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Lord Molyneaux of Killead: Perhaps the Minister will give way for a moment because he has tempted me to comment. The fault did not lie in the structures of the devolution to Stormont. The Stormont departments worked well. They delivered an excellent service to the people who elected them; for example, in the field of

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agriculture we had the computerisation of animal health which saved us from BSE and so forth. It worked well in education and health and many of the fields which are now being considered for devolution to Scotland.

I am not certain that Members of this place or the other place fully realise how their powers will be curbed. A noble Lord on the Front Bench some weeks ago, when asked whether Scottish Peers and presumably Scottish Members of Parliament would be able to ask Questions about matters which had been devolved to the parliament, to my amazement assured us that of course they would be able to ask Questions. I am sorry to have to disillusion him. The Table Office would have something to say about that. When I came here in 1970 I was not permitted to table Questions on anything other than defence, foreign policy, and an obscure section relating to imperial pensions.

When Stormont was abolished that all came back into our lap for two years until the Faulkner government were put in place. I remember innocently going down to the Table Office with three or four Questions relating to different departments and being told, nicely but firmly by the young clerk, "I am sorry, sir, but you cannot have any jurisdiction or say on that".

It was said that if there were a conflict between Parliament here and the parliament in Scotland, it could be resolved by political dialogue. I am sorry to say that when it came to an internal dispute within Stormont (it had nothing to do with devolution or administration) and Northern Ireland on nationality--"To which nation do you want to belong?"--that was where Stormont became unstuck. The dialogue which ensued lasted for about 11 days, at the end of which this sovereign Parliament abolished the subordinate parliament.

Lord Sewel: I am grateful to the noble Lord for that intervention. It makes out the case for having Clause 27(7) in the Bill, in that it makes explicit the relationship and nature of devolution. It is only fair and proper that we do that.

On the point of resolving conflicts by political dialogue, that is the way in which I envisaged conflicts being resolved. As I said, if matters reach a pass on great issues of principle in which there is no way to reach an adjustment, the opportunity exists for this Parliament to decide that it will revisit the whole issue of the devolved settlement and promote primary legislation. I say that in a purely theoretical way. I do not see that as a basis of practical politics in the foreseeable future.

Lord Stewartby: Before the Minister sits down perhaps I may ask him a simple question arising from the explanation that he has just given us. Clause 27(7) states:

    "This section does not affect the power of the Parliament of the United Kingdom".

Does that mean that this Act, as it will be, does not affect the power of Parliament? Because Clause 28(7) provides:

    "An Act of the Scottish Parliament may modify a provision made by or under an Act of Parliament".

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There may well be other places in the Bill where a similar clarification is needed.

Lord Sewel: I do not think that that is necessary. With Clause 27 and subsequent clauses we are dealing with the basis of the parliament's legislative competence. That clause covers the whole legislative process.

To sum up, we are setting about a devolved settlement--nothing more, nothing less. It is not the first step on the road to some other settlement, whether that be independence or federalism. It is a self-contained settlement, based on the principles of devolution. Essential to that is the recognition that sovereignty remains with the UK Parliament. The UK Parliament retains the ability to legislate on all matters, but it devolves the power to legislate, other than on reserved matters, to the Scottish parliament. The way forward with disputes is one that is not unknown to this country's political history.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: I do not want to hold things up, but the Minister mentioned the White Paper. I am worried about the Government's integrity in dealing with the people of Scotland on this. Where in the White Paper was it made plain to the people of Scotland that this Westminster Parliament can make laws on any subject, whether devolved or not? Where does it say that?

Lord Sewel: I am at a total loss. The White Paper was about devolution. The constitutional nature of devolution is as I have set it out. I do not believe that anyone will disagree with that, in all honesty. That is the difference between devolution and federalism. If the noble Baroness wishes to argue the case for federalism she is at liberty to do so, but that is not the case we put before the people of Scotland.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My question is about what the people of Scotland think they voted for. Does the Minister--

Lord Sewel: I answered that question.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: Does the Minister believe that the people of Scotland think that devolution means that the Westminster Parliament can still legislate on all subjects, whether or not they are devolved? Is that made plain in the White Paper?

Lord Sewel: I am happy to be of assistance to the noble Baroness. Perhaps I may refer her to paragraph 4.2 on page 12 of the White Paper which reads:

    "The United Kingdom Parliament is and will remain sovereign in all matters".

Lord Steel of Aikwood: We have had an interesting little debate on this issue, and I am glad that I tabled Amendment No. 144. I assure the Minister, and other Members of the Committee, that, whatever the aspirations of this party to seek a federal structure, we recognise the difference between federalism and devolution. There is no argument between us that in the end what this Parliament at Westminster gives, this Parliament at

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Westminster can take away. That is not in dispute. My noble friend Lord Mackie of Benshie was correct when he said that if at some future point--we hope that it never happens--this Parliament decided to undo the whole of the legislation, it could do so. That is clear, and it was clear in the section of the White Paper that the Minister read out.

