consequence. There will be further works coming on to the market shortly, I understand, including a Rembrandt from Dalmeny, and a Turner, a Gainsborough and a Constable from the Royal Holloway and Bedford New College.
What is to be done? I suppose that one possible solution—it may sound strange coming from these Benches—would be to consider abolishing the inheritance tax, because all our problems stem from that and always have. I was interested in the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Rees, on the final day of the Queen's Speech debate, in which he put forward that suggestion. With all his great authority as a former Treasury Minister, he said that the tax brings in only very little money and is mainly cosmetic. Such a measure is of course perhaps not politically feasible but I hope that one day a Chancellor will take the plunge just as my right honourable friend, who is soon to be my noble friend, Mr. Healey, took the plunge when he abolished the inheritance tax between spouses after a long campaign against abolition conducted by the Treasury.
Therefore, the only possible solution at present is to try to save our heritage by increased finance and more tax incentives. The annual grants to our 18 national museums and galleries have been frozen since 1985. The National Gallery's grant is just £2.75 million and the Tate Gallery has only £1.8 million. Indeed the Tate was only able to save the Canaletto of the Old Horse Guards' Parade, through the great generosity of Mr. Andrew Lloyd-Webber. As a first step, these and other grants should be increased. The reviewing committee estimate that an extra £15 million to £20 million a year for the National Heritage Memorial Fund would be sufficient to keep most major works of art in this country. I am sure that we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Charteris, for his wise and eminent chairing of that fund and the splendid work which it has done.
In his announcement last Friday the Secretary of State stressed the importance of in lieu acceptances, and with that I agree. However, with the reduction in the rate of inheritance tax to 40 per cent., the inducement to offer works of art in lieu of tax should be made more attractive. The so-called douceur, which is at present 25 per cent., should be increased to 50 per cent. and made more flexible in certain cases. I must also ask the noble Viscount who is to reply—although 1279 he is not yet a Minister as the noble Lord, Lord Renton, supposed, we know that his heart as regards the arts is in the right place and we welcome his presence here today—whether there is a ceiling on the amount allowed by the Treasury for in lieu acceptances.
In 1985 when the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, was arts Minister, he stated that the amount of £10 million set aside from the reserve was an estimate and not a target or a limit. That was confirmed in a Parliamentary Answer by the then Minister for the Arts, Mr. Renton, on 16th March just before the general election. The Shadow Minister for the Arts has also confirmed that it is Labour policy not to have a ceiling.
As one Parliament cannot bind another, I ask the new Government to say whether it remains their policy that there will be no ceiling on the acceptance in lieu reserve. I hope so because, unlike the French Government, which moves promptly to secure for the nation parts of its patrimoine, we have allowed too many important treasures to be exported from Britain in recent years. As the reviewing committee said in its last report:The Waverley system of export controls for major works of art has been, to all intents and purposes, killed off for lack of funds".Let us hope that the new heritage department will mean a fresh start, increased government interest, more arts funding and a real will to save our national heritage.
§ 3.56 p.m.
§ Lord Cobbold
My Lords, first, may I thank the noble Lord, Lord Annan, for raising this important subject. I wish to declare an interest. I am honorary treasurer of the Historic Houses Association and I am also the owner of an historic house which is open to the public. I would like to echo the noble Lord, Lord Annan, and other noble Lords, in welcoming the announcement made last Friday by the Secretary of State rejecting the listing of key heritage objects. All owners of historic collections will have welcomed the demise of that proposal which threatened a form of planning blight on heritage objects without the right of appeal.
Historic house owners also welcome the establishment of the new Department of National Heritage. It must be right that responsibility for works of art and other moveable heritage objects and for historic buildings and monuments, should all be under one roof. We welcome not only the content of the Secretary of State's statement but also the tone in which it was expressed. Much of our effort is directed towards avoiding the need for works of art coming to the market in the first place.
It is extremely important to maintain the right balance between the public and the private interest in matters of the heritage. It is in the public interest that private owners should be encouraged to keep their heritage assets in good repair and to make them available as and when appropriate for public viewing. It is in nobody's interest if owners are driven to allow historic properties to fall into disrepair, works of art to deteriorate and historic collections to be broken up.
1280 In the case of works of art the principle of private treaty sales and acceptance in lieu of tax is well established. There have been some great successes, as the noble Lord, Lord Charteris, has told us this afternoon, due in no small part to his expert stewardship of the National Heritage Memorial Fund in recent years. We should all be very grateful to him for that. As the noble Lord, Lord Annan, and others have pointed out, it is to be hoped that the new heritage department will be able to improve and extend these schemes; to streamline the procedures involved and to permit the process of decision-making to be speeded up. There are too many stories—we have heard some of them this afternoon—of works of art being sold on the international market at huge prices following the failure of protracted negotiations with the various national bodies at much lower price levels.
In the case of historic houses, owners can often only raise the resources necessary to maintain the building by selling works of art. If works of art have to be sold and tax paid —and a larger tax liability will be involved if the objects have been previously conditionally exempt—it means that more objects will have to be sold from collections to finance the necessary repairs, which must be contrary to the public interest.
With successive Administrations, historic house owners have developed the principle that if private assets are pledged to the maintenance of an historic property in a dedicated maintenance fund, income and the proceeds of asset sales within the maintenance fund should be free of tax. That should apply also to objects that are already conditionally exempt under past provisions. I hope that the new department will continue to develop this valuable principle of co-operation between the public and private interests and will tidy up the remaining deficiencies in the rules on maintenance funds so that they may become more widely used as the accepted standard mechanism for ensuring the preservation of historic houses.
Finally, perhaps I may take this opportunity of expressing to the Minister the concern of owners of historic houses at the fall in the level of grant aid that is available from English Heritage. Grant aid to private owners fell from £3.1 million in 1988–89 to a paltry £1.8 million in 1990–91. This is not attributable solely to the squeeze on national resources. English Heritage has changed its policy to one of concentrating grant aid on "buildings at risk"—the implication being that grant aid is available only if a building has been so neglected that its survival is at risk. That does not seem to be a policy for good housekeeping.
