British Embassies (Antique Furnishings and Works of Art)

Oral Answers to Questions — Public Building and Works – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th July 1963.

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Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey) 12:00 am, 16th July 1963

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what arrangements exist for the purchase of suitable antique furnishings and works of art for British embassies; and what funds are available for this purpose.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Norwich South

When antique furniture is thought appropriate in an embassy, suitable pieces are purchased on the advice of qualified members of my staff from the funds provided by Parliament. Pictures are purchased on the recommendation of an advisory committee of experts set up in 1957, and in 1963–64,£6,000 is provided for this purpose.

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

Does my right hon. Friend arrange that people from his Department go regularly to the London sale-rooms in order to purchase suitable pieces of furniture, which can often be bought very inexpensively, for British embassies overseas?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Norwich South

Yes; they cast their net very wide. If he wishes, I will give my hon. Friend some examples of excellent purchases made recently.

Photo of Dr Alan Glyn Dr Alan Glyn , Wandsworth Clapham

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is an important matter since our embassies are a great advertisement for this country? Will he make every effort to spend as much as he can?

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

Will the Minister bear in mind that one of the worries of many hon. Members is the antique appearance of a large part of the Government's Administration already?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Norwich South

I cannot bear in mind all the hon. Gentleman's worries, but I shall try to think of some of them.