Oral Answers to Questions — Museums and Galleries (Standing Commission's Report)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th April 1954.

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Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames 12:00 am, 8th April 1954

The Fourth Report of the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries spans the years 1949 to 1953. Despite the difficulties of the time, the Report recognises that considerable progress was made by the national institutions during this period and it is unfortunate that some comments on this Report, while emphasising the needs of the museums, have tended to overlook its many references to important developments.

In the period covered by the Report, net expenditure on the Votes of the national institutions, excluding the cost of buildings and equipment borne on the Votes of other Departments, rose from £1,256,000 in 1949–50 to £1,468,000 in 1953–54. Moreover, while the size of the Civil Service generally was reduced, staff in these institutions rose from 2,255 in 1952–53 to 2,348 in 1953–54. Steady progress was made both with the restoration of severe war damage, and in providing new accommodation. Notable developments were the opening of Ham House, Apsley House and Osterley Park, as off-shoots of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the reopening of the London Museum, which had been closed since 1939.

The Estimates for this year show a further increase of some 12 per cent., to £1,644,000, in the net provision; and staff will go up by some 4 per cent., from 2,348 to 2,451. I am glad to be able to announce a further increase in the grants-in-aid for purchase of works of art. These were increased by 25 per cent. last year and will be increased by a further 20 per cent. all round, making an increase of 50 per cent. since 1952–53, in addition to special grants made from time to time. For example, a grant of £82,000 was made to the British Museum in 1951–52 towards the purchase of the Holkham Hall Library and the Helming-ham Hall "Orosius" Manuscript. [HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] I am sorry, but this is the answer to six Questions.