I hope that the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, will encourage the Secretary of State to review the workings and priorities of English Heritage with its new chairman. I know that many historic house owners who have met with delays and frustrations when dealing with that institution will be hoping that the new Department of National Heritage will promote greater efficiency in this area as well.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ The Earl of Perth
My Lords, as your Lordships all know, the listing of works of art is out. I should like to add my voice to those who have congratulated the Secretary of State with responsibility for the arts on having made that decision so quickly. Several important works of art have already been sold, and it was quite clear that the trickle would become a flood. However, that is over. Despite the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Annan, that the idea of listing is all in the past, I shall touch on that point for a little while because it is mentioned in the second report and because we all hope that the suggestion of listing will never rear its ugly head again.
I know that the reviewing committee was between the devil and the deep blue sea but, having explored the idea of listing, I believe that it should have made it very clear that it would have no part of it, especially when the listing was linked to expropriation—or legalised theft, whatever one likes to call it. However, that issue does not arise now because the Secretary of State has ruled it out.
Incidentally, I do not believe that listing would have worked at all well—if at all. My reason for believing that is that it would have been a paradise for the bureaucrats, lawyers and art professionals. It would have provided an opportunity for endless dispute and skullduggery.
A lot of very large sums of money are involved. The report put a figure of £2 billion on the treasures that should be listed and rather light-heartedly said that the amount to be paid to the owners should be reduced to £1 billion. It would have been some sort of record if the owners had found themselves £1 billion worse off than they had expected. Who are the owners? So often they are those to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude. They possess great national treasures, and if asked they almost always volunteer to lend them to exhibitions at considerable inconvenience or sacrifice to themselves—and their reward was to be the loss of £1 billion.
Money is at the heart of everything. As we have heard, the shortfall amounts to between £15 million and £20 million a year. I cannot help but think that that sort of money represents postponing the building of a mile or two of motorway for a year or two, which would be a very good thing for the environment.
Of course, we all hope that lotteries will come to the rescue, but what should be done in the meantime? First, we must recognise that we cannot and should not try to save everything. After all, almost all of these objects have come from abroad and we should not be too unwilling to let others have some of these great treasures. Therefore, I start from the premise that we should not mind some things going abroad including, say, the Badminton cabinet—pace Lord Renton—but on the other hand I might argue that saving the Middleham jewel was of immense importance. There are bound to be differences of opinion about what constitute the right treasures, which is where the reviewing committee, the arts world, the benefactors and, as a last resort, Parliament and the public come in. I believe that the expression is "the rumpus factor"—and I agree with that.
1282 Where do we go for help? First, we have the private benefactors who have shown immense generosity in the past few years. I refer, for example, to Mr. Paul Getty and his gift to the National Gallery and to the host of contributors to the National Arts Collection Fund. I include also the many friends of the museums and galleries. I could continue adding to that list for a long time, but many of your Lordships know well who I am talking about. We have also had unexpected benefits from people such as Mr. Lloyd Webber who has saved the Canaletto and who may perhaps do even more. I must also pay tribute to the Sainsbury family and the Clores. After all, they have done as much as anybody—if not more—to enable our treasures to be exhibited and to be saved. Long may such generosity continue.
Now comes the question of government help. It is so easy for us all to say, "Only a few more million pounds." The Secretary of State's statement rightly pinpointed saving in lieu of tax. That is a very important channel, but is not properly known. Owners very often do not know what we are talking about and do not realise the potential advantage to them. They may be able to do a deal that nets them, say, £5 million for certain, and they will know that the work of art is going to the nation, which is what they would undoubtedly like to happen. If the work had gone on the open market, the figure might have been £12 million; but the owners would not have been any better off. The Government and the Secretary of State should try hard to make the merits of that channel of help more widely known. Incidentally, I must pay my tribute to the auction houses which so often work towards encouraging owners to take that course of action—at a loss to themselves. Perhaps I may suggest that that system is given wide publicity. There could be a new campaign. I know that that has been tried once; but let us see some more of it.
There is also a need to stop the freeze on the museum acquisition grant. Grants to the National Heritage Memorial Fund have been quite good; but there has been a tendency recently to centralise on that fund rather than also let the museums have their chance. That is a wrong policy. It must be enormously discouraging for the directors of museums and galleries. I very much hope that the policy will be reconsidered.
In mentioning the National Heritage Memorial Fund, I feel that we all owe an immense debt of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Charteris. He has made us wonder how the rather limited funds with which he has been provided have gone twice as far as anyone could expect. I am sure that his successor will do all he can to continue its good work.
I have a suggestion to make. The Secretary of State should start a comprehensive study of the benefits which the arts bring to the Treasury and the economy of the country. There are great benefits in terms of employment. Such benefits are provided not only through works of art but through opera, etc., and historic houses. The country as a whole is not sufficiently aware of the economic benefits which the arts bring to the country.
1283 I wish to make one final point. The outlook for the arts has been transformed. Waverley remains the best system that was ever devised. The national heritage is now centralised in the Secretary of State rather than having part of its business in the Department of Trade and Industry, which was a muddled affair. I feel that we have a new Secretary of State who will really care about our heritage. I wish him well.
§ 4.13 p.m.
§ Lord Mulley
My Lords, I gladly endorse the remarks of the noble Earl in thanking the great benefactors who have made possible the acquisition of a number of important works of art and in commending the work that the noble Lord, Lord Charteris, has done in the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
It is only fair to say, to put it in perspective, that the former Minister with responsibility for the arts, the right honourable Tim Renton, only asked for an opinion about the principle of this scheme. He did not in any sense commit himself, or the government at that time, to it. I welcome the fact that the present Secretary of State in the new Department of National Heritage has rapidly said that it was a non-runner. I not only agree with that but I should like to see the funds that would have been spent on the administration of such a scheme made available for the acquisition of works of art.
While I think the Waverley rules are sensible—and we are indebted to the work of the reviewing committee—we should also pay attention to a rule which the department has adopted which I do not think was one of the original three Waverley rules; namely, whether there is a comparable work of art by the painter or artist available for public display in this country. That is obviously an important consideration. All too often we have the feeling that where a famous name is concerned or a famous picture, no matter from whence it came, we ought to keep it here. I am not at all sure that that is right. I would be in favour of abolishing the licensing system altogether.
What will happen in the future? So far as I understand it, the one part of the extension of the European Community for which we have full approval is the creation of a single market. If that is to happen, where will there be the barriers to which one has to present export certificates? If I had an old master which I wanted to sell—sadly I do not—what would stop me putting it in the back of a car, driving it to Paris or Frankfurt and putting it up for auction there by one of our own auctioneers—Christie's or Sotheby's? That problem has to be addressed.
