Museums and Galleries (Loans Abroad)

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th July 1952.

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Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

Perhaps the hon. Member is interested in the Royal Commission's recommendation that an Act should be passed empowering the trustees of the British Museum, the National and Tate Galleries to make loans overseas. This recommendation was implemented in the National Gallery (Overseas Loans) Act, 1935, to the extent that the National and Tate Galleries now have power to lend pictures by British artists for public exhibition abroad and for display in the official houses of British Ambassadors. It is always open to the trustees of these institutions to suggest that Parliament should be asked to confer wider powers on them.

Photo of Sir Barnett Stross Sir Barnett Stross , Stoke-on-Trent Central

Does that answer mean that at present these national institutions, such as the National Gallery and the British Museum, are empowered to send some of our best work abroad for international exhibition, or does the answer mean that they are still restricted, and so prevented?

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

It means that the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery have power to lend abroad for specified purposes, which includes public exhibition.

Photo of Sir Barnett Stross Sir Barnett Stross , Stoke-on-Trent Central

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many paintings, drawings or pieces of sculpture, have been loaned by the British Museum, the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery to British Embassies abroad.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

Since 1935 six paintings have been lent by the trustees and Director of the National Gallery and 77 paintings and water colours by the Trustees and Director of the Tate Gallery to British Embassies and Legations abroad. The trustees of the British Museum have no power to lend abroad.

Photo of Sir Barnett Stross Sir Barnett Stross , Stoke-on-Trent Central

Is the Financial Secretary aware that it is desirable that power should be taken by the trustees of the British Museum to lend objects abroad, even if it be specifically only to legations and embassies, which are technically British territory, and if it be only to make certain that people abroad are able to see some of the best of our things and not always have the impression that we show only the very worst?

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

That is a matter in the first place for the trustees of the British Museum, who so far have indicated no desire to have powers to lend abroad.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

Will the hon. Gentleman encourage the museums concerned to make further loans before our national collections are rifled by thieves taking advantage of the Government's economy cuts.