What is not acceptable is the idea that could be read into Clause 27(7) as drafted: that notwithstanding the devolution settlement, the Westminster Parliament can meddle whenever it feels like it in internal Scottish matters. The noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, did us a service by pointing out that some Minister--I know not who--indicated recently that questions would be allowed in the Westminster Parliament on devolved matters.

That surely cannot be. I take what the Minister said about the convention to be correct: that once the Scottish parliament is under way, in future the convention will be that neither House of the Westminster Parliament deals with legislation or Questions to Ministers on those matters that have been devolved. That is what the Minister told us. That is what the convention should be. That being so, I think that subsection (7) as drafted is unwise. The noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, may have hit on the right compromise by suggesting that the subsection should be removed from the Bill.

As do other noble Lords, I wish to reflect further on the matter. I do not press my amendment further at this stage. However, I indicate to the Government that we remain profoundly unhappy at what appears to be an open invitation on the face of the Bill for Westminster to intervene in devolved matters. I understand that that is not what the Government intend; but I would rather see some reference to the convention about which the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, spoke as regards Northern Ireland. Perhaps at Report stage, we can find some mutually agreeable words which establish what the convention will be without what I regard as the rather offensive statement in subsection (7). I therefore beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House be resumed. In moving the Motion, perhaps I may suggest that the Committee stage begins again at not before nine o'clock.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

Arts Strategy

8.1 p.m.

The Earl of Clancarty rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have an overall integrated arts strategy for the United Kingdom and, if so, what it is.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, perhaps the first thing I want to say is that there is a need for us to be more aware of what a government's cultural policy is, along

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with its ensuing art strategy. One's sense is that the voice of this Government as directed towards the people is not only rather soft but evasive. The nebulousness, for example, surrounding what the Government's term "access" means, does not promote debate. It merely promotes speculation. Individuals within government should, I think, actively speak out much more on the questions of culture, and themselves take much more of a public part in that debate. Perhaps as a non-politician I am being rather naive here, but there is this particular problem with the arts and culture in Britain. It has to be said that more than in any other area of government, the atmosphere does not properly exist for a true public discussion on matters of cultural policy.

But there is a question, too, of whether what a government may themselves call a cultural policy is in fact that. At the weekend an artist friend said to me: "What you should ask on Tuesday is 'Do the Government have a cultural policy and, if they have, tell them to scrap it'". I said to my friend: "Well what would you do?" and he said, "Give them"--the artists, he did not say "us"--"£5 billion or whatever, and simply let them do what they want with the money". That is to say, a pure gift from society to the artist, and let us see what comes out of that. The arts have not received quite that amount in last week's spending review, although it has, with £290 million, received a lot more than people expected, but there are strings attached.

The spending review says,

    "The government places a high value on culture, media and sport. They are central to what it wants to do, whether in the economy, quality of life or tackling exclusion".

In other words, rather than dealing with social problems on a social level and cultural problems on a cultural level, the Government are stating an intention to use art as a tool to achieve something else--as a medicine to cure social ailments and as a method of making savings on the economy through greater efficiency. Apart from neatly averting questions of culture the danger is that art becomes an excuse to make people conform to a certain social model. It is, however, a route down which broadly socialist governments seem to go.

What tends to be easily neglected today is not only the idea that if art has a function it might be a questioning one, but that questioning may be antagonistic towards given social values. The Independent on 1st July reported Tony Blair as saying at the meeting that took place between mainly arts executives and politicians, "I believe in investment in the arts, but how do I know that you're spending my money correctly?" You don't--that's the beauty of it. That's how it should be. We do not allow enough space within the arts for the component of failure. It is accepted in scientific and technological research. For example, I suspect you could not have something that accounts for the elements of failure more than a military research budget.

The most interesting question about the Government's key term "access" is not whether it is defined in terms of education (and there are good aspects to the Government's approach on this) or "free entry" or whatever, but in fact access to what? Is

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it access to a heritage, something that is already known; or access to what we might term "cultural possibilities", to the possibility of an allowing of something to happen for people individually, or as a group? In terms of museums and galleries, for instance, perhaps we need to be moving away from the old absolutist language that surrounds the whole concept of heritage: "the eternals", "excellence", "great art", and towards a sense of access as "contemporary event". We might start to see an emphasis placed less on whether an exhibition is of Bruce Nauman or 17th century Dutch painting for instance, and more on the sense that culture is actually being created in the here and now through the visits that people make to exhibitions, and, through their own particular experience, the contact that is made. There are implications here for the existing relationships between different governmental bodies including the Arts Council, although here we must bear in mind that significant shifts in the structures of arts bodies may be signalled this week.