Another problem concerns what will happen in a single market to the restrictions we have on the import, subject to quarantine, of domestic animals? If we do not have controls at the frontiers, what will happen? I hope that when he replies the noble Viscount will tell the House the Government's thinking in connection with the Common Market, at least on the question of free movement of works of art between the various members of the Community.
Since 1985 the grants to our museums have been frozen and that has coincided with a remarkable 1284 increase—it is abating a little now—in the auction values of all the old masters. It could not have come at a worse time. Not only the listing prospect, which I agree is now happily dead, but the actual operation of the licensing system has tended to pre-empt what funds were available in the public sector for the individual galleries to spend on such works of art that might be available either here or abroad and also on the works of contemporary artists. The money is often mortgaged because they have gone in to save this work or that work at the behest of the reviewing committee. We have to take a quite different view about it.
I accept the principle that if public money is to go in, as it should, to support purchases of works of art they should be available for public inspection. I do not draw a distinction between public galleries and private houses. Equally, I commend the fact that one of the first priorities of the new and rather controversial director of the Victoria and Albert Museum was to have the roof of the building waterproofed, which if one is conserving pictures is just as important as some of the other considerations.
I have a very good opinion of the Secretary of State for National Heritage and I have an idea which I hope the noble Viscount will convey to him. When many of our art galleries have storerooms or basements full of pictures which they never show—this is not a national but an international problem—I wonder why we cannot develop a system of exchange, perhaps beginning in the European Community and extending into the Council of Europe as developments occur. Such a system would not involve the expenditure of funds.
We are very short on the work of certain artists. I shall just mention one or two examples. There is a quite distinguished Luxembourg painter none of whose works are to my knowledge on show in this country. Certainly, we are very thin on the Austrians Klimt and Schiele and on the Norwegian Munch. Moreover, there are some very interesting Norwegian impressionists whose works I had never heard about until I visited the art gallery in Oslo.
It is possible that other countries have surplus works of their own artists as, indeed, we have many surplus works which, because we never show them, we might well be prepared to exchange. It should be possible, and I should have thought rather easier than having a valuation list, to encourage galleries to produce a list of works that they are prepared to sell or exchange. Then a review committee or an independent person could award so many stars, or whatever it may be—a plus or a minus—so that an exchange system could be run. That could be done during our presidency of the Community with the proviso that in no way would the Commission in Brussels be allowed to have anything to do with it.
A proposal could be put forward that consideration should be given to an exchange of surplus pictures in our galleries for pictures from foreign galleries which those concerned would like to have available in this country. I think that the idea is certainly worth considering. I agree that the details of such an exchange system have not been worked out but I should be very glad to work on it, if that would be 1285 helpful. However, I am sure that others could look at the matter more competently than myself. As I said, I very much hope that the noble Viscount will convey the idea to his right honourable friend, for whom we have very great hopes. We hope that he will discharge with much distinction the wide and difficult job that he has undertaken.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ Lord Gibson
My Lords, my only qualification for taking part in the debate is that I was for about 20 years, until I was superannuated last year, a member of the Executive Committee of the National Art Collections Fund. Therefore I had a ringside seat to observe the operation of our export controls on works of art. I should like to add my testimony to that of other noble Lords. For most of that period I thought that the system worked extremely well. It only broke down because of funding. It is not a crisis of operation or of the system; it is a crisis of lack of funds. On the one hand, since 1985 funds have been frozen: while, on the other hand, the prices of first-class objects —not of everything—rose inexorably.
One reads a note of bitter despair in the document that we are discussing today. I shall not quote the parts read by the noble Lord, Lord Annan, which are colourful and which have great impact. However, there is one sentence that I do not think he read out which seems to me to be particularly bitter. The report says:It is tempting to recommend that you should end the charade of the Committee's activities",and so on. When good men, who, so far as I know, are paid nothing for their activities and who are very busy and expert people, feel that they are performing a charade, the word "crisis" is not too strong. Therefore, it is natural that the reaction of many people would be that we must fall back on the system of listing without compensation. I am very glad that that has been knocked on the head by the new Secretary of State. It would have been severely damaging to our art trade, as well as being unfair to owners.
Of course, our art trade has by far the largest share of the art market of the EC. Its success is largely due to our open, liberal system. Its skill and its experience are other components of its success. But one successful French auctioneer said that, if only he could operate under the British system, he believes that he could outdo British auctioneers. Whether or not that is the case, it is an indication of how much our liberal system is envied by the trade abroad.
I believe that the French operate three methods. First, they have a large list of objects which may not be exported. I forget the actual number of objects involved, but many thousands of objects may not be exported. Secondly, they require export licences for various categories of works of art—for example, by age, by price and so on—which the French Government can then acquire at the price on the export application. If one wants an illiberal system, that is quite a cute method. Thirdly, the French Government can pre-empt at the hammer price 1286 objects sold at auction. Thus they vigorously protect their artistic patrimony. In consequence, they have a much less vigorous art trade. We must try to hold, and continue to hold, the proper balance.
I applaud the decision not to proceed in that way. I must say that I believe discussing the possible introduction of a listing system—that is, a list of forbidden exports—is rather like discussing devaluation of a currency before one devalues. It leads to a rush to sell. I can only hope that that rush has now been stemmed.
But what can we do to protect things that it is very important for us to keep? First—and here I find myself at one with the noble Lord, Lord Renton—we must not try to keep too much. I say that not because of the cost to the Exchequer, although that is not unimportant, but because art objects which are movable and which satisfy the Waverley criteria should, in my opinion, move unless they are very rare. I shall just remind your Lordships of the objectives of the latter. First, is the object closely connected with our history; secondly, is it aesthetically important; and, thirdly, is it of outstanding importance for study?
Those criteria are often met by objects which are not of great rarity. An example would be a great Turner or Constable painting. It would be very nice to keep them but in a way I would rather see them go abroad. We have so many of them and unless it has a very special meaning for this country—which I cannot at the moment imagine because so many of the ones that we have have those qualities—I would rather that foreigners also had Turners and Constables in their museums and in their private collections. I should like the world's appreciation of such pictures to be equal to our own. It has not always been so, although it is now coming to be so.
