HC Deb 04 February 1972 vol 830 cc208-9W
Mr. Buchan

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will now publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the letter sent by the Paymaster-General to the Chairmen of the governing bodies of the national museums and galleries in December, in connection with the relationship of the Government to these bodies.

Mrs. Thatcher

The statement issued to the Press on 17th December (and reproduced below) made clear that the primary purpose of the discussions with the museums is to give them more freedom than they have at present in the day to day management of their affairs. The letter sent in confidence in December to the chairmen of governing bodies of the national museums and galleries initiated these discussions and dealt with matters concerning the internal management of the institutions; it would not be appropriate to publish it. My noble Friend will make public the results of the discussions in due course.

The statement is as follows:

NATIONAL MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES—RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GOVERNMENT Lord Eccles, Paymaster General with responsibility for the Arts, announces that, after informing the Chairman of the Trustee bodies of his intention, he is about to open discussions with the national museums and galleries to review their relationship with the Government. The aim is to see to what extent the institutions can be given more freedom in the day to day management of their affairs. The Government would retain control of strategic policy on such questions as the overall budget, the capital programme and certain general matters relating to staff. The Staff Associations will be fully consulted on any implications for the staff which may emerge. The Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales will be considering what measures may be needed in their countries as a result of these developments.