In the spending review this Government headline museums and galleries. In relation to the question of free entry to the national museums, although the Government in March stopped things getting worse, the reality is that more museums charge now than when Labour took power. The Government still have yet to make any museums free, and two have introduced charges. Of these two museums, the latest figures are that at the national museums and galleries on Merseyside there has been a 38 per cent. decrease in visitor numbers in the one year that has now passed since charges were introduced--a drop of almost half a million visitors--and at the National Museums of Scotland there has been a drop in attendance of 45 per cent. since January of this year. Those are atrocious figures. To add insult to injury, in the Department of Culture's annual report the Government cite the introduction of the entry charge for Merseyside--the so-called Ei8ht Pass--as a "success" and a "key achievement for 1997". With such a dramatic decrease in attendance how can the introduction of the Ei8ht Pass by any stretch of the imagination be considered a success? But on top of this, to achieve their negative result, the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside have spent an inordinately large amount of money--over £100,000--on the marketing of their entry pass including TV and radio advertising. And to cap even this, I read in this month's Museums Journal that this same admissions pass has won a major marketing award--a certain case of blind commercialism. I do not really blame National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside for all of this, but I do blame the Government for allowing them to introduce charges in the first place.

Let us free the museums on Merseyside, along with all the other national museums. Everyone will win--the National Museums and Galleries on Mersey side for a start, the Government with their access programme and, as I understand it, a desire to broaden audiences, but most of all the people who will flock back to visit their museums, bringing new people with them.

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I hope that the Minister will now concede that free entry is the initial key element of access to museums and that it is the main route by which broader audiences will be brought in. If the Government are seeing access in terms of education then it has to be said that it is all very well to bring parties of schoolchildren into museums--something which many museums take very seriously--but will those schoolchildren return if they or their parents then have to pay to get in? For the most part they will not, except perhaps on a rare day trip. If the Government insist on seeing museums in terms of efficiency, or value for money for the taxpayer, then there is nothing more inefficient than a charging museum. The subsidy per visit at Merseyside has leapt from £10.73 in 1996-97, the year before charging, to over £16.93 in the last year, in line with the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

There has to be a concern, too, for the lack of urgency being shown in consideration of the many public local authority museums which are on the brink of charging. This is the first use to which the £7 million set apart for museums by the Heritage Access Fund should be put, but the guidelines which have been made available today on the use of this money do not even mention the issue. Despite the clear highlighting of museums and galleries in the literature associated with the spending review, the term "free entry" seems to have magically disappeared from the Government's vocabulary.

I will be disappointed if a pledge is not made this Friday to start removing charges from those public museums which charge. This should not be done in a piecemeal fashion but in one go, which in the long run would be much the cheaper option. The £40 million needed to free the national museums is such a small amount of government money in comparison to the cultural gain for the nation, which would be immeasurable.

I have concentrated in my opening remarks on aspects of cultural policy rather than arts strategy, and it is perhaps because of this that I have appeared critical. I would be much less critical of many aspects of the Government's specific projects for the arts. For instance, the funding of individual artists through NESTA will be an important development. I look forward very much to the Minister's reply and I hope that he will give us as much information as possible about what we are likely to hear this coming Friday.

8.12 p.m.

Lord Strabolgi: My Lords, I am sure that we are all grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for tabling this Unstarred Question for debate. In the limited time at my disposal, I am afraid I cannot follow the many interesting points that he made because I should like to say a few words about the problems facing the new British Library, which is one of our greatest cultural assets and national responsibilities.

I do not wish to go over past history and the sad story of its construction, mainly during the last Administration, with the long delays and Treasury cuts, so that the new library has only 12 per cent. more seats than were available at Bloomsbury. It took so long to

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build that the new French National Library in Paris started construction after ours and was finished well ahead. The British Library has been granted additional funding towards the costs of moving from Bloomsbury, but it is already beset with financial problems. The library has put in a bid for extra government funding but this has not been met, I am sorry to say. The result is that the grant-in-aid for 1998-99 is £8 million below requirements. This means that charges for access to the reading rooms of about £300 per annum per reader may have to be made. The library may also have to cut down on its comprehensive collecting of printed material under the legal deposit requirement, and it may have to reduce the collecting of material from other parts of the world.

The library has further responsibilities to provide a national bibliographical service, to arrange special exhibitions in its public galleries, to arrange lectures and to provide an education service. All these services, essential to scholarship and education, may be put in jeopardy. The Government are making available £290 million over the next three years for arts and sport. This is greatly to be welcomed. May I ask my noble friend whether some of the £290 million can be granted to the British Library, to help it to meet its essential costs? It would be paradoxical that while we strive to keep our museums free--and we are not always successful in this, as the noble Earl said--the British Library could be obliged to charge readers for the first time in its history.

I should also like to ask my noble friend about the site to the north of the library, which at present is used to store construction material for the extension to the cross-Channel rail link. In five years' time this site should be free, I understand. I hear that the Treasury want to sell it off for development, just as at one time it wanted to sell off the Hampton site next to the National Gallery, on which now stands the splendid Sainsbury Wing.

Will the Government confirm that the St. Pancras site will be kept for the future expansion of the British Library, where it is expected that demand will continue to increase, due to more students receiving higher education and the increasing demands of industry? I hope that the Government will ensure that the British Library has adequate finance and ample space to be able to continue providing its essential and historic services.

8.16 p.m.