Further, objects which are exported are not necessarily lost to view in this age of easy travel. Moreover, if works of art go into private collections they may well return. We should not lose sight of that fact. Another reason for us not to keep too many things is that in my opinion—and I say this as a former chairman of the National Trust and will therefore be thought to be biased, which I am—we need to devote a larger share of our resources to those objects which would meet the Waverley criteria, if they were applicable to them, but which are immovable and which, if neglected, will decay and disappear. The noble Lord, Lord Charteris, spoke of that category regarding the beneficiaries of his fund. I think that the claims of cathedrals, historic Churches and country houses must be brought into the Government's calculation of what we can afford. I urge that, other things being equal, immovable treasures score more marks when competing for resources than those which are movable.
However, as regards those movable objects which we should keep and which by reason of their quality, their association and their rarity will almost always be necessarily expensive, where are we to turn for funds? Apart from recommending better funding of public collections, the reviewing committee recommended a modification of the tax system to make private treaty arrangements more attractive to owners wanting to 1287 sell and an improvement in the operation of the gift aid scheme so that works of art could be more readily offered in lieu of tax. I heartily endorse those improvements. But a major source of funds can be expected ultimately from another source which has been mentioned once or twice and that is of course the national lottery.
I must declare a non-pecuniary interest here because, like my noble friend Lord Birkett, for a year or two I have been a director of the National Lottery Promotion Company. At the moment we do not think that we have done too bad a job. I hope that the national lottery Bill, which is still awaited, will set up the lottery in a form which will enable the net proceeds to support arts, sport and the environment really effectively and, I trust, with as much confidence as I can muster, that the Government will resist any effort by the Treasury to deplete the proceeds through tax. I know that the Treasury takes 37 per cent. of the pools but the comparison is false. The pools are corporations run for profit whereas the national lottery should be run for public purposes. I believe that the national lottery could provide a major contribution to solving the problem over time.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Lord Beaumont of Whitley
My Lords, there was a moment when I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Annan, had merely given us the opportunity to hear the mandarins of the art establishment of the United Kingdom defending the status quo and asking for more money. The first half of the debate was in fact exactly that. But the last two speeches have slightly restored my faith in human nature. The noble Lords, Lord Mulley and Lord Gibson, have actually challenged some of the bases on which the previous speeches were founded.
If one goes back and reads the Anderson report (the Waverley report) and examines its logic, one will find that that element is remarkably absent. My noble friend Lord Donaldson spoke highly of Sir John Anderson and, yes, that document is a model of a civil servant arriving at a consensus—a consensus which will certainly work for at least a time and for quite a long time. But there is very little logic in it. This is particularly so when one comes to any kind of definition of what is the national heritage.
I am at one with, I suspect, everybody in this Chamber in thinking that we have a definite duty to save for this country those works of art which are specifically to do with the history of this country and part of our heritage. But there are a great many works of art which we are striving to keep which have absolutely nothing to do with it at all.
I think we should set up a logical basis by which we define what works are of national interest. I suggest that the way we could quite easily measure this is by saying, "If this was adopted by every other country would we regard it as fair?" The converse of that is "Do other countries regard our definitions as fair?" For instance, do the Italians regard Mantegnas as part of the British national heritage? It seems to me quite extraordinary if they should do so.
1288 We should narrow the definition and then we would have another look at the universally condemned—in this Chamber —list approach. Once we have a narrower definition of what everyone agrees ought to be kept in this country, then many of the disadvantages of the list system would disappear. We would then have a fairly small number of objects with which we could challenge people as to whether the guff that they often produce about being stewards actually means anything or whether, in the last resort, they are only interested in the money; in which case they could sell their works of art to the nation which would then preserve them.
If we had such a set-up we could indeed also apply a certain amount of common sense to another problem from which we usually run away; that is other people's ideas of what is their national heritage. I take as an example the Elgin marbles. If we say that a country should be entitled to preserve as much of its heritage as it can look after and preserve, we find ourselves in a rather difficult position with regard to the Elgin marbles. There was, of course, a time when it was right that we should keep them because it was quite clear that they would not be kept and preserved properly if they were returned to Greece. I do not think that that is the kind of accusation which we can now level against a fellow member of the European Community and I do not think that it is the kind of accusation we can level against Greece today.
There is a real case for looking at the whole basis of this problem. I do not think that in the debate today we have yet succeeded in examining logically and clear-headedly what it is that we are attempting to do. We would be well justified in causing a new national treasure to be formed by getting hold of some artist of any nationality and getting him to do a picture of the noble Peers sitting on the Cross-Benches and calling it "The Night Watch". It appears that they have in fact been performing that extremely good service of defending the status quo. But it is only a good service if we then look at the situation which will arise when we have several countries trying to apply this criterion. We wish to apply the same criteria as they do and we wish to respect their criteria, as we wish them to respect ours. With the so-called Waverley criteria, which I do not think stand up to any logical examination, we have not got it. I think that we should go back and start again.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ Lord Birkett
My Lords, I enjoyed very much reading the October 1991 report of the reviewing committee which is the cause of an admirable choice of debate by the noble Lord, Lord Annan. One does not usually look to White Papers, Green Papers and government reports as examples of fine writing, clarity and brevity. However, in this case I thought the report admirably written and I wanted to go on reading it. I congratulate Jonathan Scott, the chairman, on preparing such an eminently readable report. Of course, he had to spend a great deal of time perforce on the merits and demerits of the listing system. Thank 1289 goodness that is out of the way. I add my own voice of congratulation to the Secretary of State on that admirable decision.
One of the interesting things about the report is that it quotes literally dozens of experts on the subject of the Waverley criteria and the system as it is at the moment. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, I think it works admirably. It is singular that out of those dozens of experts there is one absolutely steady chain of agreement; first, that the Waverley criteria and the system work very well, and secondly, that the reason the whole system goes wrong is that there is not enough funding. Practically everyone whose views appear in the report said so.
There has not been a capital fund for the arts of any sort in this country for years. Even counting the small and now departed Housing the Arts Fund that the Arts Council used to operate there has not been any serious capital money available at all. It is a miracle that the noble Lord, Lord Charteris, has been able to do what he has. I add my voice to that of everyone else in congratulating him on spreading the little butter he has had so amazingly thinly and with such delicacy and grace.
