HL Deb 26 February 2001 vol 622 c935

3.19 p.m.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will amend their indemnity scheme for works of art accepted in lieu of tax so that the works are covered at current value, to enable them to be seen more widely.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, the government indemnity scheme successfully allows museums and galleries in this country to borrow works of art without having to pay for commercial insurance. We are constantly examining ways to increase public access to works of art and all items accepted in lieu are available for public access. I am aware that, since the scheme started in 1980, those items accepted in lieu have been indemnified at their original tax settlement value when on loan. I should like to look again at whether this puts loans unduly at risk and whether it would be possible to amend the scheme so that loans can be indemnified at current market value. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, for bringing the matter to our attention.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley

My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the Minister for that Answer. I believe that when he considers the matter he will see that some way has to be found to make works of art more available. I wish the Minister well. I have no supplementary question to ask.

Lord Saatchi

My Lords, perhaps I may add from these Benches our agreement with the view of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley. I hope that the Minister will be able to follow up on his very helpful Answer.