Examination of witnesses (120-133)|
MONDAY 19 JUNE 2000
120. Would that be for equivalent properties?
Are you saying that the examples I have just quoted and you quoted
earlier are equivalent properties to the ones that were charging
£50 and £100 and would be charging that amount of money?
(Ms Alexander) From what we can see it looks as though
the range is not out of line bearing in mind the sorts of properties
that we give grants to which range from a small monument in a
park to Blenheim Palace. We will certainly have more information
on this after this July survey.
121. I still express some concern that we are
only carrying out surveys now and only looking at these matters
now when clearly there has been some public sensitivity about
this particular issue going back three years, and I do think that
it is long overdue that English Heritage caught up. I did not
want to miss out on the opportunity, as a former resident of Muswell
Hill for something like 15 years, to talk briefly about Kenwood
House and the Iveagh Bequest. I wanted to ask you, first of all,
whether opening it in the eveningas I know the Iveagh Bequest
was very keen that it should be open to the public and as many
members of the public should see it as possible. In looking at
using it for private functions is that within, first of all, the
spirit of the Iveagh Bequest? Secondly, as it used to be controlled
by the GLC and the London Borough of Camden have you consulted
with the local authorities concerned and, indeed, the new Greater
London Authority, in relation to its private use?
(Ms Alexander) At the time at which we were planning
the major investment that we have just made in Kenwood the Greater
London Authority did not exist. We have certainly had discussions
with the local authority about what we are planning to do at Kenwood
and one of the ways in which we believe we can fund that is to
provide for corporate entertainment into the future. We believe
that that is consistent with our duties, which will certainly
not involve any reduction in the hours at which the house is open
to the public, but we hope will provide a valuable facility locally.
122. One of the other issue that has always
been very prevalent at Kenwood House is of course security. We
had the embarrassment of two major British paintings being stolen
from Kenwood House some years ago and it does have an almost unrivalled
collection available for public display. What arrangements are
you making, if there is going to be private use of the home, to
ensure that the security is available and that that security cost
is passed on to whoever it is who is hiring the hall?
(Ms Alexander) We have invested in security improvements
as part of the refurbishment. I do not think you would expect
me to go into the detail of them in public, but we have improved
the security in the house and we have further plans for investment
in the security around the house over the next 12 months.
123. Finally, you mentioned earlier that a donation
was made in relation to the use of the house for the wedding of
the ex-King of Greece's daughter. Was that donation agreed before
the event took place or did that happen subsequently?
(Ms Alexander) It was offered before the event took
124. Thank you.
Chairman: Thank you. I think Mr Rendel has one
125. Mr Love raised an interesting point about
insurance of Kenwood House. If anything had happened to any of
the paintings or whatever during the time at which the ex-King's
daughter's wedding was taking place would there be any insurance
cover for that?
(Ms Alexander) As a public body we are not able to
126. He did not have any insurance and you did
not insist on it as part of his costs that he had insurance?
(Ms Alexander) I am very sorry, I do not know the
answer to that question.
127. So that is a cost which may not have been
(Ms Alexander) May not have been included.
128. I think it would be helpful to have a note
(Ms Alexander) I would be happy to provide that.
129. Who set up the agreement between English
Heritage and ex-King Constantine?
(Ms Alexander) Well, the work was done between a consultant
working for ex-King Constantine and the deputy director of my
130. He was the first person he came to and
he did all the negotiations with the ex-King's consultant?
(Ms Alexander) I have no idea who the first person
he came to was, it was probably my Chairman. I would be surprised
if it had not come through my then Chairman, Sir Jocelyn Stevens.
131. It would have come to him because he was
a friend of ex-King Constantine's?
(Ms Alexander) Yes, a personal acquaintance and therefore
I imagine that there might well have been a direct approach.
132. It is likely that the first approach was
to somebody who was the Chairman of English Heritage and who was
a friend of the person concerned and an agreement was then set
up, which was not written, for costs to be paid and for a donation
of uncertain size to be given at an unspecified time, is that
what we are saying?
(Ms Alexander) We agreed that the wedding reception
would be of benefit and that the benefit would be the advantage
of the publicity over the wedding and that a donation which had
been offered, but most importantly we ensured that all of our
costs would be covered.
Mr Rendel: I do not know, Chairman, if we can
look into this as part of our Committee, or whether the Comptroller
and Auditor General can do it, but it does seem to me that there
are questions to be asked here.
Chairman: Do you have any questions at the moment?
Mr Rendel: I think we had better pursue them
13 Note: See Evidence, Appendix 2, page 14
(PAC 1999- 2000/225).
133. Who was the Chairman at the time?
(Ms Alexander) Sir Jocelyn Stevens.
Chairman: Thank you very much. It has been a
very interesting hearing and I thank you for coming, and you too,
Mr Young. You have had a very quiet time today. Indeed, it is
culture, media and spectating rather than culture, media and sport
today. Thank you.
12 Note by Witness: Whilst we do not judge it
cost-effective to insure commercially valuable contents such as
paintings, we do take out buildings and public liability insurance
to cover Heritage Hospitality events. The contract with Party
Planners contained a clause indemnifying English Heritage for
losses etc. Back