Lord Hindlip: My Lords, I too would like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for giving your Lordships the opportunity to debate once again the Government's art policy. Like other noble Lords, I welcome the Chancellor's increased funding, announced in another place last week. I was interested by what the noble Earl said. I am not quite sure that I understand what an integrated arts policy ought to be, but I hope that it does not put too much emphasis on the new at the expense of the old.

It is with this in mind that I would like to draw your Lordships' attention to Clause 25 of the Finance Bill and its implications for the reservoir of works of art

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remaining in this country. I suppose I should declare an interest in this Question, as chairman of an auction house. However, I hope that the noble Lord the Minister will at the end of this debate be able to give us all some assurance that the Government might be prepared to somewhat revise or to relook at its views on conditional exemption. If the noble Lord the Minister cannot, then I am sadly certain that many works of art, which would not otherwise do so, will appear at auction. Ironically, I shall be slightly better off.

Since its introduction in 1896, conditional exemption has been an almost unqualified success. It has not been just a tax break for the very rich: it has done what it was intended to do, and has ensured that works of art remain in this country. It may have been subject to some abuse, particularly in respect of public access--that is another point which was made by the noble Earl--and I accept that the Government are right to address this. They are also right to be exercised over where public money is spent, because in such a case public benefit must result.

However, the present system needs some change. What is proposed under Schedule 25 of the Finance Bill--the abolition of viewing by appointment and the abolition of the V&A list--is, in the opinion of those involved with exempt works of art, slightly ill-considered. There are now approximately 20,000 objects on the V&A list in about 8,000 houses throughout the United Kingdom. In large country houses which are open to the public, access is not a problem. However, there are many important works of art in small houses, which do not lend themselves to regular public opening, with all the inherent problems of security and insurance. Furthermore, the majority of these owners over the years have actually enjoyed sharing their possessions, mainly for free, with those genuinely interested and they have been generous over loans to museums, whose directors on the whole, I believe, support the status quo, with some limited modifications. They support the system because conditional exemption has meant that the number of important works of art coming on to the market is a trickle and not a flood, and this "flood barrier" gives the nation a much better opportunity to acquire the things that they want when they are sold.

Under the new proposals where such owners are forced to pay tax on previously exempt works of art, they will sell. Furthermore, the flood will continue because on new deaths many owners who cannot open their houses will no longer have the option to retain works of art, exempt at home, and again they will just sell them. Is this, in the cause of public accessibility, what the Government want? I suggest that they will have public accessibility for about a week in the salerooms or at Grosvenor House, and after that in Malibu.

At this eleventh hour, I would ask the Government, please, to consider allowing the V&A list to continue, allowing viewing by appointment at least under certain conditions. First, I suggest that works on the V&A list are placed on an easily accessible website. I know that my own firm will be prepared to assist in setting up such

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a website. Secondly, will the Government consider that works of art still retained in homes which are not regularly open could be loaned for a portion of the year to local museums? Almost all the owners to whom I have spoken would be prepared to do so. Furthermore, the maximum number of people are able to see them. Perhaps some of the Chancellor's very welcome generosity can go to local museums to enable them to display the works of art which have been loaned to them.

Finally, will the Government look carefully at their definitions? I believe that while the old criteria for exemption was too low and was allowed to fall even lower the new criteria sets the limit too high. And what is not pre-eminent today will often become pre-eminent tomorrow, when it will be too late. We will all regret that loss.

8.21 p.m.

Lord Sandberg: My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Hindlip, I was not sure what an "integrated" arts strategy was. However, the Question has enabled me to seize on a subject which has been aired previously in this House and was aired as recently as last week in the other place when the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry made a helpful statement.

The overriding impression as regards various taxes on art shows an element of "dog in the manger" attitude from Brussels. We already have VAT and it seems idiotic to increase it. It does not help the other EU countries, but merely inhibits the art market in London and increases the attraction of New York, Geneva and so forth. Therefore, if VAT is increased the amount of tax collected is likely to decrease.

Similarly, droit de suite helps artists in theory but hardly at all in practice. The expense involved in collection seldom leaves anything for the painter--certainly not the painter in the garret. Whether artists such as the Picassos and Chagalls of this world, or their successors need the money, is beside the point. The likely cost to a purchaser of such works means that the vendor will almost certainly sell outside the EC. Again, that brings no help to Europe.

It is an absurd situation, but I well understand that it is difficult for the Government to obtain a majority in Brussels, let alone unanimity, as the art market in EU countries is minimal. Only London and the British economy will suffer. Consequently, I do not apologise for raising the subject again. It is important, because we are talking about the possible demise of a major British asset and a major British industry, with all the potential unemployment that that entails.

8.24 p.m.

Lord Freyberg: My Lords, I, too, would like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for initiating this important debate. Last Tuesday's announcement that an extra £290 million is to be made available for museums, the arts and sport to improve access is welcome news.

However, it should be stressed that for children and students, access on its own is of little use without proper back-up. Physical access and intellectual accessibility

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are twinned. Entering a gallery is not enough; you must also know why you are there. This is why it is essential to have some basic introduction to the visual arts--painting, sculpture and architecture--incorporated in the school syllabus, even if not as an examination subject. This provides the intellectual accessibility to the visual arts which can and should be related to those cultural subjects that are in the strict sense academic; history, literature and foreign languages, for example.