Of course, one has to ask, "So where is the capital coming from?" I am glad to say that my noble friend Lord Gibson has declared my interest for me because I too am a member of the Lottery Promotion Company. I have been banging on about it for years, and I am delighted that it looks as though we shall have one.
The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, asked the Government whether the proceeds of the lottery would be confined to matters within the new Department of National Heritage. I do not know whether the noble Viscount will be able to give an answer. I suspect that his noble friend the Secretary of State has not yet worked out the details of the lottery. I rather hope that it will be confined to matters within the department at any rate for the major part, although I do not exclude all charities from it. The admirable decision to set up the Department of National Heritage and give it a Cabinet post—again something I have recommended for years and which I am sure meets with the approval of most noble Lords —has happily put almost everything that counts in the quality of life within one department. That is a sensible grouping. I hope that the proceeds of the lottery will wind up in the department, however they are distributed.
The question is how much those proceeds will amount to. The noble Lord, Lord Annan, was rather gloomy about the prospects and wondered whether the amount would be enough. He predicted, and I am sure he is right, that there would be countless applications for funds from all those who need money. We need all kinds of capital.
As regards preserving our national heritage, urgency is often of the essence. There may be great needs for all kinds of buildings within the arts, sport and the environment, where action is required within six months or it is too late. That is the case with a great deal of our heritage.
1290 Predictions about how much money a lottery would raise have often been looked at askance. People have said, "It's pie in the sky to dream of a turnover of £2.5 billion or £3 billion a year". Counting one's chickens before they are hatched has been a national pastime for years, but in this case one must try to do so. The only reason for predictions of large sums of money is the experience of other nations. Since we are the only country in Europe, except Albania, which does not have a lottery, there is much experience to go on. There are lotteries all over the world. If we carry out computations based on population, gross national income and so on, the figure of £2.5 billion or £3 billion a year gross is not too far fetched once a lottery is successful and up and running.
How much of the proceeds of the lottery goes back to our heritage and all the items associated with it, as the noble Lord, Lord Gibson, said, will depend on whether or not it is taxed. If somehow the Treasury can manage to keep its tax claws off the money, it will not only be beneficial to the lottery and the causes which will receive money from it, but I believe it will also be beneficial to the Treasury. There is a good case for saying that the amount that goes into arts, sports and all the other subjects we are talking about today benefits the Treasury indirectly by between four and eight times the original money. That is more than any taxation could achieve. Taxation of a charitable lottery, which I hope this will be, is ill advised. Whether the wisdom of my words will have any impact upon the Treasury is another matter; I hope however that it will at least listen to the argument.
I was pleased to hear the noble Lord, Lord Charteris, point out that he has only the capacity to save and cope with objects within our national heritage. I agree with several speakers that there is often too wide a definition of that. Anything that is both desirable and expensive tends to be described in the press as "part of our national heritage" if it happens to be found in our country. That is not only an illiterate but a hopelessly impractical definition of our heritage.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Gibson, I like to see works of art going round the world. What is more, I like to see them in private houses and private collections. There is a danger of art being regarded as something found only in museums while furnishings are found only in houses. It would be a poor world in which that was a criterion.
What is good is that the Waverley criteria work. They are a sensible guide to what should be retained. If my predictions about the lottery or some other form of income come true, everything in our garden may well yet be lovely.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Baroness Brigstocke
My Lords, several distinguished and experienced speakers in this important debate, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Annan, have expressed far more eloquently than I could our anxiety that the country continues to be stripped of so many works of art, even precious natural objects such as the fossil, Lizzie the Lizard. But for a last minute rescue, it would have gone to Germany.
1291 I speak as a member of the Museums and Galleries Commission which welcomes the Secretary of State's decision to reject listing as an option for safeguarding great works of art from export. I join everyone who has spoken so far in believing that it is most encouraging that the Secretary of State appears to recognise that a relatively small amount of additional funding—£ 15 million to £20 million per annum, about half what the Getty museum has—is needed to make the present system work.
If museums had access to adequate purchase funds or, on occasion, to special Treasury grants, there would be a considerable saving of taxpayers' money. For example, the Badminton cabinet was initially available for purchase by the Victoria and Albert Museum for £4 million spread over three years. If a United Kingdom museum had succeeded in raising the eventual auction price, it would have had to pay £8.6 million, more than double the original price. Had a special grant been available in the beginning for this treasure, not only would it have stayed in the country but we should have got it for what one might almost call a bargain price.
Then there is the Middleham Jewel, for which the Yorkshire Museum was unable to afford the £1.4 million which it first fetched at auction. When it came up for export, I am glad that the museum was by that time able to acquire this important heritage object. But at what price? By this time it had risen to £2.5 million.
Additional funding is needed now. The national lottery which should be a major source of funds for acquisitions—or so I thought until I heard the noble Lord, Lord Annan—will not be operational for at least two years. Extra funding must come now through increases in museum purchase grants which, as we have already heard, have been frozen since 1985 for English nationals. There should be access to the public expenditure reserve for special grants for outstanding items. Latin seems to be in order this evening, so I say to the Treasury: Bis dat qui cito dat. He gives twice who gives quickly.
I fully endorse the call of the noble Lord, Lord Annan, for the acceptance in lieu scheme to be improved. I emphasise that the Museums and Galleries Commission places the highest priority on seeking new acceptance in lieu offers and encouraging owners to make more use of this excellent scheme.
I should like to turn to the noble Lord's implied criticism of the Museums and Galleries Commission. So far as I know, its negotiations with owners are always conducted with twin aims: first, to secure the maximum number of successful acceptances; and, secondly, to ensure that the tax settlement figure arrived at is fair to the taxpayer. It may be that the auction houses are not always too happy. I hope I may remind noble Lords that the usual commission figure that an auction house can expect to receive on an auction sale is a full 20 per cent., that is, £2 million on a £10 million painting, and the usual commission for a private treaty sale or acceptance in lieu is 5 per cent. Indeed, as the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has pointed out, 1292 an auction house takes an enormous cut when it encourages a private treaty sale or an acceptance in lieu.
