HC Deb 19 April 1973 vol 855 c153W
Mr. Faulds

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the financial advantage accruing to foreign buyers of works of art of British national and historic importance in the year ending 31st March 1974 as a result of the zero-rating for VAT purposes of exports of these items.

Mr. Higgins

The information on which to base such an estimate is not available.

Mr. Money

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he proposes to treat the National Art-Collections Fund, with regard to works of art donated in lieu of death duties, under the current Finance Bill on the same footing as they are placed for the purposes of exempted works of art under Section 40(2) of the Finance Act 1930.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I have been asked to reply.

The National Art-Collections Fund is able to acquire works of art which are exempt from estate duty under the 1930 Finance Act without loss of the benefit of exemption. It then becomes the owner of the work of art and can dispose of it to the public collection of its choice, as it would do if a testator donated a work to the National Art-Collections Fund.

When a work of art is accepted in satisfaction of estate duty, it is acquired by the Government who pay for it from the National Land Fund. It is therefore for the Government to decide to which public collection it should be allocated. The Government seek the advice of the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries. The Government procedures enable the Standing Commission to seek other expert advice, including that of the National Art-Collections Fund if the Standing Commission so decides.

It will be open to a testator or executor to express the wish that a work of art should be allocated to a public collection in this country through the National Art-Collections Fund. The final decision on allocation rests with the Government. Full account will be taken of such wishes, though they cannot be regarded as overriding.