Since the 1960s, the quality of art and design teaching in schools has largely depended on the support and guidance offered to teachers by qualified arts advisers, who are employed by local educational authorities. They visit schools, work with pupils, provide on-site training, help to appoint art teachers and encourage curriculum development and innovation.

In the past few years, many of these specialist arts advisers have been required to undertake a "general" role, supporting a group of schools in activities unrelated to art and design, but enough of their programme has been devoted to the subject to maintain its status, and ensure that standards were high. In recent months, however, arts advisers have been dismissed and not replaced and the steady decline in their numbers has dramatically accelerated.

In part, this has been because of local government re-organisations. These, by breaking down the local educational authorities into smaller units, have steadily reduced their ability to provide adviser support; the smaller portions of funding that each unit has inherited only permit them to afford a share of a specialist adviser post. The tendency is therefore to appoint a non-specialist, if at all.

Let me give two examples. In Scotland, the already sparse number of arts advisers has been reduced from 30 to six. In well-heeled Berkshire, the situation is even worse. Its number has been reduced from a pathetic six to none--and one local education authority in that county is on record with this statement:

    "advice and support is not what an LEA should do".

Those who remain in their posts have in many cases been required to spend the time on literacy and numeracy rather than the arts, which is scarcely relevant to their purpose.

Furthermore, under the proposed fair funding initiative, individual schools can choose which "curriculum and advisory" services they wish to buy into. This will mean that the very existence of a local adviser system will be at the whim of individual head teachers and governors, who are already being pressed to concentrate on core subjects and encouraged to think of the visual arts as a luxury. They are not. They should be available to everyone.

It may be that some part of the £290 million will be used to improve the educational services provided by many museums and galleries. However, visits to these educational institutions should not be regarded as treats, but as part of a coherent educational programme in which the children are already well-founded by lessons given them in school. Only within the school can any education in the visual arts be so closely related to the

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cultural aspects of the core curriculum. Visits to museums and galleries then act as an extension to the further opening of the doors of perception.

Any integrated arts policy should recognise how important it is for children to realise that the world about them that has been created by man is an educational concern and not an entirely separate activity that need not, because it is outside the school, be taken seriously. It is of vital importance that in an integrated arts policy the part played by arts advisers in the work of the LEA is recognised, valued and reinstated. Some part of the £290 million should be applied to this.

8.28 p.m.

The Earl of Carlisle: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for once again bringing your Lordships' attention to the need of the government of whatever political persuasion to focus on the arts and to do all they can to encourage them. I have one minor quibble. For the word "integrated" I would substitute "visionary" or "generous". Resources are always finite. On occasion, conflicting demands on scarce resources may mean that the arts become the Cinderella of the public services. I believe that we have already reached that situation.

The arts are not considered in connection with those Leviathans of the spending departments--health, social services and education. All three of them need the services of the arts. Health, because the arts provide mental and spiritual stimulus; social services, because our old and very young always have less money or no money to spend, and need access to our public galleries and libraries up and down the country; and education, because the training of the minds of all our people demands that, without an understanding of the arts and culture, no person in these islands can consider him or herself a fully developed being.

I welcome the Government's policy to support cultural activities in television, design, film, and architecture; and, indeed, even in the Millennium Dome. Although I believe that the Government are genuine in seeking greater access to arts and heritage of the highest quality, the jury is still out on their stated intention of whether or not free admission can be maintained at the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate, the British Museum and the Wallace Collection. The examples of those core museums, whose trustees have been compelled to impose charges, show in their entry figures a stark and disastrous decline in the numbers entering the front door.

As before, I shall concentrate on one core gallery; namely, the smallest, the National Portrait Gallery. Under the directorship of Dr. Charles Samaurez-Smith--one of a long line of outstanding directors over the past 30 years--his highly professional but over-stressed and hard-pressed staff are identifying serious difficulties which may arise over the next five years. Governments would do well to heed to their corporate plan, and I hope that they will do so.

Government are not assisting when they cut the grant in aid by more than 5 per cent. over two years. Indeed, if it is cut again by 2.3 per cent. in the year 1998-99

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that will, in real terms, be a cut of over 15 per cent. Cuts are not conducive to the staff. If the Government can find themselves able to increase the grant by 6 per cent., then, by the year 2000, the National Portrait Gallery will have increased in size by 80 per cent. since 1992, visitors will hit the one million mark and half a million extra people will come to see various exhibitions, including 40,000 students. Moreover, opening hours will be extended by about 20 per cent. and a web site will be installed with access for half a million people. New displays will also be mounted in regional centres, such as Wales, Yorkshire and Somerset. In the words of the Cortes Constitution of Castille, "And if not, not".

I cannot anticipate the Statement that will be made at the end of this week; nor will I attempt to do so. However, perhaps I may remind noble Lords of the aim of the National Portrait Gallery. It is:

    "To promote through the medium of portraits the appreciation and understand of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture";

and, indeed, to show this national collection to everyone.

