HC Deb 20 May 2002 vol 386 cc71-2W
Mr. Bercow

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the mandate of the Committee on the export of cultural goods is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if she will list the items currently under its consideration; if she will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if she will make a statement. [56788]

Dr. Howells

The terms of reference of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art, which is an advisory non-departmental public body, are to advise the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the principles which should govern the control of export of works of art, antiques etc.; to consider all cases where refusal of an export licence for a work of art or antique is suggested on grounds of national importance; to advise in cases where a special Exchequer grant is needed towards the purchase of an object that would otherwise be exported; and to supervise the operation of the export control system generally.

The committee has met on 11 occasions in the last 12 months. It has eight members, drawn from across the UK, who are appointed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport provides the committee with an annual budget of £20,000–£23,000. The cost of departmental staff support is approximately £75,000 per annum. The committee's current business arises from its terms of reference and includes consideration of cases where the deferral of a decision upon granting an export licence for an object is suggested on grounds of national importance (39 cases in the last 12 months), related policy issues and the preparation of an annual report.

The committee has adopted the Model Code of Practice for Advisory Non-Departmental Public Bodies, issued by the Cabinet Office, and its annual report is presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. According to Cabinet Office requirements, DCMS is currently undertaking a quinquennial review of the committee's operation.