HC Deb 16 January 1964 vol 687 cc69-72W
Mr. Kershaw

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action he is taking in the light of the recommendations of the report of the Standing Commission on their survey of provincial museums and galleries.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Her Majesty's Government have now completed their

During the last five years more than two dozen special grants totalling over £700,000 have been made to the national collections by way of assistance towards purchases of exceptional importance which could not have been bought out of the normal resources of the institutions concerned. It is the Government's intention during the next quinquennium to continue their present policy as regards special grants, though naturally it is to be expected that the greatly increased level of annual grants will mean that there will be less need in normal circumstances for the national collections to seek special grants.

Following is the table:

consideration of the major recommendations in the Report and I can tell the House of the provision which, in the light of these recommendations, we propose to make, subject to the approval of Parliament, in the Estimates for 1964–65.

As my hon. Friend the then Economic Secretary to the Treasury told the House on 19th March, 1963, we felt able, in advance of detailed consideration of the Report as a whole, to accept in principle the Standing Commission's recommendation that theExchequer should give financial assistance, not exceeding the amount subscribed locally, towards the initial and continuing expense of schemes for mutual help and co-operation between museums in the same area in matters such as conservation, and provision of £10,000 for this purpose was made in the Estimate for Grants to the Arts for 1963–64. We are advised by the Standing Commission that the sum required for 1964–65 is likely to be of the order of £16,000, and provision is being made accordingly.

A further recommendation proposes increases in the funds held by the Victoria and Albert Museums and the Royal Scottish Museum, from which grants are made towards purchases by local museums and galleries. The annual provision for these funds is at present £25,000 and £2,000 respectively. The Government proposes that both sums should be doubled, and my right hon. Friends, the Minister of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland, will provide £50,000 and £4,000 in their 1964–65 Estimates accordingly. Next, the Standing Commission recommended that the Victoria and Albert Museum should be enabled to expand its activities in circulating exhibitions to provincial museums. They also recommended thatthe Science Museum should now establish a similar service. The Government accept both these recommendations, and my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Education, will propose the provision necessary to implement them in his 1964–65 Estimates.

TheGovernment trust that this further programme of Exchequer assistance and support for provincial museums will stimulate local interest and encourage the local authorities concerned to play their full part in the support and development of these museums. The Government's willingness to continue and to increase their assistance in future years will necessarily depend on the degree of response forthcoming from local authorities.