The other day I looked forward to seeing the portrait of the Secretary of State for the Minister's department. It is excellent. Moreover, I look forward one day to gazing in admiration at the portrait of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery--but I would prefer to see it in the guise of Dr. Jekyll and not that of Mr. Hyde.

8.34 p.m.

The Viscount of Falkland: My Lords, I, too, should like to express my gratitude to the noble Earl for introducing tonight's debate. In the short time available to me, I should like to follow the noble Lord, Lord Freyburg, on the subject of education.

Last night there was a television programme on the Royal Opera House. Again, it was both titillating and very sensational. Nonetheless, it was quite enlightening. One of the most enlightening aspects of the programme was a clip from the "Kilroy" programme, where the presenter found himself in a confrontation with a number of ladies who were challenging him with the idea that kidney machines are more important than opera houses. Indeed, as we know, that is a difficult argument to refute. The reaction of someone else on the programme was to say that that illustrates an underlying antipathy to the arts among the British public. I do not actually believe that that exists. However, what exists is an education system which does not give enough access to young people to the arts to enable them to have a fulfilling life as regards their own culture.

As a result of a previous debate in this House on drama and schools, I had the pleasure last week of being invited to a school in south London which staged a play for the first time. It was its first performance of "Macbeth". It was indeed an ambitious production and played entirely by males who were mostly of West Indian and Nigerian extraction. It was quite clear that they had done a great deal of work. It was a rough-hewn production and was performed with enormous energy

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and enthusiasm. Afterwards, I was told by the master who directed the play that he had gone over every line of the script with the cast and they had shown enormous interest in it. I think he chose a difficult play, but one which is perhaps the least difficult of all Shakespearian plays for boys in such a school to perform. However, he said that, regardless of the rough-hewn character of the performance, I must not overlook the fact that the whole ethos of the school had changed since they started rehearsals. Those boys are now eager to take part in another production. It would, perhaps, be unwise to try another Shakespeare, but that is an illustration of an ambitious and encouraging move by a school to open doors to young people which might not otherwise ever be opened to them in their lives.

Of course, some of us were lucky enough to be introduced quite early to the arts. My mother was a painter, but I showed extreme reluctance as regards being taken to art galleries and to antique shops, both of which ranked among her favourite pastimes. However, in return, my mother had to come and enjoy Laurel and Hardy and other films which were extremely tedious to her. Nevertheless, that exposure later stood me in good stead as regards developing what she had shown me by way of excellence. I suppose I unconsciously learned some kind of discernment, which is what young people need.

Without that discernment and education I do not see how you can arrive at an arts policy or an integrated arts policy with the proper funding. I say that because, in order to get a proper funding for an arts policy such as we have seen in other countries, you must have a consensus among the public to commit taxpayers' funds to it. I do not believe that that consensus exists entirely today. We are grateful for the sums which are being committed to the arts, although we shall not know until the end of the week exactly how those funds will be allocated. However, I am very optimistic that education will form an important part of that allocation, however it is done. Indeed, if there is integration, I should like to see integration between the Department for Education and Employment and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to a greater degree. That is most important; indeed, it would ensure that we never have again the kind of debates that we have had about, for example, the funding of the Royal Opera House.

As a parting shot, I should like to recommend to noble Lords a quite lengthy and involved document. I have in mind Sir Richard Eyre's summary of the plight of the Lyric Theatre. However, the foreword is a masterpiece of beautiful English and a concise tour d'horizon of the arts situation. It behoves everyone to read it; to have it by his or her bedside, and to read it and read it again. I am quite sure that the Minister has done so.

8.38 p.m.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, I should also like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for yet again keeping the arts on the agenda and initiating this debate. As "the arts" encompass such a wide variety of areas, we have been very fortunate to hear from noble Lords who really know their individual fields of art so well.

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I always feel that these debates often show your Lordships' House at its best. They demonstrate the true independence of the Members, their great and detailed knowledge on an amazingly wide variety of subjects, all so eloquently delivered that it would be difficult to find the like in any other legislative House.

An integrated arts strategy is a difficult concept to imagine, as my noble friend Lord Hindlip said. I looked up "integrated" to try to get some clues. I found such words as accommodate, amalgamate, assimilate, blend, coalesce, merge, unite, intermix; even the dreaded "harmonise" word featured, all of which I feel decidedly ill at ease with concerning the arts. Perhaps I could help the Minister in his reply today. He might well use Mr. Prescott's speech on integrated transport strategy, inserting the arts each time instead of transport. Just think how thrilled the arts lobby would be. They would go wild with excitement at the thought of all that promised money. Sadly, the arts are never this favoured.