The Secretary of State has the opportunity now to put a stop to the drain of great works of art from the United Kingdom. The Government have already demonstrated their commitment to the national heritage. Now I should like to see the Treasury follow suit by taking all the excellent advice it has been given this evening.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Lord Palmer
My Lords, it is a great honour for me for the first time to follow a noble Baroness in a debate. I had intended to be brief but I shall be still briefer. I, too, am grateful to my noble friend Lord Annan for introducing this debate. Like other noble Lords, I greatly welcome the announcement by the Secretary of State. The idea we are discussing was fundamentally flawed from its earliest conception and the nation will be greatly relieved by the announcement and saved from irreparable damage.
I, too, wish to pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Charteris for his role as a much respected and loved chairman of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. I have two near neighbours, Thirlestane Castle and Paxton House, which might not have survived without the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, although sadly they have pinched all our visitors! I feel I must declare an interest as almost everything I own is listed and indeed conditionally exempt from inheritance tax. My home also has the dubious honour of having the country's first maintenance fund. On 1st July 1978 the then treasurer of the Historic Houses Association, Commander Michael Saunders-Watson, wrote a letter to The Times bemoaning the fact that no maintenance fund had been established. That very same day we received notification from the Treasury that our maintenance fund had been accepted. I would at this point like to pay tribute to Commander Saunders-Watson for all the hard work he has put in over the years to help safeguard the nation's heritage. I do not think any of us realise quite how much he has contributed and how almost single-handed he persuaded successive governments from both sides to change the inheritance tax laws.
The Secretary of State's wise decision will be particularly welcomed by the private owner who, over the centuries, has played an important role in acquiring works of art and more importantly displaying them to the public, especially in houses that are open to the public. Many may now feel considerably freer and less restricted to resume their role in acquiring works of art. To have the arts supported by the private purchaser must be a good thing. I am greatly taken by the idea of the noble Lord, Lord Mulley, about exchanging works of art. The National Gallery of Scotland, for example, is literally stuffed full of works of art that have not been seen for years. Latterly the gallery has lent 70 pictures to Paxton House, which is situated next door to my home.
In his evidence to the Scott Committee Sir Hugh Leggatt mentions the national lottery—many noble 1293 Lords have mentioned that tonight—and we all eagerly await its introduction in 1994. However, it is vital that this is seen as additional funding.
As many noble Lords have mentioned, it will no doubt be difficult to allocate its funds between the arts and sports, and what must be taken into account is the fact that the arts by their very nature are a non-commercial activity. It will no doubt also be difficult to apportion funds between the fine arts and the performing arts. However, what is to happen before 1994? This was so well brought out by Mr. Timothy Clifford in his toast last week to the Royal Academy of Arts. There must be some interim extra funding and I agree with Mr. Clifford that the Minister should set up a committee of independent minded people to look most urgently into this matter.
If there is one message that comes out of the report and out of our debate this afternoon it is the gross underfunding of the country's galleries. Here one must hope that the Government will keep this continually under review. Time and time again those interviewed in the report mention "lack of funding" or something similar—we have discussed that tonight—and what of course must not be forgotten is that all those interviewed in the report were among the most distinguished in the field of the arts and the heritage. On page 12 of the report there is mention of maintenance trusts, and the committee rightly urges that they become more attractive for those trying to protect and conserve our built heritage. Today there are still under 60 such trusts in existence, which is a pathetic record if one considers that legislation has been in existence for the past 14 years. There are two extremely simple things the Government could do to rectify the situation. First, they could and should reduce the level of income tax levied on maintenance trusts. It currently stands at a ridiculous 35 per cent. —a full 10 per cent. higher than the basic rate. That surely simply does not make sense. Secondly, maintenance funds should be exempt from capital gains tax.
Finally, as an associated and vitally important measure, the Government could and should abolish VAT on repairs to listed buildings. I beg the Minister to look at these points and not to lose sight of the fact that maintenance funds have one purpose and one purpose alone which is to help preserve the nation's heritage.
§ 4.57 p.m.
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Annan, for initiating this important debate. I am well aware that when the noble Lord tabled his Motion he was concerned with the question of the listing of important heritage objects in private ownership and our response to the suggestion of listing by the reviewing committee.
I am afraid that in the meantime, if I may use a phrase that befits my right honourable friend's new sporting responsibilities, the Secretary of State has clean bowled the noble Lord. However, this has 1294 enabled your Lordships to concentrate positively on the way forward without any note of rancour which might otherwise have crept into the debate.
The debate has raised a number of issues mainly concentrating on the provision of adequate funding to enable the retention in this country of works of art and other heritage objects. In replying I am sure that your Lordships would wish me to say something about the establishment of the new department concerned with national heritage. I am sure that the House will join me in welcoming this important development.
The creation of a department with a Secretary of State at its head is an important step forwards. It is a just recognition of the value which the Government place upon all aspects of the national heritage. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State is uniquely equipped to head the new department. As a former arts Minister and Chief Secretary to the Treasury he has turned from poacher to gamekeeper and back, or indeed the reverse depending on which side of the fence one sits on. I am sure your Lordships wish him all success in his new, well deserved wider heritage responsibilities. I am delighted to be a member of his team and look forward to representing the department in your Lordships' House as well as —this is most important—representing your Lordships' interests in the new department.
It is undoubtedly true that our national heritage represents a major resource for this country and it is only right that we should be vigilant in ensuring that it is properly maintained. My noble friend Lord Renton pointed out the wide-ranging responsibilities of the Department of National Heritage—the arts, built heritage, sport, tourism, and broadcasting. Our remit ranges from Stonehenge to the Royal Opera House, Wembley to the British Museum, the Royal Parks to the BBC, and the British Library to Fleet Street, Wapping or wherever the press are now. We shall, as has been mentioned, also be responsible for legislation to establish the national lottery and implementing its provisions. The department is actively reviewing its role and its policies in all areas of its enlarged responsibilities.
I shall now turn to the specific issues raised in the debate. First, however, I should like to remind your Lordships of the debate initiated by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, in May of last year. Much of that debate covered the same ground as we have traversed this afternoon. There was concern then for the underfunding of the Waverley system, so much so that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, called for a high level review, a working party that would examine the balance of purchase grants to national museums and galleries against the annual grant to the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
In that debate my noble friend Lord Rees asked whether I saw merit in transferring responsibility for the control of the export of works of art from the Department of Trade and Industry to the Office of Arts and Libraries. I am glad to say that we considered that suggestion, and we have made the transfer to the new department. Therefore, I must say to the noble 1295 Baroness, Lady Birk, that some of what is said in our arts debates is taken seriously and, indeed, acted upon.
