HC Deb 22 July 1987 vol 120 cc222-3W
Mr. William Powell

asked the Prime Minister if she has reviewed departmental responsibility for the British Museum (Natural History); and if she will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

I have decided that responsibility for the British Museum (Natural History) should be transferred from the Secretary of State for Education and Science to the Minister for the Arts. Such a change will enable this world famous museum to play its full part alongside the other great national museums and galleries in the Government's developing policies for the national heritage. It will also enhance its potential for collaboration with the other museums, particularly those in South Kensington.

I and my Ministerial colleagues concerned hope and intend that, following the transfer which will come into effect on 1 August, the museum will maintain and develop its distinguished scientific standing and strong working links with the scientific community. The Royal Society will continue as now to advise on the appointment of one member of the trustees; this advice will in future be given to the Minister for the Arts. In addition the museum will be eligible to apply in future on a competitive basis to the bodies funded from the science budget for research grants and awards allocated by normal peer review procedures.

The transfer will not imply or require any change in the pay, conditions and grading of current or future staff.