Further high hopes for the arts which were conjured up before the election with the department's change of name have, alas, come to nothing. A new arts strategy is being mooted only after mounting criticism that New Labour is betraying many of our cultural talents. The Prime Minister has been attacked as being more interested in rock music and films than opera. I have always felt that excellence in any of these areas is to be welcomed; one should not exclude another. But only after criticism and after a year in office did the Prime Minister finally invite senior people from the arts for a meeting at No. 10 Downing Street to discuss arts policy. It was said that he was in "listening mode". I hope that the Minister listened carefully to the litany of problems and suggestions made by the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and in the eloquent speech of the noble Earl, Lord Carlisle, on the National Portrait Gallery. That is one of my favourite museums, so superbly run by Charles Saumarez Smith.

The signals that have come from the Government seem well described by Mr. Tusa in The Times earlier this year when he wrote,

    "I am worried about the Prime Minister because he is signalling that Oasis is as important to Britain as opera; that chat shows are as important as novels; that television soap-operas are more valuable than live theatre".

The plight of the provincial repertory theatres was discussed only last week in your Lordships' House.

We on these Benches would not support an overall integrated arts strategy, which could easily become far too dirigiste. However, there are so many exciting ideas that could be incorporated into an inspired new arts strategy that is combined with learning, especially as Her Majesty's Government have laid so much emphasis on education, as mentioned by the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland. I offer a few suggestions. Why not have schoolchildren learn a talent for life, so that when they leave school they will have an active talent to take with them for all their lives rather than a passive one such as watching television? Why not encourage music in schools again by making musical instruments more easily available and by supporting libraries that specialise in music scores and drama scripts?

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I am wary of phrases that we have heard earlier today from the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, on funding. I refer to the phrase,

    "it depends on the health of the economy".

I hope we shall not be hearing this as a new, New Labour mantra. We have already suffered lottery funds being diverted from the arts through the new lottery Bill which we opposed at every stage. As I said last week, we shall continue to expose its pernicious effect on the good causes.

Finally, I think we could well ponder the words of Somerset Maugham:

    "For art, if it is to be reckoned with as one of the great values of life, must teach man humility, tolerance, wisdom and magnanimity".

And I would add that the value of art is not just beauty but right action. I look forward to Her Majesty's Government taking the right action.

8.44 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, when we debated a more limited aspect of the arts last week, the regional theatre, I said that, to adapt Dickens, the debate was the best of timing and the worst of timing. I am afraid that that still applies because we are still in the interregnum between the general announcement on funding for the arts which was made last Tuesday in the Comprehensive Spending Review, and the more detailed statement which, as a number of noble Lords have recognised, will be made on Friday of this week. Even then much will not be revealed. We shall be able to say more about the total amount of funding going to the Arts Council, for example, but the Arts Council itself will, over the coming months, consider its funding allocations to individual recipients.

However, on Friday the broad allocation of arts funding will be announced for a period of three years to provide the stability which I believe all arts organisations need in order to make proper plans for the amount of public funding they will receive to put beside their other sources of income. The announcement on Friday will reveal our longer term plans, but the funding bodies will still have to make their own decisions. Friday's announcement will mention the consultation document. The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, made the perfectly valid point that we need to have a public debate on arts funding and on the arts in general. We hope that the consultation will fuel that debate. Last Tuesday the Chancellor announced plans for the next two years. As noble Lords have recognised, that involves an extra £290 million over the period to 2002. That is a significant increase in real terms after a number of years in which funding in real terms has declined. On 24th July we shall not only announce the broad headings of funding as regards the Comprehensive Spending Review, but we shall also announce proposals for revising the structure and mechanisms through which Government support for the arts and other culture, media and sports sectors will be channelled.

I share the feeling of a number of noble Lords that there is not too much mileage in the concept of an integrated arts strategy. I tried to think what an

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integrated arts strategy for the United Kingdom might involve. I wondered whether it was a strategy for integrating arts funding, for example, in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but that does not seem to be in your Lordships' minds, at least judging from this debate. I wondered whether there was some concept of integration of strategy across different art forms, but I detect some resistance to that, which I share.

I shall not follow the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, into speculating on the analogy between an integrated arts policy and an integrated transport policy. Transport is about moving people and things around. If there are different modes of doing that, integration is likely to make transport policy more efficient. I do not think the analogy with the arts works particularly well, even for what I was interested to hear called a broadly socialist government.

Without following the noble Earl on the route of integration, we can say a few things about the way in which we approach arts policy, even if they do not define any particular decisions on the allocation of resources. The first is rather obvious and has been a theme of the debate this evening. I refer to the promotion of access for the many, not just the few. We want access to museums and galleries not only because of numbers. It is because the arts have the power to illuminate and transform us all for the better that we want as many people as possible to share that experience.

We could define our strategy as being the pursuit of excellence and innovation. Some people seem to think that by "innovation" we mean something that is politically correct. That is not the case at all. With respect, I do not think that the Prime Minister's taste in pop music has anything to do with arts strategy. He likes what he likes, and I do not happen to agree with him. But we shall not be determining our policy on our particular proclivities. Even if he likes Oasis--and I do not know whether he does--he is not for that reason saying that Oasis is more worthy than opera. The noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, is right. We have to pursue excellence in a wide range of art forms. Some may well be popular forms as well as highbrow.