The same concerns continue to exercise your Lordships today. But time has not stood still, and nor have the Government in dealing with those concerns. As I said, our most significant innovation has been the creation of the new Department of National Heritage. One of my right honourable friend's first major policy decisions was precisely to address the issue raised by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, in this House—the use of the Waverley system in the retention against export of important heritage objects, and also the other recommendations in the two most recent reports from the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art.
The Government are very conscious of the need to protect our heritage for the benefit of future generations. That is why our policy in relation to export control is kept constantly under review. It was in response to criticisms, particularly those expressed in this House, that my right honourable friend, the former Minister for the Arts, asked the reviewing committee to undertake a review of the operation of the Waverley system.
I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate the reviewing committee, which, under the chairmanship of Jonathan Scott, conducted what was a most thorough review of the present system of controls on the export of works of art. I am sure that noble Lords will agree with me that its report on that review was not only extremely well presented and argued, but also made excellent reading, a point admirably made by the noble Lord, Lord Birkett.
The committee was asked to examine the existing export control procedures against the background that "Waverley standard" objects presently require a compensating offer to purchase to be made before an export licence can be refused for them, and that existing financial constraints have contributed to a decreasing number of important heritage items being retained by the compensating offer method.
In its report the committee recommended, most reluctantly, that in the absence of additional funds a small list of perhaps 2,000 to 3,000 pre-eminent items was possible, though it set out a number of objections of principle and practice which surround the concept of listing. The purpose of such a list would be to define those few items which could be sold within this country but not exported.
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has given careful consideration to the representations, which have almost unanimously opposed listing however limited it would be. He announced in another place last Friday that he shared the view that the disadvantages of listing far outweigh the advantages. Listing would represent a diminution in the rights of owners to dispose of their property as they saw fit and prohibition upon the export of outstanding heritage items would distort the market value, both for the outstanding items and for others. I am sure that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will appreciate the approval of his decision expressed by all noble Lords today.
1296 In welcoming that decision your Lordships have rightly asked the crucial question whether the Government have accepted the view that an additional injection of public funding should be provided for the Waverley system in order that it may operate properly. Over the last six years during which the reviewing committee has reported on its activities, namely, between July 1985 and June 1991, 51 per cent. of export deferred objects worth in excess of £31.5 million have stayed in this country. That is creditable in a climate of continued high prices for pre-eminent works of art. My right honourable friend cares deeply about improving that percentage, but he has a duty to balance that against the wilder extremes of the fashions of the art market. When fashion and fancy lead to an extraordinary surge in the prices of particular objects such as we have seen over the past few years prudent public expenditure should not necessarily try to compete. Indeed, all of us have noticed that many of those prices have now started to come down.
Among the objects retained since May of last year, the Middleham jewel, an item starred by the reviewing committee, was purchased by the Yorkshire Museum. It is a noteworthy example of public enthusiasm and determination to succeed against enormous odds. Similarly the recent case of Holbein's "Portrait of a Lady with a Squirrel" acquired by the National Gallery, and Canaletto's "The Old Horse Guards" acquired privately but lent to the Tate, demonstrate how both public and private funding can be successfully tapped in order to acquire important objects for the benefit of the nation or to prevent their export. However, we must accept that we lost the Badminton cabinet, although it was not a starred item, as noble Lords reminded the House.
In May last year I pointed out at some length the Government's record in maintaining a balanced approach to retaining this nation's heritage. In addition to the significant grants given to bodies such as the National Heritage Memorial Fund and others to assist in the purchase of items threatened with export or destruction, there exist a number of important tax concessions created by the Government to support our heritage with which the noble Lords will be familiar.
I echo the tributes paid today to the noble Lord, Lord Charteris, for his magnificent stewardship of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. In his 12 years he has received in grant £123 million and managed to convert that to spending of £143 million—I apologise to the noble Lord, £153 million! That is a feat of which many government departments would be very proud, if they were able to match it. We must all appreciate what the noble Lord has achieved. It is important to remember that what he and his fund have managed to save puts export licence problems into their proper perspective. Many great items have been saved for this country.
I should like to remind your Lordships of our record. Heritage items, buildings and land may be offered in lieu of inheritance tax. In 1991–92, 12 items were accepted in lieu of just over £3.28 million of tax. Since 1980 over £45 million worth of tax has been 1297 satisfied in that way. Several noble Lords—in particular the noble Lord, Lord Annan, and the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson—called for further encouragement in the take-up of that concession by raising the douceur from 25 per cent. to 50 per cent. and making it more flexible. I can assure your Lordships that the matter will be kept under review. However, I am pleased to say that at present there is no shortage of offers in the pipeline. I can say to the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, that the Government's policy in relation to the ceiling for those funds remains as stated by my right honourable friend the former Minister for the Arts.
The Government also offer a significant tax concession to individuals owning items on which inheritance tax is due if that item is sold to an approved institution. Between 1985 and 1991 items valued in excess of £55 million have been acquired by UK museums and galleries through the mechanism of the private treaty sale at a cost to those institutions of only £25 million—under half the gross figure.
The noble Lord, Lord Annan, drew attention to the disincentives to auction houses to negotiate private treaty sales. I shall draw this to my right honourable friend's attention for further consideration in the context of the tax concession arrangements for retaining heritage quality items. But I must say that I believe that the auction houses have been very helpful in negotiations over private treaty sales and have given many people great help in achieving those sales.
I must add that there is the system of gift aid, an excellent tax incentive, which has been warmly welcomed by the arts world. It covers one-off single payment donations from £400 upwards and was reduced from £600 in the last Budget. I am sure that that will lead to a significant surge in personal and corporate support for museums, theatres and arts organisations all over the country.
Much of the discussion today on funding has naturally centred upon the continuing freeze on the purchase grants for national museums and galleries, on funding of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and on the possible benefits of the introduction of a national lottery. It is the case that the purchase grants of the national museums and galleries have been frozen since 1985. Nevertheless, just over £9 million is provided annually. The decision by successive Ministers to freeze purchase grants reflects the priorities identified by the national museums and galleries in their annual corporate plans that extra resources available should be directed to running costs and building works. In announcing his decision on listing, my right honourable friend said he was sympathetic to the reviewing committee's view that between £15 million and £20 million per annum would solve most of the problems of the export of significant items. He will bear that in mind in the forthcoming public expenditure round. He can of course give no guarantees of additional funding; but he accepts the reasonableness of the case made by the reviewing committee and others, as well as by noble Lords today.
