§ 11.30 a.m.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey rose to move, That the draft regulatory reform order laid before the House on 6 May be approved [18th and 22nd Reports from the Regulatory Reform Committee].
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this regulatory reform order is brought forward under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001 by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Its purpose is to permit the Museum of London to operate a museum anywhere within the confines of Greater London, rather than within the limits of the City of London as the current law requires. That will make it legally possible for the Museum of London to merge with the Museum in Docklands, which is at West India Quay, outside the current geographical limit of the Museum of London's operation.1470
§ The impetus behind the order came from concerns, expressed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, about the financial viability of the Museum in Docklands as an independent institution. The HLF, which invested £11.8 million in the project, considered that the museum's business plan and the management structure in place were inadequate to run the museum. It concluded that the Museum in Docklands would require the operational strength of the Museum of London in order to be successful. It was agreed that the best way to secure the financial position and long-term stability of the Museum in Docklands was for a merger to take place between it and the Museum of London. The governing bodies of both museums formally approved plans for a merger in March 2003.
§ We consulted extensively on the regulatory reform order. From the responses received, it was fully supported. The House will wish to note that the original cost savings calculated by the Museum of London to flow from the merger were overstated and have been revised. Estelle Morris has written to the chairmen of the Regulatory Reform Committees in each House to inform them of the revision. The Museum of London has assured my officials in writing that its funds are sufficient to take over and maintain the Museum in Docklands.
§ The order, if approved, will mean that the HLF's investment and a further £3.14 million invested by the London Docklands Development Corporation will have been saved, and the Museum in Docklands—a museum that has already opened and is having a positive impact in the local community—will be allowed to continue.
§ I thank the members of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee for the way in which they responded to the unfortunate fact that we gave them inaccurate figures in the first place. I am glad that they have seen fit to agree that the order should go forward despite that original error. I am satisfied that the draft order is compatible with convention rights. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the draft regulatory reform order laid before the House on 6 May be approved [18th and 22nd Reports from the Regulatory Reform Committee].—(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)
§ Lord Sandberg
My Lords, what the Government are doing is obviously very sensible, but why was the museum confined to the City of London in the original agreement? It seems absurd.
§ Baroness Buscombe
My Lords, as the Minister said, the purpose of the draft order is to amend Section 4(1) and (2) of the Museum of London Act 1965 to allow the Museum of London to maintain and exhibit its collections within the limits of Greater London, rather than within the limits of the City of London as the current law requires. That will allow the Museum of London to merge with the Museum in Docklands, situated in the Docklands area of London at West India Quay.
1471 There is no question but that we on these Benches want to do all that we can to support the financial viability of the Museum in Docklands. We therefore welcome the order. I also join the Minister in thanking those who have allowed it to go forward, notwithstanding the error in the figures for the cost savings. I was given the revised cost savings and accompanying information this morning by the Minister in another place, Estelle Morris, for which I am grateful.
§ Viscount Falkland
My Lords, we on these Benches think the general purpose of the order entirely sensible. By introducing the order, the Government seem to have laid the foundations of the possibility of greater success, not only for the Museum of London but in the general area of museums. It makes perfect sense that the Museum of London and the Museum in Docklands together can increase the attraction of both museums.
The Minister mentioned the business plan and management structure of the Museum in Docklands. In the commercial world—in the private sector—on such projects when the business plan has proved unsuccessful in producing the results expected, there is always a temptation to cut down as many staff and overheads as one can to get the books straight. That is an approach based purely on accounts.
The Museum in Docklands is a very good idea, and with the proper talent and direction—one gets it so often in museums and galleries nowadays in Britain, I am happy to say—there is every possibility that it will be extremely successful. Indeed, I think that I am right in saying that it has already been nominated for a European museum of the year award. I am entirely optimistic about its income stream and that it will see a significant increase in years to come, not least because of the arrangements in the order.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, I am again grateful to noble Lords for the welcome that they have given to the order. I was asked why there was the original restriction to the City of London. The answer is that half the funding comes from the Corporation of London, which takes a share in the management and clearly had an interest in the museum being local to it. However, it is entirely content that the merger should take place and with the order for that purpose.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.