A number of noble Lords rightly pointed to the importance of education in the arts. It is true that the education system is the seed bed. It engenders the creativity on which the arts depend. The noble Lord, Lord Freyburg, made useful points about the school curriculum and concentrated on the need to restore the number of advisers in the visual arts. I entirely agree with him. The noble Lord may not have seen the work that we have been doing and have published over the past month or so in relation to music education and music advisers, and in particular on creating new funds for the provision of musical instruments--without which active musical education, other than music appreciation, could not be made to work at all. The noble Lord is right. Unless effective artistic teaching of all kinds can be restored in our schools, what we do about access to museums and galleries, concerts and theatre will not be effective.

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On a point to which no one has referred in the debate, we see our policies on the arts as including the fostering of creative industries. There is an element of cynical calculation in that. If we can convince other government departments that the creative industries are wealth creators in their own right, then it is more likely that they will be treated seriously across government as a whole.

To return briefly to the point about arts education, it is widely recognised that there is a precondition for the improvement of standards in our schools which we have debated over the past 12 months. It is that unless we get reading and writing correct in the first place, everything else will suffer. It means that we shall need to give our schools more flexibility in arts teaching. It does not mean that we are down-grading arts education.

I now turn to the national lottery. Clearly, what we can do for the arts in general is dependent on the amount of money available. Very large amounts of lottery money have been spent on the arts--over £1 billion. Despite the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, the new Lottery Bill will not mean that money will be diverted from the arts. On the contrary, it means that lottery funding will now be used for people, not merely for bricks and mortar.

I now turn to the new audiences fund, which has been debated on a number of occasions. It is relevant to the whole question of access. It is targeted to help arts organisations extend their audiences, to bring new people to the arts, to encourage young people in particular and to broaden their experience in different art forms. We set up the £5 million fund at the time of the last Budget. Details will be published in due course.

On access to museums and galleries, I know that the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, will understand that we are not able to say before the end of this week what will be the precise formulation of our plans for access. However, we have made it clear, as we did immediately on the publication of the Comprehensive Spending Review that that is very high on our list of priorities. I sympathise with the noble Earl's remarks about the Merseyside museums and galleries. I accept that there has been a significant decline in the number of people visiting galleries as a result of the charges. If any way can be found to reverse that, we must certainly look for it.

To my noble friend Lord Strabolgi I simply say that I understand and admire his defence of the British Library. But no proposals have been put to the Government by the British Library for charging readers. If they were, it would not be up to the British Library. Under the British Libraries Act, it would be for the Secretary of State to decide whether charges should be made.

The noble Earl, Lord Carlisle, put forward the virtues of the National Portrait Gallery. I admired the prospectus that he offered if more money were available. Flattery will get him everywhere so far as I am concerned. But of course, I do not make the decisions.

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I now turn to the important point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hindlip. He may know that yesterday, Mark Fisher, the Arts Minister, met Sir Patrick Cormack, Robert Sheldon, the secretary of the Royal Commission on Historic Manuscripts, and representatives from the Inland Revenue to discuss the whole issue of the Finance Bill. I wish to make a number of points.

First, the Inland Revenue is drawing up guidelines which will contain enough flexibility to meet the concerns of the small number of owners who have objected to full public access, for reasons that we well understand. At Sir Patrick Cormack's suggestion, we are now thinking about the way in which the guidelines could be publicised, possibly in one of the leading arts periodicals; and that they should be in simple form and not too difficult to understand. The Inland Revenue acknowledged that it is not always necessary, and sometimes undesirable, to disclose the location of objects, and that access can be arranged at a location of the owner's choice. In particular, loans to museums and other public collections have always been accepted as a legitimate form of public access and will continue to be so.

The noble Lord asked about the V&A list. The Inland Revenue finances the V&A list, which is also on the world wide web, and is responsible for financing the website. But we are always grateful for contributions which would make that more effective.

We are sympathetic to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Sandberg, in relation to VAT on the art market. We are raising those concerns with the European Commission. Mark Fisher recently had a very useful meeting with Anthony Brown, the chief executive of the British Art Market Foundation to discuss that issue.

Noble Lords will forgive me if I go slightly beyond the 12 minutes allowed. It is not particularly desirable to have a two-minute break before we resume the Committee stage.

I wanted to say a few words about collaboration across the United Kingdom because it appears in the subject of the Question. Even though there is a great deal of devolution--if I am allowed to use that word in the presence of the Scots--of arts policy, there is at the same time a good deal of cross-country funding and collaboration: for example, in the Welsh National Opera, in National Lottery funded films and in the funding of cross-border touring, including funding by the Arts Council of England of tours in England by, for example, the Scottish Opera and the Scottish Ballet.

I believe it is evident from what I have said that, although we do not have a centralising tendency, we do not have any view that the arts should all be treated in the same way or that there should be a rigid Procrustean bed of artistic strategy. Nevertheless the concern not only of my department but of the whole of government for public funding of the arts has never diminished, will not diminish and indeed can be expected to increase.

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