1298 We have discussed the introduction of a national lottery and the degree to which the proceeds might assist in the retention of our heritage in this country. We are at an early stage, and the consultation period on the government White Paper closed only recently on 1st June. The responses are still being analysed. It is therefore too early to identify precisely who will be the beneficiaries or to provide details of the level of additional funding which it might generate. We do accept that the lottery should be additional funding and hope to introduce a Bill in the autumn.
There are a number of procedural recommendations in the reviewing committee's last report concerning the operation of the export controls, some of which have been touched on today. Most of them remain to be considered by my right honourable friend. For example, he is sympathetic to bringing natural heritage items within the scope of the controls, but a practical definition is still being sought. We also see a great deal of merit in encouraging private offers but will reflect separately on the committee's wish to circumscribe them with access and conservation conditions.
We agree with the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, that the Waverley rules have worked well and have stood the test of time. The Government agree entirely with the sentiments expressed by the noble Lords, Lord Palmer and Lord Cobbold, on the importance to this country of the private owner and private collector. I shall study carefully the points that were made, particularly in regard to maintenance funds and grant aid to English Heritage.
A number of noble Lords, including the noble Lords, Lord Donaldson and Lord Mulley, referred to measures proposed by the Commission in Brussels. It may be helpful to clear up one or two misapprehensions and bring your Lordships up to date with developments.
A number of member states are anxious that the creation of the single market and the removal of internal frontiers may mean that many cultural items will leave their territories without the permission of the national authorities. Some of them may be national treasures which should not have left at all and which Article 36 of the Treaty of Rome allows as an exception to the operation of a free market in goods. Our Waverley system will continue after 1992 to define our national treasures. Some noble Lords no doubt regard the European Commission under Mr. Delors as an interfering busybody. But it does recognise our right to continue our own export system and the equal right of each member state to do the same.
The mania for harmonisation and approximation has not yet manifested itself where national treasures are concerned. But I am sure that it will, if we are not vigilant. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Mulley, that he will not be allowed to take his old master to Paris, Brussels or Bonn without an export licence. If he does we shall make strenuous efforts to seek its return.
§ Lord Mulley: Perhaps I may make it clear that I do not have any such picture.
I am sorry that the noble Lord does not have one. If he should win the national lottery he 1299 may acquire one. We may have reason to feel flattered that the Commission and some member states have a high regard for our Waverley system, with its pragmatic approach and the balance it strikes between the interests of the nation, the art trade and owners.
With its current proposals the Commission is trying to achieve an extra level of protection over and above each national system, based on close co-operation between member states. Thus the directive allows for the return of national treasures which are found elsewhere in the Community outside the territory of the member state. The regulation requires individual cultural items falling into category and value limits along the same lines as our own system to be accompanied by an export licence when they leave the Community.
None of that will be retrospective. No object currently in public or private ownership in the United Kingdom is threatened by restitution, however murky its past. I must say to the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, that I disagree with him about what he said about our heritage. I do not believe that our heritage should have "Made in Britain" stamped on it. I believe that great works of art transcend national barriers and cultures. I hope that we shall always be able to appreciate the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum.
§ Lord Beaumont of Whitley
That is exactly what was saying. They transcend barriers and therefore they should not be kept in one country.
I apologise to the noble Lord if I misheard him. In that case I totally agree with him. The Government in negotiation have influenced the content of the Commission proposals away from the heavily bureaucratic, though in some ways idealistic, toward a more realistic, potentially effective system which should result in only the minimum uncertainty for buyers and sellers of cultural goods. In order to have that additional protection we shall have to accept that some uncertainty as to the correct provenance of items is inevitable. I am sure that we can do so, given the great importance that we all attach to protecting the heritage. Trade in legitimate works of art is a vital part of our economy. We have no intention of weakening it both in this country and in the Community generally.
The noble Lord, Lord Annan, raised the point about the Three Graces. I understand the frustration when an offer is made, whether it be from a public or private source, and it is refused. However, I am sure your Lordships would be among the first to raise the alarm at any attempt to legislate for compulsory powers of purchase over private property. That is an important point.
The noble Lord, Lord Gibson, who does sterling work as chairman of the House of Lords' Works of Art Committee, sensibly said that we must keep only the most important works of art. We have won support for that among European countries. Our system works but it is never easy to say that the built heritage should have a financial priority. It always has to be on the merits of each case or indeed on the merits of each crisis.
1300 It has been a stimulating debate. Financing the purchase of important objects has and will always remain a problem. However, I hope that I have gone some way to assure your Lordships of the goodwill of this Government towards meeting the problem with a variety of solutions. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State will be putting his considerable determination and skills into support for the heritage in all its manifestations. I should like to think that a similar debate in a year's time will record the results; and I look forward to that rumpus, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Charteris.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Lord Annan
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Viscount for replying at such length and so well. I do not wish to break any lance with him, but I congratulate him on the splendid statistic that the department dug out about 51 per cent. of all objects being saved. It does not deal with the value of those which were not saved; and it was those, the most valuable, which got away.
I also thank all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate. Like others, I cannot fail to single out the noble Lord, Lord Charteris. If ever there was a case of the right man in the right place, it was his appointment as chairman of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. It is characteristic of the noble Lord, and in the tradition of his regiment, that, although he could perfectly well have pleaded that he was today a walking wounded, he is present on the battlefield.
I believe that, unless something can be done in the fairly near future, we are bound once again to have some new scheme —not necessarily listing—raising its head. I look forward to the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, having conversations with M. Laclotte of the Ministre des Beaux Arts or M. Pierre Rosenberg of the Louvre, and trying to convert them to the English model. We are not European on this matter. Through the Commission we may be able to achieve some liberalisation of the export of works of art in other countries in Europe, but I would not put too much money on it.
I thank the noble Viscount again and all those who have spoken. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Baroness Trumpington
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do adjourn during pleasure for five minutes.
Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ [The Sitting was suspended from 5.23 to 5.28 p.m.]